Let me tell you a story to chill the bones
About a thing that I saw
One night wandering in the everglades
I’d one drink but no moreI was rambling, enjoying the bright moonlight
Gazing up at the stars
Not aware of a presence so near to me
Watching my every moveFeeling scared and I fell to my knees
As something rushed me from the trees
Took me to an unholy place
And that is where I fell from grace
Iron maiden arrives in Flight666.
Without missing a beat, bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain launch into the easily recognizable rumblings of ‘2 Minutes to Midnight.
2010 has proved yet another landmark year in the career of Iron Maiden, with the release of their 15th studio album The Final Frontier becoming their most successful chart-wise to date.
The album reached the No.1 spot in an impressive 28 countries right around the globe; from Lebanon, Arabia and India in the East, to Canada in the West, New Zealand, in the UK and Europe and across Latin America, as well as reaching No.1 in Billboard’s European, Tastemaker and Rock Charts and No 4 in the USA, their highest album position ever in that country.
The Final Frontier World Tour opened in June 2010 with 25 shows in North America followed by headlining their own stadium shows and major festivals in Europe, including the Sonisphere Festivals and Germany’s Wacken Festival.
In 2011 the band continued The Final Frontier Tour by taking to the skies in their specially customized Boeing 757 airliner Ed Force One which transported band, crew and their entire 10 ton stage production 50,000 miles right around the globe and piloted by lead singer Bruce Dickinson, a qualified Airline Captain.
Ed Force One first made TV news headlines around the world in 2008 when Iron Maiden climbed onboard to embark on their ground-breaking Somewhere Back In Time World Tour. The coverage of that tour was subsequently turned into an award-winning film and DVD “Flight 666”.
Released in 2009 Flight 666 hit the No.1 slot in the music DVD charts in 25 countries, the same year the band picked up their first ever Brit Award for Best British Live Act. Maiden guitarist Dave Murray summed it up nicely when he remarked “Ed Force One certainly beats the battered old van that we, our one crew member and all our equipment used to travel round to gigs in when we first started out!”
Founded by bassist Steve Harris in the mid ‘70s, Iron Maiden were already firmly established as heavy metal’s brightest hopes when they stormed the world with their third album (and first with vocalist Bruce Dickinson) The Number Of The Beast in 1982.
Throughout the decade that followed, Maiden recorded and toured relentlessly with seven new studio albums and seven World Tours in the ‘80s alone. Cementing their reputation as the hardest-touring band on the planet and with the unmistakable figure of band mascot Eddie adorning every album cover and T-shirt , Iron Maiden created a world of their own; one that welcomed fans from every culture, creed and social sphere with a guarantee of heartfelt conviction and unprecedented professionalism.
With milestones like the marathon World Slavery Tour of 1984/5, headlining Rock in Rio in both 1985 and 2001 and Castle Donington’s Monsters Of Rock festival in 1988, (still the biggest ever event there with 107,000 attending), Maiden set new standards, while continually reinventing themselves both musically and visually.
Despite radio play around the world being limited to occasional heavy metal speciality shows and the band’s refusal to deal with celebrity and lifestyle-based mainstream media and magazines, of which there are now so many, the band took metal to many new frontiers; to Poland and behind the Iron Curtain in 1985, around South America initially in 1992 and many times since, to the Middle East in 2007, India in the same year and many other new places all around the planet that rarely get visited by major bands.
The ‘90s proved to be a difficult time for heavy metal bands in general, but Iron Maiden ploughed doggedly forward, notching up yet more success with albums like 1992’s acclaimed Fear Of The Dark and even weathering the departure of Bruce Dickinson in 1993. The band made two strong albums with new singer Blaze Bayley and continued to honour their commitment to intensive touring, delivering the goods at every show. However, it was the return of Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith (who originally left the band in 1990) in 1999 when Iron Maiden became a six-piece, that established the ultimate Iron Maiden line-up of Bruce Dickinson on vocals, Steve Harris on bass, Nicko McBrain on drums and “the three amigos” – Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers – on guitar. This line-up has scaled new heights and become increasingly fearless and boldly creative since the release of the Brave New World album in 2000.
With both 2003’s diverse and ingenious Dance Of Death album and its dark and daring follow-up, 2006’s A Matter Of Life And Death, they dazzled fans and critics alike. With each successive tour, whether revisiting classic songs from their first few albums or playing A Matter Of Life And Death in its entirety, Maiden accrued countless new young admirers, momentum building all the while.
This brave new Maiden era reached an astonishing zenith during the band’s Somewhere Back In Time Tour that began in February 2008 and initially took the band 50,000 miles around the world in 45 days, flying in their own specially chartered Boeing 757, Ed Force One, piloted by Bruce Dickinson, a qualified airline captain, traversing the planet, from India to Costa Rica, Australia to Argentina, Sao Paolo to Tokyo.
Along with tours of Europe and North America, the Somewhere Back In Time tour saw Maiden play 89 concerts in front of two million fans in 38 countries on five Continents, forging new relationships with countries they had never performed in before and strengthening ties with nations that had long been part of Maiden’s global family.
The overwhelming success of this venture convinced the band that Ed Force One was the best possible way to reach more fans, more quickly and in more territories than they could ever hope to visit by traditional touring methods.
On to the event!
It was at this point of the show that I realized just how diverse the evening’s crowd actually was.
From kids as young as five, to geriatrics clad in Maiden tees, the age differences were staggering!
In fact, I’d venture to say that a sizeable portion of attendees were whole families – mom, dad, son, daughter, making it a decidedly family affair.
Iron Maiden are certainly one the few metal bands in existence that are capable of bridging the generational gap, nay, multigenerational gap.
Opening: Doctor Doctor
1. Satellite 15… The Final Frontier
2. El Dorado
3. 2 Minutes to Midnight
4. The Talisman
5. Coming Home
6. Dance of Death
7. The Trooper
8. The Wicker Man
9. Blood Brothers
10. When the Wild Wind Blows
11 .The Evil That Men Do
12. Fear of the Dark
13. Iron Maiden
14. The Number of the Beast
15. Hallowed Be Thy Name
16. Running Free
“Dance of Death” never fails to impress me with its haunting title track.
So, for The Final Frontier 2011 Round The World Tour, Iron Maiden pushed their own boundaries even further. Within the Five-Continents trip that they undertook in just 66 days, they traveled for the first time ever into South Korea, Indonesia and Singapore.
30 years, 85 million album sales, close to 2000 live performances, countless satisfied customers and now 15 studio albums of unerring quality and power: Iron Maiden have more than earned their proudly-held status as undisputed heavy metal champions of the world.
To this day I guess I’ll never know
Just why they let me go
But I’ll never go dancing no more
‘Til I dance with the dead