Trivium were launched onto a vacuous Earls Court arena at precisely 7:30pm, catching a few people off guard and hence drawing a somewhat muted reaction from the seats. Although the Trivium massive were gathered at the front, responding with fervour to the circle pit calls from lead man Heafy. The transformation of Anthem from 80s throwback to rabble-rousing stomper live was a good ‘un, and Trivium had done their warm-up job impeccably.
The chat in the beer tents before the return of Maiden was the format of the show, which was widely publicised as a showcase for the well-received A Matter of Life and Death opus. Questions were asked – could the entire presentation of an album which is a proggy meandering journey through war themes, its five to nine minute length tracks painting deep and complex pictures (which have drawn comparison to 1984′s Powerslave) really be accepted by the the fans, especially if you have to forgo some of the greatest British metal anthems?
I was dubious, but within the first songs it was clear that Maiden were very proud of this output, putting their heart and soul into a performance to silence the critics. Tracks such as These Colours Don’t Run and Pilgrim were being thundered out, so much so that after Longest Day, Bruce Dickinson came back on stage and announced that Iron Maiden – in true metal style – had burnt out the main power cable to the whole of Earl’s Court.
Maiden would never be top of the list for an MTV Unplugged session, and without any amplification there was nothing left but to see Nicko walk around in a dressing gown with a cup of tea (now thats rock and roll), have a game of football with the crowd and for Bruce to lead a Christmas carol sing-along with a megaphone. A heroic effort by the Earl’s Court sparkies and Out Of The Shadows sprung the audience back into life.
By the seventh or eighth slow start leading to a power chorus and melodic vocals, one sensed that the crowd were becoming restless and their loyalty on the wane, but soon enough the album was completed leaving a genuine sense of satisfaction from both the band for being this ambitious with their set, and the audience for knowing that they have witnessed a rather special event.
Their patience was rewarded by a swift greatest hits meander. Although musically not quite so much focus from the guys, but the raised fists and roar from all areas of the arena showed that while the format was adventurous, all the elements of a classic Maiden show were still there for all to enjoy: big tank that rises up out the stage; roadie in a Eddie costume walking about the stage; backdrops for each song; Bruce running around like a madman; Steve pointing bass like a machine gun; Janick dancing around like a leprechaun, smile and raise your horns…
Time moves on, and Maiden are still being as creative as they ever were, and now parents are even passing on the metal gauntlet to their offspring (and judging by the children that were head banging next to me, the gauntlet has been gratefully received). Let’s just hope that we can keep paying the electricity bill.