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Friday, 26 May 2017

A View From The Back Of The Room: Iron Maiden (Review By Paul)

Iron Maiden - Motorpoint Arena Cardiff

There was no getting away from the shadow of Manchester. An arena gig in the capital of Wales, two nights after the atrocities meant that everyone was on heightened sense of alert. However, in the words of the mighty Maiden, these colours don't run and arriving in the Capital four hours before the Irons hit the stage, those colours were everywhere. Iron Maiden shirts flooded the City Centre as Welsh metal heads joined forces with English, Scottish, Polish and Brazilian in a show of love and metal. Arriving at Fuel for the pre-Maiden Trooper session, Womanby Street was rammed with Maiden fans from across the globe, united in their love of one of the most iconic bands ever to have graced the planet.

I've seen Shinedown sufficient times to avoid most of their 45 minute set, arriving only to catch frontman Brent Smith urging the crowd to "jump up" on the count of three. After an impassioned plea to unite against terror, the band closed their set with their anthem, Sound Of Madness which at least raised the ante somewhat.

Matt - *Having seen all of the Shinedown (7) set, the whole thing was laced with their big hitters such as Devour, Cut The Cord, Diamond Eyes and mega ballad Second Chance it was hard to criticise the music, yes they use taped segments and audio enhancements to bolster Brent's vocals but we've said this before about the band so maybe it's time to just accept it as part of their show.

What put me off was the large breaks in the set to talk to the audience, the aforementioned jump up section had been preceded by Smith, splitting the crowd, giving a rambling explanation and talk trying to psych the audience up like a high school football coach. This section could have been cut for another song or two but I find this to be an all too frequent occurrence with American bands. Still the performance was energetic from all four members of the bound but it was dogged by the large gaps and the muddy at time painful sound mix.*

Forty minutes later and the strains of Michael Schenker and Phil Mogg filled the arena. Doctor Doctor has always heralded the arrival of the Irons and it remains not only one of the finest UFO songs of all time but also one that gets hairs standing on the back of my neck. And then there was Bruce, crouching over a steaming cauldron as the opening to If Eternity Should Fail commenced.

What followed was the predictable metal theatre that we've come to expect from Maiden (9). The lengthy tracks from The Book Of Souls balanced with a few old school classics, including Wrathchild, Children Of The Damned and a ball busting Powerslave. The newer material has weight and complexity but fails to captivate the audience in the same way that The Trooper always has. The older stuff just grabs the fans more aggressively. A ponderous Red And The Black was a typical example. Still, the Maiden outfit is a pretty strong beast and the double whammy of Fear Of The Dark and Iron Maiden brought a solid and spectacular show to a close.

To be fair to Maiden, the band were on fire, with Bruce flying across the stage, Steve Harris mouthing all the words as his rampaged from monitor to monitor, whilst Nicko McBrain just batters the shit out of his huge kit. The three pronged guitar attack of messrs Gers, Murray and Smith were muffled due to the notoriously poor sound in this shed of a venue. Backed by their always impressive stage set and enormous lighting show, the Maiden gig is always pure pantomime. Bruce never still, constantly urging the crowd to "scream for me, Cardiff". The arrival of the Mayan Eddie during The Book Of Souls, the usual Union Jack waving during The Trooper and a huge Eddie at the back of the stage as the main set closed All added to the show.

The triple encore saw a storming Number Of The Beast giving the old school something to get stuck into, whilst the impassioned speech from Bruce before Blood Brothers was well received, even if I couldn't hear half of it. Final encore Wasted Years was over in a flash and with a puff of smoke the band were gone. An amazing show as always, even if the set list wasn't as exciting as it could have been. Whether we ever see the band on a Welsh soil again is questionable but this is a band who ensure that Wales is included in their UK tour. A great evening. Up the Irons.

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