Steel Druhm’s Concert Review: Iron Maiden at Jones Beach Theater, Wantaugh, NY

We don’t normally do reviews of concerts here, mostly because AMG and myself are old (especially me) and don’t go to shows as often as some of you whipper-snappers might. Regardless, since I just caught the legendary Iron Maiden on their Maiden England North America Tour, AMG demanded a review and loyal cog in the blog-wheel that I am: here it is and you’re welcome [The best part about exploiting workers is how they’re still polite in the process! AMG]! I should note upfront, I have a very long running relationship with Maiden. They were the first band I ever saw in concert (way back on the Powerslave tour in ’85) and I’m a fanboy and always will be (hell, I even liked The X Factor!! [Anyone with taste likes the X Factor. — AMG]). There’s something else I should get off my chest too: I totally missed Alice Cooper’s opening act. While I respect the man’s role in the annals of metal history [Heh, you said annalButthead], I never much cared for his music, and since it was a beach concert on a beautiful, sunny day in New York, I opted to drink beers on the beach with friends instead of going in early for his set. I regret nothing, though I suppose it makes a me a sub par concert reviewer. So, with all my cards on the table and housekeeping done, let us proceed.

Before I even got into the stadium, I learned from the kindly drunk guy at the urinal next to me that Maiden would be using the set design from their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour and would be featuring a lot of material from that album in the set list. Since that’s my all time favorite Maiden opus [And my all time favorite heavy metal recordAMG], this excellent news almost made me turn and hug the guy, which would have been awkward (and messy) for obvious reasons. Decorum prevailed and I later blessed that kindly drunk when the lights revealed the blue ice set from Seventh Son as they opened with “Moonchild” and “Can I Play With Madness” back-to-back. Brilliant stuff!

Despite some initial sound problems (likely because the stadium is an odd, open-air amphitheater surrounded by water on three sides), the band sounded great and the golden pipes of Lord Dickinson the Ageless seemed in particularly fine form. He was his usual manic bundle of energy and ran from one side of the stage to the other and up and over the ice self sets while singing his little heart out. Keeping to habit, Adrian Smith and Dave Murray didn’t move around much and played their riffs and solos with a stoic, “no bullshit” kind of attitude. Of course, Janick Gers ran around, spazzed out, twirled his guitar more than he actually played it, and generally acted like a clown with ADHD. I personally find his antics annoying and I try to avoid looking at him most of the time, but I suppose some people like that kind of stuff.

Because this tour isn’t in support of a new album, it’s essentially a “greatest hits” show covering only material up through the Fear of the Dark album. They wowed the crowd by uncorking classics like “Running Free” and “Iron Maiden,” but completely skipped Killers and only played one song from Piece of Mind (“The Trooper”). While I’m not a hater of Fear of the Dark, I don’t think we needed two cuts off there (title track and “Afraid to Shoot Strangers”) at the expense of classics like “Flight of Icarus” and “Revelations.” I was also bummed they didn’t play “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” [Remember that tour where they didn’t play anything later than Powerslave a few years ago? Quit yer whining. — AMG]

The highlight of the show was the big, bombastic airing of “Seventh Son” and “The Clairvoyant,” which included several large-scale Eddie sculptures, fireworks and enough dry ice smoke to hide all of Long Island from the hated tax collectors. Bruce really sounded great and the songs crackled and hummed with electricity and power. Other standout moments included the powerhouse performance of “Ace’s High” and a speedy rendition of “Phantom of the Opera.”

Ever the consummate performer, Bruce had the crowd eating out of his hand from jump. He gamely argued the merits of New Jersey with a partisan New York crowd [Taking his life into his own handsAMG], questioned why the stage was surrounded by water and why we were all gathered on a glorified sand strip, and even made light of the legal troubles Nicko got himself into last time they played Jones Beach (he ran over a parking lot attendant). On a personal note, the over/under on wardrobe changes by Bruce was set at three by my friends and I wisely chose the over and won big. The final count was up near seven or so, in case you were wondering.

Overall, a great performance by a legendary band and a fun, nostalgic show, even if they skipped some crowd favorites. It’s somehow comforting that I still get goosebumps when I hear certain songs live and to realize these magical compositions have been the soundtrack of my life for thirty long years. Wow, there’s some fanboy gushing for ya (there’s a lot of that going around at AMG this week)! I’m already looking forward to the next tour, likely to be dubbed Maiden the Stone Age, but until then, all hail Iron Fucking Maiden!

« »