Over the last 30 years, Iron Maiden has successfully conquered stadiums and festivals, putting on a highly technical stage show for thousands of fans at a time. After 14 albums that have sold millions of copies, they are still one of the most influential bands in the rock world. Their new, impressively produced release, A Matter of Life and Death, sparked a North American tour that has almost sold out every date, and left fans, young and old, in amazement.
At about 9 p.m., Bullet for My Valentine had just ended their set and the crew began tear down. The anticipation of the entire crowd was felt as conversation in the Nassau Coliseum was at a mere buzz.
The large black sheet draped over the entire stage had fans wondering what their favorite metal gods had in store for them. Around 30 minutes later, the lights went dim and the sheet was removed. Standing behind the curtain was Iron Maiden.
The crowd quickly changed their sullen moods as guitarists Janick Gers, Dave Murray, and Adrian Smith began playing the preface to their new album, Different World. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson was the only one absent from the stage, but soon appeared jumping off the sandbags set up in the center of stage.
The 55-year-old Dickinson still has the energy of his “Number of the Beast” era stage shows, and a voice like his nickname implies, an “air raid siren.”
As Maiden blasted through the first three songs of A Matter of Life and Death, it was clear that they were playing the album in its entirety. With outstanding energy, the band owned the stage pummeling through eight minute songs and amazing the crowd with their perfect harmony, crisp sound, and breathtaking theatricals. The mood was clearly defined when fans realized the concept of the album tied in with the set-up of the stage.
With the main point of the album centering on the war in Iraq and the soldiers that fight it, Iron Maiden outdid themselves as the stage looked as if they were playing in the midst of a battlefield. The lower tier of the stage was set up like army barracks, with rags and camouflage for covers draped over the entries.
In the center of all of this sat Lord Nicko McBrain with his 180∞ drum kit. On each side of the stage were entangled parachutes with mannequins representing dead soldiers in them completing the atmosphere of what it is like in times of war.
Consumed by the euphoria created by the ambience of the band, fans realized that they were in on their last, and in my opinion, most powerful song of the album, “The Legacy.” This close to ten minute epic was by far the most impressive song of the night. At the end of the album, Dickinson stopped the crowd and said “Ladies and gentlemen…A Matter of Life and Death.” The crowd had the most energy of the entire night at this point.
Helping to satisfy old fans, Maiden played five more songs to complete the hour and 45 minute set. Seeing this brought me into such a dumbfounded state that they all flew by so quickly.
Before I knew it, they were closing with their classic “Hallowed be thy Name.” After a few bows, and a long ovation, Iron Maiden walked off stage ending the night that will forever stay in the mind of fans as one of the greatest shows witnessed in recent memory.