Metallica – Manchester Arena – 28.10.17

Sunday afternoon and I’m still recovering from last nights exceptional Metallica show in Manchester last night. There was an air of trepidation prior to yesterday’s gathering, as for me and many others in attendance, this was our first visit to the arena after its prolonged closure due to the horrific bombing back in May. 

I joined the not overly lengthy queue about half an hour before the scheduled door time. The doors ended up being late opening by nearly quarter of an hour, but in comparison to last weekend in London we breezed through the extra security measures and I’d spent my money at the merch stand within thirty minutes of the first customers being allowed through the airport style scanners. 

I was high in the second tier, but after experiencing my first show of the year in Copenhagen from the floor then viewing the fan filmed video afterwards I felt I was missing out on the spectacle. Even back on row K the view was superb and the show looked amazing. There was a proper overview on everything going on rather than a glimpse of what was directly in front of you at any given moment.  

AC/DC started blaring from the PA and the crowd was instantly upbeat. The lights went down and Ecstasy of Gold began to roll. The first three track opening whammy of Hardwired, Atlas, Rise! and crowd pleaser Seek and Destroy mirrored London. Then some of the rotations crept in. Of Wolf and Man and The Day That Never Comes were slotted in before the rigid placement of Now That We’re Dead – with added drum solos from all four band members – and then another new album track. Yesterday I got my first live taste of the oddly paced ManUNkind before it was a return to the back catalogue with For Whom the Bell Tolls then a return to last years opus with Halo on Fire. 

Kirk and Rob are left to their own devices briefly and jam snippets of local acts. Surprisingly for a metal crowd the Oasis portion was well received by most. A short bass intro of Love Will Tear Us Apart preceded the Rob’s homage to departed bassist Cliff Burton with a spine tingling Anaesthesia (Pulling Teeth) with Cliff looking down on Rob from up on high. 

A band renowned for their cover versions saw Queen’s Stone Cold Crazy get an airing before a blistering version of Creeping Death. Moth Into Flame with its added drone moths had been the last new track from the Hardwired… album the last few times I’d seen the band, but not tonight. Speaking of the drones, one went seemingly haywire and rather than circling the band few off into the crowd. I think someone got a good souvenir if they managed to keep it tucked up their shirt!       

The now predictable main set closers of Sad But True, One and Master of Puppets followed. Now that the band have got the pyrotechnics back in the stage show I wish they’d reinstate the flames when landmine is uttered in the song. I’ve seen that song so many times with the pyro my brain still expects the boom, I do like the new intro using bits of the bands landmark video to One compared to the over sized laser pointers of recent years though, but I’d still like flames. 

An unfamiliar taped intro to these ears began the encore. Usually it’s been Battery or Blackened (two songs I wouldn’t complain about heading live again), but for the third show in a row we got the song from the new album a lot of fans have been hoping to see and almost demanding its inclusion. The thrashiest track on the album Spit Out the Bone was absolutely stunning live and as it wasn’t played on the first of the pair of London shows, and the one I attended, all the rubbing of lucky rabbits feet and crossing all fingers and toes and any other manner of voodoo used seemed to work for tonight. 

Attending a Metallica show with my Y chromosome friends I go with, the set closing pair of Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman usually garners a different response compared to last night. When the guitar noodling of Mr Hammett begins I have often been seen heading towards the exit to beat the rush. Last night with my wife sitting to my left they developed into a raucous 12 minute sing a long. 

Approaching 40 shows in nearly 30 years I’m still surprised when I get to experience new songs and tonight I got two. From the shows I’ve seen on this run I’ve managed to see all ten of the tracks performed from the Hardwired session. I’ve seen people whine that there are too many new songs on the set list with currently six or seven played each night, but I’d much rather bare witness to something much more recent than songs I’ve seen dozens of times over the years. Sure there are old school songs and deep cuts I’d like to see reinstated to the set, but maybe drop some of the other stalwarts rather than those from the new album that in effect is being promoted. 

