News Segment


October 23, 2006

IRVINE, California (Hollywood Reporter) – Iron Maiden has never been a band to approach its career on bended knee and with nostalgic sentiments; the British metal veterans proved why they don’t have to Saturday night in the sold-out finale of their North American tour in Irvine.

As was the case throughout the tour, they performed the new album “A Matter of Life and Death” in its entirety, with five deeper, career-spanning cuts performed later in the show.

Their heavy-metal army of 16,000-plus screaming die-hards wouldn’t have had it any other way. “There’s an uncomfortably large number of you here tonight,” frontman Bruce Dickinson quipped at the show’s midway point, thanking the audience for making the album the first release of the band’s storied career to crack the domestic top 10. It was a welcome moment of spontaneity in an otherwise meticulously tailored dispatch of the 75-minute album.

Arguably the strongest release of the band’s quarter-century career, “Life and Death” delves into the philosophical depths of war. The stage reflected the theme, with sandbags piled atop the monitors at the front of what resembled a battle-torn bunker. Backdrops helped finish the picture, but the performance of the album was remarkably free of the theatrical grandeur that has marked the band’s live spectacles over the years.

Dickinson’s vocals powered through the full metal jacket of “These Colors Don’t Run” and the William Blake grandeur of “Brighter Than a Thousand Suns,” and the band played with a militaristic precision. Guitarists Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers and bassist Steve Harris bled seamlessly into the music’s epic, progressive tapestry, but it was drummer Nicko McBrain that proved the commanding general of Maiden’s march.

Dickinson solicited an ovation when he nailed the final note of “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg,” but “For the Greater Good of God” and the album closer, “The Legacy,” driven by Gers, were highlights. While the album was performed gimmick-free, a colossal army tank commandeered by Maiden’s skeletal mascot Eddie overtook the stage during “Iron Maiden,” which followed “Fear of the Dark” in closing the set. The encore featured “2 Minutes to Midnight,” “The Evil That Men Do” and closer “Hallowed be Thy Name.”

It didn’t take an album about the atrocities of war to teach us that the evil that men do lives on and on, but it may have taken the live majesty of “A Matter of Life and Death” to cement Iron Maiden as heavy metal’s reigning superpower. There isn’t another band of their storied status that could eschew their hits in favor of playing an album of new material in its entirety and still have a crowd leave satisfied.

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