Iron Maiden @ Madison Square Garden (6/15/2008)

Logo - Iron Maiden

Artist: Iron Maiden
Venue: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
Opener: Lauren Harris
Date: 6/15/2008
Label: Universal Music

It was almost exactly three months to the day that the legendary Iron Maiden had last visited this region and that visit was done as a warm up for the upcoming world tour that would be listed as “Somewhere Back In Time”. The truly blockbuster event would need some warm up gigs because it was going to be an event that took the band everywhere and found them pulling out all the stops in terms of material and set presentation. The show we attended back on a brutally cold night in March would be a wonderful preparation for the show we were attending tonight and while I loved that gig at the newly named Izod Center, I just had to get a little misty at the thought of seeing them again in New York City at the famed Madison Square Garden. That last time around Bruce swore to us that the show would be a cry back to the past glory and be something no one would ever forget and I was looking forward to finding out how much he was going to treat us to in a sold out arena tonight. The “Somewhere Back In Time” shows were ones that would deliver to the audience the best Iron Maiden songs from the first batch of albums. It would begin with their self-titled “Iron Maiden” and end with “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”. Nothing else would be played and if you were looking for “X-Factor” or “Dance Of Death” stuff you would not find it here this evening. The bands opener would once again be Steve Harris’ daughter Lauren and her band and with the NJ show I had missed most of her gig but tonight would make sure to be in place and see what she was all about. The previous night the boys in Maiden had performed at the PNC Bank Arts Center which is a wonderful outdoor space, but the downside was that it would be the same evening as a torrential thunderstorm and many thousands of the Metal faithful found themselves running to the hills for cover of some kind while the crazier ones just continued to rock out and play in mud. When it comes to weather conditions I say give me an indoor event over anything else and here is how the night went down for those who couldn’t get a ticket or felt that they didn’t need to see them after that show a couple of months ago.

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

Lauren Harris: Talk about a killer gig because there aren’t many bands that are afforded an opportunity like this one. Many have cried nepotism when it came down to bassist Steve Harris selecting his daughters band as the tour opening slot but we need to remember that the decision is not up to the community of Metal fans but instead up to who the band selects and if Lauren was the choice then we have to deal with it. Tonight I would pay a little more attention to her and actually enjoyed the presentation she was putting forward. She is a beautiful young lady who really, really seems genuine on the stage and one cannot ask for much more when you are down in the audience. Her band is completed by Tom McWilliams (drums), Randy Gregg (bass) and Richie Faulkner (guitar) – all who seemed to be competent players and also very energetic on the stage of the Garden. Who wouldn’t be excited about performing in such a room? For those coming in late to the program, lets just say that the material she does is in the realm of Melodic Power Pop Rock. It’s nothing as dreadful as Ashlee Simpson, but instead holds an early Brit Hard Rock allegiance to it. Her debut album features a UFO cover and even has Steve Harris playing bass on a couple of the numbers. Tonight her set would feature the songs “Natural Thing”, “Your Turn”, “Like it or Not”, “Let us be”, “Steal Your Fire” and “Come On Over”. It wasn’t a lot of music to sit through if you hated the fact that she was playing and at the end of the day she did sound rather good live and showed a real appreciation of the crowd who had already assembled and were giving her some applause. Bassist Randy Gregg (Angel, Thin Lizzy) is a resident of New York and when Lauren said that he has always wanted to play this stage and address the crowd the musician spoke with a quick “How the fuck are you doing New York”. Brief and to the point, and probably not what he really wanted to say but when you are under those lights and looking out into the masses I am sure most of us would get tongue tied. Her set end quickly and now it was once again time for the one and only Iron Maiden to remind us just why the label them as legends. To be honest, the goose bumps still form on my arms every time the lights go down just before their set.

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

Iron Maiden: I felt fortunate that I was able to catch the band when they made that East Coast visit back in March and this was because it was not only an incredible experience but because it showed the fans just how good a Metal show can and should be. Even though this was labeled as a warm up performance it was a gig that stood as testimony to the bands stratospheric career and if Bruce was correct tonight’s show was going to be all the more interesting to be a part of. Once again the band hit the ground running after the introduction of “Churchill’s Speech” that leads the crowd into “Aces High” and when the lights hit any section of the crowd you could see the bodies standing strong with fists and horns in the air. There is very little sitting down at an Iron Maiden show and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The music is still as energetic as it ever was and the guys do not seem to have lost any of their power even though they have been doing this for so long a time. Bruce was in great vocal form as he belted out “2 Minutes To Midnight” and “Revelation” and just like that last time a few months ago jumped backstage for a quick wardrobe change for “The Trooper”. If you weren’t there that night the singer reappeared in his British army red and waived a giant flag from his nation – placing one on either side of the Garden stage. As I expected, the numbers were coming up exactly as they had done on those warm up gigs and it made sense to keep the set the same since it didn’t have a flaw anywhere in its design. “Wasted Years” got a lot of the crowd singing along during the chorus but it would be “Number Of The Beast” that got everyone in the earliest uproar of the night as the chants were phrased with hands held to the sky. The difference tonight would be the extensive use of ominous red lighting and a giant demon figure that would float into the air on the side of the stage and gaze back and forth at the crowd as the smoke billowed about it. It really added some additional evil to the track and drove the crowd wild all the more. “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” was finding the band still on target and with the number being an almost fifteen minute adventure out to sea this was very commendable. Bruce was dressed in a cloak and came off as some sort of specter during the tune. The tightness being delivered by the guys was outstanding as always and no one on the stage was remaining in one spot. At any given time we saw Harris on one end while Murray and Smith were elsewhere and while it seems to drive some fans crazy we had Mr. Gers tossing and twirling his guitar around as if he had watched one too many Steve Vai videos.

