The black t-shirt brigade were out in force for last night’s sold-out Melbourne stop on Iron Maiden’s Book of Souls World Tour. The show opened with a video of Maiden’s zombie-eblazoned jumbo jet being thrust skyward by a demonic hand at which point the band leapt to the stage, tearing through a fiery, two-hour set of histrionic metal.
Eighties classics The Trooper, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Powerslave, Iron Maiden, Children of the Damned and The Number of the Beast were carefully scattered through the tight set, keeping the energy up between newer, less familiar tracks from their latest Book of Souls album. Nineties single Fear of The Dark was a clear audience favourite with the entire crowd on their feet singing in unison.
Front and centre was the the band’s unabashed willingness to embrace the absurd — this is, after all, a band that famously has a zombie character named “Eddie” as their mascot. From the overblown rock poses, to the pyro-loaded Mayan temple staging and elaborate props (zombie Eddie prowling the stage before having his heart torn out and thrown to the crowd, then a truly enormous inflatable Eddie, then a giant inflatable horned devil!), the theatrics got Spinal Tap stupid but Maiden and their fans embraced every moment with glee.
Cheese aside, clearly evident was the six-piece band’s incredible live musicianship and chemistry — honed after almost 40 years touring the world. Fifty-seven-year-old lead singer Bruce Dickinson was a particular highlight, leaping around the stage whipping the crowd into a frenzy with the energy of a teenager, and sounding better (in my view) live than on any of their studio recordings. A spectacle it was, but the theatrics would have been for nothing if Iron Maiden weren’t such a great live band.
As a wink and nod to the absurd fun that had gone before, the show ended with Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life playing over the PA. As the crowd shuffled out of the venue I heard one black T-shirter scream to the other “I CANT HEAR A THING — THAT WAS NUTS, THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!”, which I think sums up the Iron Maiden live experience perfectly.
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Tears of a Clown
The Red and the Black
Death or Glory
The Book of Souls
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast