Iron Maiden: 02 Arena (2011 Gig)

We here at Adrenochrome Music had been waiting for our yearly Maiden fix with bated breath since acquiring tickets in late March and, as ever, the Leytonstone Legends were most entertaining.

Off the back of new album, ‘The Final Frontier’, the 6th of August was to be the last date in a tour of the same name that had spanned the entire globe over a period of just under seven months.

Speaking of the new album, and with much Maidenness to get through this week, my review of it would be, in short: a solid album. When viewed against the entire Maiden catalog, the chances of it being the best, of it immediately reaching the status of ‘classic Maiden’ are slim to none; to expect such a thing is to disrespect the amazing output they have produced so far. The album is a new set of tunes, different from the rest but still inexorably Maiden. Good starting points for me would be the second half of ‘Satellite… The Final Frontier’ (though if your going to listen to the album through the first half does well as an epic opener), the retro guitar riffs of ‘The Alchemist’, with ‘Isle Of Avalon’ and ‘When The Wild Wind Blows’ being very strong; melodic, heavy and with time changes aplenty. An album that will grow on you with almost every listen, with a huge amount of complexity for what is essentially galloping guitar riffs and a guy going ‘aaaieeeee’ over the top.. Which leads me on to my next point, Bruce’s voice. Yes it does not seem as strong as on previous albums, but his trademark is to sing at his fullest capacity so, whilst not as large as it once was, for me, his quality is undiminished. Its not like they’re going to get Blaze back in any time soon anyway..

Joking aside, a strong album, one worthy of its place next to the other 14, and hopefully not yet the last.

So in the early afternoon of the 6th August, hip flasks stocked and ready, we made our way down south to north Greenwich, hating the train but loving the DLR, feeling our excitement build exponentially as the density of Maiden tshirts increased at a steady rate along the way.

Arriving at the 02, previously of course the Millennium Dome, we were greeted by the sounds of Maiden, a busker having caught a trick was thrashing out some Maiden riffs hoping for cash, and didn’t seem to be being disappointed, the Iron Scratchers being in good spirits.

Moving inside we headed to the Slug and Lettuce where we planned to await our comrades, but were immensely disappointed and even perhaps slightly disgusted by the sounds of Biffy Clyro filling the air (I am the mountain, I am chart scree..). Fortunately, they were giving out plastic cups so we decanted our pints and headed out to where we’d heard tell of a smoking area, next to a giant blue bubble. Excited at this possibility of tabs and gret bubbles, we hurried round the inner circumference of the dome and soon found the dream to be true.


Outside in the smoking area we heard word that Eddy himself was around, and that he’d placed himself a bit further round the dome so people could take pictures with him. In a day that was just getting better and better, we found this dream also to be true, with a semicircle of Maiden goers of all ages waiting for their opportunity before hurrying to Eddy’s side for a quick snap and hurrying back to the crowd. We got our pics, and returned for more pints.

Back outside, our comrades arrived and there was just time for a few more pints whilst we waited for Trivium to finish before going in. This was the first time either of us had been inside this particular arena, and it was most impressive. From the outside, we were wondering just how they were going to fit 20,000 people into the sold out space, but it turned out that a large proportion of this was seated, with huge stands rising up to the ceiling. From a pub in Leytonstone to a sold out 20,000 capacity arena off the back of a seven month world tour promoting their 15th studio album, the band had certainly done well for themselves, and for us!

So, enough babble, on to the gig itself. The setlist was as follows:

Satellite 15… The Final Frontier (N), El Dorado (N), 2 Minutes To Midnight, The Tailsman (N), Coming Home (N), Dance Of Death, The Trooper, The Wicker Man, Blood Brothers, When The Wild Wind Blows (N), The Evil That Men Do, Fear Of The Dark, Iron Maiden

encore:

The Number Of The Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Running Free

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life (Monty Python)

Wow.

Seriously, couldn’t really ask for a better set of absolute stormers, given the length and the need to promote the new album with at least a few songs (N). The new songs that were played fitted in seamlessly, with ‘Satellite 15.. The Final Frontier’ clearly written to be an epic opener, ‘El Dorado’ and ‘The Tailsman’ building tension well, ‘Coming Home’ leading us into a healthy stream of classic Maiden and ‘When The Wild Wind Blows’ reminding us that Maiden are still going strong, writing and performing. Whilst extrememly difficult to pick out highlights, bellowing out blood brothers at the top of our lungs, enthusiastically jigging about to the dance of death (thankfully without spilling my pint this time), chanting along to Fear of Dark resonating with 20,000 others and, sod it, just about every other moment was great.

Fulfilled, at least for another year, we returned to our abodes to await the next Maiden hit, widely tipped to be headline act of Sonisphere again in 2012, cannot wait!

NF

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