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

The show was progressing without incident as they delivered “Powerslave” and as anyone who read about this tour knew, the state setting being used was very similar to that of the one for the tour for this same album some twenty years earlier. It had some minor upgrades of course and everything was going along smoothly until the section just after the solos when the entire PA power seemed to blow out. The band stood their perplexed and there were no guitars, drums or vocals coming out of any of the speakers and based on this being the case Bruce couldn’t even tell us what was going on. Fortunately this only seemed to be involving stage power as the arenas lights were still on and what a stroke of luck that was. I can’t imagine anything setting off people’s nerves more than finding themselves in complete darkness with 15,000 others around them who are also concerned with their safety and what the hell could possibly be going on. During the time that the technicians rushed to figure out what was happening, the band decided to use the time to keep the crowd entertained and loose by staging an impromptu soccer game. So here were the guys in Iron Maiden kicking a ball around on the stage as if they were in a park on a summer afternoon and Bruce even used some of the sarcophagus props to block the ball being played by his band mates. It was a good ten to fifteen minutes before things came back to normal and Bruce addressed the crowd saying it seemed like we had the curse of Sharon (Osbourne), the “wicked witch of the west” as he slyly reminded us of the feud between the pair from a couple of years ago. The guys polled the audience about whether to complete “Powerslave”’ or move on to the next number which was “Heaven Can Wait”. The crowd seemed divided evenly on this but apparently Adrian’s guitar had already been switched out for the next song so that was what they did. I think it would have been weird to hear only the last minute of “Powerslave” anyway so I was glad that they opted to do the next tune. Eddie would not make an appearance during “Powerslave” and this was the same as the last time, but those who had enjoyed the bands DVD “Live After Death” would recall that back in the day the mascot came out as a mummy during the tune. This didn’t bother me as I knew it wouldn’t be an Iron Maiden show without him showing his face somewhere but we would just have to wait a little bit. “Heaven Can Wait” is an alright song but never was one of my favorites from the group and yet during this tune the band allows content winners to come up at the end and sing the chorus with them. A nice touch to a degree as it brings you into the mix if you are one of the lucky ones and as the tour progresses several hundred of their followers will have a story to tell friends for years to come.

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

The hits continued to blast the New York City audience and during “Run To The Hills” I think the singing from the crowd was so loud that it could be heard from outside of the arena. It was as rousing as ever and I am pretty sure that the response during the number was even blowing away the guys on stage a little bit. As we made our way to the sets close the guys delivered “Iron Maiden” and during this one a giant sarcophagus mask of Eddie appeared above the stage and amidst smoke and flash pots opened to reveal a massive Eddie as the Mummy. It was different from the one we saw in the DVD and just reminded us of how even the mascot himself changes time and time again. A few more tunes from “Seventh Son” would be delivered before the bands final number “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and there wasn’t a body in the Garden who was out of energy yet. This is a great closing choice and I had to admit that I never found it to be a number in this part of the set as opposed to earlier. Either way it worked and to make it all the more interesting the final bars of the song found Eddie returning to stalk to band and audience in his “Somewhere In Time” phase. From beginning to end this was an incredible show and one would hope that a lot of it was captured on video for future use. Iron Maiden has been known to release live CD and DVD’s for their tours of late I am hard pressed to think that this particular one will be met with anything less than a powder keg of enthusiasm.

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

If you don’t have them already, Iron Maiden has released a CD “Best Of” that features most of the set for this tour and they are still celebrating the long awaited DVD release of “Live After Death”. Two products that will help you expand your Maiden collection while we anxiously await the next studio album.

Full Iron Maiden Photo Gallery: https://piercingmetal.com/iron-maiden-live-photos-madison-square-garden-6152008/

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
12. Run to the Hills
13. Fear of the Dark
14. Iron Maiden
15. Moonchild
16. The Clairvoyant
17. Hallowed Be Thy Name

Official Website: http://www.ironmaiden.com
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/laurenharrisuk

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