Now I’m off to see if anyone is trying to off load a ticket for Birmingham tomorrow and I’m still bitterly disappointed I didn’t make it to Glasgow midweek. 

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The Campaign for Musical Destruction Tour 2017 @ Birmingham Institute – 9.5.17

Due to the potentially stellar line up of this package we were on a train down to the Second City earlier than we’d usually be just to ensure we’d be inside in plenty of time to see Lock Up. 

With nearly an hour to kill it was a quick dive into the pub next door waiting for the doors to opens then about two dozen steps to the box office. Fifteen minutes before kick off should’ve sufficed due to the close proximity, even giving a bit of leeway for the small queue we encountered of maybe ten people. We managed to get in about five minutes into Lock Up’s set. Such a painfully slow shuffle into the venue by seemingly incompetent staff. How can it take so long to distribute pre ordered tickets or snatch £24 out of someone’s hand? 

We got the bulk of the Lock Up’s grinding racket and a very good twenty minutes it was. With only a quartet of albums to pick from the seven song blast encompassed something from them all. A brace of tracks from the latest opus and three from Hate Breeds Suffering, before Kevin Sharp removed his trademark cowboy hat for set closer After Life In Purgatory. 

Originally Iron Reagan were on the bill for the tour, but had to pull out early on. When their replacements Power Trip were announced I for one wasn’t disappointed, but I know many who were. 

The quick change around afforded me enough time to check out the merch and return in good time before the Texan thrashers destroyed the Institute. The decent sized crowd for Lock Up looked a bit static from my vantage point, but as soon as Soul Sacrifice kicked in the bodies were flailing. Their thirty five minutes were up in the blink of a eye, but for a thrash band that seem to have been embraced more by the hardcore community they definitely made some new friends tonight. 

Multiple band bills on a school night can be often frowned upon, but if the brief set changes like tonight work like a well oiled machine then that’s not a problem. It also helped that three of the bands used the majority of the same drum kit. 

I was intrigued to finally see “Mexican” deathgrind band Brujeria and they kept my attention for the first twenty minutes or so then their masked Mexican gangster gimmick started to wear a bit thin. The musicians in the band all looked remarkably similar to the three musicians from Lock Up – even both drummers were wearing the same Jeff Hanneman shirt! 

The dual frontmen – the only Mexicans in the band – came on stage clad in plaid and looked like the wrestling stable LAX. The biggest pop during their set was reserved for ¡Viva Presidente Trump! A huge machete made its way onto the stage for the final number and whilst the stage was being dismantled we were treated to an a-cappella version of Marijuana which sounds remarkably like the Macarena. 

From Great Barr, Walsall and Sparkhill local heroes Napalm Death took to the stage to rapturous applause, and there’s the Lock Up bass player who looked remarkably similar to the Brujeria bassist for the third time tonight. 

Tonight was the second time this year I’ve seen the band and the set lists were pretty similar and spanning the majority of the franchise’s career. All the way back to Scum and Enslavement to Obliteration, via Harmony Corruption and Utopia Banished through to Apex Predator. I can’t tell if frontman Barney is just uncomfortable on stage or if it’s just how he is, but it’s always brings a smile to my face when you see him bounding around the stage with his limbs flailing like a child that has had too many E numbers during the day. He has a very unique style. 

Along with the obligatory Dead Kennedys cover we also had short blasts originally from Offenders and Hirax. Apparently the set had to be cut short due to time restraints, if that’s the case I don’t know why it didn’t start a bit earlier. 

Overall a great night of noise, but for me Power Trip stole the show, closely followed by Lock Up. Napalm Death did what Napalm Death have been doing for more than thirty years. And as much as I wanted to enjoy Brujeria, for me, their gimmick over stayed it’s welcome with a forty minute set. 
 

