Legendary metal rockers Iron Maiden return to Charlotte for the first time in nearly five years
By: Nathan Leslie | Iron Maiden images by: John McMurtrie
With a career spanning over 4 decades and 16 albums, metal legends Iron Maiden continue to prove clearly that age is just a number! Not even a week into their Book of Souls US Tour, the band was in high spirits and as energetic as ever.
Before getting to the main event, Swedish metal band Ghost kicked off a truly devilish night of music. Known for their theatrical and satanically themed music, they were the perfect choice to get the night started. Led by lead vocalist Papa Emeritus III and the Nameless Ghouls, Ghost took on a 45 minute opening set.
Entering the stage one by one, the Nameless Ghouls kicked into “Square Hammer,” off 2016’s Popestar EP. Papa made his grand entrance atop the riser mid-stage in a cloud of haze. The mesmerizing frontman lead the charge through a Meliora heavy set, the band’s 2015 release that features Grammy-winning song “Cirice.”
Papa addressed the crowd later in the set with various quips about the crowd reaching orgasm to the music being played. In typical Ghost fashion, the band concluded their set with “Monstrance Clock,” off the 2013 release Infestissumam. Leaving the stage with the closing lines of the song “Come together, together as a one. Come together for Lucifer’s son.”
Check out the rest of Ghost’s gallery right here!
Even with a well-received response from the crowd, I could tell that the fans were just eager to get Iron Maiden on the stage.
To kick off the main event, UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” began playing through the PA, known to the hard-core fans as a signal that the band was preparing to take the stage. The amped-up crowd got on their feet, as they knew what was quickly approaching. While videos played on the screens, the band’s crew, a.k.a the Killer Krew, unveiled the staging, revealing a Mayan Temple theme.
Once uncovered, the lights turned on to reveal vocalist Bruce Dickinson standing atop the temple, as he kicked off “If Eternity Should Fail,” off the band’s most recent release, The Book of Souls. “Speed of Light,” another one off of The Book of Souls, was up next for a nice one-two punch of newer tunes to get the crowd moving.
One of the standout moments of the show happened right when “Speed of Light” kicked off. Dickinson, who is an airline pilot, took flight right on the stage. While off stage when the song begins, Dickinson ran onto the stage and propelled himself off the center stage monitors, launching himself midair and landing right at the front of the stage. Dickinson, who is 58, shows no signs of slowing down. The captivating frontman kept this up for the duration of the evening.
Not to be outdone, the rest of the Iron Maiden crew was also very lively, especially bassist Steve Harris and guitarist Janick Gers. Gers, one of the most riveting guitarists to see perform, spun his guitar clear around his body and over his head throughout the night, even channeling his inner-Pete Townshend while doing a windmill as he played throughout the night.
“The Red and the Black,” one of the six The Book of Souls songs played, was clearly the most memorable. The nearly 15 minute song featured a long interlude while Dickinson left the stage. During this time, the triple guitar threat of Gers, Adrian Smith, and Dave Murray, along with Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain showcased their abilities with a long instrumental section composing the middle portion of the song.
“The Trooper,” off the band’s 1983 release Piece of Mind, followed and was the clear fan favorite of the night. The crowd lit up with light from cell phones as people began filming the song. On-stage, Dickinson donned a red coat soldier uniform and a Union Jack flag, much alike the album artwork for the Piece of Mind release. Dickinson made his way around the exterior of the temple staging while waving the flag throughout the song.
Eddie, the band’s iconic mascot, made his appearance during “The Book of Souls” late in the set. The 12’ tall Eddie made his way around the stage interacting with everyone. Dickinson, who got into a scuffle with Eddie, punched through Eddie’s chest, ripped out his heart, and slung it into the crowd!
The 12-song main set was very heavy on The Book of Souls release, with half of the set from the album. The rest of the set would feature a nice mixture of the bands older, more familiar tunes such as “Children of the Damned,” “Powerslave,” and of course the self-titled “Iron Maiden,” which wrapped up the band’s set before the encore.
After “Iron Maiden” ended and the band left the stage, the crowd quickly began chanting “Maiden!” over and over. The 3-song encore kicked off with “The Number of the Beast,” off of the 1982 release of the same name. A song that was very controversial when originally released, there was no mistake that the crowd was prepared and sang along to every lyric.
The night concluded with “Wasted Years,” off of the 1986 release Somewhere in Time. The capacity crowd remained intact throughout the night and the crowd cheers at the end showed that Iron Maiden still has it after all of these years. Don’t miss an opportunity to see the metal legends live in your area.
See full gallery of the night here.