March 17, 2008

Concert Review: Iron Maiden - 'Somewhere Back in Time' at the Meadowlands (3/14/08)

Sometime last Fall, September I believe, it was announced that Iron Maiden's latest world tour would be coming through New Jersey. This was too good an opportunity to pass up, I knew I had to be there. To further fuel my excitement, I read that the set list would focus on the 80's era and the stage show would be patterned after the 85-86 Powerslave tour, which spawned the legendary Live After Death recording. I was excited to no end, never having seen Iron Maiden live before. So, I logged onto Ticketmaster the moment tickets went on sale and secured myself a pair. Now I only had to wait the five months until the show came around. It was a long, hard wait as my anticipation grew the closer the date drew.

I should admit that I was very late to the music game growing up, and even later to the Iron Maiden camp. For some unexplained reason, Iron Maiden was one of those bands that I never listened to. It wasn't that I was actively avoiding them, but I made a conscious decision not to listen to them. I really don't know why. Then the attitude changed, I picked up a couple of albums, including Piece of Mind, Powerslave, and Fear of the Dark and my introduction had begun. I still have many albums to get and many songs to hear, but I feel confident in saying that I am an Iron Maiden fan. It is hard to find metal as pure and great as this. That brings us to the day of the show. Myself and a friend, a newbie to the metal and Iron Maiden world, head off to witness the magic that is an Iron Maiden concert.

We arrived at the IZOD Center with plenty of time to spare. We rolled up to the prepay parking lot, Iron Maiden tunes blasting out the speakers, found a spot one level up and made our way down to where the crowd was beginning to grow. First order of business, souvenirs. There was a trailer set up selling all manner of tour shirts and a few other assorted items. We joined the mass; it could not really be called a line, and made our way to the front where we purchased the new tour shirt, although the others looked pretty good too. We our new shirts safely in the car, we joined the line to get inside, where we stood for an hour.

Once inside, we found our seats, and scoped out the stage, real nice view of the stage from our upper level seats. We were on the right side of the stage and could clearly see the entire stage, while not being all that far away. With that out of the way, we made certain to satisfy our growing appetite before the excitement began. With that out of the way, we sat there watching the crowd grow.

8:00 arrived and the opening act came to the stage. Led by Lauren Harris, daughter of Iron Maiden's bassist Steve Harris, the band launched into nearly thirty minutes of power-pop tunes that were not bad by any stretch, but are a far cry from the metal goodness that is Maiden. Lauren worked the crowd and showed off the decent voice that she possesses. Like I said, she was good, the band played well, but all it did was make me more anxious for the main event.

9:00, the lights go down, replaced with a blue glow that only illuminated the stage. The two screens hanging on either side of the stage came to life, running footage of the band's gear being loaded on the custom painted jumbo-jet, Bruce prepping for lift off, and other pre-arrival footage. Those images were replaced with footage from WWII, accompanied by Winston Churchill's war speech, leading directly into the arrival of the band and the launch of "Aces High."

As soon as the band arrived onstage, there was a distinct feeling of magic permeated the air. It is hard to describe what it is like to be there witnessing this band. Being in the presence of these metal legends is absolutely mindblowing. I have seen bands that have had great and long lasting influence before, such as Judas Priest and Slayer, but neither of them come close to matching the Iron Maiden experience.

As the band ripped through their set, the crowd was into every single moment, note, word, you name it. I was there, singing, yelling, pumping my fist and having an absolute blast. How could you not? The band was on point, not a note out of place.

Iron Maiden is a legendary band with so much history, influence and amazing music. This evening saw them reaching back into their catalog, pulling out so many of the songs that built their legend over the decades.

Bruce Dickinson was a seemingly endless pit of energy. He ran around the stage a like a madman, imploring everyone to join it. I can honestly say that I have never seen a frontman quite like him. He is able to personally get each and every person involved, make them feel ike it is a private show just for them. Whenever he looked up towards my section, it was as if he was looking right at me. It was unbelievable.

The three guitar players, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers combined to create this monstrous guitar sound, supported by the distinct bass sounds of Steve Harris and Nicko McBrain's drumming. They combined like Voltron to deliver this monumental sound of legendary proportions.

Now, not only was the music great, there was a show to go along with it. Iron Maiden is also known for their elaborate stage shows. They were not able to have all of their biggest gear with them on this leg of the tour, but that did not stop them from having an impressive stage. There was the risers that wrapped around the stage with multiple backdrops used behind them. Bigger than that, there was plenty use of flame throwers and fireworks. Most notably, the flames during "Number of the Beast" and the fireworks in "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Talk about adding energy on top of excitement!

What else can be said? The night was simply amazing, easily ranking among the best concerts I have ever attended. The best news was the announcement they would be at MSG in June, with their bigger stage setup. I can't wait!

Set List:
1. Churchill's Speech / Aces High (from 'Powerslave' – 1984)
2. 2 Minutes to Midnight (from 'Powerslave' – 1984)
3. Revelations (from 'Piece Of Mind' – 1983)
4. The Trooper (from 'Piece Of Mind' – 1983)
5. Wasted Years (from 'Somewhere In Time' – 1986)
6. The Number of the Beast (from 'Number Of The Beast' – 1982)
7. Run to the Hills (from 'Number Of The Beast' – 1982)
8. Rime of the Ancient Mariner (from 'Powerslave' – 1984)
9. Powerslave (from 'Powerslave' – 1984)
10. Heaven Can Wait (from 'Somewhere In Time' – 1986)
11. Can I Play With Madness? (from 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son' – 1988)
12. Fear of the Dark (from 'Fear Of The Dark' – 1992)
13. Iron Maiden (from 'Iron Maiden' – 1980)
14. Moonchild (from 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son' – 1988)
15. The Clairvoyant (from 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son' – 1988)
16. Hallowed Be Thy Name (from 'Number Of The Beast' – 1982)

I even found some decent phone-cam footage on YouTube:

Find even more here.


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