Lords of the Land – Glasgow Barrowlands – 1.4.17

It’s been a hectic and exhausting weekend, but I’ve still got a couple of hours before I get home. I’m starting this just as the train is about to shoot through back into England. 

Acid Reign in Manchester were absolutely stunning and well worth a twenty hour long day to see the gig and ultimately making me feel tired for so much of my trip to Scotland. 

Live they are such a fun band to watch. H’s sharp wit is something to behold when the drunken hecklers try to get the upper hand. All the classics were there, the pair of new songs were also aired and some album deep tracks. If seeing Two Minded performed by H wearing a Donald Trump mask doesn’t make you laugh then I don’t know what will. 

It only felt like I was home for the blink of an eye before it was out of the door again to jump on a train to Scotland at 8am. A little over three hours later and we were in the Buckfast capital. Just over an hour later we were catching the final strains of Rotten Sound. I got us lost trying to find the Barrowlands, and time wise they should’ve already been off the stage when we arrived, so we weren’t expecting to see any of the Finnish band. They were the first band on, and unless times had been changed and I’d not seen, a long day was already made longer as the first band on we’re already fifteen minutes or so late in finishing.

For reasons unbeknownst to me Memoriam were up next for a paltry thirty minutes. Possibly the band with one of the biggest buzzes about them at the moment and they were on ridiculously early for their Scottish debut. A healthy crowd greeted the death metal supergroup who seemed plagued with onstage sound issues. Compared to the last time I saw them, yesterday seemed pretty flat in comparison, still great to see though. 

And if things couldn’t get weirder then they did with Acid Reign for another half hour blast. This was a proper greatest hits set compared to what occurred the night before. H encouraged the stage divers to come over to stop the security guys getting bored – and they duly obliged. At one point the band’s front man took to the air himself and ended up being carried from the stage pretty much back to the sound desk then returned to the stage at alarming speed. Band of the day for me. 


We took the opportunity to refuel outside of the venue during Dragged Into Sunlight and we returned shortly after Venom, Inc had begun. With the trio of personalities on the stage you knew what you were going to get. An hour of the Venom back catalogue played better than what is now billed as Venom could imagine. 

Death metal stalwarts Marduk eventually hit the stage almost forty minutes after Mantas and company had departed the stage. I didn’t get to see all of their set as I was well and truly flagging by this stage. I watched up until Glorification of the Black God then had to rest these ageing and tired limbs. 

Irish black metallers Primordial followed and I saw the start and end and they pulled a huge crowd. They’re not a band I’ve ever got into and I prefer the vocal delivery that Nemtheanga delivers with his Bathory inspired band Twilight of the Gods. 

Mayhem – the Norwegian black metal pioneers followed in a cloud of smoke and blue light. The two things I recall from the bit I saw was that drum kit is huge and why are they all wearing cloaks now! They seem to have reinvented themselves drastically since the last time I saw them indoors, when they shared the stage with severed pig heads and I fell asleep during their set, something that nearly happened again. 

Belatedly it was finally time for death metal legends Autopsy to close proceedings. This was their first Scottish show in twenty seven years and their first British appearance since Bolt Thrower’s charity London event back in 2012. There’s never anything flashy or spectacular with a live Autopsy show. Just heads down and flat out uncompromising brutal death metal with a singing drummer. 

It’s a shame timings seemed to be out of the window as they completed their set with Charred Remains just after midnight to an ever dwindling crowd. The audience the previous two bands had on comparison was obviously bigger. The times seemed to be an issue beforehand with those people using public transport afterwards and it ended up looking pretty embarrassing from where I was standing. 

It was a decent day out, maybe too much of the stuff I’m not fond of consecutively, which made it feel like it dragged badly at points. Let’s see what happens next year. 

Metallica – Copenhagen, Royal Arena – 3.2.17

After a hot minute in Holland it was off to Denmark for a slightly longer lay over. The stupidly early morning didn’t get off to a very auspicious start as we were briefly left stranded on the street of a damp Tilburg morning with revellers on their way home from an evening of debauchery. 

