Live review: Iron Maiden, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 6/21/2012

Posted by Jeff Hahne on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Iron Maiden
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
June 21, 2012

IMG_6125.JPG

Halfway through the opening night set of Iron Maiden's 2012 tour at Charlotte's Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Bruce Dickinson tried to offer a bit of on-stage "magic." The 53-year-old singer aimed a finger at the stage's front right corner and a fireball shot into the air. He aimed at the front left corner and flames shot up on that side. He aimed at both corners but only one side ignited. He tried again with the right side and the left lit up. He looked offstage and... he laughed. He threw his head back in laughter and teased at the right side before swinging back left, just as a fireball ignited on the right. While some artists might be frustrated by a technical glitch, Dickinson's playful behavior was a clear indication of how much fun he and the band were having.

Perhaps Dickinson used the word "Charlotte" a few too many times. Perhaps two band members didn't need to be wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts. Perhaps the bass was a little too thick in the mix. Perhaps all of the people filling the packed amphitheater and lawn were too busy singing along to every word to even notice.

Loosely based on the band's 1988 tour, Maiden England, the 2012 stage setup and setlist were more of a tribute than a re-creation. Eight of the 15 songs from the '88 tour are on the setlist and there's a similar ice-inspired, U-shaped riser around the back of the stage, but Iron Maiden isn't on a nostalgia trip this time around. They're putting everything they've got into the music, getting the crowd involved at every chance and loving every moment of it.

_MG_9180.JPG

IMG_6236.JPG

Much like the 1988 tour, the show kicked off with "Moonchild" as Dickinson stalked the riser surrounding the band. His voice in perfect shape - maybe even showing more power than heard on albums - he underwent a few costume changes through the night and made use of every inch of the ramps and stage. In constant motion, he donned a military-style coat and waved a tattered British flag during "The Trooper"; he found a trenchcoat for "Phantom of the Opera" and favored a sleeveless shirt for most of the night.

"Afraid to Shoot Strangers" and "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" made their first live appearances since 1988 and "The Prisoner" hadn't been performed live since 1991. The only complaint might have been that "Hallowed be Thy Name" wasn't played, but with enough other favorites to make up for it, it's difficult to fathom that any fans left the show disappointed. "Run to the Hills" and "Wasted Years" got the night's biggest singalongs and numerous tunes offered theatrics to go along with them. Did it all sound a bit too "'80s metal"? Maybe - but that's how the band has always sounded. They aren't trying to update things or reinvent their wheel - they're trying to stay Iron Maiden.

A 10-foot tall Eddie (Iron Maiden's mascot) walked around the stage with a sword drawn during "Run to the Hills." Another massive Eddie rose from the back of the stage during "Iron Maiden" with flames shooting out of the top of its head. Throughout the night, the Eddie-inspired backdrops were constantly changing to go with each song - at an organ for "Phantom," with the British flag for "The Trooper," etc. - and pyrotechnics were constantly shooting off. It was a feast for the eyes and ears.

IMG_5950.JPG

Founding member/bassist Steve Harris got nearly as much exercise as Dickinson as he was often seen running around the stage and interacting with the audience with nods and smiles.

The night ended with a three-song encore closing with "Running Free," the band's debut 1980 single. At one point Dickinson noted that he and guitarist Adrian Smith both left the band, only to rejoin in 1999. That was 13 years ago, but the first night of their 2012 tour proved Iron Maiden as a whole is back and in fine metal form.

IMG_5984.JPG

Setlist
Moonchild
Can I Play with Madness
The Prisoner
2 Minutes to Midnight
Afraid to Shoot Strangers
The Trooper
Number of the Beast
Phantom of the Opera
Run to the Hills
Wasted Years
Seventh Son
Clairvoyant
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore
Aces High
Evil that Men Do
Running Free

Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Good review. I, too, felt there were a few hitches in the show's giddyup, but chalked it up to First Show of the Tour gremlins. And BTW, Harris is *always* a little too thick in the mix. That's the point. :)

report 21 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by Anthony Proctor on 06/22/2012 at 10:55 AM

Afraid to shoot strangers was released 1992 and haven't been played live since the Blaze years.

report 10 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by Christian H Bergström on 06/22/2012 at 11:55 AM

