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Iron Maiden in Maryland

By A Headbanger, Do You Bang Head?
Monday, October 6, 2008 @ 11:53 PM


At the Merriweather Post Pavilion

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Reviewed by Jeff

As usual, I’m way late in getting my review posted from the show back in June ay Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. After spending a few months working on downgrading my laptop to XP and recovering all of my files, the lesson is to not by a machine with Vista.

When I heard that Maiden was coming back to do an old school show I couldn’t be happier – they were bringing back the old stage set from 85’s “World Slavery” tour and would be playing nothing but old school songs. That’s a smart way to make up for playing the entire new album on their last tour, and hopefully this will keep them from getting mentioned in the same breath as Boston for the “Third Stage” debacle…

Maiden was my first concert ever, back at the infamous “Somewhere on Tour” show at the Meadowlands where, in the post-concert riot, two cars got flipped over and torched. I got a kick out of learning after the fact that the riot was started by some goons from my town who were a year ahead of me in school. And you probably thought that The Goose was the most annoying thing to come out of Kenilworth, NJ.

I was lucky enough to catch them again on the 7th Son… tour, but like most Maiden fans, gave up on them after that. I liked “Brave New World”, though – Chris Jericho summed it up perfectly as “the album that should have followed 7th Son”. I missed them on that tour, so I’m glad that I’m getting a chance to see them again.

Rather than fight DC traffic from northern VA up to Columbia, I took a half-day at work to head up with my cousin Jeremy to tailgate beforehand. It doesn’t get much better than spending a summer afternoon enjoying some grilled dogs and bad beer (Bud) while blasting “Decade of Aggression” from my car & watching everyone file in. It’s funny how much the crowd has changed over the years. Somewhere along the way Maiden went from being “that band your parents hated” to being one where we saw a bunch of groups with guys bringing their twelve year old kids with them. And it was also funny seeing the metal heads arriving, parking a Mercedes in front of me, and Prius pulling up next to me with a baby seat in the back. Then again, my Accord is a far cry from the ’75 Malibu I was driving the last time I saw them.

We decided to head in when the opening act was starting to wind down and more importantly, we were out of beer. The opening act was, um, whatever the opening act was, which is fronted by Steve Harris’ daughter. We caught the last two or three songs, and they sounded OK.

When Maiden finally took the stage they ran a prelude by playing a recording of “Transylvania” over the PA while running a montage of photos from the current tour on the video screens. It was a pretty cool warm up, but not as cool as when the lights went down and they played the clip of Churchill’s speech that almost every Maiden fan can probably still recite from memory. As for songs, they started off strong, opening with “Aces High”, “Two Minutes to Midnight”, “The Trooper”, and “Revelations”. I was surprised to hear “Revelations” since it dropped off of the set list on the 7th Tour. “Piece of Mind” is still my favorite album of all time (no synthesizers or hidden motives), and “Revelations” is an amazing song. In the 80’s metal bands using acoustic guitars became a cliché, but the way they mixed the acoustic into this song was just amazing. And to hear one of my all time Maiden favorites at Meriwether, sitting on a grassy hill amphitheater surrounded by trees as the sun was setting – awesome moment.

The band was great, with the band members flying around the stage like guys half their age. Dickenson was all over the set during “Trooper”, wearing a red coat of a British dragoon and waving his Union Jack. Jers was a “new” addition for me, but I missed any of his work during the long stretch where I stopped following Maiden. A buddy and me were joking that he was the “Cousin Oliver” of Maiden, but he held his own alongside Murray and Hill.

Next up were two of the “newer” songs, “Wasted Years” and “Can I Play with Madness?” with “The Number of the Beast” sandwiched in between. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many red pyrotechnics blasting on a stage as I did during “Beast”. Slayer is the only band that even comes close to Maiden in terms of how seamlessly the two lead guitarists can go back and forth on the solos, and I’ve always loved watching Harris whaling on his bass at the end of the solo.

They followed with “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, which kind of surprised me. While “…Mariner” is a great song, long songs always take the wind out of a crowd. Between it being toward the end of the night and this crowd being what the bouncer from “Knocked Up” would call “old as fuck,” I could see a lot of the life come out of a show that up until this point had been one massive rush. Still, this song was a good excuse to bring out some more cool stage props with the ship and the fog during the part where the recorded voice of the old man starts directly reading from the original Coleridge poem. And in one of those “I never thought I would see the day…” moments, this song was one of the ones mentioned when National Review wrote an article paying tribute to Maiden. Yes, National Review.

After “…Mariner”, Maiden followed strong with “Run to the Hills” and “Heaven Can Wait”, but then came back with another surprise – “Fear of the Dark”. I thought that they were only playing songs from the first seven albums, and while “…Fear” isn’t a bad song, it’s just not a great one to play toward the end of the night. Yes, it’s a good song to get the crowd singing along and cool to play in the dark, but this song also took some life out of the crowd. You can never go into a show having your heart set for a certain song you want to hear, but I was surprised that they spent over twenty minutes on “…Mariner” & “Fear…” when there were a few classics that didn’t get played.

But Maiden went for a great close to the set with “Iron Maiden”, and of course when they got to the solo the huge sarcophagus on stage opened to reveal the massive flaming eyed Eddie that they used from the “Powerslave” tour. After a few minutes they came back for their encore, and Dickenson kicked off with the intro from “Seventh Son…” and fired into “Moonchild.” Awesome – I was wondering if we would hear anything else from that album again tonight. The follow up was another surprise, and one that I was pretty damned happy with – “The Clairvoyant”. At first I was surprised to hear this given a lot of heavyweights that weren’t going to get played on the night, but it only took a few seconds to remember what a great song it is. And for that matter, what a great, underrated album “Seventh Son…” has always been. Maiden also used this song to bring out the second Eddie that they always have walk across the stage. This time they used the robotic Eddie from “Somewhere in Time”, and blasted him with a cannon the same way they did on that tour.

The final song of the night was “Hallowed be thy Name”, and the crowd loved this classic. While I was a little bit surprised with some of the song selection and that we didn’t hear anything off of “Killers”, overall it was a great show. Maiden is still a group of great musicians, play their classics with as much energy as when they first performed them, and know how to keep the crowd going. Hopefully they’ll decide to perform this show again – if you missed them this time around be sure that you catch them next time.



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