SSE, Belfast • Thursday 2nd August 2018
By Gerry McNally • Photography: Gerry McNally
It’s been 30 years since I first saw Iron Maiden headline the Monsters of Rock Festival at Donnington in August 1988. Tonight they are back in Belfast on The Legacy of the Beast Tour and they’re as powerful as ever.
With a set list full of fan favorites that mostly features songs from classic albums such as “Iron Maiden”, “The Number of the Beast”, “Piece of Mind” and “Powerslave” this tour was always going to be a popular one with old and younger fans alike.
A bombastic opening salvo of “Aces High”, which features a Spitfire cruising over the stage. “Where Eagles Dare” and “Two Minutes to Midnight” rushes the capacity audience headlong into the performance.
Bruce Dickinson, who’s added beating cancer to his already impressive CV. is every inch the showman and his voice has lost none of its power. In fact, if anything, he’s singing better than ever on this tour and with his 60th birthday only days away he’s lost none of his stage fitness or agility. Grinning like a madman behind his heavily decorated drum kit Nicko McBrian pounds out the rhythm with power and stamina that many younger drummers can only dream about. “Clansman” and “Sign of the Cross” give an acknowledgement to the Blaze era and does make you realise that while those years are often maligned by the band and fans alike they did produce some good material.
Clearly the band is also enjoying this tour. Ever the showman Janick Gers swings his Stratocaster around the place while seemingly never missing a note and Steve Harris runs the length of the whole stage when he’s not strafing the heads of the audience with his base guitar. Dave Murray’s melodic playing has always been a favored ingredient in the makeup of the band in this reviewer’s opinion and tonight he quietly and unassumingly plays his socks off. Co-writer of some of Maiden’s biggest hits Adrian Smith belts out backing vocals and some killer solos. Together the three guitarists together play incredible three part harmonies that make up such a large part of Maiden’s sound.
It wouldn’t be an Iron Maiden show with theatrics, pyrotechnics and Eddie. On this tour he wanders the stage in the military red coat during “The Trooper” and has a fencing match with Bruce on stage. Bruce clearly enjoys wielding his custom built flame thrower during “The Flight of Icarus” and on his second appearance of the night Eddie rises from behind the drum kit in the guise of a demon.
The 1980’s theme is continued with “Iron Maiden” and “The Number of the Beast” leading us into the encore. “The Evil that Men Do”, “Hallowed be thy Name” and “Run to the Hills” round of an evening that was heavy on music, nostalgia and Hammer Horror themed entertainment delivered by a band that have lost none of their fire or passion for what they do and continue to do it exceptionally well.