Iron Maiden – [Live]

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Hitting the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time in just over two years, the legendary Iron Maiden brought their Final Frontier World Tour to the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord, and proceeded to put on what was without a doubt one of the best shows I have ever witnessed from the band, and, considering that I've seen them live about a dozen times over the years – dating back to The Number Of The Beast Tour – that is saying something. What is most amazing though, is the fact that they pulled it off with a set list that didn't contain some of the their most well-known songs; songs that have built generations of fans. Even so, judging from the reaction of the near capacity crowd, that was not really an issue.

At exactly 8:50pm, the house lights dimmed, the curtain was drawn to reveal a huge Space Station-themed stage, and twelve and a half thousand fans nearly lost their minds as Iron Maiden hit the stage running and launched into 'The Wicker Man'. From that point on, it was classic Maiden to the bone; bassist Steve Harris already had one foot on his monitor, while the metal guitar god tag team of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith traded riffs effortlessly. It was, however, the absolute boundless energy of Bruce Dickinson that set the tone for the evening. As the singer ran from the back of the stage to the front to launch himself off the monitors during “Ghost Of The Navigator” and the classic “Wrathchild,” he displayed just as much energy as I have ever seen, if not more. It was just another sign that we were all witnessing something special.

After taking a quick breather, Bruce took a look around the venue and seemed genuinely impressed at the near capacity crowd, although he did (jokingly) say, “Perhaps we’re getting some spillover from Christina Aguilera canceling her tour,” just before introducing the crowd to “El Dorado,” the first single from the band's soon-to-be-released fifteenth studio album, The Final Frontier. With its' dual guitar harmonies and unmistakable Steve Harris bass line, it sounded just like classic Iron Maiden. 

As the band barreled on with a set list that was heavy on songs from the last decade, Maiden may have disappointed a few fans that expect to hear “The Trooper” over and over again, but the reaction to newer classics like “The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Bragg” and “These Colors Don't Run” was overwhelmingly positive and, when Bruce dedicated “Blood Brothers” to the late Ronnie James Dio, every metalhead in the venue roared with approval. 

Watching as they tore through “No More Lies,” ''Brave New World,” and “Fear Of The Dark,” I was left pretty much speechless. Bruce continued to cover every inch of the stage, Smith and Murray continued to lay down riff after riff and Janick Gers (who I'll admit that I used to not care for) won me over once and for all with his ability to balance his showmanship with his shredding. It is still hard to believe they have been a band for over thirty years. 

Of course no Iron Maiden show would be complete without an appearance from their seventh member, and when the opening riff to “Iron Maiden” was struck, everyone in the house knew it was time for a newly-remodeled, outer space Predator-themed Eddie to wreak havoc on the stage. It was and always will be one of the highlights to any Iron Maiden gig, and that tradition held true, but the show wasn't over quite yet. After leaving the stage briefly, Maiden returned for a 1-2-3 punch encore of “The Number Of The Beast,” which sounded as epic as always, “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” which was made even more epic by Steve, Adrian, Dave, and Janick charging in unison from the backline to the front of the stage, and 'Running Free', which featured a Steve Harris bass that not even Lemmy could have matched. It was a perfect conclusion to a perfect evening. 

Looking back on the show, all I can really say is that if one band that has withstood the test of time, Iron Maiden is that band.



See the list of dates scheduled for The Final Frontier World Tour and buy tickets here at Live Nation . 


Iron Maiden – "El Dorado" – The Final Frontier


Iron Maiden's new album, The Final Frontier, comes out on August 10, 2010. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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