Iron Maiden – Live At Pine Knob Theater
According to the party line Bruce Dickinson never really left IRON MAIDEN and this is not a reunion tour. Though that idea may appear as fanciful as many of the groups lyrics, there is a kernel of reality to it. Yes, MAIDEN did produce and tour for two commercially dismal albums while Dickinson’s solo career did yield four moderately successful records of his own but neither camp ever did stray much from the other. Both groups shared the same management company, the same record company and in the end, the last two Dickinson solo albums sounded more like MAIDEN product then what MAIDEN themselves were producing. Don’t call it a reunion, call it a reconciliation.
So, in the spirit of true heavy metal comradery all reconciled parties have chosen to renew their acquaintance by playing a few weeks of dates in America after which they will do the same in Europe before heading into the studio for a new album.
The importance of MAIDEN’s resurgence might be missed by a hard rock public that has survived these last several years on acts like MARILYN MANSON, KORN and any number of pseudo-heavy bands but to be sure, this is real deal metal. Proving my point on this rainy, dank night were 10,000 crazed headbangers who ignored the rain, the swarming mosquitoes and the mud just for a chance to see and here one of their metal favorites live, that is the significance of IRON MAIDEN’s return. Both CLUTCH and MONSTER MAGNET played inspired sets in their own styles this evening but they were not what everyone was here to see. The true intent of the audience’s ticket purchase lay behind tons of shimmering equipment and miles of cable that buzzed with that international call of rock and roll.
As the full extent of the Grande stage plan was revealed to all, technicians flooded the stage checking lines and doing last minute taping jobs when one last plague was cast down upon the throng of MAIDEN faithful, the power went out. Not a single light bulb shown in the already precipitation darkened expanse of Pine Knob Music Theater and in seconds a near capacity audience seemed on the verge of riot. It was one thing to stand in the rain for their metal but to be drenched and denied? Not without a fight! As a result, every security radio was buzzing and an extra team of yellow and black T-Shirts descended upon the stage ostensibly to limit the carnage that was expected if the power didn’t return quickly. By pact with the dark one or by pure luck the power was restored so that the show could go on and if you will take the word of a former quire boy, what a hellishly good show it was.
Now, the press had tipped everyone off well in advance that this would be a greatest hits set with the band sticking religiously to the material that is featured on the bands latest disc/CD ROM game, “ED HUNTER.” What the press could not have begun to forecast was just how incredibly exciting these renditions would be with Dickinson and long missed guitarist Adrian Smith reintegrated into the fold. At times stomping, prancing or rolling around the stage this new three guitar IRON MAIDEN was a virtual guitar army and an imposing vision marching in front of the expansive medieval castle backdrop.
A short video introduction to “ED HUNTER” preceded the main set and gave the fans a taste of the game and its many worlds and then, just as silently as they had appeared, the video screens rose until the opening chords of “Aces High” bled through the mist. The thunder claps, both barometric and man made, shook all ten thousand in attendance who, when recovered from the concussion, were blinded by a battery of lights that haven’t shone this brightly since the great arena overkill of the eighties. This is metal, now and forever.
The entire length of the set seemed to pass in a moment despite the fact that the band had trooped the stage for the better part of two hours. Understandable given that the fans themselves chose the set list for the band via the official IRON MAIDEN web site. The barrage of classics included something from every MAIDEN record including the ones both before and after Dickinson’s original tenure with the group. “Wrathchild,” “2 Minutes 2 Midnight,” “The Clansman,” “Wasted Years,” “Killers,” “Futurereal,” (including Eddie’s first romp across the stage in his 14″ persona) “Man on the Edge,” a full on take of the epic “Powerslave,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “The Evil That Men Do,” “Fear of the Dark” and main set closer, “Iron Maiden” were all performed and received as if some holy catechism was involved. “Iron Maiden” featured the return of Eddie to the stage after his earlier banishment by the band only this time Eddie had grown to over forty feet and looked as though he would swallow drummer Nicko McBrain whole.
During the entirety of the pre-encore set Dickinson rallied the crowd round the flag of metal observing that the scene had become fragmented and that it was the mission of this new MAIDEN machine to be “the biggest metal band on the planet.” I got a similar sentiment in my conversation with lead guitarist Janick Gers before the bands set: ” . . .I see us all going forward and I don’t see us looking back to 1980 and going “Oh that was great when we did this.” I am looking forward and to me this is not a reunion, this is a new band. . .” Dickinson also took the time to call attention to the lovely siliconed women who were bearing all for the band and invited the audience to take a look remarking that “It is sexist, it is disgusting but it is fucking great!” More heavy metal bonding than any welder could manage in a lifetime.
With the bulk of the evening over the band left the stage for a few minutes before the ever predictable yet still energizing intro to “Number of the Beast” crept from the speakers and all energy conserved was expended in an instant. The pressure truly was more than some could handle as medical personnel seemed to swarm through the crowd, extracting unconscious patrons in every row. One can only hope that they regained reality long enough to hear the incredible live versions of “Hallowed be Thy Name” and “Run to the Hills.” Then it was done and the faithful filed out knowing that in a years time the band would be back with a brand new album and more metal mayhem for all. If there is truly to be a commercial and spiritual resurgence for heavy metal, I can think of no group more qualified to lead the onslaught than this new and improved monster that is IRON MAIDEN.
“Up the irons, again!”
Review & Photos Submitted By David Lee!