Iron Maiden, Dream Theater
June 9, 2010
(Just Slightly) Better than: Staying home and watching Spinal Tap for the 200th time.
On a night when the weather took a breather from unbearable, the sky was overcast and the temperature hovered in the 70s as 12,000 or so metalheads descended upon Fair Park's Superpages.com Center to revel in all that is Iron Maiden.
People of all ages and (seemingly) all economic demographics picked out their favorite Iron Maiden t-shirts and quickly got down to the business at hand: drinking overpriced beer and banging their heads until their necks were sore.
But first, there was a little thing called an opening band to deal with. And to be fair, Dream Theater put on a pretty good show. Starting with "As I Am" from Dream Theater's 2003 effort Train of Thought, James LaBrie and crew put on a relatively brief and dynamic performance that thrilled the faithful but bored those elderly Maiden fans who were already thinking about getting up the following day.
At around 8:45, Bruce Dickinson and the rest of Iron Maiden hit the stage and all was right with the rock and rolls gods (or in this case, demons).
The stage set-up was immense and intricate as Dickinson roamed all about as triple guitarists Dave Murray, Janick Gers and Adrian Smith soloed and riffed away, much to the thrill of the sweaty throng.
As I roamed the crowd, I sensed some discontent with Iron Maiden's choice of material. Consisting mostly of material from the three most recent efforts (including the soon to be released The Final Frontier), the set list left a few in the audience scratching their (metal) heads.
"I'm a fan of '80s Maiden," proclaimed one tattooed spectator. "I don't even know what most of these songs are called."
That fan's opinion was clearly not shared by all; those in the healthy mosh pit pumped their fists to each and every song.
Still, when Iron Maiden finally got around to the band's back catalog (which didn't happen until late into the evening), the crowd became much more involved.
When the giant demon arose from the back of the stage at the beginning of "Number of the Beast," I thought the roof of Superpages.com was going to melt away.
It's not like the recent songs from Iron Maiden are bad. Indeed, most of the songs from the forthcoming album were timeless in their metal sound: martial beats held together by a guitar onslaught that would have left Hendrix breathless. But, for all of their collective might, the new songs just aren't the classics of such early Maiden fare as "Aces High," "The Trooper" and the band's signature cut "Run to the Hills."
AND IRON MAIDEN DID NOT PLAY ANY OF THOSE.
So after the last notes of "Running Free," the final song of the only encore, fans trudged away from the venue--some ecstatic just to have seen Iron Maiden in Dallas for the first time in nearly a decade, others grumbling about not hearing the songs that brought the band to prominence back in the day.
Personal Bias: One of the reasons I have always respected (if not always liked) Iron Maiden is the fact that the band has a sense of humor missing from many acts in the metal genre. I mean, hell, when a giant called Eddie roams the stage and then plays with the guitarist's long mane of blonde hair (during a solo no less), even those with the darkest hearts would have to chuckle.
Random Note: I took my 13 year old son to the show. It was his first big concert experience, and judging by his smile after the show, I'd say he liked it. "I can't hear anything," he told me in the car. "That's supposed to happen," I said. Perhaps 13 is the best age to truly appreciate Iron Maiden.
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By The Way: The audience was (at least) 85 percent male. And the 15 percent that were female (or other)....well, let's just hope that they had sparkling personalities.
The Wicker Man
Ghost Of The Navigator
Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
These Colours Don't Run
No More Lies
Brave New World
Fear Of The Dark
The Number of the Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name