On Tuesday, Iron Maiden played its first show in Worcester since 2003’s “Give Me Ed…’til I’m Dead” tour. The band has kept busy in those 19+ years, including playing over 600 shows around the globe in countries like Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan and many more. When Maiden launched its current tour, “Legacy of the Beast” in 2018, it started as a set of deep tracks along with greatest hits. Fans were getting to hear songs like “Flight of Icarus”(first time since 1986) and “The Clansman,” which hadn’t been performed since 2003 along with “Run to the Hills,” etc.
Fast forward 4 years, Iron Maiden is back on the road for the “Legacy of the Beast” tour. This leg of the tour features tracks from their 2021 release, Senjutsu. Last year’s album marked Maiden’s first studio release in nearly 6 years. Celebrating that release, the evening was kicked off with the title track “Senjutsu.” The epic 8 minute track starts off with Nicko McBrain’s thumping drum beat alongside a bass line filled by Steve Harris and a 3 guitar rhythm attack by Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers. Frontman, lead vocalist, Bruce Dickinson joined about a minute in and it was all systems go from that point on. That first track did a perfect job of showcasing every band member’s individual talents, allowing everyone to have the spotlight. Joining the band on stage was Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie. Keeping with the theme of Senjutsu, this Eddie was dressed in samurai armor and armed with a sword. Eddie made his way around the stage, toying with guitarist Janick Gers and vocalist Bruce Dickinson before making his way off stage.
Sticking with their new album, the group went right into songs “Stratego” and “The Writing On The Wall.” These first three tracks were played with their matching Senjutsu themed stage backdrops which mirrored Japanese buildings. For the rest of the evening the stage would have many different themes that coincided with each song or album they were from. Before the start of “Blood Brothers,” Dickinson took some time to scan the audience and chat a bit. While joking about taking a 3 year holiday due to COVID, Dickinson pointed out the stereotype that all Iron Maiden fans were old men with beer bellies to which he polled the audience ages which started with a group of children in the seats to his right who were just a mere 5 years old.
The performance of “Sign of the Cross” was definitely one of the highlights of the evening. As fog rolled over the dark stage and the church-like chants filled the arena, Bruce appeared in the center of the stage completely covered with a black cloak behind a giant cross. Steve Harris kicked off the slow bass riff and Nicko McBrain’s snare drum rolls helped give off that eerie atmosphere. When the song kicked into the verse, pyro lit up the stage along with fireworks that blew off from the top of the stage chandeliers. Bruce disappeared during the solo to let the focus shift to the rest of his bandmates, but reappeared on the catwalk behind Nicko’s drums. Holding up the giant cross in the air, lighting up the entire sold out arena, Bruce belted out the lines “The sign of the cross!”. When the DCU Center was lit up, there was not an empty seat in sight. As for the general admission floor, typically people are spread out and there’s plenty of space behind the soundboard to hang out. Last night was not the case, fans filled the floor from the rail all the way to the back wall of the hockey boards shoulder to shoulder.
Just like previous “Legacy of the Beast” shows, the “Flight of Icarus” performance featured a giant blow up of Icarus and Bruce Dickinson was going absolutely mad with his flame thrower packs. While running on the top catwalk around the perimeter of the stage, Bruce would sing and blast his flamethrower into the air with his opposite hand. When he didn’t have to sing, the microphone went in a holder and it was time for him to play with dual flame throwers. At the end, Icarus falls behind the stage while a sea of pyro blasts shot from the rafters. Next up, was a track everyone in the building certainly knew, “Fear Of The Dark.” Every person in Worcester sang along with the opening guitar notes. Dickinson once again appeared for this song on the top catwalk, this time with a plague doctor mask and green lantern. During the song, Dickinson was clever with the lyrics and sang “In Worcester, when it’s foggy after dark, Fear of the Dark,” making fun of the rainy fall evening.
I’m not sure how it’s possible, but every time I get to see Iron Maiden their show gets bigger and better. The stage sets are more theatrical, there’s more pyro and fireworks and these guys are somehow getting better with age. With the youngest band member being 64 (Bruce Dickinson) and the oldest being 70 (Nicko McBrain), Iron Maiden doesn’t seem to be getting ready for retirement any time in the near future. Dickinson spends nearly every second on stage running around, waving his hands, interacting with the crowd, all while still following all his queues and outfit changes. Jankick Gers on the other hand keeps the audience glued to him while doing all sorts of guitar tricks. Whether it’s tossing his guitar up in the air, spinning it around him or doing a full on windmill with the thing, Ger’s amount of energy on stage is contagious.
Some fans were heading to the exits after hearing “The Number of the Beast” and “Iron Maiden.” Clearly they thought that was the end of the night for Maiden as the band said goodnight afterwards and Nicko came down and tossed out his drumsticks to a few lucky fans. The stage wasn’t dark for more than a minute when the curtain changed once again, this time with The Trooper backdrop. Those fans halfway up the staircase started to stall and think twice about their decisions. During “The Trooper,” Eddie came out this time dressed in his war outfit and once again engaged in a bit of battle with Dickinson. This time around Dickinson had more than a sword attack in store for Eddie, as he fired his musket at Eddie blowing off fireworks from it. The final two songs of the first encore were, “The Clansman” and “Run to the Hills.” While “The Clansman,” wasn’t featured on an album that Bruce Dickinson originally sang on(Virtual XI), hearing him sing it and seeing the crowd’s reaction was pleasing. He told the crowd before starting, “this is a Scottish song about Scottish people like you and a song about freedom.” While not everyone in the arena knew the lyrics, everyone joined together yelling “FREEDOM.” This is truly an example of a legendary frontman who can take control of an audience and have every person in the building in the palm of his hand.
During “Run to the Hills,” the trooper Eddie came out on stage and battled the Senjutsu Eddie. All while that was going on Gers and Dave Murray were up front playing back to back switching on and off guitar leads. At the back of the stage on the catwalk was a giant box labeled “TNT.” At the conclusion of the song, Bruce was running towards it as fireworks explosions were going off behind him each step he took until he got to the box. As he presses the level down, fireworks go off around the stage. As the night seemed to go completely perfect, on the final song, “Aces High” there was a small hiccup. The replica Spitfire combat plane that is suspended above the stage a mind of its own. Instead of making its way around the stage floating above the band, it got stuck and the crew had to remove the plane. Even though it didn’t go as planned, it didn’t seem to bother anyone. Dickinson brushed it off and waved his arms up and down pretending to be the plane instead. You couldn’t help but laugh at the moment and enjoy Bruce’s sense of humor. Although it wasn’t the ideal ending Iron Maiden hoped for, they’re a group of professionals who improvised and completed their show without missing a beat.
Sadly Worcester and the rest of Massachusetts may not see Iron Maiden for quite some time. But, the Maiden has much more in store for fans. After this current tour wraps up next week in Tampa, Florida, they take a short break and start a new tour, “The Future Past Tour.” Dates start in Poland, June of 2023 and wrap up in Germany, the first week of August. There’s nothing on their schedule afterwards, so Iron Maiden fans in the United States can only hope they’re on deck.
The Writing on the Wall
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Run to the Hills