Iron Maiden plays China

For the first time in their history, Iron Maiden played China. They took over Beijing this past Sunday, and fans were not disappointed! However, they had to make a few adjustments to their show, to please the Chinese government. What changed? Well, Blabbermouth.net reports,

* There were no pyrotechnics used during the show.
* During the performance of “The Trooper”IRON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson did not wave a Union Jack flag, but, as can be seen in the video below, he still sported the red coat uniform worn by troops during the battle which inspired the song and waved an “invisible” flag while singing the track. In addition, the Union Jack flag was still prominently displayed on the backdrop during MAIDEN‘s performance of the song.
Bruce changed the lyrics to the chorus of the song “Powerslave” from “Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave” to “Tell me why I had to be a Wicker Man.”
IRON MAIDEN was not allowed to throw stuff (wristbands, drum heads, etc.) into the crowd during the concert.
Bruce didn’t swear and had to be careful not to use the “F” word.

Those changes were minor. There were barely any changes to their setlist that night (as compared to the Chicago show I saw anyway) either.

While most bands simply refuse to play China due to said anticipated changes, Iron Maiden proves once again that they are indeed a global operation. They celebrate that fact!  They embrace other cultures, rather than reject it. This is evidenced in their lyrics, and now, their actions as a band.

What do you think? Was this a cool move on their part?

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To Valhalla: The Raven Age

As promised, I’m featuring The Raven Age for this Friday’s edition of “To Valhalla!” If you don’t know them, you’ll want to.

Currently, they’re Iron Maiden‘s tour mates on The Book of Souls World Tour, and that’s where my awareness of The Raven Age begins.

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The Raven Age; Chicago, IL on 4/6/16

You can’t get much newer than these guys. They formed in London in 2009 (maybe that’s how they hopped on the Iron Maiden tour?), but didn’t finalize their current lineup until 2013 (Michael Burroughs – Vocals | Matt Cox – Bass Guitar | Dan Wright – Guitar | George Harris – Guitar | Jai Patel – Drums). They describe themselves as a “melodic metal band” but I believe they sound a lot like In Flames (if In Flames had clean vocals), if you’re looking for a comparison.

They released their first self titled EP in 2014, and played it in its entirety before Iron Maiden took the stage. On Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, The Raven Age played the United Center in Chicago to a lukewarm crowd – at first.

They decided to let the music speak for itself (and rightfully so – it’s solid!), and dove right into their set with Michael Burroughs addressing the crowd only occasionally – until their set was close to being done. That’s when he ramped up the crowd by saying, “you better be ready, IRON MAIDEN IS COMING NEXT!!”  My personal favorites were “Eye Among The Blind” and “The Death March”.

 

Check out The Raven Age on Facebook, and at their website. They also released a heavy  music video (their first ever) for “Angel In Disgrace” which you can watch below.

 

 

Review: Iron Maiden in Chicago

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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photo credit: United Center

Is Kerry King right? Is metal living on past success?

Kerry King of Slayer isn’t one to shy away from speaking his mind. In a recent interview. Kerry suggested that bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica are living in the past, and profiting from it.

He says, “We’re living on our history for sure, but so is everyone else, yet we’re the ones trying to push ourselves forward. I would say [Iron] Maiden and Metallica, no offense, are living on past success. Metallica has toured forever on The Black Record which a lot of people don’t like. I actually like it. Its heavy as can be. Is it Master Of Puppets? Course not, but it’s a great record. Iron Maiden for me is living off their first three records. Have they made good songs since then? Yeah, but they haven’t made great records. I like to think we’re still making great records and as much as people come out wanting to hear ‘Reign In Blood’ and ‘Angel Of Death’, they also want to hear ‘Disciple’ or even ‘Implode.'”

What do you think? Does Kerry have a point? Do we care? Let’s face it – when you pay to see Iron Maiden, Metallica or Slayer you’re hoping they’ll play hits from within their first four albums or so. Can you blame them for including a large chunk of older hits in their sets? I certainly can’t. It’s hard enough for bands to make money. If that’s what crowds want to hear – who can blame them?

However, I think he’s ignoring the fact that plenty of Iron Maiden fans are interested in their new stuff as well. Billboard reported, “Iron Maiden debuts at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart (dated Sept. 26) with The Book of Souls, notching its best sales week, 74,000 copies sold, since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991.” I seriously doubt fans wouldn’t want to hear “Speed Of Light” either.

We can’t blame metal bands for including a largely “older” set, but we still want to hear the new stuff too! I’ve got an idea, how ’bout Slayer, Iron Maiden and Metallica tour TOGETHER??