by Graham "Gruhamed" Hartmann
Seeing IRON MAIDEN live in concert is like visiting the Grand Canyon, seeing a Solar Eclipse or making whoopee in a public restroom, it’s something you need to do at least once before you die. There is nothing in the world like a Maiden show, and on July 12, 2010 I finally got to experience the greatest live band on the planet.
Walking into Madison Square Garden is an experience in itself, and seeing 20,000 rabid fans collectively anticipating the entrance of their metal heroes is more than just a sight to be seen. After Dream Theater finished their set, a sort of chaotic calm swept the stadium, the crowd comforted by the fact that their wait was almost over. Classic metal songs such as “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark,” (the latter receiving a monstrous response from the crowd) added another layer of community to the buzzing collective. Finally UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” came blasting from the speakers, notifying the fans that IRON MAIDEN were about to take the stage. It was no secret either, as the crowd all rose from their seats and began to fill Madison Square Garden with fanatical screams. The stadium finally blacked out and the space-age set was revealed, including a background of stars accenting the swirling spaceship lights. It was time. One by one the sextuplet ran out onto the stage, playing the opening chords to “The Wickerman.” It was a great song choice to open the show with, especially with the whole crowd singing “Your time will come” along with the chorus.
Next was one of Maiden’s more operatic songs from the Brave New World album, “Ghost of the Navigator.” The 7-minute epic was absolutely mind-blowing, and received a well-earned response from the New York crowd. During “Wrathchild,” legendary vocalist Bruce Dickinson hit an incredible high note, which left me in a daze. I looked over to my left to gauge my friend Joe's reaction, only to see him mouthing exactly what I was thinking; “Holy shit.”
After the song ended, Bruce took a moment to thank the fans on making this their “biggest tour ever” even though they weren’t sticking to their classics. He thanked the crowd again for “having faith” in IRON MAIDEN’s ability to still create incredible songs, unlike other bands who act more like antique shows. After playing the breathtaking, “These Colours Don’t Run,” Bruce dedicated their next song, “Blood Brothers” to the late Ronnie James Dio, who Dickinson credited as a mentor and a legend. The crowd began chanting, “Di-o! Di-o! Di-o!” as Bruce raised his devil horns \m/ \m/ to the sky, inviting the crowd to join him and scream for the late singer. He also stated that although Dio sang about the devil, there was not one bad bone in his body.
“Wildest Dreams” brought back the up-beat feeling throughout the garden, followed by sing-along anthems “No More Lies” and “Brave New World.” The anthems didn’t stop there however, with crowd favorite “Fear of the Dark” beginning to fill the stadium. Much like the legendary Rock in Rio live recording of the song, the crowd bellowed along with the lead guitar, showcasing the incredible passion IRON MAIDEN fans are renowned for. “Fear of the Dark” is perhaps the only song ever written, in which the crowd are truly considered to be one of the instruments. “Iron Maiden” was the next song played, in which they debuted a new “Eddie” robot. Modeled after the album art for their upcoming effort, “The Final Frontier” this was easily the most impressive robot used in a Maiden show to date. The machine moved so fluidly and so realistically, I almost thought it was a 10-foot tall person in a costume. The band even gave Eddie a guitar, which it was able to hold and even strum. IRON MAIDEN said goodnight and left the stage, teasing the crowd before an encore of “Number of the Beast,” “Hallowed be thy Name” and “Running Free.”
There was a bit of animosity online when the set list was revealed on sites such as Metal Set Lists for the band choosing to play newer songs instead of classics. Even I was a bit disappointed at first, this being my inaugural Maiden show. But the more I listened to the set list on my ipod, the more I understood the concept, which IRON MAIDEN was pursuing. They added in their most gigantic, longest and most epic songs, (apart from “Ancient Mariner”) to create more of an operatic feel. Sure classics such as “Aces High,” “The Trooper,” and “Children of the Damned” would have been great to see, but the heavy metal symphony which Iron Maiden concocted in this tour, at least to me, is just as satisfying to experience. So to all of those who have tickets to see a day of “The Final Frontier World Tour,” get ready for some of the 2 of the greatest hours of your life, and to once again realize why IRON MAIDEN are the greatest live band on the planet.
Make sure to check out Iron Maiden's new music video for "The Final Frontier"