Iron Maiden. Two words which should strike a chord with any metal fan the world over, and with good reason. Since they broke through in 1970 as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, the Londoner’s have become quite simply the biggest metal band that our nation has ever produced, influencing everyone from Metallica to Lady GaGa and boasting over 85 million in terms of record sales. All six members may be well into their fifties, yet they still hold a reputation as one of the greatest live acts on the planet, routinely selling out football stadiums in every corner of the civilised globe. With this in mind, this 11,000 capacity arena represented a relatively small venue for such big hitters, not that they made any effort to scale down.
Never ones to take themselves too seriously, the band was flanked by ludicrous space-themed props, and inevitably unleashed their iconic mascot Eddy, firstly as a ten-foot anamatronic monster and later as an enormous bust in the backdrop. The actual performance also hardly differed from their stadium act, with most the big guns aired and Bruce Dickinson showing once more why he’s one of rock music’s greatest frontmen. His titanic vocals may inevitably be deteriorating with age, but his mighty voice is still among the best in the business. However, it’s his abilities as a showman which remain his most impressive quality, and his ability to grasp a crowd in the palm of his hand remains completely undiminished. Moreover, his onstage energy and enthusiasm is a factor which proves just as important as the actual songs in preserving his band’s notorious live show.
That said, much of Iron Maiden’s music remains completely untouchable, being amongst the best metal ever put to tape. Indeed the appeal of songs such as "Fear Of The Dark," "2 Minutes To Midnight" and "The Evil That Men Do" will never fade so long as the band continue to pump in as much energy and enthusiasm. They put just as much into new tracks from latest album The Final Frontier, though they hardly reached the same standard, and the absence of the crowd’s collective voice shouting along to every word made for a somewhat subdued atmosphere. Such glitches are nothing, though, when you’ve got such a strong back catalogue to lean on, and the band used this to their advantage after a slightly sluggish start.
The show really came to life when "The Trooper" and "The Wicker Man" provided a fantastic one-two punch, but few would argue that they saved the best for the encore. As ever, they returned on stage to the iconic intro to "The Number Of The Beast," before ripping through the song itself which, despite having been played at virtually every one of their shows for the past 30 years hasn’t aged a day. This was swiftly followed by a colossal run through fan favourite "Hallowed Be Thy Name," before they ended with early cut "Running Free." Although there was an undoubted sense of disappointment that they didn’t play longer, that trio proved a thrilling apex to what overall was an excellent show. They proved once again that age is no barrier to a band if they have the appetite to continue, especially if you have a following as extensive as theirs. Certainly their future continues to look bright, and although some reports claim they’re approaching their twilight years, there really seems no reason why this well-oiled metal machine can’t continue for another decade at least.