Review by Paddy Gallagher for MPM
Scream for me Dublin!! It’s great to be back; one big happy family. As is usual wherever Maiden play the arena is sold out; Metalheads having travelled from afar to take in a date (if not another date) on the Future Past Tour 2023.
Maiden’s travelling support has always been a standout feature of attending one of their gigs, you could meet fellow fans from any corner of the globe and tonight is no exception. Indeed, our own band of 50-somethings (cough ok in one or two cases 40-somethings) have gathered, some bringing their next generation of Metalheads to the concert in an excellent example of conscientious, thoughtful and proper parenting. Some of the gang travelling from Scotland and England to meet up in our traditional fashion, a necessity when Maiden tour and a regular fixture of our gig calendar.
Pre-gig, and it is well evident throughout Dublin who is playing in the town tonight! The Metal masses are everywhere and in and around the Point Village area of the city, where the venue is located, we have taken over. It’s so good to soak up the vibes and enjoy another adventure and again experience that welcome feeling of camaraderie that is always there between Metalheads.
There are 2 other gigs from different musical paths in Dublin tonight resulting in hotels and taxis being at a premium, and in the case of hotels, a ridiculous premium it is but that’s another story for another forum.
And so, just before 18:30, doors are opened, and everyone filters in with beelines made for the Merch Desks and/or Bars. As is usual, the sheer variety and standout artwork of Maiden’s merch is jaw dropping with queues lining up along the lengths of the desks and nearly 12 deep if not more. It takes a while to work your way to the front, queues are slow moving but once there it’s like Christmas again.
I must confess to not being familiar with the support act, Lord of the Lost. Coming from Germany, having represented their country in this year’s Eurovision, a bit of research shows they have released 8 studio albums to date, 5 orchestral albums, 4 live alums, 2 compilations and 6 EPs to date (thank you Wikipedia).
Their music is highly popular in their homeland and to my ears reflect the musings of countrymen Rammstein and the USA’s Nine Inch Nails, with a bit of Glam thrown into the mix.
Coming last in the Eurovision should be considered a compliment and the exposure gained reaped! As for their performance tonight, a considerable amount of the crowd reacted favourably, the musicians putting in a tight and overall polished performance. It’s not an easy job opening for Maiden, most being here for one thing only, but they demonstrated good use of the stage and look to be comfortable playing an arena of this size.
At 20:54 the familiar chords of “Doctor, Doctor” summoned the masses stampede like from the concourse because everyone knows what is about to happen and after a bit of flashing neon lighting and a bit of Bladerunner, and the intro to “Caught Somewhere In Time” with the band storming the stage as the covers drop to a roar of a foundation shaking welcome from the assembled.
The crowd singing along with Bruce word for word the band members looking as equally delighted to be here as the punters obviously are and we get the first echoes of “Scream for me Dublin” from Bruce who runs from stage left to stage right whipping up the crowd as the guitarists solo. The twin harmonies of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith leading into the sing-along chorus.
“Stranger in a Strange Land” is next with Steve’s throbbing bass leading into that riff! And the first appearance of three tonight from Eddie bedecked in his cyborg gunslinger attire, lounging stage right, cool as you like.
Next up are 3 from the latest studio album, “Senjutsu”; “The Writing on the Wall” with the tasty acoustic intro from Adrian Smith and the classy motorbike riding Eddie on the backdrop; “The Days of Future Past” followed by “The Time Machine”, before a nostalgic trip back to the “Number of the Beast” album as the voice of Patrick McGoohan signals “The Prisoner” …….and Number 6 informs Number 2 “I am not a number! I am a free man!”
Another fine song from “Senjutsu” next as Bruce explains “the death of the celts is complete and utter bollocks” as we are not dead, and “it just goes to show we can’t keep a good bunch of people down”. I must admit the backdrop for “Death of the Celts” is one of my favourites showing a desolate landscape with a raven resting on top of a Celtic Cross and a sword standing upright to the foreground of an ancient battle field. That knocks “The Clansman” backdrop from the last tour in to second place.
“Can I Play With Madness” is followed by “Heaven Can Wait” two sing-along inspiring songs with “Heaven Can Wait” heralding the appearance of Cyborg Eddie to a gunfighting duel with Bruce who winds him up by teasing “where’s your sword……oh, he’s got a gun”
How great is it to finally hear “Alexander The Great” live? Magical! And a memorable gong playing boo-boo from Bruce! The iconic “Fear of the Dark” is next with the crowd woah-oh-ohing along with the intro and a cloaked Bruce skulking over the stage.
And maybe my 3rd favourite Maiden backdrop. Main set closer is the one song they can’t leave off the setlist, “Iron Maiden”. How do you write such a classic at an early age? And we are treated to a 3rd appearance from Eddie, this time as his Samurai alter ego.
After a brief wait, we get taken to “Hell on Earth” complete with an Eddie Statue of Liberty backdrop and pyro. “The Trooper” gets a loud cheer as the iconic riff rings out and alas, just as we are closing in on 23:00, we are implored not to spend our time worrying about those “Wasted Years”. Janick Gers is his usual live bundle of energy with movements that make a few audience members instinctively reach for their lower backs.
This was Steve Harris’s 2nd gig in two nights having played with his side project British Lion the previous night in Dublin’s Opium venue. No sign of any tiredness on Steve, amazing! And what can be said of Nicko? Lucky not to be concussed by a gong, the man put in a hell of a performance.
It’s sad when a Maiden show is over. The band having a well-deserved Guinness on stage as I seriously contemplated checking to see if tickets were still available for the next gig on the tour, Monday 26th June in Glasgow. The gig over, the buzz of what was witnessed lasted long into the night.
Up The Irons!
Photography by MPM