Iron Maiden with opener Ghost at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA Concert Review


Date: June 16, 2017
Venue: Xcel Energy Center
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Reviewer: Metal Headz Media
Photos: Metal Headz Media (first photo)

There are not too many bands left on my bucket list to see live, but on Friday June, 16th, I got to cross another one off. The legendary Iron Maiden made their way back to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota on what was a 16 year drought since they were last here. As one can imagine, the venue (Xcel Energy Center) was sold out and even Bruce Dickinson made a comment that they should not have waited so many years to come back.  Now, let’s hope it doesn’t take them too many years to come back to the Twin Cities so I can see their amazing show again (with more of their classics and not so much off The Book of Souls album).

I will have to admit that I was very disappointed to hear that Ghost were going to be the opening band of the tour. I was hoping for a band that I was familiar with and one that could go toe to toe with Maiden. I have tried multiple times to enjoy Ghost’s music, but it doesn’t do much for me. I know that Philip Anselmo (of Pantera) and James Hetfield (of Metallica) have given praise to the band, so I thought I was missing something, because I am a fan of both artists. I do understand why they have such a following, because they are creating something unique and a sound we have not really heard before.


Ghost started the night with the intro “Masked Ball,” then went right into their new hit single “Squared Hammer.” The Nameless Ghouls were the first to take the stage, then right before the vocals hit, Papa Emeritus (a.k.a. Tobias Forge) took center stage and gave the crowd a show that they wouldn’t forget. Even though we don’t know the identity of The Nameless Ghouls, they performed liked they owned the stage as well. It has been well known, that this is a new band for Forge, but they all performed liked they were seasoned veterans. One thing I did notice while watching their show is that Forge likes to put on a performance and his stage presence reminded me a lot of watching a theatrical play with Forge being the lead actor. He wasn’t running around the stage like Dickinson did, but gracefully paced back and forth and acted like a conductor at times waving his arms in synch with the music.

Ghost focused heavily with songs off their most recent release, Meliora, but did make sure to play at least one song off each prior album. Prior to the last song of the night, Forge informed the crowd of what the meaning is behind the song “Monstrance Clock.” He said he wrote the song for the female orgasm and asked the crowd how many people would give their girlfriends or wives an orgasm tonight. That got the crowd to laugh and cheer at the same time.

I am still not a Ghost fan by any means, but they do put on one hell of a show. I think they even sound heavier live than on their albums, which is always a plus for me. I would be open to seeing them live again, that is, if they happen to be the opening act again.

Ghost’s setlist:
01. Square Hammer
02. From The Pinnacle To The Pit
03. Ritual
04. Cirice
05. Year Zero
06. Absolution
07. Mummy Dust
08. Monstrance Clock

Iron Maiden:

Growing up in the ’80s, my music of choice was the “hair metal” bands. For example, Poison, Mötley Crüe, Warrant, Slaughter, and all the others that dominated MTV and the radio. I never did get into Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Saxon, and all the other heavier and thrashier bands, ’til much later in my life. To be honest, I probably didn’t start appreciating Iron Maiden ’til 13 years ago. I had a roommate in college that introduced their music to me, and it wasn’t until then that I appreciated their music and what they have done to the music scene. I always knew who they were, but never got around to buying any of their albums so I could hear their music (this was all before the streaming software was available and if you wanted to check out a band, you actually went out and bought their albums).

So now after 13 years of being exposed to Iron Maiden, I was ready to finally see one of the iconic rock bands in the world. I have always heard great things about their live shows, so I was stoked to check it out for myself. I did cheat a little bit and looked at their setlist a few weeks prior to this show. I was disappointed to see that the majority of their set list consisted of songs from their new album, The Book of Souls. I do get that this is the tour for the album and the band members want to play these songs for themselves and for the majority of their fans that have seen them many times before. I know it is my fault for not seeing them live in the years prior so I could hear all their classics live, so I just hope that if/when they do come back around, they will change the setlist up a bit to favor some of my favorite songs.

Once “Doctor, Doctor” was done playing on the house speakers, the lights went out and a video began to play on the big screens on each side of the stage. The video was captivating and I started thinking to myself how cool this would be if it was a video game. When the video ended, Dickinson was on one of the risers towards the back of stage singing the beginning lines to “If Eternity Should Fail.” As soon as the music kicked in, it was a non-stop adrenaline fueled concert for the next two hours. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn Dickinson was only 20 years old. He was running all across the stage, all the while sounding stronger than ever on vocals. I literally stood there in awe at how amazing they sounded and how well they commanded the stage. I was joking with a few friends that my review of this show would just read, “Awesome Awesome Awesome. This is the must see tour for 2017!”

Iron Maiden performing “If Eternity Should Fail” live at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA on June 16, 2017:

Iron Maiden “If Eternity Should Fail” Saint Paul,Mn 6/16/17 HD

Xcel Energy Center

From where I was standing, I was not able to see Nicko McBrain behind his massive drum kit, but there were times during the show that the monitors showed us how much of an amazing drummer he is. Bassist Steve Harris was fully in charge of the rhythm section and made sure to acknowledge the crowd during most of the show. Since 1999, Iron Maiden have had three guitar players in their line-up. Long time members Adrian Smith and Dave Murray control each side of the stage, while Janick Gers runs around like a mad man on the stage.

Iron Maiden let the music do most of the talking as they went into song after song the whole night. “Speed Of Light” was the second song of the night, and that just happens to be the second song from The Book of Souls. If I didn’t look at the setlist earlier, I would have thought they were going to play the album in its entirety. Then came time for some earlier cuts — “Wrathchild” and “Children Of The Damned.” I really don’t have much more to say about their stage show as they had a very elaborate and large set design that blew smoke and had moments of fire. They did have a back drop that did change from time to time, as it was an image that portrayed the song that was being played.

“Death Or Glory” saw Dickinson come out wearing a monkey mask during most of the song and doing moves that were imitating a monkey. The one song I could do without on the setlist was “The Red And The Black.” They could play two songs in place of this one track, because it clocks in at over 13 minutes long. One of the highlights of the night for me was when they played “The Trooper.” Once the backdrop got set in place, everyone knew what was next and they were ready for it.

We didn’t get to see Eddie ’til the song “The Book of Souls.” This version of Eddie looked like the album cover for The Book of Souls. Eddie took charge of the stage and started to attack all the band members and pretended to act like he was decapitating them. Gers was fun to watch as he kept on running between his legs and mocking Eddie because he could not catch him. Then Eddie started to go after Dickinson, and Dickinson had him running all over the stage. Once Dickinson got on the risers, he trapped Eddie and reached inside his chest and tore his heart out. After the blood was drained from the heart, Dickinson threw the heart into the crowd. I was thinking to myself, “Man, wouldn’t that be one heck of a souvenir to brag about?”

“Fear Of The Dark” was the first time I heard the audience sing along to the guitars. I have seen many videos and documentaries on how the Iron Maiden fans from other countries sing along to every guitar part on every song. So, I was happy to hear that the Twin Cities audience made that happen for at least one song.

After “Iron Maiden,” the band left the stage, but only to come back with the intro to “The Number Of The Beast” to be played over the speaker. This got the crowd cheering the loudest I heard them all night. Next up was “Blood Brothers,” and then the closer for the night “Wasted Years.”

I cannot begin to tell you how amazing this show was. I will forever be an Iron Maiden fan and if they ever come back around here again, I will make sure to be there. I am very happy to cross them off my list now. Next on my list is Judas Priest. I would love to be able to cross them off with a Maiden and Priest tour!! Heck, if Van Halen is considering having Roth and Hagar together for a tour, one can hope for a Maiden and Priest tour.

Iron Maiden’s setlist:
01. If Eternity Should Fail
02. Speed Of Light
03. Wrathchild
04. Children Of The Damned
05. Death Or Glory
06. The Red And The Black
07. The Trooper
08. Powerslave
09. The Great Unknown
10. The Book of Souls
11. Fear Of The Dark
12. Iron Maiden
13. The Number Of The Beast
14. Blood Brothers
15. Wasted Years

Iron Maiden performing “Blood Brothers” live at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA on June 16, 2017:

Iron Maiden “Blood Brothers” Saint Paul,Mn 6/16/17 HD

Xcel Energy Center

Iron Maiden performing “Wasted Years” live at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA on June 16, 2017:

Iron Maiden “Wasted Years” Saint Paul,Mn 6/16/17 HD

Xcel Energy Center