Iron Maiden - Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Wednesday 3rd of August
Like tea and toast, miserable wet summers, and repeats on television, Iron Maiden are now a firmly entrenched part of the British psyche. Over thirty years of churning out albums of slamming riffs and pseudo-historical epics, has done nothing to diminish our love for them (barring a brief period in the late 90s when there wasn't an awful lot of love for the Blaze Bayley incarnation of the band). And their new album, The Final Frontier shows that there's life in the old dog yet.
However, it is exactly this notion that the band are still alive and kicking that proves to be one of the most difficult aspects of witnessing them live. Founder and principle songwriter Steve Harris has worked long and hard to prevent his band from fading into irrelevancy, and damn sure he's going to let us know about it.
Thus follows song after song drawn from the band's 2000s period, perhaps testing the patience of the casual fan. Big hitters like 'Run to the Hills' and 'The Trooper' are ignored in favour of more recent efforts like 'Dance of Death' and 'Talisman', and the overall effect is that the average Joe Punter might be left wondering what all the fuss is about, as solo duels with solo, and Bruce Dickenson's trademark operatic wail rises above it all like a banshee.
But in a sense, this is missing the point. Iron Maiden have worked very hard to build up a fiercely loyal fanbase, and in their eyes, these songs DELIVER. The roar that greets 'The Wicker Man' proves that this band are as relevant in the 21st century as they were in the previous one. Future classics like 'Eldorado' and 'Coming Home' get a similar response, confirming that Iron Maiden will not be going away anytime soon.
And if this doesn't sway you, then how about a 10 ft high anamatronic Eddie monster wandering about and playing guitar, before re-appearing as a gargantuan beast, as big as a planet, preparing to devour the universe. As Bruce Dickenson yelled (repeatedly), "Scream for me Belfast!"
Belfast duly obliged.
Words: Steven Rainey
Photo: Carrie Davenport
(To view the full set of photos from the gig visit the ATL Flickr)