Iron Maiden @ Izod Center (3/14/2008)

Iron Maiden were touring on what they referred to as the “Somewhere Back In Time” tour and they would hit the now labeled Izod Center, which Bruce Dickinson lovingly still calls the Meadowlands. It was an incredible event and not a seat was to be found for weeks in advance. To read about this night scroll past the logo below.

Logo - Iron Maiden

Artist: Iron Maiden
Venue: Izod Center (East Rutherford, NJ)
Opener: Lauren Harris
Date: 3/14/2008
Label: Universal Music

When Iron Maiden announced that they would be returning to the US for a couple of shows the buzz surrounding the news would have every Metal head across the generations talking about it. This made sense for Iron Maiden is one of the strongest of the Heavy Metal super powers and for decades have kept their relevance and impact on the genre at the highest possible level. The issue would be that there were really only these couple of shows planned and that meant two of them – one performance on the West Coast and then a stop over on the East Coast, so when the tickets went on sale they sold out as if this were the last concert that anyone in attendance would be able to see in their lives. After breathing a sigh of relief upon securing tickets I had to wonder what the band would deliver to their fans this time around. With their last tour, the band was supporting the album “A Matter Of Life And Death” and in an unprecedented move chose to deliver the entire release from start to finish as opposed to only showcasing a few of its highlights. Once that concluded they would do a few numbers from across the back catalog and since these numbers left off “The Trooper”, “The Number Of The Beast” or “Run To The Hills”, it became a tour that left a lot of Metal heads for want.

iron maiden, iron maiden concert photos
Iron Maiden by Ken Pierce (2008)

Having seen the band perform on a number of occasions over the years I respected and admired the move to be different but I had to say that when they lined out that this tour would focus on their early years I was ecstatic. Let’s the games commence for lack of a better phrase. The day of the show I had what could easily be thought of as a quest to a destination instead of a mere trip and to say that my day to reach the show was a journey would be an understatement. It began with a work function in Staten Island that required me to get a car to a ferry back to NYC where I would then catch a train to the bus that goes out to NJ where they arena was. “Whew” was all I could muster, but then a laugh hit me as I thought that this was the way the Metal fan worked when it came to shows. You trekked to the show that you were hitting and the entire day was an event with the show itself becoming the rousing and climatic end to a day usually loaded with fun. At least this was how I remembered a lot of them. On arriving to the venue parking area I found that there were cars blasting music of all kinds everywhere and the assembled fans were cooking and drinking in celebration to Iron Maiden’s honor and return. You heard a lot of Iron Maiden blasting which was to be expected and there were quadrants where Slayer and Pantera could be heard. Of course there was one crew blasting Poison and Warrant and that confused me for this particular show at least. The day was rather cold so those BBQ fires were serving a dual purpose today. The great thing was seeing how many Metal fans knew each other or how many groups they had come to the show in and as I observed a little closer I noticed an incredible amount of younger fans there and I don’t mean your conventional teenager, but instead some of these older fans young children. I smiled when I thought of the stories that these kids would eventually tell about whatever they remembered in some future show of their own. Given the fact that I enjoy seeing the opening bands that play I got myself inside the warmth of the area rather quick to see as much of singer Lauren Harris’ set. Her name might ring a bell and no you are not imagining things, her name is the same as the crunching bassist for good reason. She’s Steve Harris’ daughter. Here’s what you missed if you were not able to snare a ticket for the night.

iron maiden, iron maiden concert photos
Iron Maiden by Ken Pierce (2008)

Lauren Harris: The singer was already mid-set when I arrived to my seat and she was nothing less than energetic on the stage. I guess that this runs in the family and while many questioned her as the choice in an opener, the band is allowed to bring along whomever they want so we would just have to deal with it. I tried to observe her set with an open mind and when doing this found that she is musically more along the Power Pop Rock scope or the straight ahead Rock side of things as opposed to being anything resembling Metal. She didn’t sound terrible and her band was tight and held their own against the largely disinterested crowd. The floor area was General Admission so people were already there to secure their spots but a larger amount of the fans were either still out in the cold killing the rest of their beers or online to get fresh ones inside the arena. Lauren really gave the audience her all and while I would have preferred another opener for the gig, I had to say that I would see her play again under different circumstances. Now it was time to get down to business, for the Iron Maiden set was only moments away. Lauren’s band is completed by Richie Faulkner (lead guitar), Randy Gregg (bass guitar) and Tommy McWilliams (drums). I’ve personally caught Gregg over the last few years in a few other projects and like his playing and felt that Faulkner was a superb guitarist as well.

iron maiden, iron maiden concert photos
Iron Maiden by Ken Pierce (2008)

Iron Maiden: Have you ever seen this band in concert before? If not, have you ever seen one of their live videos or perhaps even heard them on a live CD recording? Because if you haven’t done at least one of the above it is really difficult to explain about just how much of a powerhouse group this actually is. When the house lights went down to signal the bands arrival the crowd’s roar was almost loud enough to shatter walls of thin glass and everyone’s attention was quickly drawn to an overhead screen that showed the Iron Maiden jumbo jet arriving at the nearby Newark airport. Yes, the band has their own jet, and all flew over in it with equipment and stage props. Their pilot was none other than their singer Bruce Dickinson. As the film concluded we heard the familiar speech by Winston Churchill that led into the bands explosive opener of “Aces High” and when the band actually hit the stage the earlier roars of moments previous seemed almost quiet compared to the response that came once the guys were in full motion. To say that the band immediately attacked the set like they were on fire would not be sufficient enough as the group was a constant flurry of motion with their three guitarists (Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers) all sharing leads and guitar acrobatics while singer Dickinson ran and covered almost every inch of the available stage to incite the crowd to a fever pitched frenzy. Under it all the frenetic fingers of Steve Harris did their own brand of Metal justice to the bass and while you couldn’t see him from most angles, you certainly could hear madman Nicko McBrain from behind and beneath his massive drum kit. Their overall tightness was quite easy to observe as Iron Maiden is far more than a band of guys and instead comes off like some well-oiled machine that is capable of delivering some of the best Metal you could ever hope to hear.

iron maiden, iron maiden concert photos
Iron Maiden by Ken Pierce (2008)

The set moved quickly along and followed with “2 Minutes To Midnight”, another classic from the album “Powerslave” and it soon became very clear that this would be a night of the most venerated songs that the band had in their arsenal this time around. The group was actually celebrating the release of their classic video film “Live After Death” which was finally coming out on DVD some 22 years after it was originally released on VHS. Old School fans might remember this film as it focused on the “World Slavery Tour” for the “Powerslave” album, and became cited as one of the best concert films in Metal history. To compliment this celebration the band was revisiting a lot of the material from the film and also sticking to a number of other earlier basics. This was all about the past, and the title for this go round was “Somewhere Back In Time”. The stage setting was very much that of the original “Powerslave” tour with its mummy’s and sarcophagi as well as a pyramid block theme around the amps. There were ramps and levels that allowed for Dickinson to get right up over the crowd and make them even crazier than they would have ever hoped to get tonight. Bruce spoke to the crowd often and was amused that the arena he once knew as The Meadowlands was now called “The Izod Center”. He laughed and said “am I supposed to call you the Izod Center now? Well that sounds rather stupid so I hope you don’t mind me saying “Scream for me Meadowlands”, and as you might already have expected no one was going to argue with him and responded with exuberance whenever directed to do so. The band was nothing less than explosive tonight as they kicked into “The Trooper” where Bruce waived the Union Jack as a giant backdrop of Eddie in similar garb was presented. “Wasted Years” found much of the audience singing along with the chorus and it was with this song that we found that “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” was an album that was also being delivered this evening. The flawless set continued with “The Number Of The Beast” and while this was only the seventh tune of the night it came off like one of the most explosive pieces done this evening. They could have kept it for the closer, but I am glad that we had much more to go after this as opposed to heading back home.

iron maiden, iron maiden concert photos
Iron Maiden by Ken Pierce (2008)

As the show progressed Dickinson kept on with the banter and he really seems to enjoy his time interacting with the crowd. He apologized for the band not really having the full on stage set but that they would definitely be back around and bring it for those shows. When he said this I was sure that the text messages went off to those who did not attend from friends inside informing them that the band would be coming back. The amusing part was how if this bombastic display was not a full on show, just how much more intense would their return be. As the guys got to “Powerslave” I was a little bit more excited for I remembered how Eddie would come out dressed as a mummy during it but they blindsided me by not doing this at the show. It didn’t seem right that the famous mascot would be left back in the UK, as he would never tolerate that, but we did still have plenty of time in the show to see if he made an appearance. During “Heaven Can Wait” the band had a whole grouping of fans come on stage and I was told by someone near me that this was based on a contest or something. Hopefully their friends had their camera phones or whatever else ready to snap these fifteen seconds of fame. “Run To The Hills” would be another superb highlight from the show as there wasn’t a person in the arena who wasn’t singing along with this one and through it all I was finding myself realizing all the more about just how incredible this group still was. They were definitely serving as a positive inspiration to those younger Metal musicians in the audience as well as the new school of fans. I would be hard pressed to think anything other than this being the case.

iron maiden, iron maiden concert photos
Iron Maiden by Ken Pierce (2008)

After “Fear Of The Dark” we got the bands title track and as earlier anticipated it would be the appearance of the one and only Eddie, but he was not the mummy and instead was coming to life in his “Somewhere In Time” look. That was a surprise and he stalked the stage for a couple of minutes with his gun aimed steadily out over the crowd. The entire evening closed out with “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and by the time it had finished everyone’s voice was gone but their energy level would not subside until they eventually made their way to the parking lot and buses home. Iron Maiden reminded us not only of their glory days this evening, but also about just how good a Metal show can and should be. The show was a firm testimony to how great a career the band has built over their almost thirty year existence since the first album and how they deserved every ounce of respect that they are given. There are really few bands as good at this as Iron Maiden. It was a performance that would have people talking for weeks in addition to making plans about attending one of the return engagements for the region. “Up The Irons!!!”

Full Iron Maiden Photo Gallery:

Set List:
1. Intro – Churchill’s Speech
2. Aces High
3. 2 Minutes to Midnight
4. Revelation
5. The Trooper
6. Wasted Years
7. The Number of the Beast
8. Can I Play With Madness?
9. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
10. Powerslave –
11. Heaven Can Wait – contest
12. Run to the Hills –
13. Fear of the Dark –
14. Iron Maiden –
15. Moonchild –
16. The Clairvoyant
17. Hallowed Be Thy Name

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