On a hot sweaty Friday night at Barcelona’s magnificent and historic Stadio Olimpico, the juggernaut that is Iron Maiden’s Legacy Of The Beast tour rolled into town. The worldwide greatest hits tour started way back in 2018 after Maiden had extensively toured their 2015 double album The Book Of Souls, but came to a halt when the pandemic struck, finally getting off the ground again in May 2022 which has seen the beast travel across Europe (inc a headline slot at the UK’s Download Festival).
During the tours hiatus the legendary British Heavy Metal band found the time to put the finishing touches onto the recording of their seventeenth album Senjutsu, which was released in 2021 and featured an ancient Japanese mythology theme, with their iconic mascot Eddie The Head dressed in full on Samurai attire for the visual representation. The album was pretty well received and although far from their very finest work, proved that the now elder statesman of Rock are still more than capable of producing meaningful and quality new music.
And the fresh material has seen Maiden tweak the theme of the tour with the set now kicking off with three new songs played against a backdrop of ancient Japan, and with a giant Samurai Eddie swinging his sword around. The band entered the stage to the crashing drums and explosions of title track Senjutsu and to the sound of an adoring cheering crowd, before swiftly moving through Stratego and on to The Writing On The Wall, which is perhaps the catchiest singalong track on the new album, and an instant Maiden classic which stands the best chance from all of the new songs, of being retained in any future set the band may tour.
From here, with a swift change of staging backdrop Maiden started dipping into their vast back catalogue, beginning with Revelations from 1983’s Piece Of Mind followed by Blood Brothers, one of the biggest anthems from the 21st century version of the band which saw singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith return to the fold with the excellent 2000 album Brave New World. As the older material started flowing, the evening light started to draw to a close and the atmosphere within the stadium went to a whole new level. The crowd were treated to Sign Of The Cross and Flight Of Icarus before one of the most anticipated anthems of the night was dropped with Fear Of The Dark, widely considered one of the greatest ever Maiden songs and lifted from their 1992 album of the same name.
Based on this performance it’s fair to say that Maiden are as enthusiastic and sound as great as they ever have done, which is no mean feet given that drummer Nicko McBrain turned seventy in June, and their enigmatic frontman at the age of sixty five, has had to battle back from a cancerous tumour found on his tongue in 2015. It really does sound like he has lost none of his remarkable range, or his legendary chat with the crowd in between songs. Bassist Steve Harris still looks fresh as he moves around on stage and remains the pulsating heartbeat of the band, and in addition to Adrian Smith, guitarists Dave Murray and Janice Gers trade riffs and extraordinary guitar solos with a triple attack style befitting of their Three Amigos nick name. Next Maiden played the ultimate crowd pleaser in Hallowed Be Thy Name followed by The Number Of The Beast (both from their classic third album of the same name released in 1982), before a rendition of their ultimate call to arms with self titled track Iron Maiden (from their debut 1980 album) saw them disappear from the stage before returning for the encore.
When they returned the crowd were ecstatic and Maiden jumped into another absolute belter of a classic track with The Trooper from Piece Of Mind (1982), followed by the rabble rousing singalong chorus of The Clansman and one of their earliest hit singles Run To Hills. They again disappeared before returning one final time to the legendary ‘We will fight them on the Beaches’ speech by Winston Churchill, before launching into the final song of the night Aces High from the 1984 album Powerslave, which Maiden opened their sets with for many years back in the day.
The Legacy Of The Beast tour rolls on for Iron Maiden who move on to South America, Canada and the USA before wrapping up in Oct 2022, some four and half years after getting started. But beyond this, what will the future hold for arguably one of the biggest and greatest Heavy Metal bands of all time? They have seen and done it all in a career spanning some 45 years and with 17 classic albums. And as the members all start to hit retirement age, will the passion and the drive still be there to make another album and hit the road again? …. Only the sands of time will tell!
Words by … Abstrakt_Soul
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