On Friday, 6 May, 2016, I took my wife and three boys aged 10,9 and 4 to watch Iron Maiden on “The Book Of Souls World Tour” at the Qudos Bank Arena, formerly known as the Allphones Arena, formerly known as the Acer Arena in Homebush, Sydney.
The last time I saw Maiden was on the “Somewhere Back In Time Tour”. I went to both shows then, on February 9 and 10, 2008. The venue was then known as the Acer Arena and there wasn’t a spare spot on the floor or in the stands. But this time I saw red seats and spaces on the floor. Is it a sign of fading popularity?
I don’t think so, because prior to the show, Maiden got a “Gold” Certification for recorded music sales in Australia for “The Book Of Souls” album released in 2015.
As in 2008, the lights went out as soon as “Doctor Doctor” started playing from UFO on the backing intro music. And then it started with the little movie of the Maiden plane stuck in vines in a jungle.
“If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed of Light” was the 1-2 punch from the “The Book of Souls” album to kick off the album.
When you have a legacy like Maiden’s, it’s a double-edged sword to spend the first 15 minutes of the concert playing tracks from the new album. There was some debate afterwards if this was a good thing or a bad thing especially when the audience was made up of people like me, dads and mums bringing their children to watch Maiden for the first time and children who were raised on the classic Maiden songs.
Anyway, the Dickinson penned “If Eternity Should Fail” is a great opener, and when the band kicks in with the intro lead is game on.
Waiting in line for the ending of time
If eternity should fail
It’s got a great sing a long chorus and that’s why it works live. By the time the “Ace Of Spades” influenced interlude kicks in, the floor is swaying with bodies. This song worked well live.
But the Smith/Dickinson composition, “Speed Of Light”, like “From Here To Eternity” and “Holy Smoke” before it, just don’t work as live songs. Boring and pedestrian.
“Children of the Damned”
Maiden takes us back to 1982 and we are all “Children of The Damned” again.
It’s the first of three songs from “The Number of the Beast” album and the first time, I am hearing this song live, as it wasn’t played on the 2008 “Somewhere Back In Time” tour. “Live After Death” was my first exposure to Maiden, and this song proved to be a favourite.
You’re Children of The Damned
Your back’s against the wall
Steve Harris wrote it about a book/movie, but those two lines above speak to me.
Because back in the Eighties, metal heads and rock heads got discriminated against. Since everyone that listened to metal and hard rock got classed as “devil worshippers” you can say that we were all damned and our backs were against the wall, trying to prove to others that we matter and have something better to offer this world.
Great live track and the quicker live tempo suited the song.
“Tears of a Clown” and “The Red And The Black” came next.
So Maiden went back to the new album. While I understand the importance of the song to Maiden and how it’s about comedian Robin Williams, “Tears of A Clown” just didn’t work as a live song. It’s best kept as a studio track.
Which brings me to the Steve Harris penned “The Red and the Black”. When I first heard this song on the album, I loved certain sections of it and after a few listens could honestly say it could do with some edits. Hearing the song, live, I can honestly say they should have been creative and exercised some control and edited the song down to 6 minutes instead of 10 minutes.
There is a harmony lead section of the song towards the end of the song that is excellent, however I think Maiden missed big time with these songs. Even the chants felt forced. “Fear Of The Dark” has the chants because the people/fans decided to chant along with the leads, not because Maiden wrote a song that has chants in it.
By now my four-year old fell asleep, which was a shame as his favourite song is “The Trooper” and that came up next. Actually I was surprised he fell asleep with the loud volumes.
So Maiden take us back to 1983 and the “Piece of Mind” album and play a speed metal version of the song. It was funny because in the car on the way up to the show my kids were singing the song super fast as well .
Actually, the song was that fast, that even Bruce couldn’t get all the words out in time.
Did it matter?
Not at all. My ten-year old and nine-year old lapped it up.
You’ll take my life but I’ll take yours too
You’ll fire your musket but I’ll run you through
So when you’re waiting for the next attack
You’d better stand there’s no turning back.
The stop of the music and the start of the vocal line is done brilliantly. It will remain a classic forever because of it.
The Dickinson penned title track from their 1984 album was up next and it’s one of my favourites.
When I was living this lie – Fear was my Game
People would worship and fall –
Drop to their knees.
Has our world progressed since the time of the Pharaohs?
Instead of whips and chains to work, we have wages and loans to keep us as slaves.
Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave
I don’t wanna die, I’m a God,
Why can’t I live on?
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I’m a Slave to the Power of Death.
Then we are back to two more songs from “The Book Of Souls”. This time “Death or Glory” is up and to be honest it is another miss. But, “The Book of Souls” written by Gers and Harris deserves to be in the Maiden set forever and a day. It’s epic and grandiose and on par with “Powerslave”.
By know the clichéd stage antics of Janick Gers was bordering on “Dark Helmet” ludicrous proportions. Foot on the monitors like he’s doing ballet, swinging the guitar around his neck like anyone in 2016 cares about it, the Richie Blackmore splits and grabbing the guitar so the pick-up side faces the floor proved to be silly and funny at the same time.
But there was no escaping the power of “Book Of Souls”.
A life that’s full of all the wealth and riches
Can never last an eternity
Sort of sounds like our current world. According to certain media reports we are living in a gold age of prosperity. I am sure that people in third world countries would disagree, but as the lyric states, what we have currently cannot last forever. But what is guaranteed is that the people in power and wealth would pay tooth and nail to ensure it does last forever.
The set is rounded off by “Hallowed Be Thy Name” from “The Number of the Beast”, “Fear of the Dark” from the album of the same name released in 1982 and “Iron Maiden” from the debut Maiden album released in 1980.
Now, “Hallowed Be They Name” to me, is a classic and man, the audience resonated with it.
Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time
When the end is near, all you can do is go back through your memories one last time because once it ends, those memories will be forever lost. It’s pretty sad when you think of the knowledge we could have if memories in our brains can somehow be preserved.
When the priest comes to read me the last rites
I take a look through the bars at the last sights
Of a world that has gone very wrong for me
In order to write “The Trooper”, Maiden had to write “Hallowed Be Thy Name” because both songs have very similar elements, especially the stop start sections of the verses, where the music stops and the vocals start.
The Harris penned “Fear Of The Dark” has achieved a new sense of immortality courtesy of the “Rock In Rio” performance on the “Brave New World” tour. Every section in the song is more or less a sing/chant along.
Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have constant fear that something’s always near
I always saw “Fear Of The Dark” as an analogy for fear of the future, the unknown and how the world is always throwing good and bad times into our lives. And to be quite honest it’s pretty scary sometimes.
But “Iron Maiden” to me is a big letdown. I understand its historical importance but in the end it’s a really average song.
The encore kicked off with “The Number of the Beast”, then “Blood Brothers” from the “Brave New World” album released in 2000 and the set finished off with “Wasted Years” from the “Somewhere in Time” album released in 1986.
I’m coming back I will return
And I’ll possess your body and I’ll make you burn
Metal music was known as “The Beast” in the 80’s, because it possessed our bodies and minds. And when the establishments thought it was dead and buried, a bigger beast in Grunge, Industrial, Metalcore, NuMetal, Death Metal, Black Metal all came forth, until Metal music returned once again.
Bruce made special mention that the audience and Iron Maiden are “Blood Brothers” and how in the audience he is seeing parents with children and so forth. At this time I got a lot of high fives from people around me, that I had the balls to bring my children to the show. So without any surprises, the Steve Harris penned “Blood Brothers” was up.
Maybe all the things that you know that are precious to you
Could be swept away by fate’s own hand
Live each day to the best that it can be lived, because the world doesn’t care about the houses, cars, iPads and record collections when it comes calling for you.
Finally the big one and the favourite of my eldest son, the Adrian Smith penned “Wasted Years”. I always associated this song as another “Turn The Page”, “Home Sweet Home” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. And it’s also a love song.
The guitar intro is legendary and Adrian Smith as a songwriter has contributed to a lot of “classics” from the Maiden 80’s era. I would call him the unsung hero of Iron Maiden.
I close my eyes, and think of home
Another city goes by in the night
Ain’t it funny how it is, you never miss it ’til it’s gone away
And my heart is lying there and will be ’til my dying day
So Maiden came to Australia. For some reason I feel that it was for the last time. I hope not.
My eldest son, he loved the show and enjoyed it along with me. My middle son, got super tired half way and just kept on yawning. My youngest son fell asleep at the concert by “Tears Of A Clown”. My wife held him the whole time.
What kind of father buys concert tickets for a Friday night show, which is the end of a school week and the start of a sport filled week playing football. We got home at 1am and by 7am we all got up for the morning Saturday games.
Metal all the way.