Ear to the sound


Iron Maiden – Twickenham – 5th July by quickfixx

In the early 80s, Iron Maiden took their ‘World Slavery Tour’ to the four corners and subsequently released the awesome ‘Live After Death’. Probably the best live metal album, ever (in my humble opinion). It certainly encapsulated a band, considered by many, at the pinnacle of their career. It’s not that they’ve lost any of their creativity or energy over the last two decades. If anything, the last three studio albums have included some of the best Maiden moments from an already illustrious career. But ‘Live After Death’ rocks! So, when it was announced last year that the band would resurrect the best of those 80’s years and tour the world – the present ‘Somewhere Back In Time Tour’ – most Maiden fans felt as if they’d died and gone to the great metal gig in the sky. I for one was well chuffed!



So, for the last few months, Iron Maiden have been touring the world on their own private jet, piloted by their very own lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson, bringing the highlights of ‘Powerslave’, ‘Somewhere In Time’ and ‘Seventh Son’ to a stadium near you. Last night, ‘Flight 666’ came to London for their only 2008 UK date, hence, lots of fans and a big venue.

UFO’s ‘Doctor Doctor’ blasting through the PA heralded the beginning of the show and, just as they did twenty-plus years ago, they begun the set with ‘Churchill’s Speech’, ushering in their ode to the Battle of Britain, ‘Aces High’. Some of their best songs followed – ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’, ‘Revelations’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Wasted Years’. Not forgetting encoring with the fantastic ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’. But for me, the highlight was the epic ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ slickly followed by ‘Powerslave’ – twenty minutes of uninterrupted heavy metal heaven that I for one have waited along time to hear live!

Maiden rock. Never mind how fit and nubile Sting may be, these 50-somethings bounce around the stage, jumping over pyrotechnics as if they were half their age. As a band they never fail to disappoint. The set was perfect, the crowd were united in their jubilation, and Eddie (their robotic mascot) made his usual cheeky appearance. So how come only the four stars? Well, I have a few little niggles to put to Mr Steve Harris (main song writer, bass player and fundamental lynchpin of the band). The sound was, for the most part bleedin’ awful! Any nuances and subtleties were completely lost in the muddy mush that sporadically poured out. Admittedly, I was about a third of the way back from the stage, but then so were the majority who’d paid fifty quid for a ticket. I have one other niggle, what ARE you doing Janick Gers (lead guitarist)? Stop spinning your guitar around your head and actually play the damn thing! Thank God for Adrian Smith and Dave Murray who remain pretty consistent. So, please Mr Harris, have a word with your crew and your lead guitarist. It’s just not on!

However, despite my gripes, Iron Maiden were on the whole fantastic. The poor sound quality meant that the solos weren’t always defined. Even Harris’ galloping bass disappeared in the mush at times. It was a shame, especially after much expectation. Hopefully, this will be the first and the last time they do the stadium thing in the UK, and with Bruce Dickinson briefly alluding to a new studio album in the pipeline, it looks like the beast ‘aint gonna lie down and die just yet. Up the Irons!

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