I have been listening to Iron Maiden since I was 14 when The Number of the Beast was released. We are talking 30 years now! On June 30th, I finally caught them live at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Their tour this year is based on their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour seeing the band play 5 songs from that album nothing newer than 2 songs from 1992’s Fear of the Dark. The only thing I am asking myself is – why did I wait so long?!?
First, the bad stuff. East coast traffic between Southeastern Virginia and DC is atrocious. I hate it. Rubberneckers destroy the 3 hour drive and drive up the time required to make the trip by at least 50%. Completely ridiculous. It is also hot here. Temps broke 100 along with high humidity. Not the best circumstances for an outdoor concert, but I guess it could be worse. Concert t-shirts? $40-45. Don’t need one that bad. Seats weren’t that great either, but I did buy them kind of late, so my fault on that one (my photos aren’t that great as a result). The good? I got to go with my roommate from college (20 years ago) and see his cool condo in Arlington. Had a killer jalapeno burger before the show. Got to see Iron Maiden. The show was somewhat in limbo with the massive storms that rolled through the area the night before, knocking out power to a good deal of DC, but it wasn’t enough to keep Maiden down. I think that makes up for the bad stuff.
The opener for the first half of the tour is Alice Cooper. I admittedly have never been a big Alice fan, but this is the second time I have seen him, albeit both times as the opener for other acts. Undoubtedly he is an accomplished showman, but his hard rock is just not quite as heavy as I like. I enjoyed his hour long set, but was definitely ready to get to the main attraction.
What can I say that hasn’t been already? Probably not much but I am going to anyway. For a band that has been around for over 30 years, they still bring a lot of energy and passion to their show. It had to be 95 degrees when they started, yet Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris and Janick Gers each were madmen running and jumping around the stage all show long. I was just standing there sweating profusely, so I know they were soaked. I suppose when you are playing for 15,000 fans, that really doesn’t matter.
The sound seemed to be off a bit, but I was so far from the stage and it is essentially an outdoor show, I guess that can be expected. It was just kind of echoy in the pavilion. Had there been no roof, the sound may have been a bit better. It wasn’t bad, just not quite as clear as I thought. Other than that, the show was outstanding. The setlist spanned 7 of their albums with some definite expected tunes (Aces High, TNOTB, The Trooper, Run to the Hills) and some that were cool to hear that aren’t played quite as often (Can I Play With Madness, The Prisoner, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son).
The one thing, performance-wise, that got old was Dickinson’s continual cajoling to “Scream for me, Washington”. I get it. It was a defining part of the Live After Death album. Once or twice would have been cool. He must have done it a dozen times. Ah, well. That is actually a very minor point compared to the positive things about the show. The musical performances by the previously mentioned members, as well as Nicko McBrain and guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, were top notch – but I wouldn’t expect anything less at this point in their careers.
Highlights for the show were the song Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (live, it was tremendous), Can I Play With Madness (should be a staple in their concerts), The Prisoner (not a tune played much over the years), and probably one that is looked at derisively due to how often it is played, Run to the Hills – but it was a great sing-along for the crowd. One song is still in my head today that I wouldn’t have anticipated – The Evil That Men Do. It’s never really been one of my favorites, but I really enjoyed it last night.
I am very satisfied with the show and am so glad I got to see Iron Maiden. If you have a chance to catch them on the Maiden England tour, do it!
I hear the sound in a METAL way.