Metal Monday 3-7-2022

Archived Concert Review:

Iron Maiden

June 20, 2008

Xfinity Center

Mansfield MA

I remember being stoked to learn Iron Maiden was heading out on what would be called the Somewhere Back in Time Tour.  A big Maiden fan since the 80’s, for reasons here and there, I had never seen the band live before.  Now, here they were announcing a show that would roughly resemble the epic World Slavery Tour, with its illustrious and elaborate staging, complete with modern upgrades.  I bought a pair of tickets for the show in Mansfield, Massachusetts.  I was not disappointed.

Anyone who has been to a Maiden show or has read concert reviews knows that the band is notorious for taking the stage right after UFO’s Doctor Doctor plays on the PA.  It’s the audience’s warning to get to their seats.  As to be expected, the house lights dimmed, and the stage and amphitheater became thick with darkness, the only light being the road crew’s flashlights leading the group from the back of the stage.  As was the case with 1985’s Live After Death release, Winston Churchill’s famous We Shall Never Surrender speech played overhead, before the band launched into Aces High and Two Minutes to Midnight.  I was 13 all over again!

Iron Maiden was (and still is) a six-piece outfit.  When old guitarist Adrian Smith rejoined the group in 1999, his replacement, Janick Gers, stayed on, giving the group, along with veteran Dave Murray, a three-guitar attack.  The trio worked tirelessly, producing a string of wonderfully incorporated guitar harmonies.  Drummer Nicko McBrain, barely visible behind his monster kit, pounded out the beats and rhythms he is known for, especially showcasing his rapid-fire single bass drumming talents.  Meanwhile, bassist Steve Harris, one of the best in the business, perched in the front of the stage, one foot on a monitor, leering over the crowd, lip synching every word back to the audience.

A benefit of the nostalgia tour is that the band will play songs that haven’t seen the light of day in decades.  Iron Maiden was no different.  Revelations, Wasted Years, and Powerslave all made their way back into the setlist, along with old standbys, The Trooper, The Number of the Beast, Run to the Hills, and Fear of the Dark.  Personally, the highlight for me was the 13-minute Rime of the Ancient Mariner, complete with enough fireworks to make a Disney Fourth of July event proud.

Singer Bruce Dickenson is a timeless soul.  Even in 2008, at the age of 50, he was sprinting from one end of the stage to the other, jumping from catwalk to catwalk, dressing in period clothing to represent a particular song, and proudly waving the British flag.  Vocally, this man amazes me.  At an age where bands routinely must lower song keys so the singer can properly hit the notes, Dickenson can easily and comfortably reach the high ranges he nailed decades prior.  Clone him. 

The band’s title track, from its 1980 debut closed out the main set and featured iconic mascot, Eddie, for the first time.  When the group returned to the stage, the treated us to a triple shot of Moonchild, The Clairvoyant, and Hallowed Be Thy Name.  The show was complete.  Iron Maiden had delivered.  When McBrain emerged from his drum set to throw sticks into the crowd, many of us were getting our first visible look at him.

Iron Maiden Setlist:

Churchill’s Speech

Aces High

Two Minutes to Midnight

Revelations

The Trooper

Wasted years

The Number of the Beast

Can I Play With Madness

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Powerslave

Heaven Can Wait

Run to the Hills

Fear of the Dark

Iron Maiden

Encore:

Moonchild

The Clairvoyant

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Iron Maiden-Aces High

Metal Monday 10-11-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week, we will go after the mighty Iron Maiden.  This English outfit is a heavy metal icon and one of my favorites!  In fact, there are days where I may view them as my favorite band of all time.  However, that changes from time to time.  That said, if I’m in the mood for heavy and progressive classic metal, Maiden is who I turn to.

Having been around for more than 40 years, Iron Maiden has undergone several lineup changes, primarily the comings and goings of lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson.  The band’s classic lineup consisted of Dickinson on vocals, guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, bassist Steve Harris, and drummer Nicko McBrain.  This is also the current lineup, with the addition of long-time guitarist Janick Gers to round out the group to six members.

#17: 

The X Factor-1995

Blaze Bayley’s vocal debut with the group.  Nothing against Blaze, but the songs for this album don’t stand up to other Maiden releases.

Best Song:  Sign of the Cross

Best Deep Cut:  Sign of the Cross (anything on here is a deep cut)

#16: 

Virtual XI-1998

See notes above.  Although, The Clansman is a great song.

Best Song:  The Clansman

Best Deep Cut:  The Clansman

#15: 

No Prayer for the Dying-1990

A major drop-off from the preceding Iron Maiden albums.

Best Song:  Tailgunner

Best Deep Cut:  No Prayer for the Dying

#14: 

Dance of Death-2003

Although #14 on the list, there are some decent tracks on this record, notably the brilliant, Paschendale.

Best Song:  Paschendale

Best Deep Cut:  Paschendale

#13: 

The Final Frontier-2010

Not a bad release.  In fact, I can see myself pushing play on any of the top 14 albums in this list on any given day.

Best Song:  Satellite 15…The Final Frontier

Best Deep Cut:  The Talisman

#12: 

Fear of the Dark-1992

Dickinson’s last album before his 8-year absence.  There are some moments here, such as the wonderful title cut.

Best Song:  Fear of the Dark

Best Deep Cut:  Afraid to Shoot Strangers

#11: 

A Matter of Life and Death-2006

Maiden toured on this album by playing it in its entirety.  Weekend fans were not impressed, but I would have liked to have seen it.

Best song:  These Colours Don’t Run

Best Deep Cut:  These Colours Don’t Run

#10: 

The Book of Souls-2015

Making the Top 10 on this list is nothing to sneeze at.  There are some great songs on this record, such as, If Eternity Should Fail, The Red and the Black, The Book of Souls, Death or Glory, and Tears of a Clown.

Best Song:  Tears of a Clown

Best Deep Cut:  Tears of a Clown

#9: 

Senjutsu-2021

The latest Iron Maiden album.  A more than solid release, indeed.  The band takes a page out of its last album (The Book of Souls) and creates several marathon tracks that are neither boring nor overwhelming.  Give a listen to the title cut, Stratego, Lost in a Lost World, The Time Machine, and Hell on Earth.  For a band to put out something this strong after 40 years is quite an accomplishment.

Best Song:

Best Deep Cut:

#8:

Brave New World-2000

Dickinson returned for this album.  A very successful return it was.

Best Song:  Blood Brothers

Best Deep Cut:  Blood Brothers

#7: 

Somewhere in Time-1986

The first of the classic 80s albums to appear in this list.  There are some great songs on this one, such as Caught Somewhere in Time, Wasted Years, Heaven Can Wait, The Loneliest of the Long Distance Runner, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Alexander the Great.

Best Song:  Wasted Years (OK, this may sound like I’m taking the easy way out, but I assure you, I love this song!)

Best Deep Cut:  Alexander the Great

#6: 

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son-1988

This is another classic record with some outstanding songs.  Give a listen to Moonchild, Infinite Dreams, Can I Play With Madness, The Evil That Med Do, The Clairvoyant, and the title track.

Best Song:  The Evil That Men Do

Best Deep Cut:  Moonchild

#5: 

Powerslave-1984

We have reached the Top 5 and we are going to see why these albums are among the big boys.  This record gave way to the ridiculously successful World Slavery Tour in 1984-85.  Is there a one-two punch from this band stronger than Aces High and Two Minutes to Midnight

The album closing title cut and Rime of the Ancient Mariner are epic deep cuts that may not be considered deep cuts at all to more seasoned Maiden fans.

Best Song:  Two Minutes to Midnight

Best Deep Cut:  Rime of the Ancient Mariner

#4: 

Piece of Mind-1983

The debut of drummer extraordinaire Nicko McBrain.  I’m partial to drummers.  I wonder why?

Nicko leaves little doubt as to his talents with the opening drum lick of, Where Eagles Dare, which kicks the whole thing off.  There are so many great songs here, including, Revelations, Flight of Icarus, Die With Your Boots On, The Trooper, and Still Life.

Best Song:  Revelations

Best Deep Cut:  Revelations

#3: 

Killers-1981

I am quite partial to the Paul Di’Anno fronted albums, not because I think he’s a better vocalist than Dickinson.  In my opinion, he is not.  However, the songs on these two records reflect a young, up and coming, and hungry band who is destined for big things.

Check out the title cut, Wrathchild, and Murders in the Rue Morgue, which is certainly in my personal top five Maiden songs.

Best Song:  Murders in the Rue Morgue

Best Deep Cut:  Murders in the Rue Morgue

#2: 

Iron Maiden-1980

There isn’t a clunker in the bunch on this one.  An incredible debut record from a then unknown band out of England.  Check out, Prowler, Remember Tomorrow, Running Free, Phantom of the Opera, Charlotte the Harlot, and the title cut.  Remember Tomorrow would slot into my personal top five, as well.

Best Song:  Remember Tomorrow

Best Deep Cut:  Remember Tomorrow

#1: 

Number of the Beast-1982

“Woe to you, oh earth and sea

For the devil sends the beast with wrath

Because he knows the time is short…….”

Dickinson’s debut is the best album in the band’s entire catalog.  And it’s not all that close, either.  From the quoted title cut above, and including the classic, Run to the Hills and Hallowed Be Thy Name, the record also contains incredible deep tracks, Children of the Damned, The Prisoner, and 22 Acacia Avenue. 

Try as they might, Iron Maiden could never top this one.

Best Song:  Hallowed Be Thy Name (#1 on my personal list)

Best Deep Cut:  Children of the Damned

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