A few hours later we were wheels down in at Copenhagen airport and an hour later ensconced in the hotel. Ten hours before show time in a posh hotel in what was seemingly a building site, what else was there to do than head to the city for food and a wander in the general direction of the Metallica pop-up-shop. Arriving there an hour before opening a visit to the cities Hard Rock Cafe was in order. Back at the pop-up-shop we joined the black clad hordes that had congregated there.

After an hour we finally gained entry. Eight minutes later we were heading out laden with new merchandise – only to find there was more being set up at the arena. As my hotel was so close we managed to snag more pieces of black cloth and return it to the room for safe keeping. 

Gig time was in sight so the short stroll across the road was undertaken. From the outside the circular arena reminded me of New York’s Madison Square Garden – just clad in wood. Inside it was reminiscent of London’s cavernous O2 Arena – but seemed to have more soul about it than its London counterpart. Alcohol purchased and an hour wait for Danish band Hatesphere to grab an opportunity of a life-time with both hands ensued. Tonight was the first of four nights for Metallica in the brand new Royal Arena and four opening acts were decided upon by a public vote. Unfortunately Danish legends Artillery finished a disappointing fifth, but I probably witnessed the best of the quintet. 

Hatesphere is a band that I haven’t heard anything from or by in such a long time. They’ve been floating around the lower reaches of the scene for years but never had that big break. They took their half hour with great precision and smiles as wide as the stage. They clearly enjoyed their time in the spot light. 

The support band departed. The stage was set and the advertised start time came and went. Thirty minutes later the strains of AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top filled the arena and the light dimmed and the Ennio Morricone intro rolled, followed by a new Hardwired… To Self-Destruct intro then the title track of the latest album was unleashed to rapturous applause. Straight into Atlas, Rise! – the second of five new tracks aired tonight bled into For Whom the Bell Tolls. Seeing James Hetfield resplendent in his patch jacket always makes this Potteries kid proud of where he calls home when the Discharge logo is proudly on display for all to see. 

By this time you could sense something wasn’t quite right. Hatfield wasn’t his usually chirpy self and breathing was looking like a problem. Words were being missed and the vocals were coming across pretty raspy. A few more tracks in and things became clearer. 

Fuel and The Unforgiven followed quickly in succession. Removing his guitar after Now That We’re Dead, James and drummer Lars Ulrich had a lengthy confabulation. James thought things were sounding horrible due to him and Rob Trujillo being ill. He really wanted to be elsewhere recovering but he gave the sixteen thousand strong fans in attendance the final say. Unanimously, and most definitely selfishly, we wanted them to proceed which he did apologetically. The vocals weren’t as crisp as usual and odd lyrical passages were deliberately missed, but the show went on.  

Things resumed again with another new one Moth into Flame. Harvester of Sorrow made it’s appearance, sandwiched between two new tracks with Confusion being the final song of the night that was penetrating my ears for the first time. 

After some solo bass shenanigans gun fire and a multitude of laser beams filled the void, One was imminent. By this point only classic ‘Tallica tracks followed and some of the vocal duties could be foisted upon the crowd. Master of Puppets and Fade to Black led to Seek and Destroy and the ending of the main set. Would that be all as illness had taken its toll?

Another intro tape rolled and a thunderous Battery laid waste to the Royal Arena. The now predictable one-two of Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman brought the first test of this new arena’s capabilities to a glorious end. Three more shows are scheduled over the next six days. I’m sure the arena will be up for another trio of stress tests, it’s just a case of will the band make it.

Thanks to modern technology and the way bands now keep in touch with their fan base, the set list was revealed to the world post show showing two tracks were eventually omitted. Not seeing Sad But True again was no loss, but I hope the missing of Halo on Fire is rectified sooner rather than later. 

