Iron Maiden takes fans on a rampage down memory lane
Iron Maiden performed their classic heavy metal hits in Vancouver on July 29, 2012. (Anil Sharma/CTV)
Published Monday, July 30, 2012 8:31AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, July 30, 2012 9:08AM PDT
For any band whose career stretches beyond a decade the mark of artistic integrity is to never rely on past glories. It’s too easy to turn into your own tribute band. Instead, it’s vital to keep creating and playing new music, reinventing and revitalising your work, developing your craft and winning new fans as you go.
That’s exactly what Iron Maiden has been doing since unleashing their debut album on the world 32 years ago. This is why the barrage of hits from the band’s first decade at the Pacific Coliseum last night came as such a neck-straining pleasure to the deodorantly-challenged metal fans of Vancouver
For lapsed Iron Maiden fans, little has changed since this ‘classic-plus-one’ line-up was carved into stone in 1999. Singer Bruce Dickinson is still an over-animated ball of theatrical energy. Guitarist Dave Murray pulls a face like a fish during every solo on every song. Drummer Nicko McBrain is invisible behind his bunker-like kit. Guitarist Adrian Smith and bassist Steve Harris emanate everyman metal charisma, while third guitarist Janick Gers’ axe juggling remains utterly surplus to requirements.
And yet, for anyone dissuaded of Maiden’s timeless brilliance by the over-reliance on newer material at their last visit to Vancouver two summers ago, they missed an all killer, minimal filler set list for the ages. It was a less than gentle stroll down memory lane.
For any fans of 1980s heavy metal who passed on the chance of a ticket last night, prepare to start kicking yourself. “Can I Play With Madness,” “The Prisoner,” “Two Minutes To Midnight,” “The Trooper,” “The Number Of The Beast” (which still resonates with fundamentalist-worrying goodness, despite the appearance of an aging and increasingly hokey-looking Satan), “The Phantom Of The Opera” and “Run To The Hills” were all unleashed in a blitzkrieg first hour that turned an already hot Pacific Coliseum into a horn-pumping, head-banging sauna.
This greatest hits collection was matched by the Best of Bruce Dickinson back catalogue of arena rock moves. No one in modern rock, with the possible exception of Dave Grohl, does more to communicate directly to the fan in the worst seat in the house. Taken out of context, his non-stop exhortations and perpetually flailing arms would look ridiculous. Basking in Iron Maiden’s rock god glow, it’s a front man master-class. “Scream for me Vancouver!” he repeatedly implored the faithful. “Scream for me VAN-COU-VAAAAAAH!”
The set closed with the eponymous “Iron Maiden,” an eight-metre high “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” incarnation of band mascot Eddie rising from the back of the stage; flames shooting from the top of his head. Naturally.
A lightning-fast encore of “Aces High,” “The Evil That Men Do” and “Running Free” rounded things off with three suitably belligerent blasts of heaviness, the band smiling from the stage as they sent the 95 percent male crowd home in a flurry of bromantic embraces.
Ferocious, timeless and just a little bit daft, Iron Maiden was utterly entertaining from start to finish. They’ll inevitably be back with some new ideas and fresh material in a year or two. But what’s the harm in an occasional rampage down memory lane?