Thursday, July 31, 2003 @ 11:05 AM
Iron Maiden, Dio and Motorhead
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REVIEW BY: Kevin from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Just look at that lineup. Chances are, if you have a love for traditional Heavy Metal, you’ve either bought tickets to this tour or you’re kicking yourself for doing otherwise. It would be pointless to say that this was a good show. The only question is, just how good? Is it really possible for any show to live up to these expectations? Did these guys rock house like it was ’82, or did they fall over wheezing as if they were all 82? While there was a bit of rust apparent in the evening’s Metal, the bottom line is that all of them look set to kick ass for years to come.
Arriving late during Motorhead’s set, I still got more or less what I expected. Lemmy’s bass rumbled nicely along with whatever four chords were thrown in front of him. While good and dependable, there was also a feeling of interchangeability. With almost thirty years of stripped down, furious Rock N’ Roll behind them, Lemmy and co. have repeated themselves more than once. Not every song left much of an impression, but when they charged into sped-up versions of “Ace of Spades” and “Overkill,” all was forgiven. Even the weaker songs kept the momentum going, and, at the end of the set, all I could do was regret not having arrived earlier.
Next in line, Dio didn’t need to deliver any more than what was expected of him. The only problem was that he didn’t seem to realize this. The last time I remember him playing a concert in this area was on the Black Sabbath ‘Dehumanizer’ tour. To many of the people in attendance (including yours truly), this was their first shot at seeing the diminutive powerhouse. A straightforward set of early classics would have been perfect, especially in an arena of this size. But Dio chose to break with tradition, throwing in awkward twists and turns right when everything was going fine. There’s no denying the talent of his bandmates, but a drum solo should never be inserted only two songs into a set. Cutting off “Last in Line” during its final verse (with Dio screaming “Never – never – never – never” over and over again, like a badly scratched CD), just sounded strange. Combining “Holy Diver” and “Heaven and Hell,” as well as adding a bizarre verse about a “big black shape” near the end of the latter (something he’s been doing for decades) is an interesting move, but ultimately disappointing. It’s simply not as good as hearing the full versions of both of those songs. A guitar solo halfway through the set only did more to stagger the momentum. The new material was decent, and his delivery was spot-on, but the end result was still unfulfilling. As good as his performance was, it left a yearning for a longer, more focused set. Perhaps some Rainbow tunes would have also been welcome.
If Iron Maiden have any problems, it’s that they have too much good material. The band delivered classic after classic, drawing equally on older and newer tunes. Number of the Beast and Piece of Mind received special attention (with “Number of the Beast,” “Run to the Hills,” “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “Revelations,” “The Trooper” and “Die With Your Boots On” all being played), while most of their other albums were represented with one song each. The only disappointment was that ninety minutes weren’t enough. It’s doubtful whether they had the stamina to play for another hour, but it’s obvious that the audience would have listened. The attendance for this show seemed even higher than it was when they stopped over here three years ago (sorry I don’t have any exact figures). If this is the last time they play the Camden/Philadelphia area, it’s a great note to go out on. However, it’d be a much better note to continue on.