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Iron Maiden | Live Review, Belfast

August 2 finally rolls around and the Legacy of the Beast tour makes it to our little island.

Full disclosure – I’m a Maiden nut since primary school and have seen them almost every time they came to Dublin – starting with No Prayer on the Road all those years ago (Sept 1991 maybe)?

While I’m not one of those who travel around Europe stalking them, tonight an 8 hour round trip drive from Cork to Belfast simply had to be done for this latest “history” set from Maiden.

I missed KSE so can’t comment on their performance – looked like there was a good crowd watching them as I arrived but the inevitable sound of Doctor Doctor announcing Maiden’s imminent arrival on stage was what I was waiting for – such a great opener.

While I glanced at the setlist on the opening night of the tour, I put it out of my mind and avoided reading spoliers of the tour.

Two camo-dressed soldiers flanked the wings of the stage in preparation to reveal the familiar stage shape Maiden has used for some time now; Churchill’s speech and fighter plane footage announces only one song to Maiden fans and Aces High kicks off, reminding us all of how great Live After Death is…

Bruce enters the stage like Biggles, under the suspended fighter plane (they should really stick an Eddie in the cockpit!) and hits the high notes better than he did back in the day – unbelievable for a man that’s been through the ringer in recent years.

The stage keeps its war-like theme for the first few songs, with Where Eagles Dare following (always a rare treat to hear that drum performance) being a highlight and one of 4 tracks from Piece of Mind aired tonight.

With 2 Minutes to Midnight, the excellent Clansman and (of course) the Trooper all powered through, the crowd were well warmed up. Bruce searching for the right flag to wave at the start of the Trooper raising a laugh of course… he showed his well-known swordsmanship, duelling with the walk-on Eddie in full Trooper regalia.

The stage design was switched around to a more church-like design at this point and with the awesome sounds of Revelations pouring from the PA, Dickinson donned yet another costume of sorts (I lost track of how many he had – he’s clearly really revelling in the theatrics these days).

The stage set throughout the night is impressive – great scenery, props, some new backdrops… The band are clearly enjoying themselves, playing perfectly.

McBrain is a hero of mine and to hear him still playing so well for a man his age is a pleasure. Live performances of music from A Matter of Life and Death are a rarity these days, I assume its usually omitted from setlists in recent years since they played the full album on its release; For The Greater Good of God was a real treat to hear tonight.

The Wicker Man is powerful as always and we’re treated to two Blaze-era songs tonight – the afore-mentioned Clansman and next up was The Sign of The Cross – Dickinson really brings these songs to life on stage and its great to hear these songs included in the set (from an era in the band’s history I’m not personally a fan of – though I’ve tried…).

The theatrics continue with flame throwers (mis-firing a little maybe) for Flight of Icarus… the flame throwers worked, sort of – Dickinson needs a microphone stand for this song though to allow him more freedom to control the flames!

This was full on Rammstein-pyro though; I’ve never seen a Maiden show with as much pyro as tonight.

Full credit to them – they really pulled out the stops on the production on this tour. We then got a trio of usual suspects with Fear of the Dark, Number of the Beast (great backdrop!) and Iron Maiden of course, before the encore.

It’s a small gripe – but personally I never need to hear these songs (or The Trooper) live again and they could be swapped out in favour of some other tracks, but there are some songs that simply have to be played live and that’s understandable.

The encore consisted of The Evil That Men Do, Hallowed be thy Name and Run to the Hills – welcome back Hallowed, we missed you during the Book of Souls tour (for legal reasons).

No Maiden gig should be without this track, one of the finest compositions we will ever hear, and unlike the Trooper, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of hearing it.

Seventh Son material is always great to hear & while Run to The Hills is another song they simply have to play, I never need to hear it again – minor gripe.

The Odyssey as a venue was impressive, and seemed to be well organised (except for the bars) – my first time there, ticketless entry was a breeze & great sound for a huge venue from my spot on the floor.

A long late night return trip was well worth it – one of the finest Maiden gigs I’ve seen to date.

History tours are fun – but I’m looking forward to a new album and tour to follow! Up The Irons!

– John Muprhy ::: 06/08/18
– Thanks to Damien Brennan for pics

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