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By: Andrew Holland

“Iron Maiden is now bigger than at any other point in our history…and it’s thanks to you.”

Iron Maiden’s eternally busy singer/pilot/fencer/author/DJ Bruce Dickinson could be right, you know. England’s home of rugby is pulsating, gyrating, bouncing to the incredible power projected from this veteran sextet. Sixty-thousand cross-generational fans are screaming along to every lyric, every riff, every pounding solo, celebrating of a band that has not only meant so much to many for so long, but a band that has re-ascended to the peak of their powers. If there was any justice in the trend-obsessed media, this would be blanket coverage of this hugely significant event in British musical history, but as for most of their career Maiden remain a glorified underground band, and so to the population at large they are only known as a relic from the 80s, somewhat of a joke, rather than perhaps the most significant band Britain has to offer in the 21st century.

How has it taken Iron Maiden so long to play their first stadium gig in the UK? They have played to bigger crowds here before, most notably to 100,000 at Monsters of Rock at Donington Park in 1988, but this is the first time they’ve put on their own show to so many followers in this country. Yet, overseas they’ve enjoyed stellar acclaim in the meantime, particularly in South America where in 2001 they played Rock in Rio 3 to 250,000 people – and that is not a typo. They are huge in countries that 99% of bands would never consider going to, such as Costa Rica, Peru, friggin’ Honduras even, where they plan to play a huge stadium show on their next tour. They even have their own plane, which in a feat of rock and roll brilliance is piloted by Dickinson himself.

Never mind, though. The lack of mainstream appeal brings a sense of achievement and credibility to this Twickenham show that other bands could not have. And what a show it is.

The support acts are a disappointment to some. Lauren Harris, daughter of Maiden mainstay Steve, is the first act. She styles catchy hooks with attempted anthemic grooves from her latest offering, ‘Calm Before The Storm’, but sadly offers little new. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s not memorable at all. She’s picked up a few moves on working a crowd, but the music is too weak to have any kind of effect in conjunction with them. “I want to see you pumping your fists in the air at the back”, she screams, and is rewarded with a perfunctory offering. Still, she can sing, she’s part of the Harris bloodline, and to the delight of anyone who hasn’t seen her before, she’s incredibly hot. It could be worse.

The stadium is now full. Towards the front of the stage the individuals in the crowd have merged into a gigantic swaying mass, the energy in the air is palpable. Over the PA comes UFO with ‘Doctor Doctor’ – to the initiated masses, this is the sign that Iron Maiden are about to take the stage. The reaction to the tune is immense, louder than any cheers for the previous bands.

This being a revival tour celebrating Iron Maiden’s period of greatest creativity, it’s only fitting that the band have revived the intro tape from their iconic 1985 live album, meaning this gig opens with Winston Churchill urging Britons never to surrender, leading straight into the classic ‘Aces High’, Bruce Dickinson running on stage with a rugby ball in homage to the venue, which he proceeds to punt into the crowd.

From the off, it’s clear the band is on top of their game. They sound tight, but not mechanical; a wonderful full sound provided by Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers on guitar, the ever-present rolling bass sound of Steve Harris and the drum heroics of Nicko McBrain. Singer Dickinson’s voice is in incredible shape, soaring above everything else.  You know the band has played these songs hundreds of times before, but they still have a fantastic freshness to them that other songs from the period don’t, and the band seems overjoyed to be playing them in a venue like this. It’s clear how important they feel this gig is – a hometown show for several of them, a landmark gig in the band’s history.

There is electricity in every note of a remarkable set, where every song is a classic. There is no filler, no tracks from a new album to be promoted, no moment when the crowd isn’t singing along to every note. At one point between songs, Dickinson stares at the crowd, as if he can hardly believe the hugeness of the event. “This is one of the best gigs we’ve ever had” he says, and while you suspect he may say this to all the girls, it’s hard to see how it can be bettered. The show is like a Broadway production, based on the sleeve for 1984’s ‘Powerslave’. One of the biggest cheers of the night comes when the band’s perennial mascot Eddie makes his appearance as a 12-foot tall time-cop during the encore – this is a band who really know how to put on a show. There’s fire, there’s smoke, there’s Bruce with more costume changes than Mariah Carey at an award show. 

Everyone leaves feeling they’ve seen something huge – perhaps, finally, a demonstration of what the business end of the music industry already knew – Iron Maiden are now the biggest band in the world.


Intro - Churchill's Speech
1. Aces High
2. 2 minutes to midnight
3. Revelations
4. The Trooper
5. Wasted Years
6. Number of the Beast
7. Run to the hills
8. Rime of the ancient mariner
9. Powerslave
10. Heaven can wait
11. Can I Play with madness
12. Fear of the Dark
13. Iron Maiden



14. Moonchild
15. The Clairvoyant
16. Hallowed be thy name


All opinions expressed by Andrew Holland are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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