Iron Maiden Concert
April 3rd 2016 - Toronto - Air Canada Center
It turns out that this is the twelfth time I've seen Maiden live, and this little tidbit of info will be relevant to my review of the show.
The opening band "The Raven Age", which had Maiden bassist Steve Harris' son on guitar, wasn't too bad. They were a mix of metal with more Alternative style vocals. Not really my style, especially with the rapid double kick, (god I can't stand rapid double kick), so I'm probably not the best person to review them.
On to Maiden.
Over all it was a good show and I enjoyed it. Why only a good show and NOT a great show? A number of reasons all totally subjective, or at least most are subjective.
First off, I really enjoy watching shows on the lawns at The Molson Amphitheater. I find the sound much clearer and there's more room to stretch out on a comfy blanket or move around if standing. Plus, pretty much all vantage points are in front of the stage at a reasonable sight level which enables one to see the show as it was intended. The seats at the ACC are tight and there's little room to rock out while sitting down. Sitting off to the side up high meant we couldn't see the back drops or the lighting very well. But again, that's also because I bought the cheaper seats rather then splashing out on the more expensive seats.
Nonetheless, Iron Maiden do put on a great visual show. Although they are a bit older, they still do move around the stage (albeit a little slower) with as much energy as possible. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson seemed to be the most energetic as at one point he was waltzing with the microphone and did a little jig as he made his way off stage during an instrumental section. He was also a little more theatrical than I had seen him in previous years. The opening song "If Eternity Would Fail" had him as the lone figure on the catwalk on the stage in front of a fiery smoking cauldron. He also donned what looked like a mexican wrestlers mask during the song Powerslave. (Wonder what happened to his S+M mask?)
The stage set itself was decorated to look like a Mayan temple complete with vines hanging from above. For anyone who hadn't seen Maiden before, this would've been an amazing sight, however other stage sets have been just as impressive such as Powerslave and Seventh Son. No Maiden show would be complete without the appearance of their mascot Eddie which appeared twice. Once as an upright walking mechanical puppet (or was it a man on stilts?), and as a giant inflated head peeking out from behind the catwalk during the song "Iron Maiden". Again always an impressive sight, but my favorite Eddie is still the one from the No Prayer for the Dying which had Eddie emerging from a huge coffin with torso and arms maniacally waiving around.
Musically, in a live setting, Maiden have never been that precise or tight. In fact I find them quite sloppy. But then again with members roaming around the stage looking like they're having fun, what does one expect. The drum tempos wavered, guitar solos were loose, and Bruce's vocals sounded like they needed a healthy dose of compression to keep the volume consistent. I've also been noticing in the last few years that Bruce's high notes have slowly been disappearing. Perhaps a lowering of keys might rectify this to enable Bruce to maintain the melodies and hit the high notes with more strength. If you haven't heard Maiden live, take a listen to any of their live albums and you'll get the same raw sound. However, I've come to expect this from Maiden so I'm able to put this aside and focus on the songs and the energy that the bands exudes.
Major Spoilers below…..
Song wise it was a good show. Again having seen Maiden many times previously, with the exception of the newest album, I think there's little they would probably play which I hadn't heard before. With their pattern of new album tour and oldies tour, I was actually hoping to hear more material from the 2000's, especially as I hadn't seen the Brave New World or Dance of Death tours. Even the Canadian dates of the Final Frontier tours only had one song from that album, El Dorado. And although they did play a lot of 2000's material, I would've liked to hear it again. But as I said that's just my personal beef. For this show, Children of the Damned and Powerslave were a nice addition and were a surprise, but they're just not favorites of mine. Bring out songs like Killers, To Tame a Land, Infinite Dreams, Sign Of The Cross, Paschendale, or The Final Frontier and I would've been really happy. But you can't please everyone.
The biggest surprise and most interesting aspect of the show was the song choices within the encore. Opening the encore with Number of the Beast makes sense and has been done many times before. But having Blood Brothers was a shock and closing with Wasted Years was an even bigger shock. Previously, Maiden's encores have consisted of older songs with them closing with an old song. In the past it's usually been, Running Free, Sanctuary, Run to the Hills or Hallowed be they Name, all older songs. So after playing Wasted Years and the band leaving the stage, I really thought they'd return for one more old song, but no. I guess they thought they'd change things up a bit.
So I can agree that for Maiden, this was a fantastic show, just not for me.
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Tears of a Clown
The Red and the Black
Death or Glory
The Book of Souls
Hallowed BeThy Name
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast