It all began back in 2008 when Iron Maiden embarked on the Somewhere Back in Time Tour that took them around the world in a custom Eddie painted jet. I saw them on both legs of the tour, first at the Izod Center in New Jersey and then again a few months later at Madison Square Garden. Both shows were utterly amazing. These guys know just what to do when they hit the stage. They came prepared with a set list of all the classics and did not disappoint.
The cycle of excitement started up again a few months back when I saw they were going out with Dream Theater. When I saw they would be coming to Madison Square Garden again, it was a given that I had to go. So I did. I sat in section 407, way up and to the left of the stage. I would have loved to have been closer, but we do what we can, right?
The show started at 7:30 with Dream Theater hitting the stage. They only played six songs, but that still runs close to an hour. They focused on their heavier material, which was the right way to go considering the nature of the headliner and the tour. Each of the six songs coming from a different album. They kicked things off with "As I Am" from Train of Thought and concluded with their first hit "Pull Me Under" from Images and Words.
The band was in fine form. Their technical prowess and songwriting skills really shine in the live setting. Jordan Rudess even broke out a key-tar during "Panic Attack." The not-yet-full crowd was way into every note and the performance was flawless. Mike Portnoy was his usual awesome on drums while John Myung and John Petrucci held up their part.
If there was anything to complain about, they are minor. I feel there was a little too much reverb on James Labrie's voice. It kind of hid the lyrics. Also, even more minor, I would have loved for them to have included "Dark Eternal Night." I just love that song.
Dream Theater's Set List:
1. As I Am
2. A Rite of Passage
4. Constant Motion
5. Panic Attack
6. Pull Me Under
The set was taken down and reset for our headlining act. The crowd was full and ready to go. The lights went out, there was a flash, music began to play, drums, guitar, bass, and the band was there, on stage, in the flesh ripping through "Wicker Man."
What I liked about this show over the ones in 2008 was that the set was made up of primarily more recent songs meaning there was little crossover with the prior show's set. This disappointed some with many classics not being included. Still, their newer stuff is really good to and it was great hearing these songs live.
Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris are madmen, dashing around the stage, tearing through the songs, involving the crowd and keeping the energy high. Dickinson is, hands down, one of if not the best frontman ever in metal. The way he uses the entire stage, the way he can address the crowd and make it seem like he is looking right at you, regardless of where you are in the venue. Simply amazing.
The band has been around for thirty years but they are as sharp, relevant, and great as ever. Highlights of the night include "Blood Brothers," dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio, "These Colours Don't Run," and "Brave New World." Oh, who am I kidding, their entire set was fantastic. From the new backdrops to the appearance of the new Eddie, it was great.
Like always, there is disappointment to be found. Prior to the show I had found the set list they have been using for the tour. Generally, they stick to the same set for the whole tour occasionally switching out one or two. Now, one of the songs I had really wanted to hear was switched out. Two were changed on this night, instead of "Brighter than a Thousand Suns" and "Paschendale" (which is th one I really wanted), we got "Wrathchild" and "Dance of Death."
Anyone who was there did leave happy, exhausted, yet thirsting for more. There is nothing like an Iron Maiden concert, add in Dream Theater and you have an unforgettable night. Do yourself a favor, see them. You will not be disappointed.
Iron Maiden's Set List:
1. The Wicker Man
2. Ghost of The Navigator
4. El Dorado (new song from the forthcoming Final Frontier album)
5. Dance of Death
6. The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
7. These Colours Don't Run
8. Blood Brothers
9. Wildest Dreams
10. No More Lies
11. Brave New World
12. Fear Of The Dark
13. Iron Maiden
14. The Number of The Beast
15. Hallowed Be Thy Name
16. Running Free
Here are a couple of videos I shot with my phone. I know they aren't that good:
Intro and "Wicker Man"
The appearance of Eddie: