At around 2pm local time yesterday, Ed Force One landed at O’Hare International airport after a short journey from Detroit (their stop the previous night). Aboard the plane was Bruce Dickinson, Janick Gers, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. All of them ready to rock!
Bruce exited the plane first, making his way through a stereotypical windy and overcast Chicago spring day. You can see Ed Force One landing in Chicago here.
They would have a few hours to rest before taking the stage at the United Center. In the meantime, the audience was introduced to The Raven Age, who took the stage at 8pm. For now, I’ll just write that they reminded me a lot of In Flames, but I plan on making them the subject in tomorrow’s edition of “To Valhalla” so stay tuned! \m/
Once The Raven Age left the stage (and during a break between sets) the audience really responded to the Iron Maiden cover of UFO‘s “Doctor Doctor” which played over the loudspeakers. Little did we know, that was the signal that Iron Maiden was going to take the stage!
They launched into “If Eternity Should Fail” from their latest album, The Book of Souls, first. For those who don’t know, this album is Iron Maiden‘s longest, clocking in at 92 minutes. Bruce Dickinson told the crowd in Chicago that it was also “a week away” from being their first #1. Most of Iron Maiden‘s Chicago set included songs from The Book of Souls, however, a few classic fan favorites were thrown in too; songs like “The Trooper” (thank you Bruce for giving me the image of you flying the British flag in a red coat uniform!), “Fear of the Dark” (amazing audience participation!) and the encore (which, thanks to audio, they struggled through), “The Number of The Beast”. Bruce Dickinson carried on the tradition of “the scream” during “The Number of The Beast” despite his recent medical obstacles. What impressed me the most, was the audience reception to “The Red and the Black” from The Book of Souls. For a newer song, the audience knew every word.
Now for the question on every Iron Maiden fans’ mind, “did Eddie make an appearance?” YES! He did! Chicago fans were treated to “The Book of Souls version” of Eddie during the title track from the album. Janick Gers happily spun his guitar around his own body before running back and forth between Eddie’s legs!
I can’t complete this review without talking about Steve Harris. Before launching into “The Red and the Black” we were treated to a face-melting bass solo. You can watch it below.
Overall, Iron Maiden fans received what they’re accustomed to getting from the band. A fantastic live show filled with pyro, Eddie, phenomenal musicianship, and wonderful crowd interaction initiated by Bruce Dickinson. They proved that they are still a “bucket list” live band to see. The only occasional setback seem to be due to issues within the sound department.
Another cool part of the show was the acknowledgement of fans who’d come to Chicago for the show from other countries . Norwegians, Mexicans, Swedes and Costa Ricans were all present, and flew their flags in the audience to prove it. Bruce took notice, and thanked them, saying,”this is what Iron Maiden is all about – not politics! Just friends getting together.”