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Witnessed

Iron Maiden: Maiden England North American Tour 2012

13/07/12  ||  BamaHammer

Who: Iron Maiden
Where: Aaron’s Amphitheater, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
When: 23 June 2012

tour poster

Iron Maiden has always been a band with a certain degree of predictability about them. Their live shows, much like their albums, all tend to play it safe and go with their age-old, tried-and-true methods that could only be described as sheer “Maiden”. When I went to the lost city of Atlanta to check out the band for the second time in two years (The other being at the Jiffy Lube Live Amphitheater in Bristow, Virginia. Yes, really. Lube.), I felt like I knew exactly what to expect from the heavy metal dinosaurs. I just knew they’d slather on the nostalgia and play the crowd-pleasers and even mix in a few tracks from whatever their last couple of records were just to keep the modern merchandise moving off shelves. I’m happy to say that I was completely wrong in that assumption, and Iron Maiden’s North American tour this year is a refreshing blend of songs you haven’t heard the band perform in years.

The “newest” songs the band played were “Fear of the Dark” and “Afraid to Shoot Strangers” from 1992, which was a very pleasant surprise, with “Strangers” being a very awesome experience in particular. As you may have drawn from the name of the tour, “Maiden England”, the setlist tends to stick to the middle of the band’s career with the highlights being the tracks from their “Somewhere in time” and “Seventh son” albums.

The stage set was sheeted in powder blue cover which hearkened back to the halcyon late-‘80s days of yore when the band was covered in spandex in support of their then-new and utterly fantastic “Seventh son of a seventh son” record. After a short video introduction, Maiden even kicked off the show with the album’s opener, “Moonchild”, which sounded amazing. From there, they kept up the “Seventh son”-ness and went into “Can I play with madness”, one of my favorites. Some of the other choice highlights of the show were “Wasted years”, which surprisingly sent the generally ho-hum crowd into a sing-along frenzy, “The clairvoyant”, and and out-of-the-blue “Phantom of the opera”. Overall, the setlist was just a sublime pleasant surprise that saw the band play fresh material instead of plod through the songs we’ve all heard done live time and time again.

our view of the stage

The only negatives I can complain about were the band’s sound and the lackluster crowd atmosphere. I’m not really a big fan of outdoor concerts, and both of those are symptoms of being outside. The main PA speakers pointed in our general vicinity sounded like they were broken, torn, and on fire. Whenever Bruce Dickinson sang low-to-middle notes in his extensive register, we were raped in the ear by an annoying resonant hum all night. I’m sure it was just a fault of the amphitheater, but it was noticeably annoying. Also the beginning of “Seventh son of a seventh son” sounded particularly horrible with the heavy synths for some reason. As for the crowd, I felt like the reception would have been a lot better seeing that Maiden hadn’t played Hotlanta since 1988. The area down front looked genuinely frenzied enough, but the rest of the place just seemed either fatigued or in awe. We’ll hope for the latter and blame it on the heat and world famous Southern humidity.

In the end, I can’t complain too much. I only had to drive three hours to see the greatest metal band in history as opposed to the twelve hours it took to get to the Washington, DC, area last time. If you have the opportunity to check out Maiden this summer, don’t pass it up. It’s a totally fresh saw with some fantastic tracks that they haven’t played live in years. Don’t miss it. I’d give the show 10 sons of 10 sons.

Oh, and Alice Cooper opened for them, but you don’t have to get there in time for that.