Iron Maiden ‘Play With Madness’ at U.S. Kickoff Show in Raleigh, North Carolina
Iron Maiden came back to North Carolina for the second time in a little over a year, this being their first ever performance in Raleigh on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The band kicked off a brief U.S run of dates on their ongoing Maiden England tour, which has seen the band dust off old fan favorites for a fresh take in a new era. Seemingly getting better with age, Iron Maiden delivered yet again with their timeless brand of metal gaining new heights.
As UFO’s ‘Doctor, Doctor’ came pouring through the PA speakers, the crowd exploded in excitement, knowing that when the song finished, their beloved Maiden would be taking the stage for the next two hours. Orchestral music accompanied by video clips of mountains of ice sliding into bodies of water built the tension before the beginning of ‘Moonchild’ began. With a fiery explosion at the first verse, the band came running onstage as Bruce Dickinson took his place at the top runway. The recently turned 55-year-old immediately started belting out the lyrics, showing not a single sign of wear over the years.
The band ripped through old classics like ‘Can I Play With Madness,’ ‘2 Minutes to Midnight,’ and ‘Run to the Hills’ with rarities that mark the purpose of the tour. ‘The Prisoner’ was among the highlights, which saw Bruce running around even more than usual and spinning the mic stand like in the old days when he used to intentionally trip Steve Harris. ‘Afraid to Shoot Strangers’ is the black sheep of the setlist for most, but the eeriness sets a chilling mood before the uptempo and high-flying madness breaks in.
From the beginning, the entire band was on point, firing on all cylinders and bringing a powerful performance to Raleigh. Typically, there are some noticeable missed notes or minor flaws, but not on this night. Guitarist Janick Gers, who is often mocked for performing tricks with his guitar, was on fire, managing to nail his playing even when Bruce draped the flag over his head for a while during ‘The Trooper.’
One of the biggest highlights included the hallmark of Iron Maiden’s sound, ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’ The song is incredibly heavy with the triple threat on guitars and boasts a busy light show to compliment the pummeling Nicko McBrain gave his kit. The other dazzling highlight was the epic ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son,’ which saw the clairvoyant Eddie emerge from behind Nicko, complete with candles a bit further apart on each side of the scribe figure. The song is a daunting task vocally, and Bruce beautifully powered through it, holding out a note before the spoken word section for nearly 20 seconds. Dry ice and fog filled the stage to set the mood for the middle section that slowly built up before erupting into melody and chaotic solo battles between Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. Pyrotechnic explosions from the up top worked symbiotically with the synthesizer choruses provided by Michael Kenney, who appeared from behind the stage for this song, donning a mask and cape behind an organ.
During the eponymous song, Eddie emerged yet again, this time in the guise of the ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ album cover. After leaving the stage and a raucous applause from the packed amphitheater, ‘Churchill’s Speech’ dominated the speakers and the band came racing out after an explosion, bursting into ‘Aces High’ and looking like they were about to start another show all over again. Bruce displayed the strength of his voice on this trying song, wailing and dropping the jaws of the crowd.
The Brits wrapped things up with ‘The Evil That Men Do’ and ‘Running Free.’ As usual, the band dropped down to drums and bass in the middle of the latter, taking the time for some call and response between Bruce and the uproarious fans. With one final air raid siren scream from the rambunctious frontman, the band thanked the crowd and departed from the stage. Nicko tossed his sticks and drumheads into the crowd, the grabbed the microphone to thank the crowd again before walking off stage.
Iron Maiden are more than 30 years into their career and are still a band appearing to be on their upswing. The members of Maiden display more energy than most musicians half their age, and the band continues to wow fans young and old. Up the irons!