Some of you may or may not have checked out Harley’s concert review of Iron Maiden’s show in Washington D.C. You can go here to check out his experience as a novice Maiden concert viewer and also to get much better pics then I could dredge up. You see, I too went to their show but it was in the outskirts of Sacramento this past week. Iron Maiden is currently on tour for what is dubbed Maiden England and it’s a re-creation of the 1988-89 tour in support of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son much like they did a few years ago when they recreated the Powerslave World Slavery tour. This is my fourth time seeing a Maiden show since 2000 and as always I was excited to check them out because Iron Maiden by far is one of, if not the best live metal band today which is saying quite a bit considering they’ve been at this for over 30 years. I also decided to take the oldest of my two boys to this since he’s almost 15 and I wanted his first real concert experience to be from the best. I apologize for the lack of pics but my camera sucks and his Iphone was a disappointment in that department so hopefully my words won’t be snorefest. I’ll make due with video from Youtube of the same show.
I wasn’t even sure if the show was going to go on to be honest. It’s been a hot and dry summer this year and this was one night where there were scattered showers and lightning. And I’m talking huge bolts flying across the site and usually venues will put the kibosh on shows if lightning is in the area but the show went on as scheduled. The venue was the Sleeptrain Amphitheater which technically is not in Sacramento but about 30 miles north in the middle of nowhere. Sacramentos sad state of arena shows of late had made this a rarity that this venue was even hosting a band like Iron Maiden. The last time I was at this venue was 10 years ago with Godsmack and System of a Down as co headliners so I didn’t remember if the sound system was shitty or not.
Unlike Harley who got a double bill of legends with Alice Cooper opening, we had the honor(?) of having Coheed and Cambria be the openers. Now I’m not too familiar with their music save one or two songs but I know they were sort of a hard rock/prog metal outfit with a vocalist that at least on albums sang like a little girl. So my expectations were moderate to low for what the band brought to the table. And for most of their set we were up on the lawn area and honestly I felt like we were at some festival with the band playing and no one except a bunch of girls were really paying attention because the songs weren’t very engaging at least not for me. Even my kid was not too impressed. That is until they kicked into this number.
This person was obviously much closer then I was and so the flaws in this performance are more apparent but from back in the lawn area this cover sounded great and I got into it. But then it was back to ho hum land afterwards even when they finished with their “hit” ‘Welcome Home’. The problem with bands opening for Maiden, and this is the second show in the row that this has happened, is that you’re only alotted 45 minutes so there is just enough time to cram 6 songs in and say a few words in between and you’re out. It happened with Dream Theater and it happened here so I really couldn’t get a good vibe of what their stage presence is supposed to be. Somebody tell me if they’re really good live otherwise. Here is their setlist.
Now we come to the main event and again, Iron Maiden is the best at what they do. The weather sucked, the crowd sucked(more on that later) but these guys are the consummate professionals and tried their best to put on a great show for everybody. It seems that Iron Maiden is trying to please everyone and keep themselves interested in this touring thing by alternating tours between classic tours and tours with newer material. So if you were upset to tears that on the Frontier tour Run To the Hills wasn’t played for the millionth time then you’re in luck here. One thing of note is that they had played down in the South Bay the night before and apparently we were treated to a full show that they were not which was cool. And by full show I mean the full special effects extravaganza. And for this tour the effects were the best I’ve ever seen at any Maiden show. Animatronic Eddies, Eddies dressed in 1800’s military uniform doing battle with Janick Gers, flames, and fireworks. Not to mention the backdrops were amazing with the artwork that they’d rotate with every song. Of course Mother Nature had her own light show going on too which I think led the show being rushed as the usual break from the main set to the encore was almost non existent and Bruce Dickinson’s usual long banter was not as abundant this time. Then again the vibe from the crowd could have also led to the seeming rush job of getting through a 17 song set too. Before I get into that tirade here is one of the best vids that kind of encapsulates the show the best.
From our vantage point on the lawn the sound was great throughout which is a surprise for an amphitheater setting because usually the low end gets lost or there are feedback problems but for this show I had no complaints with the sound whatsoever. Here is the full set list and the balance was pretty decent even if a couple of my least favorite tunes from the old days were on there.
Alright, so I’ve mentioned the crowd more then once so I better get this off my chest. As I said I had seen the band three previous times and I’ve watched a couple of DVD’s over the years and their show is very interactive. Sacramento is not used to getting Iron Maiden in town but that is no excuse for the utter lack of apathy here. For one thing the lawn area where we were was not even close to being filled to capacity. Granted it’s a large lawn area but with it being Maiden you would think it would have been packed with people. Not only was it sparse but the fans that were occupying this area seemed to think this was a picnic under the stars and not a metal show. People laying down getting baked on weed, sitting in lawn chairs texting people, filming the whole show on their shitty little smart phones. At one point during the opening strains of the Trooper I was getting pissed and yelled “Come on motherfuckers get into it” and all I got was blank stares. The song Fear of the Dark is now one of the most interactive songs on the set and I barely heard a peep from the crowd during the guitar parts and nary a bounce when the song kicks in near the end. What the fuck Sacramento? Have you not watched a Maiden DVD to know what to do with certain songs? We actually moved down to the seating area when Aces High started and the seating area was no better with people just standing, arms crossed, and just watching. Pathetic.
And honestly the crowds behavior or lack thereof is what ruined this show for me. My kid got into it when I did and he said he had fun so that’s a victory there I guess but part of the experience is the crowd feeding off each other too and when there is no energy you can believe the band notices too. Sacramento better hope these guys come through again and if they do you better be more excited then you were. News travels fast and you can believe if Iron Maiden thinks you were a shit crowd they will make a point not to schedule another gig again for another 10 years at least.