IRON MAIDEN - Playing With Madness In Denver

April 26, 2016, 2 years ago

Chaos Gillingham

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Attending any live music event can be a night to remember, but an Iron Maiden show is almost always a life-altering experience. Most bands that attain a robust and loyal fan-base early on and steadfast throughout the duration of their career… are either a statistical miracle or something special. As it turns out, Iron Maiden is both. Iron Maiden’s fans are among the most devoted and unwavering. From groups of people setting up camp pre-show (early AM) outside the venue, local business offering Iron Maiden Discounts, local establishments luring fans by pumping out Iron Maiden music as well as many other telltale signs – there’s no doubt, when Iron Maiden is in town. As the day progresses, there’s undeniable shared devotion amongst the hordes, that have amassed to shower their heroes with fierce reverence. It’s close to show time and Denver’s Pepsi Center (home to Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche) starts to awaken with remarkable electricity in the air. 

It’s overwhelming how far Iron Maiden’s grip reaches. The band has one of the largest global followings of any, and upon entering the venue; it would become apparent just how eclectic the Iron Maiden community truly is. One quick look to your left and right, and people from different parts of the country, different parts of the world, different walks of life – and at least three generations, can be witnessed in amalgamation to ‘Up The Irons’. 

“Doctor, Doctor” (UFO) sneaks in over the PA. (For those who have been deprived of seeing Iron Maiden live, this the song that plays just prior to the band hitting the stage)  Instantaneously the entire (approx. 20,000-plus) crowd bursts into cheers and proceed to sing along. The song fades, the lights go down, the fans respond with a collective roar. The show starts with Bruce Dickinson emerging behind a smoldering ritual pot (of sorts) as he provides vocals to the show opener “If Eternity Should Fail”. All doubts or concerns of Dickinson’s abilities are quashed as the man launches himself from the top riser, into signature Air Raid Siren vocal depths. The recent cancer that plagued Dickinson, seems to have lost miserably to this man of super-hero proportions. Guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Jannick Gers - bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain were all in the same triumphant spirit and ready to follow Dickinson into battle.

The band mixed it up with song choices, weaving new tracks such as “Speed Of Light” with “Children Of The Damned”, then seamlessly into “Tears Of A Clown” and “The Red And The Black” The decision to play six tracks from the new album (The Book Of Souls) is a testament to the band’s confidence level in the new material. On this night the fans respond in kind. An example would be the crowd erupting into ‘guitar-melody-chanting’ to tracks from the new album, usually reserved for the classics. Next as aforementioned, Maiden indulged their gathering with the fan-favorite “The Trooper” which was met with intense fanfare. The band keeps the euphoria train rolling as they delighted life-long fans while stunning newbies, they drive through “Powerslave” with the same vigor as each preceding song. They continue with and mystify the masses with new efforts “Death Or Glory” and “The Book Of Souls” where mascot “Eddie” makes an obligatory appearance to give the boys a hard time. Dickinson and Eddie have always had a tumultuous relationship, but this time Bruce gets the better of the bout. The ominous intro bells to “Hallowed Be Thy Name” begin to ring out and once more we are spoiled with a trip down memory lane or a lesson in Maiden history. Followed by live favorite “Fear Of The Dark” (largely in part due to the chanting opportunities) which was so loudly participated, the band could have stopped playing and let the fans take the wheel and everything would have been fine. The band finishes with “Iron Maiden”, leave the crowd satiated, yet still screaming for more.

Dickinson and company make their way back with a three-song encore. “The Number Of The Beast” treats us to an inflatable manifestation of Beelzebub that moves about with eerie-intent. Surely a sight to behold in person. Bruce brings the energy down for a moment to address some attendees in the front row who happen to be from El Salvador. He explains that El Salvador gets a very “bad-rap” for being an extremely violent part of the world. Bruce then iterates that the bands experience had been “quite opposite” and referred to the people of El Salvador as “Some of the most kind and nicest people we’ve ever met.” If it’s not obvious by now, this organic circumstance plays out to be the perfect lead in to “Blood Brothers”. Dickinson continues by stating “We’re not here to fucking shoot or stab each other… or get violent!” when referring to any Iron Maiden event. “We’re here because we’re into the same type of music…” Continuing by reminding everyone that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what color your skin is, or what social class you fall into… “WE’RE ALL BLOOD BROTHERS!” Bruce bellows with conviction, and you believe him. 

To cap off the night, Maiden finishes with “Wasted Years” – a feel-good banger that again gets everyone off their feet, singing at the top of their ability. The band was in top-form all evening, highlighted by Dickinson’s triumphant return after kicking cancers ass. Besides amazingly beating cancer, the man (57) also is an active commercial pilot, holds a PHD in music, Professor of History, Screen-writer, Radio Host, Director of marketing, fencer, author etc, etc and still has enough left to give us a performance a man half his age would falter in trying to emulate. Thank-you Mr. Dickinson.

Iron Maiden shows no indication of waning ability or passion, which hopefully translates to many more years of Maiden magic. There are many extraordinary things that occur at a Maiden show that were omitted from this review. It’s impossible to capture the awe-inspiring wizardry that Iron Maiden bestows, with mere words. The only way to true semblance, would be to just grab a few tickets and go! Maiden always delivers, and always gives the fan their money’s worth. 

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