Where: Rexall Place
When: Saturday night
EDMONTON — It's impressive when a rock band continues as an arena filling act thirty years into their career, but even more impressive when said band continues to bring in new fans.
Especially in metal, where the younger crowd inevitably flocks to the newest, hardest act. Iron Maiden may no longer be on the cutting edge of the genre as when they were angering religious groups back in the early '80s, but they still pull in the kids along with the hardcore older fans.
Both age groups showed their devotion on Saturday night, singing along to a slightly over two-hour show that drew heavily on later albums.
Opening with The Wicker Man and Ghost of the Navigator (both from 2000's Brave New World), Maiden eschewed the greatest hits set that made their appearance among fans such a legendary engagement two years ago. Those who wanted to hear numbers like Number of the Beast or Rime of the Ancient Mariner straight off the top might have been disappointed, but for most of the 14,000 in attendance this wasn't an issue.
This was at least partially due to lead singer Bruce Dickinson's athleticism, brazen Elvis moves and perfect metal shriek, bassist Steve Harris's demonic grin while straddling his monitor as well as the three-guitar attack filled out by most recent addition (20 years ago), Janick Gers. It's hard to believe that Maiden could have been any more energetic when they were at their peak in the early '80s; truly the metal gods have gifted these six with powers beyond that of mere mortals.
As much as that might seem like a throwaway joke, there's some truth to this. In a genre that often confuses pomposity with intelligence, Maiden have always come across as literate and (by and large) thoughtful. They know how to bait a hook as well, songs like Wildest Dreams and These Colors Don't Run full of memorable guitar lines and melodic runs as much as their speed and intensity. No More Lies edged a little too close to prancing hobbit music for this reviewer's taste, but it was a nice changeup from the full Maiden thrash attack. New single (from the soon to be released Final Frontier) El Dorado was treated like an instant classic by the faithful.
Aside from the stellar performance the evening was in many ways like an episode of Cops taken to the extreme. Most people were content to stand up in their seats making in the traditional devil horns sign or chanting "Maiden," or thrashing in the pit up front, but no metal show would be complete without the requisite shirtless guy with guts slopping over their jeans, weaving and falling among their hard rocking brethren. These were the Viking warriors of the scene, spitting up on the back of seats or stumbling to the washroom, unused to the alcoholic demands the code of metal makes upon them.
They were in abundance Saturday night, and while essentially harmless they also made for much of the atmosphere, even if the janitorial staff were likely cursing as they cleaned up after them the next morning.