“MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN!” was all you heard from the sold-out crowd at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine on Saturday Oct. 21. The chanting went on until the background music stopped playing. All of the lights went out and what was a momentarily silent crowd of fans young and old erupted to welcome Iron Maiden, the legendary metal band from the mid 70s, 80s and 90s. Bright lights blinded the crowd as scorching guitar riffs started the show. Out of nowhere, singer Bruce Dickinson ran on stage, jumped all over the place and began his singing. Iron Maiden has been one of my favorite bands since my early adolescence and seeing them live could be compared to a holy ceremony in my opinion.
Early in the concert, the crowd’s energy level was massive but it died down a lot before the second song ended. This was the band’s last show of its U.S. tour in support of the new album A Matter of Life and Death and Iron Maiden chose to sing mostly new songs, which didn’t really appeal to the crowd. I looked around and noticed there was no wild headbanging, no cheering and nobody was singing along. Very few people knew the words to the new songs. The band’s new stuff was very good, but I had hoped to hear all my favorite old Maiden tunes.
Finally Dickinson said at the end of the last song off of their new album “‘A Matter of Life and Death’ thank you very much” and people screamed, banged against the seats, and got a little violent as they anticipated that the band was going to play some familiar songs. All of the crowd’s excitement died down when the lights went out. There was dead silence and Maiden started playing “Fear of the Dark,” which turned the crowd from a school auditorium audience to a wild, loud, jumping crowd. Until the end of the show, everyone sang along. This section of oldies lasted for only the last 30 minutes of the two-hour show. A slight disappointment, but at least I got to see Iron Maiden play. Considering that the band has been around for 30 years, they played very well and didn’t look very old.
At one point, Dickinson asked someone in the crowd “what time is it?” I guess the person said “who cares” because Bruce replied “who cares?! Do you know what time it is in Britain? I’ll tell you what time it is, it’s two minutes to midnight.” The crowd exploded. This classic song from the album Powerslave was their closing song before their encore.
Everyone was ecstatic during the two-old-song encore. Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie came out on stage fully clothed in a sort of WWII soldier outfit and carried a gun, which he pointed at the crowd as he paced the stage. Soon it came to the last song. Lucky for me, it was my favorite Iron Maiden song. T’was dark and the spotlight shined on guitarist Dave Murray as he started playing the soft intro to “Hallowed Be Thy Name” off The Number of the Beast, a song about a prisoner about to be executed. Once this song started, everyone, including me, was screaming for joy and everyone sang along to it while thrashing their heads around during the powerful riffs. I lost my voice screaming along and injured my neck from headbanging during this song but I loved every minute of it.
I wished it would never end and that we could have all heard every great Iron Maiden song. As the crowd poured out of the arena, my brother and I stood in line to get the last bits of merchandise available to remember this night forever. We bought a couple bandannas and a flag as we walked out. Those simple souvenirs are probably some of my favorite purchases because they are merchandise from a concert of a band I truly admire. They play fast, hard riffs and have great lyrics to their songs of war, death and religion. They were very awesome back in the day and this concert proved they still were just as good.