Iron Maiden opened the UK leg of their Legacy Of The Beast tour in Newcastle this week. HRH Mag‘s John Burrows was invited along.
A little over a year since the Irons last came to town, the familiar intro. to Doctor Doctor rang across the PA and the frenzied locals reached fever pitch.
It’s not very often you can make an analogy about waiting for buses with Iron Maiden but after patiently praying for NWOBHM’s standard bearers to pitch up on Tyneside, one stunning show followed hot on the heels of another.
But what a difference a year makes!
Notorious for taking their time between album tours, Steve Harris and co. have switched things up with a Greatest Hits show. And this was the first time since Blaze Bayley’s stint with the band that Maiden had brought a non-album tour through the Toon.
There were countless rarities in amongst the bona fide anthems. But a stellar set kicked off with what is, arguably, the band’s most famous opening gambit in the shape of Aces High. It set the tone for the evening with a replica Spitfire dangling directly overhead (although nerdy pilot Bruce Dickinson was quick to point out that the band’s very own WW2 fighter is 10 per cent smaller than the real thing in order to fit on festival stages).
Dickinson’s hand was obvious in the design and execution of a flamboyant, theatrical stage show. And it’s Maiden’s main man who has been given a new lease of life since a truly sobering cancer scare.
In as fine form as he’s ever been, the veteran singer inspired his band mates to raise their own incredibly high standards on a night that will live long in the memory.
Where previously Maiden have sounded a bit muddy, the decision to hire Ken “Pooch” Van Druten as front of house engineer has transformed them into the entity they always should have been.
And with the their sound nailed full credit must go to Dickinson and co. for mining the band’s deep back catalogue at the same time as rolling out the ‘hits’: Clansman and Sign Of The Cross were brought back from the oft-overlooked Bayley and both proved insanely popular choices.
Overblown mascot Eddie entered the stage for a daring duel during The Trooper and if For The Greater Good Of God was the standout mid-set moment then it was Flight Of Icarus (last played in 1986), that was the real surprise.
By this point Maiden were in overdrive and a glorious show closed out with all the big hitters.
Fear Of The Dark, Number Of The Beast and Iron Maiden brought the main show to a devilish denouement but the killer encores of The Evil That Men Do and Hallowed Be Thy Name brought the house down. Run To The Hills waved off the Newcastle faithful in typically bullish fashion – hopefully a fond farewell rather than a final goodbye.
There’s always speculation about how many tours Iron Maiden have left in them but on this form there’s life in the old dogs yet.