Very few experiences compare to seeing the almighty Iron Maiden live in concert. It’s something everyone, regardless of where on the metal spectrum they belong, needs to do at least once. The giants’ current tour, Legacy of the Beast promises to be one of the biggest and baddest ever in the more than 40 year career. On June 1, Iron Maiden took Stockholm by the throat and tore out its jugulars in front of 38’000 mad Swedes. Now, this won’t be a review with some pre-written clichés written by some paid to write what fans want to read journalist, but one from memory, as lived in the middle of the crowd. Let’s start with the boring part. The opener. Latter day Maiden have made a trend of bringing shite or even more shite bands on tour to open for them. The Legacy of the Beast tour is no exception; Killswitch Engage might be big, but they don’t deserve to open for Maiden. Every song is the same and it seems to go on and on for ages. It says heaps of a band that needs to finish their set with a cover to get any form of audience response, and that’s just what Killswitch Engage did, of whom there should be little recollection once Doctor, Doctor starts playing over the speakers.
The set starts off covered with barb wire and green camo, which is later stripped away for a cathedral like feel with chandeliers and stained glass windows. Various iterations of the iconic Eddie don the backdrop throughout the show. The entire set and how it plays out gives the sense of a very well rehearsed show where nothing can deviate from plan - it gives a big feel of a well planned rock orchestra. The setlist, brandishing old favorites, new favorites and one or two more obscure tracks is a more or less perfect blend of the Live After Death and Rock In Rio live albums. It starts off in high fashion with Aces High, complete with Churchill’s Speech for the intro, bringing all the might and splendor that furious, riveting classic brings out in the audience. Tele2 Arena’s roof seems to lift off as the Spitfire hovers over the stage as the band fires away on all cylinders. The next few tracks, and indeed most of the tracks, in some way deal with war and the mythology thereabout, of which Maiden have plenty. During the rollicking The Trooper Dickinson, carrying a saber, tosses a piece of the camo over Dave Murray’s head for everyone’s amusement, and Murray, being able to nail every piece of the set in his sleep plays it off smiling and laughing. Dickinson also battles a giant Eddie, who seems to have let go of his quarrel with Janick Gers, who usually plays the trickster when the mascot comes on stage.
The band is in top form, never seizing to deliver the barrage of metal classics and anthems they’ve blessed the world with for the past 40 years. Steve Harris shines with the glow of genuine love for the art, shooting his bass at the audience and delivering with all the fury of his awesomeness. The guitarists three also deliver their trademark solo dueling, great riffing and up close stage personality; Gers swinging his guitar wildly in the air, Adrian Smith delivering toxic riff fests such as classic 2 Minutes To Midnight and The Wickerman with a dexterity not seen on the band’s last full length, while Dave Murray is the steady calm in the storm, never missing a note and tossing great soloing our way in as good as every piece of the setlist. Then of course, Dickinson. While retaining all the vigor and splendor, running crisscross around the stage for the near two hour set, he doesn’t partake in his usual between song banter but instead spends the short time in between songs changing his outfit and getting ready for his next role. At one point near the end of The Wickerman he seems to point out some funny maker in the audience and inquire of “showing ones arsehole”, but no more comes of it. I wanted a conclusion to that story, damnit.
He carries an eerie lantern for live staple Fear of the Dark - which does its usual trick of tearing the roof off - and dons a black cloak and a glowing cross for Sig of the Cross. The latter might just be the highlight of the evening and the setlist, as Dickinson truly makes the song his own without taking away from Bayley’s original input. The entire band seems to deliver the lengthy track with arduous fury, same as with For the Greater Good of God, which surely raised an eyebrow or two among the crowd. Not a fan pleaser, but damn it, the progressive beast delivers mightily as Murray crushes the solo with might. The best part of Dickinson’s antics however, might just have been the dual flame throwers he wields, shooting pillars of flame into the air during Flight Of Icarus, which has been dug up for the setlist for the first time since 1986, while a giant Icarus soars towards the sun in the backdrop only to melt toward the climax.
With the Legacy of the Beast tour you get exactly what you expect from Maiden, albeit a little bit tweaked. The classics delivered in great form and with true love for the music have us banging our heads and the deeper, darker tone of the lengthier tracks and the all time fan favorites like Fear of the Dark and Hallowed be Thy Name won’t let go without 38’000 souls screaming along with them. And say what you want about Run to the Hills, it’s a damn fine closer to an already larger than life evening. True enough, the lack of between song banter doesn’t bring Maiden just as up close and personal as usual, but the way it’s delivered and of course those spine chilling “Scream for me Sweden” moments, those are the ones that will be remembered. A legacy to behold, do not miss out!
Standout moments: Aces High, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Sign Of The Cross, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Run To The Hills