British heavy metal gods Iron Maiden have launched their much-anticipated 2012 North American tour. With shows in Mansfield, Mass., and Long Island, N.Y., on back-to-back nights, we took a two-day road trip to check out both shows. Strangely enough, although the two sets consisted of the same songs and stage show, the two nights were completely different.

Iron Maiden fans are well-accustomed to seeing their heavy metal heroes in indoor arenas, but this time around, the band chose to switch up their settings to outdoor amphitheaters. As frontman Bruce Dickinson told the Boston-area crowd, the decision was a rebellious response to the corporate setting of an enclosed stadium. Dickinson spoke candidly to his audience about his frustrations with seeing people in VIP skyboxes eating dinner while Iron Maiden poured their hearts out onstage. At the Comcast Center, although still corporately sponsored, was simply a sea of 14,000 raging metalheads.

As Dickinson shared a very human side to him while addressing his fans, the rest of the band showcased their mortal selves with an unusually sloppy start to the show. With the band struggling with timing issues and less-than-stellar sound quality, Maiden didn't quite give off the divine aura they're known for. Although they played an otherwise incredible show in Massachusetts, it was at the New York show where Iron Maiden hit their stride.

After Alice Cooper performed a solid opening act, which consisted of classics such as 'I'm Eighteen' and 'School's Out,' and featured female lead guitarist Orianthi Panagaris, New York's Jones Beach Theater was buzzing with 15,000 maniacal fans. This time, Iron Maiden gave the performance of a lifetime from the very first note of 'Moonchild.' The band's timing was flawless, as each member brandished their instruments like legends, and the flow of the show never hit a definitive peak as Maiden kept the unique energy of their performance at full-blast.

Iron Maiden chose to base this particular tour on their 'Maiden England' setlist, which heavily features songs from the band's 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son' album. Maiden played fan favorites such as 'Run to the Hills' and 'Aces High,' rehashed old classics 'The Prisoner' and 'Phantom of the Opera,' and showcased scorching epics 'Fear of the Dark' and 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.'

Believe us, this is not an event to be missed. With more than half of Iron Maiden's 'Seventh Son' album as the central focus of this tour, this may very well be the last time you have the chance to hear some of Maiden's greatest works live.

View Our Exclusive Photo Gallery of Iron Maiden + Alice Cooper in Mansfield, Mass.