Somewhere back? No, somewhere beyondAt the core, the show was a great re-visiting of the key elements of the "World Slavery Tour" setlist. All the classics were there and performed with ferocity and brilliance including "Aces High", "Rime", "Powerslave", "2 Minutes", "Revelations"," The Trooper", etc. One additional dimension was the inclusion of Janick Gers on the 3rd guitar which infused additional depth and power into these classics. The rest of the band delivered top notch efforts as well with Bruce being as energetic and engaging a frontman as can be found anywhere in the world of entertainment, Steve continuing to display the genuine passion and hunger that comes from leading the band to ever greater heights, Dave and Adrian continuing to deliver guitar excellence as part of the three amigos, and Nicko (the oldest of the lot!) continuing to deliver power on the skins with the stamina and vigor of a marathoner! This complemented with an even more impressive stageshow including lights and pyrotechnics that went even beyond the awesome work from the original tour, and of course an ever-present Eddie who emerged in his Somewhere in Time incarnation and catered to the local audience by putting on a LA Lakers Jersey made for an excellent touch! (the last point being more enamoring to this LA Laker fan and perhaps less so to supporters of other NBA teams)
Beyond the performance itself, there were other dimensions that made the evening memorable. First is the way the band is conducting this tour. As has been well documented, the band is flying to each location using a custom-configured Boeing 757 which features the band's logo and a visual of Eddie. This made for a great sense of curiosity as I landed at LAX earlier in the day, and also made for a great video clip to kick off the evening. Another element of this is the ambitious schedule the band is undertaking for the tour enabled by flying themselves, crew, and gear together to all the shows. I think this part of the story is not being talked about enough. The Iron Maiden team is essentially doing an accelerated around the world trip hopping across continents and oceans in a very short time frame, while playing concerts. Having completed a round the world trip in 12 days for a holiday a few years ago, I can say that the challenges of the jetlag, timezones (particularly going East), various foods, flu, etc can be pretty daunting. It is a testament to everyone for coming through while still putting on an excellent show!
Another unique element tonight was the venue and location. The Forum happens to be just 25 mins away (traffic gods permitting) from Long Beach which was the site of the original "Live After Death" recordings and there were several sightings of fans and t-shirts from the original performance 20+ years ago. The Forum is also a well renowned venue in itself. It was the home of the NBA's LA Lakers for many years and site of many memorable plays in Professional Basketball history. It was also the location of the filming of the video for "The Evil that Men do" during the Seventh Son tour for the band.
Finally, this being LA, there was the obvious celebrity factor. This evening saw the 14,000 hardcore Iron Maiden fans being joined backstage and at the soundboard by the likes of Dio, Lars and Robert from Metallica, and Scott from Anthrax who were all there as Maiden fans!
Overall, this made for a fantastic and memorable evening. The highlight was clearly the performance as many in the audience (including myself) sang along to every word of the incredible setlist. A personal highlight for me was seeing "Moonchild" performed as part of the encore. This underrated opener from the Seventh Son album is among the most blistering Maiden tracks ever with some of the most memorable lyrics the band has ever produced. It was great to see this opener from the Seventh Son album come back to life particularly considering that opening tracks from albums (which are often the show openers for Maiden tours supporting the album) typically do not re-emerge once the support tour for that album is complete!
As I reflect back on the evening, I must say that Maiden are doing a fantastic job of reviving the old while continuing to inject elements of the new. The current cycle of new album, tour, re-release of a previous era's materials, tour makes for a great balance and really sit well with me. As an illustration, "Brighter than a Thousand Suns" from the 2006 A Matter of Life and Death album and "Aces High" the opening track from 1984's Powerslave currently hold a place in my top 5 on my mp3 player! On stage, they show almost no signs of the 20+ years that have passed since the original World Slavery Tour which is a credit to their fitness, professionalism, and commitment to their craft, and off stage, they are continuing to deliver excellent materials and retrospectives on a splendid career while continuing to expand the presence of the band to new countries and territories. Appropriately, the band has been rewarded for this by ever increasing popularity while still staying true (as they always have) to their convictions. They are truly continuing to go "somewhere beyond" their own high standards and makes one look eagerly forward to what the band has in store for the remainder of 2008 and in the years ahead!
Well done band, management, crew, and fans! South America, the US East Coast and Canada are next!!
- Sumit Chandra