If the energy Maiden delivers on stage every night is any indication, then it’s fair to assume we’ve got a handful of tours left from them, but I’ll never take it for granted!
I was in 8th grade when I discovered Iron Maiden. The spring of 1994, to be exact, when I first really heard them, as the melodic riffs of “Hallowed Be Thy Name” completely grabbed my attention. Like so many fans of accomplished artists like Maiden, I was immediately drawn in, buying their Number of the Beast and Somewhere in Time albums first, and quickly expanding my collection of their back-catalog from there. Unfortunately, as any fan of heavy metal in the mid-’90s would remember, Iron Maiden were among several bands that were quite a bit out of the spotlight at the moment. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson had left the band, and they put out two (incredibly underrated) albums that just didn’t register with fans the way their classic efforts had.
When news of Dickinson’s return was announced in 1999, I was sure to go and see them as soon as I could, and as often as possible. Suffice it to say, this week’s “Legacy of the Beast” tour stop in Buffalo was the culmination of a 20-year long commitment to watching one of my absolute favorite bands perform live every chance I could. This was also a special show locally as it’s the first time Maiden has performed an arena show in downtown Buffalo since 1987! To be fair, they’ve performed in the Western, NY market a handful of times since then.
After seeing some of the imagery from this tour when they debuted it in Europe, I was extremely hopeful that the US would get a chance to see the incredible stage setup and experience another wild tour of hits. After an impressive two runs of dates over the last few years during their “Book of Souls Tour,” it almost seems we’re getting spoiled with 3 separate runs in the last 4 years, but I’ll take it!
The show began with a short set from The Raven Age, a metal outfit featuring George Harris on guitar (son of founding Maiden member and bassist Steve Harris). They also opened the tour a few years ago, but have taken a noticeable step forward in the interim, largely due to the addition of vocalist Matt James. Check out “Fleur de Lis” and “Betrayal of the Mind,” just a few of the songs they performed. They’re energetic and their songs are full of great hooks. I would definitely recommend a listen! If you’re heading to the show on this tour, make sure you’re there in time to see them (starting at roughly 7:30 pm).
We were brought back out to the stage shortly before Iron Maiden began, and the excitement in the arena was palpable. With all the house lights on, it was impressive to see the arena packed from floor to ceiling with fans eager to see these metal titans put on a show like none other, and in just a few moments, not a single person would be disappointed.
The set kicked off with “Aces High,” as the band ran out on stage, a large spitfire plane flew in above the band, making for an incredible entrance! Vocalist Bruce Dickinson ran into the stage, complete with a full aviator costume, as he screamed the lyrics. Throughout the song, Dickinson, as well as the rest of the band, moved about the stage with the energy of a group of teenagers. They launched into “Where Eagles Dare” next, marking one of the lesser-played songs in their hits arsenal for the evening. Next up was another huge early hit, “2 Minutes to Midnight,” referencing the “Doomsday Clock.”
Things took an interesting turn from here as the band played “The Clansman” complete with a huge backdrop of their mascot Eddie wearing Scottish warpaint. What was so unique and bold about this choice was that this song, as well as a later selection during the evening (“Sign of the Cross”), are both from the mid-'90s era where Dickinson had been away from the band. It’s been several years since they’ve performed either of these songs, but it’s hardly the first time. I find it refreshing that band is willing to play great songs, even if they’re not part of the average fans “greatest hits” selection.
The next huge hit of the evening was “The Trooper,” which featured an appearance from the massively-costumed Eddie on stage wearing the full British “redcoat” uniform. As Maiden continued their way through the set, they performed a few modern selections including “For the Greater Good of God” and “The Wicker Man” before heading back to early days with “Flight of Icarus,” which was another exceptional visual spectacle. For this one, Dickinson ran around the stage with dual blowtorches attached to his arms as a giant Icarus floated above the stage. As the song came to a close, Icarus fell all at once, to go along with the story.
Approaching the end of the set, the big bag of tricks was open now, beginning with live staple “Fear of the Dark.” For this one, Dickinson spent the song atop the back of the stage, cloaked and wearing a plague mask as he crept across the stage with a lantern. This one was another personal favorite of mine from early on, and it was easily the most impressive performance I’ve seen of it yet!
The standard set ended with a 1-2 punch of “The Number of the Beast” and “Iron Maiden,” some of the absolute biggest Maiden songs in the catalog. During the end of “Iron Maiden,” a giant inflatable devil’s head appeared atop the stage, making for a menacing visual performance! As with the rest of the evening’s spectacle, the crowd simply ate it up!
After a brief interlude, the band returned for an encore performance beginning with “The Evil That Men Do,” a favorite from their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album. The final two songs finished off the evening in as epic a fashion as one could possibly hope for as they performed “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” Dickinson again stayed atop the stage, spending part of the time in a small barred cage, and other moments performing with a swinging noose accompanying him. They ended the show with the only song left that absolutely MUST be played. A giant backdrop appeared, featuring various instances of Eddie from over the years as the band broke into “Run to the Hills.”
There’s not much more I could possibly write to hype this show up. If you’re a fan of Maiden, by now, you’re either wishing you were at this show, or you can’t wait for your chance to see it when they come to your town!
As we see so many of our favorite legendary rock bands from the ’70s and '80s still touring, while others are starting to ride off into the sunset, I always take an extra moment at the show to try and appreciate just how lucky we all are to be able to experience great artists like this as they continue to do what they love. If the energy Maiden delivers on stage every night is any indication, then it’s fair to assume we’ve got a handful of tours left from them, but I’ll never take it for granted!
The Raven Age