They've still got it!
I had not seen Maiden in 25 years and was way stoked that these old dudes can still shred. Most amazing to me was Bruce's vocal performance. Sure, we would've loved more guitar in the mix, but overall it was a great show.

report 5 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by T-Bone on 06/22/2012 at 6:23 PM

I enjoyed the show, and early on noticed the prominence of the bass. I was about 20 rows back and didn't really like the mix. As the other comment said, the guitar seemed to be missing a strong role in the sound. I had last seen them in 1983 and was also amazed at the energy at this age. Finally, I was a little disappointed in the end of the encore, where Dickinson introduced the members of the band, and then finished soon after. I would have enjoyed a more rousing ending, and was hoping for Flight of Icarus. It should also be mentioned that Alice Cooper was great. Still, a fantastic show that I'll bet will be very popular this summer.

report 2 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by Seve on 06/22/2012 at 6:40 PM

Flew in from Kansas City, and was worth the trip!!! Will do it again and again before this tour is over. \m/ UP THE IRONS \m/

report 5 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by Carey Bisbee on 06/22/2012 at 6:42 PM

Been fan for long time husband is huge fan to the band members of iron maiden greatest show we have ever seen lee my husbands best friend n cousin introduced my husband to iron maidens music @ an early age he died on dec 26 2009 so for my husband to get to c them it was a dream come true to him thank you guys for coming to our town

report 1 like, 0 dislikes   
Posted by lenahyman1 on 06/22/2012 at 11:44 PM

I thought the sound was pretty bad. It got better over the course of the show, but was never good. That is not the band's fault. Alice Cooper sounded great! I thought to myself, Maiden is going to sound the best I have ever heard in Verizon. Nope..... Bruce's voice was great, but he was hot in the mix and then at times not. Maiden came out it was all Bruce, Steve, and Nicko. Nicko sounded great, as did Steve. It sounded like the guitars were, under a blanket, in a cave, underneath a cave-in. Verizon amphitheater is know for its bad sound. The sound was trebley and shrill. Never full or heavy. I don't know why sound people can't run sound. Didn't you go to school to do that? It is 2012. It aint the gear. The sound person must have been related to the manager. I think a tic/tac/toe chicken could do better, or maybe a monkey. Soundman....Don't make one of the best bands ever sound less than stellar, go scan tickets or something.

report 10 likes, 2 dislikes   
Posted by d on 06/24/2012 at 1:09 AM

I went to see Iron Maiden the next date on June 23rd in Atlanta and its the best show ive ever seen in my life. Ive seen Billy Idol, Frank Sinatra, Pavarotti, Elton John, Judas Priest and every other band that comes within 200 miles of Asheville NC. IRON MAIDEN IS A MUST SEE ON THIS TOUR, BEST SHOW OF MY LIFE.

report 2 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by Brian Strum on 06/27/2012 at 8:10 PM

for the first show the tour, they had minor problems that I seriously doubt impacted anyone's night. this was my 6th Maiden show and the wife and I brought our kids (along with one of my oldest friends) for the night. Their first concert memories will never be followed by "well Steve was too high in the mix". Seeing their eyes light up every time Eddie came out and hearing them sing along was better than any X-mass or Halloween. The set was amazing, and being able to finally hear The Prisoner live was indeed a dream come true for me as well. Only minor note is that Bruce mentioned this was their first Charlotte gig sine 88 and that is incorrect. They played what was then the Blockbuster Pavilion on the Fear of The Dark tour in 92. I had 6 row seats for that one and while a bad ass show, didn't really compare to what they've done this time around. if you have the chance, do it! UP THE IRONS!!

report 2 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by screwbiter on 06/30/2012 at 3:35 PM

Found this site while surfing for something else. Maiden played an outdoor festival in central Wisconsin on 21 July. My son Mike and I went to Rockfest for 2 totally different reasons...I wanted to see Alice Cooper, he has been an Iron Maiden fan for all of his 31 years. But it was Iron Maiden that blew both of us away. The crowd was disappointing...the VIP seats were not full, and way too expensive for the regular Maiden fans...a fact Bruce Dickinson commented on a few times. For us 50-somethings, it was inspiring to hear that Dickinson still has the pipes. as for the gig, was wonderful, sound was amazing for both Alice and Maiden. And a father and son shared a night we will never forget.

report   
Posted by papa_pie on 08/08/2012 at 12:49 PM
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment