There is always a slight concern in the back of one’s mind upon going to the show of an “old” band – how has age treated them? Will they play classics or vehemently stick to showcasing new material in an attempt to distance themselves from the long-gone glory days? Do they still even like each other as people? Heavy metal legends Iron Maiden quashed all these doubts within minutes of appearing onstage for the Adelaide leg of The Book of Souls tour and proved that despite being around for over 40 years, they still know how to wow their audience.
The show opened with a stunning animation of the band’s custom Boeing 747 crash landing into a lush jungle, set to a recording of the melancholy opening riff of Doctor Doctor. Infamous mascot Eddie in his latest incarnation as an enormous loincloth-wearing jungle beast then picked up the jet with ease and propelled the Ed Force One back into the skies.
The metal pioneers burst onstage to raucous cheering from the crowd to take their places amid the Mayan-inspired set as Bruce Dickinson’s magnetic voice howled the introduction to If Eternity Should Fail, shuddering over a cauldron overflowing with smoke. The mood had been set, the crowd was ecstatic, and the band's energy and showmanship did not waver for the entirety of the two-hour long performance. The six-piece thrashed, shredded, jumped, shouted and kicked about the stage with the enthusiasm of a gang of self-assured grunge rockers rather than a band of men in their 50's and 60's, a testament to their status as one of the most influential rock bands of all time.
Far from a nostalgia show, the setlist kept to the concept of the tour by pulling heavily from 2015’s The Book of Souls smattered with a good helping of favourites including Children of the Damned, Powerslave and Fear of the Dark. The balance between old and new functioned perfectly and kept the crowd satisfied and entertained with the help of some extraordinary pyrotechnics, breathtaking backdrops and on-screen visuals featuring various iterations of Maiden's beloved red-eyed skeleton. Oh, and did we mention the 12-foot-tall Eddie parading around onstage with an axe for the duration of an instrumental driven by the thumping drumming of Nicko McBrain, ending in Dickinson ripping out the beast’s still-beating heart? So damn metal.
Just when the crowd thought the surprises were over, a giant inflatable devil appeared for The Number of the Beast, and the band’s energy somehow increased for the encore of Blood Brothers and Wasted Years. The onstage chemistry between the members was almost tangible, sending the audience into a frenzy as Janick Gers, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith interchanged electrifying guitar solos amid laughs and hilarious/endearing metal pouts.
After playing over 2000 shows since their inception in 1975, Iron Maiden have truly refined their ability to put on one of the best rock shows punters can ever hope to see – the combination of musical proficiency, vigorous stage presence and visual appeal of the show made for a mind-blowing experience not to be forgotten. Long live the kings.
Thumbnail via This is Radelaide.