Whether you’re a fan of metal music or not, you know who Iron Maiden is. You may not know their songs but I bet you’ve seen their artwork. To say they are iconic would be the understatement of the century. Their music has influenced far too many acts to list and, if I may be so bold, has shaped all of the metal and rock music that you hear today. Being able to see a band this legendary live was nothing short of a dream come true.
It had been sixteen years since Iron Maiden last visited the Twin Cities and you could tell. When walking into the Xcel Energy Center, you could feel the anticipation and ferocity of the fans. They had been waiting for this moment for nearly two decades and they were chomping at the bit. Majority of the crowd were donning their old school Iron Maiden t-shirts that dated back to tours done in the 80’s– many of which happened before I was even born. With sixteen albums that span their entire 37 year career, I don’t think fans really cared what the band played, they just wanted to hear those songs they grew up worshiping.
The lights dimmed and a video that looked like something out of a video games played on the giant screens on either side of the stage. Think Indiana Jones with skulls and gore. The crowd seemed to be dead silent as they watched the images scroll past on the screen but as soon as the screens shut off, the crowd erupted. Singer Bruce Dickinson instantly appeared on the stage and it was game over for the crowd. The screaming and cheering was deafening and there was instantly a beautiful sense of community in the crowd. It didn’t matter who you were with, you were hugging the person next to you whether you knew them or not.
If I’m being honest, I haven’t listen to much Iron Maiden. I didn’t grow up with metalhead parents so I kind of missed that whole “original metal band” scene. That being said, I know damn well what this band means and was instantly taken aback by seeing them live. It seriously sounded like I was listening to a recording. Although the band members are old enough to be my parents (all nearing 60 or over 60), they had an undeniable energy about them that would be enough to blow many young bands out of the water.
Singer Bruce Dickinson has always been known for his unnaturally high voice and the sense of fury he is able to put with it. I went into last night’s show with age in mind and the understanding that he may not be able to hit those high notes he was able to hit back in the 80’s. Man, was I wrong. Bruce’s voice was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It was amazing to watch this man run across the stage while keeping his almost operatic voice with no sign of struggle. The power and ferocity behind Bruce’s voice is matched only by the pure genius that is happening on the instruments behind and to the sides of him.
My favorite thing about Iron Maiden’s set last night was the fact that it wasn’t frilly. Sure, there was fire- lots of fire- and a seemingly always-changing backdrop, but other than that it was just six metalheads doing what they loved. They don’t need the huge production value that other bands needs, Iron Maiden’s music and the way they are able sell out virtually every show they do says it all. Having been at the New Kids on the Block show with all of their confetti, dance breaks, and all around nonsense (I loved the show, don’t get me wrong) at this same venue just two days prior, it was nice to see a band not use this stuff and be up on the giant stage with very little other than their music.
Their set was diverse and surprising when it came to their song choice. They did a great job of playing both old and new songs but seemed to neglect their mega-hits that a casual fan like myself would recognize. With no “Run To The Hills” or “2 Minutes To Midnight”, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bummed out but I realized that last night’s show wasn’t for me. It was for the fans that had been craving that show for nearly twenty years and they didn’t seem to notice the exclusion of those hits.
Friday night’s show was opened up by Ghost. These guys have really cashed in on the theatrical side of the metal scene and it truly seems to be working for them. They wear sinister looking corpsepaint and masks that are what nightmares are made of. Singer Papa Emeritus III came out on stage dressed up like the most Satanic pope you’ve ever seen. With such a sinister look about them, I was ready to hear some brutally heavy music.
Their music is much more calm than you would probably think. With beautifully performed melodies and an almost psychedelic rock feel at times, this is a prime example of “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Having never really listened to Ghost before seeing them on Friday night, I was confused to say the least. Here I was, bracing for impact, only to be met with this unique brand of music that almost blended metal and pop music. Regardless of what I thought about it, the fans were eating it up and, judging by the amount of Ghost merchandise walking around after the show, these guys aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Three nights ago I was watching New Kids on the Block with Boyz II Men. Thursday night I was watching Pokey LaFarge who’s music belongs in the 40’s. Last night was metal giants Iron Maiden– yeah, the life of a music journalist can be a little weird sometimes.