Iron Maiden: heavy metal icons show Birmingham’s Utilita Arena that they continue to age like fine wine
Vintage wine is said to get better with age- and Iron Maiden are proof that age really can be just a number
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The world of heavy metal music has undoubtedly been shaped by bands who burst onto the scene in the 1970s and 1980s. Iron Maiden, similar to Birmingham’s own Black Sabbath, are one such band.
Maiden have been going for almost 50 years, but unlike many bands of their era, they seemingly increase their work load rather than wind down. They brought their ‘Somewhere In Time’ tour to Birmingham on Tuesday evening- a gig I found myself at.
The streets around the Utilita Arena were filled with a multitude of Maiden shirts and lots of black as thousands descended on the venue. The tour commemorated the band’s 1986 album ‘Somewhere in Time’ with Maiden also playing five tracks from their latest album ‘Senjutsu’.
After the usual pre-gig rendition of UFO’s ‘Doctor Doctor’ Maiden burst onto stage with a rip-roaring rendition of ‘Caught Somewhere in Time’. Frontman Bruce Dickinson encapsulated the Brum crowd from the off- and his usual showmanship shone through for the duration of the night.
The early songs were a blend of old and new- with ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ being quickly followed by ‘The Writing on the Wall’. This is a track which was released as the band’s first single from their most recent record.
Dickinson has a instantly recognisable and mesmerising sound to his voice. Even after nearly 50 years, he still absolutely nails the high notes and has a powerful and broad range. It’s important to remember he had throat cancer just over five years ago. He and the band have come back stronger and better than ever.
The huge mechanical ‘Eddie’ - the band’s mascot who features on many of their merchandise and album covers- also got a run out. The performance on stage usually ends with him being defeated by Dickinson. On this tour, he is shot with a huge ray gun- it’s quite the sight.
The back end of the set was brimming with older stuff. Many fans in the arena were likely eagerly anticipating songs such as ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘Alexander The Great’ which haven’t been played live by the band in many years. Both were executed superbly by Maiden, in a flash of proper rock music and plenty of bright lights and colour.
In a similar pattern to the rest of the set, the encore sprinkled the old with the new. The new album zing came from ‘Hell on Earth’ before Maiden took their fans way back through time. ‘The Trooper’ and then finally ‘Wasted Years’ were two songs which Maiden fans old and new will have heard live before- but I doubt many people were complaining.
It was a full-on and at times sweaty performance from this talismanic band. Iron Maiden just keep on going with such a high level of quality. Their gigs are fun, dramatic and thoroughly entertaining and when Bruce shouted out ‘We’ll see you again soon’ it at least helped to settle any doubts that this would be the last time I’d get to see them live. It’s six times and counting now and- like a vintage wine you’ve kept aside for many years- they just keep on getting better.