Today sees the Iron Maiden juggernaut cruise into town, and Nottingham Capital FM Arena is the setting for tonight’s sell out gig. The Nottingham natives have been getting restless judging by the Twitter and Facebook chatter, eagerly anticipating the event and experiencing these absolute legends of British metal. A quick survey of the gathering masses filling the floor, hitting the bar and splashing out at the overflowing merch stalls is a credit to the longevity and legendary status of Bruce Dickinson and his boys. All generations seem present and correct, right from young kids hoisted on parents shoulders for their first Maiden gig, to the battle hardened greying Maiden veterans, still squeezing into their original back patched denim jackets from the mid 70’s.
But before we get to the main event, we have the small matter of the support band. Worthy of a review in their own right, and firm TINAS faves Airbourne have been brought along for the ride, and to get the party started. There’s no other way of saying it, Airbourne are simply ace. Proper old school Rock ‘n’ Roll debauchery. The few that didn’t manage to drag themselves away from the bar as the “Terminator” intro music kicked in missed a real treat. The huge “No Guts No Glory” Airbourne backdrop sums it all up as the Aussie troop thunder through their raucous set. It’s all ripped jeans and no shirt, balls to the wall rock with loony front man Joel O’Keefe on fine form as he bounces around the stage like a hyperactive Tigger. It’s a support slot, so we don’t really get the full on mad antics we saw at Sonisphere this year, but we get the big gun anthems. “Raise The Flag”, “Cheap Wine and Cheaper Women”, “Diamond In The Rough” and “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast” all get airings as the Maiden crowd starts to warm to these antipodean rogues. By the time the anthemic set closer “Runnin’ Wild” is thrown out, Nottingham Capital FM Arena is bouncing, and any unsure Maiden fan left has no option other than being swept up in the infectious Airbourne grooves. Airbourne can walk away from Nottingham with a few thousand extra fans from the die hard Maiden faithful.
UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” blast’s through the Arena’s PA, a five minute warning to the mighty Iron Maiden experience. The lights are killed, the atmosphere electrifies and we are teased further as the lengthy intro to “Satellite 15… The Final Frontier” reverberates about the place, with the impressive lighting rig getting a full work out. As Bruce Dickinson and crew finally land on stage, the roof is raised and the place explodes. Everyone surges forward and bounces as one, as Maiden conduct the masses. The opening salvo is brutal and relentless as “The Final Frontier” becomes “El Dorado”, with Dickinson’s air raid vocals soaring through the mix, interspersed with the mandatory “Scream for me Nottingham!” orders. As he commands, we obey, and thousands scream back at the six figures on stage. What we thought was already running at full tilt is turned up a notch further, as the triple guitar assault of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers rip into “2 Minutes To Midnight”. Much as Iron Maiden’s later albums are excellent, it’s still the stonewall classics that get the biggest response.
This is of course part of “The Final Frontier World Tour” and so we are going to have a set leaning towards the latest album. “The Talisman” is a belter of a track, and in our TINAS opinion the best on the album, and hearing it live is a serious chills down your spine moment. “Coming Home” is prefixed with a spiel from Bruce about their world travels and the crowd laps up everything the Maiden boys are throwing at them. The new tracks nestled in with the old shows the progression Maiden have forged, and with Dickinson eager to reassure us that Maiden will be around for years to come, it wont be long before these new tracks sit in familiar territories and become stalwart classics in their own rights.
Any unsure lull from the newer tracks is well and truly kicked in to touch, as once more Nottingham roars as the ever changing “Eddie” backdrop morphs into “The Trooper”. Dickinson sprints up and around the stage and scenery, now dressed in his red Army jacket and brandishing the Union Jack. The signature riffs thunder through the arena as Steve Harris prowls, grinning from ear to ear, as if West Ham had just won the Champion’s League whilst his fingers gallop along with the rhythm. The flags are discarded, the backdrop morphs once more as “… the shadow of the Wicker Man is rising up again”. Our vocal chords are strained to the extremes as we sing, or rather screech along. Nicko McBrain is as flawless as ever, whilst obscured by his mountainous kit for the majority of time, his work area gets plenty of air time and you cant help but notice how much he smiles whilst belting seven bells out of his kit.
Iron Maiden are simply awesome, a real powerhouse of a metal unit and tonight’s show is a full on experience. The entertainment level is through the roof, with the visuals impressing as much as the music. Right through from Eddie coming on stage with his own guitar and duelling with Gers, to the Devil stage prop for “The Number Of The Beast” and of course the giant animatronic Eddie “Final Frontier” head shoulders and arms rising from behind the drums. But Iron Maiden are more than just entertainment, there is the banter with the crowd from Bruce, but we have to raise our hats to his opinions on the recent Norway tragedies. The diversity of playing in Jakarta and the religious connotations of that all put into perspective against a so called Christian murdering many in Olso. The fact that the world events are even mentioned is a real leveller, and form poignant introductions for certain tracks.
Nottingham came en masse to be entertained tonight, and Iron Maiden did just that. Mixing up the new and old with great effect. This was huge set and a huge evening. Dickinson reminded us constantly that Maiden are here to stay, and after such a blinder tonight we can all say in unison… “thank fuck for that”.
Iron Maiden Setlist:
Satellite 15… The Final Frontier
2 Minutes to Midnight
Dance of Death
The Wicker Man
When the Wild Wind Blows
The Evil That Men Do
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name