EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—The lights began to dim in the Izod Center as stomping began amidst a sea of 20,000 fans chanting “Mai-den! Mai-den!” The air was filled with excitement and the anticipation was at a climax as fans eagerly awaited for what was to be a truly amazing show. It was quite a spectacle to see so many devoted metalhead fans all wearing Iron Maiden shirts (some even with Eddie masks), most with hair past their shoulders, all here to witness the great pioneers of metal as they captivated Jersey Maiden fans for the umpteenth time.
A devoted cult following as such required an appetizer before the heavy-metal headliners were to take the stage. Pulled from the Iron Maiden camp to warm up the audience was none other than Steve Harris’ own daughter, Lauren Harris. With her own backup band of impressive musicians, Lauren Harris controlled the stage with the same energy as her bass-wielding father. This rocker chick with metal in her blood sang four or five songs with effortless vocal skill and professional stage presence before ultimately leaving the stage with the audience hungry for more.
Opening with an excerpt from Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight On The Beaches” speech, Iron Maiden conquered the stage with “Aces High” as the energetic Bruce Dickinson hopped all over the Powerslave stage set up, enticing the audience with his soaring vocals and witty mannerisms. The band, never ceasing to amaze with their over-the-top musical ability and showmanship, pranced all over the stage. While the guitarists occasionally threw their guitars in the air and took turns soloing and harmonizing with one another, Nicko McBrain ferociously played behind his behemoth drum set with a thunderous presence.
The audience sang the words to every song and pumped their fists in the air during the chorus of “Two Minutes To Midnight” and cheered after every guitar solo. The backdrop behind the stage changed with every pair of songs to match the artwork of the album being featured. As the artwork from Piece Of Mind appeared on the backdrop, fans were delighted to see Dickinson wave the British flag in his red British military uniform during “The Trooper.”
One of the best performances of the evening was “The Number Of The Beast.” A dim red light hit the stage as the song’s intro began with a spoken recital of Revelation 13:8, which fans immediately recognized and applauded. Dickinson began to sing as the entire audience sang along, and flames shot out of the back of the stage and fireworks from the front of the stage at the climactic power chords that played during the ridiculously long scream a minute and a half into the song.
The evening wouldn’t have been as spectacular if they didn’t play their 13-minute epic song “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.” Dickinson sang while dressed in a long black cloak commanding the audience with a wave of his hand. “Fear Of The Dark” made the audience wave cigarette lighters and cell-phones at the song’s climax. Shorter and more direct songs such as “Can I Play With Madness” complemented the longer numbers and kept spirits high for the ultimate appearance of Eddie. The 20 foot tall mascot snuck onto the stage toward the end of the show, appearing the way he looked for the Somewhere In Time tour, with his helmet and laser gun chasing the guitarists and interacting with the entire band.
After leaving the stage, it became apparent that an encore was inevitable as the audience continued to shout “Mai- den! Mai-den!” as they did before the show. Storming back onto the stage, they played two songs from their Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son album. “Moonchild” was a spectacular example of strong musicianship and was appropriately placed in the set as an encore along with their next encore number, “The Clairvoyant.”
However, the final song that brought it all home was the seven-minute closing track from The Number Of The Beast, “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” From the haunting bells at the beginning of the song to the beastly guitar solos in the middle section, the audience was awestruck and was brought to a state of ultimate satisfaction during Dickinson’s climactic singing at the song’s close, on top of McBrian’s epic drum solo. Fans couldn’t have asked for a better ending.