I’ve seen in excess of thirty Metallica shows. This was by no means a classic, but not the least favourable of those either. The stage was set up for an ‘in the round’, so down on the floor, up close and personal, you get a much different perspective on the stage and overall sound compared to the nose bleed seats. (I wasn’t aware the stage lit up until I saw YouTube snippets and photos the next morning.) Plus the added issues arising from a brand new venue. It was adequate enough for my liking and nobody could really say they were awful with the extraneous circumstances that had to be dealt with. I can’t think of many bands who wouldn’t have attempted to placate the paying customers for one minute. 

A few more hours the next day were taken in exploring the streets of Copenhagen with a dank and misty back drop looming over the picturesque city before a two hour delayed journey back to Blighty. Here’s looking forward to more Metallica adventures in 2017, possibly closer to home. I’m very much ready for home after almost three days away, ready to see my family and let my wallet recover. Copenhagen isn’t the cheapest city to spend time in. And after all these years the Scandinavians still have the art of pillaging down to a tee! 

Kreator – Tilburg, O13 – 2.3.17

My first chance of the year to spend plastic coins at Tilburg’s 013 venue and my first chance to catch the thrash metal juggernaut that is Kreator as they begin their assault through Europe taking no prisoners.

A relatively early start saw Belgian death metal stalwarts Aborted kicking off proceedings with a half hour visceral assault on those who bothered to turn up early. For an opening band they had a great sound afforded to them – and probably the best shirt on sale tonight with their Ghostbusters inspired attire. But I just can’t get into this band. Musically they’re exceptional, but the high pitch screechy whistling thing isn’t for me.

This venue is pretty impressive size wise – great views from all over the hall floor and it’s tiered standing, and the back stage area must be almost as big again. Each band used their own drum kits and with them set up out of sight there was the briefest of change overs before Swedish heavy weights Soilwork stormed the stage. Another fantastic bunch of musicians giving it their all, but as usual with me I was left bored rigid after their 40 minute set concluded. For me they just don’t seem to have that one anthem to get things going or look forward to.

One of Brazil’s finest exports graced the ever expanding Dutch hordes with an hour to impress. Their latest collection of songs is a pretty solid affair so I’d have expected them to kick off with something new and throw in another one, maybe two. Four new songs in the first six was a bit of a hard slog and the crowd didn’t really embrace them until Desperate Cry rumbled out of the PA. A few more Machine Messiah tracks were thrown in for good measure and before I knew it Territory, Refuse/Resist and Roots Bloody Roots drew their time to an end. It was a bit of a disappointing end as I was probably expecting a more classics set with the time constraints they had.

It’s The Teutonic Terrors were afforded a half hour change over and as per usual with modern day Kreator the stage set was pretty impressive especially for what you’d usually expect for a thrash metal band. There was so much attention to detail that time was taken to remotely align the on stage spot lights for optimum effect.

German precision was not met tonight with their shoddy time keeping – the Choir of the Damned intro tape rolled a minute early by my watch – and a deafening Hordes of Chaos kicked off proceeding to a hall filled with thrashers many covered in ticker tape from the get go. Crowd favourite Phobia followed before a pair of new songs – Satan is Real and Gods of Violence. An omission from recent sets in the shape of People of the Lie proceeded Total Death from their debt album for all the original die hards, a song that hasn’t been played live in thirty years.

A mix of new tracks, some from their more recent past and their 80’s heyday rounded out the main set before Civilisation Collapse closed the first 70 minutes. Flames, smoke and streamers were all in an abundance. At one point though it looked like some flames leapt from the stage unannounced. The glare frontman Millie Petroza gave to the side of stage could have killed, or caused serious damage at the very least.

A four song encore of Violent Revolution, Flag of Hate, Under the Guillotine and the punishing Pleasure to Kill left the 013 a fiery wreck and the hordes left suitably impressed.

The first three hours or so of the evening were a bit of a let down but Kreator more than made the admission price worth it. The five new tracks slotted in to the live area a seamlessly as if they’ve been there for years and some will be in future Kreator productions for as long as these road warriors continue. The Manchester Academy show can’t come quick enough. Only six hours until the next adventure begins.

