Coming off a couple of lackluster performances by Maiden’s standards, my excitement levels were tempered for this show. I know they were doing a “legacy” tour, but it seemed that was more driven by their phone videogame than their actual legacy. Add that in with their shitty beer, and fuck man, am I bummed on Maiden now?
The night started with a solo ride on the Reggies bus next to some crust punk who wasn’t sure who Iron Maiden was, where the bus was going, or what a shower is. But neither this, or the fact that the opener SUCKED, or the fact that I was at Tinley Park could prevent a big dumb metal smile from coming across my face the minute the curtain went up and I saw the giant WW2 plane. This wasn’t Bruce-is-wearing-a-hoodie Maiden; this was Iron Fucking Maiden, the one that headlined over Dio and Motorhead on the same tour and smoked both of those legends night after night. Opener was Aces High, followed quickly by a salvo from Maiden’s best album Piece of Mind (bring it), Where Eagles Dare and Revelations. The night also brought Wicker Man and Flight of Icarus, two rarities. Importantly, they also nailed the standards, with a full Eddie sighting in The Trooper and the crowd more than willing to play their role during Fear of the Dark. If you weren’t misty eyed just from nostalgia by the encore, the emotional impact of a Evil That Men Do/Hallowed be thy Name combo should’ve done the trick. Bruce had the energy, Smith had the solos, Gers was…still there unfortunately. It was a proper Maiden show in the American and British sense of the word.
Just because I’m me, of course there are some setlist takes. What’s with the Blaze Bayley nonsense? Sign of the Cross and The Clansmen are LOOONNGG and NO ONE GIVES A SHIT. Seriously, its roughly 15-20 minutes of set time. You don’t think the show would be better served with 3 of literally dozens of other good Maiden songs there? Killers? Another Life? The Prisoner? Infinite Dreams? Sea of Madness? Heaven Can Wait? Bring your Daughter…to the Slaughter? What the hell are we doing here? My guess is Harris wrote those Blaze songs and is like, “Look lads, these are bloody good songs so you best fuckin learn them, alright?” and Adrian Smith is just like “get my bandanas and wind machine right and I’ll solo over whatever nonsense you got.” Verbatim.
Book of Souls was good but the tour was not (again, by Maiden’s standards), and the non-stop commercialism can be grating. But when the band and the songs are this good, and they coalesce like they did on this night, who cares–it’s still Iron Maiden.