Saturday, June 21, 2008

Iron Maiden: Old guard still the vanguard of heavy metal

A review of Iron Maiden at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA, Friday, June 20.

This was the second time I've seen the gods of metal on their "Somewhere Back In Time" tour, which features a setlist and stage show from Iron Maiden's golden years (roughly 1982-92). Once again, they kicked major ass, despite some problems with the sound (see below). Maiden continues to wave the flag for heavy metal and are the epitome of showmanship and professionalism. May they continue to wave the Union Jack--and the Heavy Metal standard--for years to come.

Iron Maiden did not change its setlist (you can read my prior review here), so I won't spend a lot of time on the review of the show, which more or less replicated the former show. There were a few more stage effects this time, including a giant mummy Eddie that emerged from an oversized golden Pharoah mask. Good stuff.

Friday's show was not sold out, which was a disappointment, but it was probably at 85% capacity. Even better was the large number of younger fans I saw walking around, mixed in with the older dudes like me. It does my heart good to see so many teenagers latching on to Maiden this late in their still prolific careers. Iron Maiden is and remains the best heavy metal band of them all, and I hope these youngsters appreciated seeing greatness before their eyes. This was the eighth time I've seen Maiden and I still get giddy like a schoolgirl every time.

One other bit of good news from the show: Bruce Dickinson announced that the band would be back again for a future tour in support of a new album. He said that the band was planning to hit the recording studio after this tour. This was good and surprising news for two reasons:

1. Good: Iron Maiden could retire any time they choose, and I still hold my breath with each studio release, fearing it may be their last. However, Maiden is still producing incredible material, so why should they stop? I'm a huge fan of all three of their last releases (Brave New World, Dance of Death, A Matter of Life and Death), and they remain creatively fresh and vital and on top of their game.

2. Surprising: I thought Maiden's plan all along was to do three tours in support of each of their "periods": The early years (Iron Maiden through Piece of Mind, which they did as part of the Ozzfest bill in 2005), the middle years (this tour), and their later material. But perhaps their next tour will highlight the new album and be supplemented with material post Fear of the Dark. Time will tell, I suppose. I frankly would love this, although I know there's a sizable and stupid percentage of Maiden's fan base that would prefer that they play only 80's songs.

The sound
One more disappointing detail: Friday's show was unfortunately marred by poor sound, a fact confirmed by a second reviewer from The Boston Herald. When I saw Maiden at the Izod Arena in New Jersey back in March the sound was a good deal superior. The sound at the Comcast Center was muddled and Dickinson's mike was much too low in the mix. It improved as the night wore on, but it took way, way too long.

Frankly, there's no excuse for this. To the assholes who performed the sound checks for Maiden in Mansfield: You suck, and please return the pay you received for your day's work. Back in the old days guitar techs would come out and actually play (imagine that!) to make sure the sound was correct and mixed properly; however, never once did I hear a single instrument played before Maiden took the stage on Friday night, and it showed. People pay big bucks for concert tickets and often wait years to see their favorite bands, so there's no excuse for extended periods of poor sound.

More ridiculousness: $8 beers? $35 t-shirts? Outrageous. At the risk of sounding like the old man from The Simpsons, back in my day t-shirts were $20, and beers were $3.50! Some of the t-shirts had great artwork, and I would have sprung for one except for the price tag. I just couldn't make myself buy a piece of clothing that would fade to a pale grey, shrink to the size of a postage stamp, and begin to disintegrate after three washings.


Anonymous said...

Yes! They are still the greatest.

Badelaire said...

Hail! Hail! Hail and Kill!

Oh wait, wrong band...

Maiden does effing rule. I saw them last October at the BU Agganis, and it was a mind-blowing experience. The only issue I had (although it ws not their fault necessarily) as that a good 2/3rds of the music was just going through their new album title by title, and while I like it well enough, since it was my first Maiden concert, I wanted more of the old stuff. They did a great Fear of the Dark, which is one of my top five Maiden tracks, but still...kinda sad.

Brian Murphy said...

Hey Badelaire, I was at the same show! I knew going in that they were going to play the entirety of A Matter of Life and Death, so I wasn't bothered by it. I thought it was a great show (and we'll never see that setlist again), but I know that a lot of fans who wanted more of the old material were pissed.

Anonymous said...

Up the Irons. Maiden is the best best metal band, and Dickinson's solo stuff is right up there with their best work. I actually perfer their recent work to the "classic" stuff. Gately

Mikey C. said...

Up The Irons! I love maiden and do a podcast dedicated to them -