The last few months have been an amazing ride attending classic metal shows with my almost 17 year old son. We saw Mötley Crüe’s final concert in Portland, Oregon in December and AC/DC (with Brian Johnson) in Tacoma, Washington in February. But on this night, it was a chance to see my favorite and the rulers of heavy metal mountain for most people, Iron Maiden at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington on Monday, April 11, 2016.
After waiting in the t-shirt line (all shirts were $40, unless you were XXL or XXXL, they were $45… yes, an extra $5 because you’re old and fat or maybe our 80’s metal heroes know we probably have more cash at this point in our lives), we waited in the security line for what seemed like a lifetime, but at least we knew nobody was going to smuggle in a flare gun… more on that in a moment, and we were entertained by the drunk woman next to us worried that her “titanium p%*$y” may not pass the security wand.
Once inside and with only minutes to spare, we rushed to our seats to catch the opening of Iron Maiden in the Northwest on ‘The Book of Souls’ tour. The new record is killer and their 16th album may be one of their best. The first two songs on this tour are the first two songs on ‘Souls’ and consistent with what they have done on previous tours… remember they opened the ‘World Slavery Tour’ in 1984/85 that was recorded for the ‘Live After Death’ album, with “Aces High” and “2 Minutes To Midnight,” the first two songs on ‘Powerslave.’
Back in their 1980’s hungry days, Maiden played nearly every city, including the Tacoma Dome on February 10, 1987 on the “Somewhere On Tour’ tour, but this was the first time they had played the Dome since the ‘Brave New World Tour’ in 2000. Early in the show, singer Bruce Dickinson mentioned their history playing the Tacoma Dome, referencing a time when a soldier who had brought a flare gun, fired it into the air and that set the ceiling of the building on fire. Funny thing is, this really did happen, but it was during an AC/DC concert there in 1983.
Dickinson told the audience they would be playing a few songs from the new album and a few “legacy tracks,” including for the first time since the ‘Somewhere Back in Time World Tour’ in 2009, their performance of “Children of the Damned.” This was followed by two more songs from ‘Book of Souls,’ “Tears of a Clown” (the band’s take on the life of late comedian Robin Williams) and “The Red and the Black.”
As soon as the stage backdrop changed to the iconic image of Eddie clenching the British flag in his bony hand, the energy of the crowd of 16,000+ in attendance rose dramatically as Maiden launched into “The Trooper.” Considering his age (57) and his recovery from throat cancer last year, Dickinson sounded amazing, and you could really hear him, as the volume on his microphone seemed to be much louder than the guitars and drums. This was my only critical point of the show, in that some of the energy of the songs was lost from the instruments compared to Bruce’s voice.
The only song played from 1984’s “Powerslave” was the title track, but that was fitting with the ancient Mayan temple stage theme. This was followed by two more new songs, “Death or Glory” and “The Book of Souls,” during which a 12-foot tall Eddie (dressed like a Mayan warrior) walked about casually on the stage and chased the band members. Guitarist Janick Gers ran between Eddie’s legs multiple times and then got in a slap.
As great as their new music is, Iron Maiden know their fans will not be satisfied with just that and while skipping some classics that most bands could not get away with (“Flight of Icarus”, “Run to the Hills”, “Revelations”), they ran downhill to their heyday for the final six songs, including “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, “Fear of the Dark” and “Iron Maiden.”
They returned for encores, “The Number of the Beast”, “Blood Brothers” and “Wasted Years.”
There is nothing quite like an Iron Maiden concert and the next generation agrees… My son and I really enjoyed this one. Until next time, ‘Always look on the bright side of life.’
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