Iron Maiden @ O2 Arena
5th August 2011
Review by Rhiannon Marley
Photos by Sabrina Dersel
Mademoiselle S Photography
Do Iron Maiden really need an introduction? Ok, being my favourite band, I’m slightly biased, but with an army of devotees bordering religious, a whopping 15 studio albums, and 36 years of learning the ropes behind them, it’s not just me who whispers their name with holy credentials...
But why ARE Maiden so worshiped? By the end of tonight, London’s O2 Arena might be one spike closer inside the Iron Maiden herself, to decoding their magic.
Drama-queens DragonForce are on their second night support shift as new singer; Marc Hudson tries the size elevens of Theart’s falsetto; the boy’s got some pipes, but it’s early days; he still needs a shoe-horn to get comfy in the role.
DragonForce are the happy ending to every Hollywood epic, half an hour’s worth of resolving chords, and shit loads of Charles Worthington products chucked together, tonight. It’s power metal at its most caricatured, but that’s the charm: fun, flashy, and a little bit flaccid – every video-gamer’s wet dream. For what it is, not a bad job!
MAI-DEN! *clap, clap, clap* MAI-DEN! The décor is the love child of Star Trek and Moulin Rouge; one of the most resilient totems of British heavy metal is blazing.
The trouble is, steeping the set list in current album The Final Frontier means many classics, including ‘Run to the Hills’, ‘Aces High’ and ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, are abandoned! (For the record, every time something from 03’s 11-tracker Dance of Death or earlier kicks off, Greenwich becomes a minefield of forty-something mezzo-sopranos).
Bruce is spring-heeled as per; a banshee in a tea cosy with his trademark hat. Thoughts on anti-Sectarianism and becoming a Jedi are backed by observations that “we’re from Britain, or unfashionably, GREAT Britain”.Patriotism and cosmopolitanism hand-in-hand?
The only let-down is his Geldof/Bono-ramblings are obviously to get us going for ‘Blood Brothers’: shedding a slightly tactical light on the P.C.-friendly sentiment of a wealthy, middle-aged rocker, who was expelled from public school for urinating on the headmaster’s dinner…
But though the O2’s acoustics are as embarrassing as Kevin Shirley’s production on their last three albums, Iron Maiden can’t be fought. ‘Fear of the Dark’, ‘Number of the Beast’ and ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ are hugely emotional; Eddie’s franchise hugely supported.
Maiden are like sliding down a helter-skelter with fireworks exploding off the sides: noisy, colourful, and so much fun. Their unmistakable brand, and humour, takes you from the grind, and shakes your bones until you jump for joy. It's rock n' roll panto: the Dick Whittington of metal, minus the cat, but that’s not to cheapen the intensity of Maiden: they hit a nerve of the epic which pulls on every heart string, every thread of positive passion, and the realisation that no matter what, everything is always all right in the end. It’s a profoundly moving experience.
The Final Frontier? A few more yet, promises Bruce. Not quite vintage Maiden, but ever-quasi-camp, 2011-pastiche Maiden…and I still say up the fuckin’ Irons.
Set list: Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
1. Satellite 15... The Final Frontier
2. El Dorado
3. 2 Minutes to Midnight
4. The Talisman
5. Coming Home
6. Dance of Death
7. The Trooper
8. The Wicker Man
9. Blood Brothers
10. When the Wild Wind Blows
11. The Evil That Men Do
12. Fear of the Dark
13. Iron Maiden
14. The Number of the Beast
15. Hallowed Be Thy Name
16. Running Free
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)