It’s been a long time since Iron Maiden did a proper UK tour, something that Bruce apologises for tonight and promises we’ll not be waiting so long next time. It’s been a big old jaunt too. We’ve been looking forward to this for ages, and while pretty much the rest of the UK has already seen this tour (just Cardiff and London to go) we’ve been jealously watching from the sidelines. Until tonight…
First mistake, heading for the train station to get to the NEC. Doh, it’s at the NIA. We did realise before we actually bought a ticket. The stream of Iron Maiden fans coming the other way was a bit of a clue.
More time to soak up some Brewdog then. Doh, that’s closed for refurbishment.
Thankfully, Brum has more than one ale house and a first visit to Purity brewery’s swanky bar was excellent. Not a drop of that awful Trooper stuff in sight.
The queue for the paperless tickets entrance looked monstrous to start with, but to be fair, it moved quickly and if it keeps the touts at bay, we’re all for it.
So, we’re in just in time for Shinedown. Hooray. Away from an Iron Maiden show they aren’t too bad, but when you are in the mood for Bruce and the boys, their slick rock anthems lack a bit of substance for our liking. Of course, plenty of people disagree with us, and Brent gets the crowd bouncing on a few occasions.
P*ss, merch, bar and back down the front for the main event.
The familiar intro of ‘Doctor, Doctor’ rings out to welcome Iron Maiden on stage and we’re off and running. The band, especially Bruce, look fighting fit. Bruce charges around the multilayered stage like a man half his age despite the Barclaycard Arena quickly turning into a sweat box on this fine evening.
We knew it was going to be a set heavy on ‘The Book Of Souls’ material and that is fine with us. It took us a few listens but the latest album is a gem after the not so good ‘Final Frontier’. It’s great to hear some new stuff once in a while after the ‘Maiden England’ tour which was a great show, but I think we maybe saw it one time too many. A quick reckon up would suggest we saw it five times!
Anyway, the openers of ‘If Eternity Should Fail’ and ‘Speed of Light’ set the tone for the evening but the double punch of ‘Death or Glory’ and the epic ‘The Red and the Black’ s where the magic really starts to happen. Blending some raw early years style metal with the slightly broader expanse that the band have these days, this new material stands up really well live.
It’s great to see Janick with something to do as well, as he often looks like a spare part in the classic tour shows.
Of course, we like the odd classic in there too. ‘Children of the Damned’ is a fine choice from the prehistoric years, whilst ‘Powerslave’ and the ever-glorious ‘Fear of the Dark’ have the crowd roaring along with every word.
Iron Maiden deliver on every tour they set out on and this one is is no different. There is absolutely no chance of them slowing down yet on the evidence this show. Bruce’s voice still has that piercing air raid siren quality, the guitarists all gel together despite their slightly different playing styles, Steve always leads the charge from the front and only god knows how Nicko still does this night after night.
The encore comes along too quickly as they bash out ‘The Number of the Beast’ ‘Blood Brothers’ and the immortal ‘Wasted Years’ including a comical moment where Adrian misses his only lead vocal of the night.
And then it was all over. Another fantastic Maiden show to add to the collection and once again proving that they are not a band living off past glories; Iron Maiden are still the real deal.