By Chris Annunziatta, Host of The Metal Teddy Bear Experience.
On July 22nd, I attended the last show of Iron Maiden’s Book of Souls World Tour at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. The tour began in February 2016, and had it’s first US dates then. June marked the second time the most iconic metal act toured the US in support of their 2015 release “The Book of Souls”. I was fortunate enough to catch them twice on this last portion of their tour. The first time I saw them at New Jersey’s Prudential Center back in June.
Swedish heavy metal band, Ghost, opened the 25 dates stateside of the tour. The rising popularity of Ghost has been a bit of a surprise to me. I never would have thought that the band would become as big as they are today. Don’t get me wrong, their music is great and they do deserve the recognition, but I did not really expect people to gravitate towards their Satanic and Anti-Pope themed imagery. Regardless, Ghost caught the attention of Iron Maiden and performed in front of sold out arenas this summer. The Swedish metallers were able to entice the crowd and get them excited.
Not every band that opens for Iron Maiden can command a crowd of that magnitude but Ghost did so effortlessly. They immediately captured their crowd with their latest hit, “Square Hammer”. From then on, they kept it going with “Cirice”, “Mummy Dust” and more. The nameless Ghouls were very entertaining, especially when the Alpha guitarist (each Nameless Ghoul is assigned an element i.e: fire, water, wind, earth, and ether) kept messing around with Water the Bassist. Not only did they put on a great performance, but they also had a great mix. Everything was tuned right and crystal clear. If you have not seen Ghost live, make sure you do so. You won’t regret it.
It is always a great feeling when you’re standing in the pit and you hear UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” come blaring through the speakers. As soon as the classic ends, you know Iron Maiden is taking the stage. They kicked off their show with, “If Eternity Should Fail” and then ran right into, “Speed of Light”. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson is one energetic man. Many people at his age would not be able to move and run around the stage like he does. His energetic presence definitely brings the songs to life and arguably makes them better to hear live.
Dickinson also went through some minor wardrobe changes throughout the show. During the first song, he wore a hood and placed his head inside of a makeshift caldron, fountain type prop and proceeded to mess around with the rising smoke. During “Death and Glory” he wore a monkey mask and attempted to give guitarist Dave Murray a banana. It goes to show that the band also has a great sense of humor. When they played “Powerslave,” he wore the Blue Demon Mask which totally reminded me of the lucha libre cartoon show, “Mucha Lucha”.
One of my favorite parts of the show was when Eddie joins the stage, antagonizes the band members and fights with Bruce. At the end of the quarrel, Bruce pierces Eddie’s chest and tears out his heart. It was not as graphic as you might think, as much as it was entertaining.
The various backdrops Iron Maiden used during their show were phenomenal. Each backdrop was a different depiction of Eddie correlating to the current song. For example, Eddie was dressed in his red coat uniform poised for battle during “The Trooper”.
In celebration o fDue to this being the last show of the tour, Bruce decided to shed his belongings— wristbands, shirt, shoes, pants etc—and toss it into the crowd. By the end of the night he was standing in just his underwear. He was amazed how people were fighting to catch his sweaty socks. He actually wrung out his socks and shirt before throwing it in the crowd. He was as amused as we were. My only complaint was that they did not play “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. However, I expected that due to their current legal battle with the song writing credits.
Iron Maiden has been around for over 30 years and remains relevant to this very day. Proof of this is their fanbase’s wide range of age, from pre-teens to over 60. They continue to put on amazing live shows. Whether it was the incredible setlist, the stage theatrics, the band, or the magical combination of it all, Iron Maiden brought forth an immense feeling into the crowd. If you are a rock fan and have not seen Iron Maiden play live, do yourself a favor and catch them on their next tour.