Show Review: Iron Maiden with Dream Theater at Concord Pavilion, 6/20/2010

by Gordon Elgart on June 21, 2010

He not only sings, he also flies the plane from gig to gig. Really.

Bruce Dickinson, British Airways pilot and lead singer of Iron Maiden, looked out into the crowd and commented on how many people were there at this sold out show.

“They told me there’s 12,500 people here tonight. Last night, we had 25,000. That’s a lot of people for an Iron Maiden concert. Perhaps we’re getting some spillover from Christina Aguilera canceling her tour.” Some laughed while other booed. It’s not spillover. For reasons that are apparent if you’re a fan, and ones I’ll explain to you, Iron Maiden has survived as a huge draw long after other metal bands have faded away.

Opening up the show was Dream Theater, a pretty sizeable draw on their own. The progressive metal band was celebrating 25 years as a band, and were limited to a 50-minute set that focused more on the metal aspect of their sound, leaving the progressiveness in their back pocket for the most part. The highlight of this set, as it is whenever they play it, was the song “Home,” but the crowd seemed to be most into their lone radio hit “Pull Me Under” and the Rock Band 2 track “Panic Attack.” My favorite moment of their set was when a father holding up a sign that said “All I want for Father’s Day is an MP stick and a JP pick” made eye contact with Mike Portnoy toward the end of one song, and Portnoy threw him a perfect strike.

After a 45-minute break, Iron Maiden walked on stage to the tune of Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War.” Their set looked like a space station, and was decorated with dots and dashes that I guessed were Morse Code. A quick Wikipedia lookup later and I found out that the secret message said “Eddie Lives.” Perfect. Eddie is the unofficial seventh member of Iron Maiden, and appears on millions of t-shirts on millions of Iron Maiden fans throughout the world. He’s probably the most recognizable band mascot ever, and for this show, the t-shirts included Eddie eating California highways or planting a U.S. flag on the moon while stabbing a Martian among the 10 styles to choose from.

The band kicked immediately into “Wicker Man” from the Brave New World album and all of the pieces were in place immediately: Bruce Dickinson screaming and jumping around like a man half his age, three guitarists passing around riffs and solos, the drummer pounding away a tricky beat, and legendary bass player and band founder Steve Harris, well, ripping it up. Meanwhile, at every opportunity, the crowd sings along, whether lyrics or the inevitable “Whoa oh oh ohs.” It’s infectious, and it’s awesome.

There’s a real sense of fun in this band these days. Even when Nicko McBrain sorta messed up the bridge of “Wrathchild,” amused looks were passed around as opposed to the scowls you might see in some bands. They’re veterans, they have played and will play a lot of shows, and they can laugh off the errors.

Steve Harris is the man.

The three guitarists — Adrian Smith on monster riffs, Dave Murray on sweet-toned leads, and Janick Gers on shredding solos — often play at the front of the stage together, tossing their hair around and soaking up the waving fingers of the massive crowd pressed against the stage. This was a general admission pit, and the energy from the pit reflected back on the stage, and was passed throughout. This was a lively night.

As for the setlist, it focused mainly on their three most recent albums: Brave New World, Dance of Death, and A Matter of Life and Death. While they fit in some of their classics, like “Fear of the Dark,” “Number of the Beast,” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” some of their standards were skipped. I heard more than one person shouting “TROOPER” as the band turned on their lights after the final encore, but after 35 years of being the best, and arguably most popular, metal band ever, anything they choose to play is fine with me.

An Iron Maiden show is an absolute joy to watch, and if you haven’t been a part of a Maiden crowd, you really don’t know what a great crowd is. Don’t take my word for it, take Bill and Ted’s

Iron Maiden Set List for 6/20/2010

Wicker Man
Ghost of the Navigator
Wrathchild
El Dorado
Dance of Death
The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
These Colours Don’t Run
Blood Brothers
Wildest Dreams
No More Lies
Brave New World
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden
——
Number of the Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Running Free

Thanks to Flickr User rnair for sharing photos.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Isorski June 25, 2010 at 8:43 am

Great review! I saw the band a couple of nights later in Washington and they had changed the set list a bit, but rocked it just as hard. I posted a review with video and photos here – http://bit.ly/94kY6j

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Christine July 15, 2010 at 11:47 am

Awesome review. Been a Maiden fan since the 80’s however my first show in Pittsburgh last night, brought my 12yr old and my 8yr old, along with Bass Player husband (whom has seen Maiden multiple times). I have to agree with everything you wrote. I was blown away by the polished sounds that I was hearing through every song, and Bruce jumping around gave me hope for my 42yr old bones. Best thing I ever saw on stage. I love that my kids are huge fans as well, right down to the devil horns and head banging! Wish I had seen them earlier, but will always remember last night!

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