Iron Maiden live at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Cardiff’s rock scene really pulled out the stops to welcome Maiden into town on Monday night.

Warmed up by a themed night of live music and DJ’s in The Promised Land on Sunday, the city was swarming with metal fans by Monday. An all dayer dedicated to the band at the Live Lounge saw airings of the DVD’s, DJ’s and an acoustic tribute before the show, followed by a performance by Hi-On Maiden after the gig, and Bogiez gave up their usual day off to provide another aftershow venue with metal pumping till the wee hours.
For a city that is severely lacking in venues for all sizes of gigs it was great to see the support, not just for Maiden, but for live music as a whole.

Having sampled a few cheeky ciders before getting to the Arena, I unfortunately missed the majority of Airbourne’s set. Catching the last 3 songs it was clear that they were the perfect warm up for the packed out crowd – lots of beer bottles in the air and smiles all round as the enthusiasm and energy from the band whipped the crowd up impressively. This was their last show on the tour – Trivium and Dragonforce will have to play a blinder to match these guys at the O2 shows.

Anyone who has been to the Motorpoint Arena before (or the CIA as it will always be known) will know that the sound isn’t always of the best quality, especially for metal shows. For a venue that mainly books comedy gigs, reality tv spin off gigs and the annual John Barrowman show, this is no real surprise.

By the time the lights dim for the intro of UFO’s ‘Doctor Doctor’ over the PA, the crowd is packed into the arena and expectations are high. ‘Satellite 15’ provides a lengthy intro with some snazzy sci-fi action on the video screens until the band blast on stage with ‘The Final Frontier’. It is clear at this early stage that the venues sound problems are alive and well, as Bruce’s vocals struggle to raise over the volume of the thunderous band behind him. This is something that improves through the night, and luckily doesn’t detract from the show, but it was a close run thing. ElDorado follows and reinforces to me why I think it’s one of the strongest songs they’ve written in 20 years – singing the chorus almost kills my throat, and it’s only song 2! More beer needed… The first classic of the night is greeted with a deafening roar as the place goes wild for ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’. This is a trend that follows through the gig – new songs are enjoyed and go down well, but with a slightly restrained crowd, while it’s party time for the older material!

With only 3 dates left of this world tour, the band don’t show any signs of tiredness – they are all on fire tonight, particularly Adrian Smith who didn’t stop bouncing round the stage for 2 hours. Iron Maiden may conjur up plenty of cliched thoughts to the uneducated public, but the reality is they are still an unstoppable force live, loved by many – young and old, and are as relevant today as they were back in Paul Di’Anno’s day. An excellent show by an excellent band – no surprise there then!