Ball of Destruction – Manchester, Star & Garter – 13.12.16

  

In another odd concert line up New York hardcore veterans Madball are over in the UK for a bunch of arena shows opening up for Limp Bizkit and Korn. I like Madball but I’m not keen on arena ticket prices – especially when you’re attending for half an hour of the opening band then heading off home into the Manchester gloom. 

About a month ago Ball of Destruction – a tribute band named after Madball’s debut 7″ released in 1989 – were announced to play the Star and Garter in Manchester the day after the Korn show. Three of Manchester’s current crop of hardcore bands were named as support, so as I was off work for a week and I really like Broken Teeth it was an excuse to head into Lancashire. 

We missed Restrict as we were sampling ales in a few other drinking establishments before hand. The first band I got to see was Guilt Trip who were performing to a near capacity room. Their Slayer infused beat down hardcore was very good, they might have spent a bit too much time trying to get the crowd to move about and step forward, but they are a band I’ll check out again. 

After a brief 15 minute change over I tunnelled my way to the back of the room to catch one of Nuclear Blast’s most recent recruits. I’ve seen these guys a few times before and their big label break is more than deserved and especially now with the calibre of hardcore bands that they can now call label mates. Not as many flailing bodies down the front as I’d expected, but everyone seemed to have fun. Surely the venue was an oversold sell out because Broken Teeth were playing their last home town show of 2016?

Walking into the venue a few hours earlier it was odd seeing a tribute band with so much merch and a blatant rip off of the current Madball designs. We slightly over estimated our return home and didn’t have a car arriving until 11:45pm (and that ended up being thirty minutes late) we decided to check out the cover band and if we didn’t like it there’s a bar downstairs. 

As 10pm approached people were still trying to find a square inch of space to gain a vantage point of tonight’s headliners. For a tribute band looks seem to be a big part of the appeal as much as their sound, and as the three musicians were waiting awkwardly on stage for the frontman to appear they did look remarkably like Hoya and Mitts – so bonus points were awarded there for attention to detail. 

A few of those points though were taken away when their version of Freddie Cricien bounded onto the stage. There was some resemblance there, but those long locks looked out of place. They did get the sound spot on though and Set It Off early in the set did get things bouncing. They introduced themselves as “New York’s newest band” and they took everything in good humour and there seemed to be a lack of a rigid set list and they just belted out whatever they could hear the crowd shouting out. At one point there was even an impromptu rendition of Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight. Just another bizarre moment in an evening of weirdness tonight. 

Almost an hour later when they left the stage the room was still almost at capacity, and as someone who doesn’t really do tribute bands I have to say those four guys really did get their doppelgängers down to a tee and for of those of us too tight to shell out £50 to see them the night before it was a cheaper alternative. 

Hopefully though the original band will hit these shores for another British tour to celebrate twenty eight years as one of New York’s finest. Just for comparison, the video for Pride (Times Are Changing) is below and is taken from Madball’s second album Demonstrating My Style. 
  

Iron Maiden – Toronto, Air Canada Centre – 3.4.16

  
The crux of my trip across the Atlantic Ocean to a frozen five days in Ontario was for one reason only and that was to catch Iron Maiden on their worldwide Book of Souls tour. 

Why travel for 3,428 miles one way to see a band who I’ve seen in excess of 20 times and are playing literally on my doorstep in June?  

To begin with, because it’s Iron Maiden. Shows aren’t exclusive to citizens of that city, country or even continent. Heavy metal is a global family. The three of us in attendance were most definitely not the only ones from the UK there, and out of the 14,000 inside the Air Canada Centre on Sunday evening I’d hazard a guess of a sizeable contingent of people there representing multiple pages from an atlas. 

