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Iron Maiden live!

| October 25, 2006 | 0 Comments

Iron Maiden
Allstate Arena, Rosemont
Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Five songs into his band’s Allstate set Bruce Dickinson made the announcement Iron Maiden would play A Matter Of Life And Death, the group’s newest record, in its entirety, from start to finish. This drew one of two reactions from fans: 1.) Excitement because they love the new material or 2.) Frustration because they don’t want to hear anything by the band written more recently than 1992.

“We would rather play to six [to] seven thousand [people] who are into the music than 10,000 who just want a nostalgia trip,” Dickinson said defiantly between “The Longest Day” and “Out Of The Shadows.” Some concert goers roared in agreement while groans of disapproval and screams of “We want nostalgia” spread through other pockets of the crowd. And this became the night’s conflict: Do a band with such a storied past reserve the right to withhold the songs their best songs in attempt to prove they are still relevant? Better yet, can you call yourself a true “fan” if you refuse to acknowledge anything but the classics?

Though far from their prime, there is no arguing Iron Maiden are still incredibly relevant. While most bands of their stature and age have either broken up, suffered crippling lineup changes, or simply sound dated, Maiden still contribute. Life And Death doesn’t sound like a band content with earning a Gold Record on their name alone; it sounds like a band still trying to push boundaries. It is a record with obvious faults, though, and live, those problems were even more exposed. “Different World” through “The Longest Days,” the first half of the 10-song record sounded great. Against a set built to look like a war zone (monitors covered in camouflage netting and sandbags, backgrounds of bombed buildings, etc.) the group’s three-guitar (Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers) attack was crystal clear and Dickinson ran the stage with the vigor of singers half his age.

But the problems started — just like with the album – in the second half, where “Out Of The Shadows” and “The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg” dragged on with what felt like no end in sight. While Dickinson and his partner in eternal youth, bassist Steve Harris, didn’t let their energy level drop, that wasn’t the case with the rest of the band and definitely not with the crowd. Those songs, plus “Lord Of The Light” and the nearly 10 minutes of “For The Greater Good Of God,” took an obvious toll on a once-ecstatic audience. The sea of pumping fists that faithfully accompanied earlier songs was all but gone by the time Maiden finally launched into “The Legacy,” Life And Death‘s last track.

The flat line might not have been so noticeable if it weren’t in such stark contrast to what happened once Maiden hit the first verse of “Fear Of The Dark,” the first of the older songs. Mosh pits immediately erupted throughout the main floor and Smith and Harris jumped over the monitors at the front of the stage. Even the reserved Murray looked like he had received a sudden battery recharge. An equally excitable “Iron Maiden” followed then the band took their encore. Fans chanting “Maiden” held out hope a long line of hits would follow, but the truth was Maiden had already been onstage nearly an hour and a half . . . a bad sign. Out of the break the band dipped into their backlog for three more songs: an excellent run through “2 Minutes To Midnight,” “The Evil That Men Do,” which featured an appearance by a 10-foot tall, gun-toting Eddie, and “Hallowed By Thy Name.”

That was that. Houselights came on, and the crew began tearing down the stage. No “Trooper.” No “The Number Of The Beast.” No f’n “Run To The Hills” for cryin’ out loud. Ticket holders who felt unfulfilled are probably justified, but you have to admire the marbles on these guys. They did what most bands have to do: they toured behind a new album, not their reputation. For better or worse, Maiden aren’t ready to jack up the prices, roll out the sing-alongs, and count the money yet.

— Trevor Fisher

Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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