Secondly, it’s indoors. I go to quite a few festivals, but as mentioned before, I’m not overly keen on the giant events like where their only UK date is scheduled for in June at the Download Festival with another 90,000 people in attendance. With my advancing years I prefer the more intimate surroundings with marginally better creature comforts and actually being able to hear the acts regardless of where you are situated, without the wind swirling the sound around and making your vantage point pot luck as to whether you hear all or some of the sound emanating from the stage that could be a quarter of a mile away. 

  

Gig day should have been a full on, wall to wall Maiden fest. It should of kicked off around noon with the Trooper pre party held in the Tilted Kilt bar directly across the road from the hotel, but due to me being ill I didn’t make an appearance there till 4pm, just as it was time to head off on the short walk in the snow to the Air Canada Centre. 

  

One of our travelling party booked us in for the Trooper VIP party at the arena. On arrival we saw a merchandise stall in the concourse and proceeded to snag our Canadian specific event shirts. When we signed in for the VIP we were handed out Trooper branded goodie bags and another shirt of the same design that we’d just paid $50 for. Schoolboy error! We were able to swap them, but if we weren’t I’m sure there would have been takers on eBay. 

  

We were herded through the doors at 5:30 and taken into the bowels of the arena to the Platinum Club for more free Trooper and bar snacks. As to not risk missing the main event I declined everything put out in front if me. Sixty minutes later we headed into the main bowl to check out The Raven Age. 

  
Bounding on stage with all their youthful exuberance the London five piece ploughed through their short set of modern metal with a very eager parent watching on from the mixing desk. To our left was Steve Harris, who’s son George is the guitarist in The Raven Age. They appeared to go down well with the Canadian metal heads in attendance and made some new friends. 

As UFO’s Doctor Doctor rumbles through the PA those in the know are whipped into a frenzy as we know what is imminent. The lights go down, the video intro rolls on the large screens either side of the stage and the road crew unveil the Mayan stage set in the darkness. The almost spoken intro to If Eternity Should Fail sees Bruce Dickinson alone on top of the stage in front of a smoking urn before the band kicks in and the breaks are let off the roller coaster. 

  
Seamlessly new song Speed of Light follows and sounds better live than on album. Delving back into the 80’s, Children of the Dammed gets a slot in the set for the first time in seven years and splits up a run of four new songs from the current album. A song most Maiden diehards want to see live since the albums release is The Red and the Black, which rounds out the first five songs, and goes down really well, even with its long instrumental ending. 

The Trooper, a stalwart of a Maiden live show, sees Bruce resplendent in his red tunic and waving the Union flag high above his head. It is followed by the epic Powerslave before another pair of new songs. As with all Maiden shows there is that element of pantomime and theatrics involved. Whether it’s the afore mentioned Powerslave sung with a Mexican wrestling mask on, Hallowed be Thy Name accompanied with a hang mans noose or the giant axe wielding savage Eddie that struts on stage during The Book of Souls and ends up having his heart ripped out and sacrificed to the Mayan gods. 

  
A trio of classics closes out the main body of the set and the now standard huge Eddie head rises at the back of the stage during Iron Maiden. Not the most technical looking of props that have been seen, but it is easily one of the best looking heads as it looks so much bigger and textured than most seen before. 

  
The encore opens up with Number of the Beast with another huge inflatable appearing on stage in the form of the devil with his arms crossed overseeing proceedings. Possibly the curve balls of the evening are the last two tracks. Blood Brothers hasn’t seen the light of day since 2011’s Final Frontier tour and the set closed with Wasted Years, which has been pretty regular but never closing the set. 

With a career spanning four decades and a limited amount of stage time there are always going to be songs people want to see that have been left out, but it is refreshing not to hear certain songs tour after tour after tour. 

  
No doubt I’ll see them again in Europe later this year and probably at their spiritual home of Donington, but fingers crossed they’ll announce an arena tour of the UK later on as standing in a field with 90,000 people won’t get anywhere near as good as the evening spent with mainly 14,000 Canadians.