Run to the hills Australia, for The Beast has come with wrath.
The fourth of May might be Star Wars day, but the real force in Brisbane on Wednesday night was Iron Maiden, kicking off the Australian leg of their ‘The Book Of Souls’ world tour in triumphant style. Having long enjoyed their music but never having the privilege of seeing them live, the performance fulfilled and exceeded all expectations.Image © Lachlan Douglas
Nervous excitement permeated the packed Entertainment Centre as fans of all ages filed in and took their seats. A recorded playback of ‘Doctor, Doctor’ blasted over the PA pre-empting the band’s entrance, causing the crowd to cheer as if the legends had already taken the stage. As the final chords rang out, the lights dimmed and a sea of metalheads raised their horns to the sky.Click here for more photos.
Two screens flanked the stage, which had been set within the ruins of an ancient civilisation lost in time. The sounds of a jet engine powering up filled the arena and the screens lit up, showing a jetliner crashed in the jungle. Lurching from its cradle in the trees, it rises into the sky like a steel phoenix and takes off.Image © Lachlan Douglas
From the darkness and smoke, the unmistakable operatic voice of frontman Bruce Dickinson cried out the first lines of ‘If Eternity Should Fail’, the opening track from 2015’s ‘The Book Of Souls’ album. Standing on a high platform at the back of the stage, he appeared from behind a smoking cauldron; when the band launched into the thundering main riff, the crowd exploded with an energy that never waned throughout the entire show.Image © Lachlan Douglas
Wielding the mic stand like a battleaxe, Bruce dominated the stage and worked the crowd into an immediate frenzy. To say he behaves like a man possessed is an oversight, because the truth is it is he who possesses us. Holding the audience in the palm of his hand, Bruce commanded them the way a general leads his troops; when he said “scream for me, Brisbane”, the Entertainment Centre buckled under the strain of his loyal legion.
Image © Lachlan Douglas
Guitarists Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers were in top form, sharing face-melting solos and playing in harmonised unison with masterful perfection. While the trio shredded, Bruce ran across the stage using the set like a playground and causing general mayhem.
With sixteen albums spanning more than thirty years, Bruce made it clear early on in the show that he doesn’t think of their classic songs as old: he calls them “legacy”. The setlist included tracks from the current album like ‘Speed Of Light’ and ‘The Red And The Black’, as well as ‘legacy’ songs such as ‘Children Of The Damned’, ‘Powerslave’ and ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’.Image © Lachlan Douglas
Bruce was also a perfectly charming and affable frontman, engaging the crowd with light and strangely informative banter between songs. Following a thrashing rendition of ‘Death Or Glory’, which is inspired by World War I German fighter pilot The Red Baron, Bruce regaled us with a spot of history in honour of ANZAC Day: apparently, it was an Aussie infantryman who took down the infamous pilot with a pot-shot from the ground.
As the show progressed, the band brought in more theatrical elements. Iron Maiden’s famed and beloved mascot Eddie made an appearance during title track ‘The Book Of Souls’ in his current incarnation as a tribal beast inspired by imagery from ancient Mayan mythology. He and Bruce battled on-stage before Bruce pulled out poor Eddie’s heart and showed it to the crowd.Image © Lachlan Douglas
During ‘The Trooper’, Bruce came out dressed as a British redcoat and waved a Union Jack while singing about the perils of empire and colonisation.
The best was saved for last as the band returned to the stage for a three-song encore, including their best-known song, ‘The Number Of The Beast’, complete with giant inflatable Satan (an Inflata-Satan?). It seemed to be the crowd highlight for the evening, with some people opting to leave before hearing ‘Blood Brothers’ and ‘Wasted Years’.
After the obligatory smashing of guitars and throwing drumsticks into the braying audience, the band bade us farewell and receded once more into the darkness from whence they came.Image © Lachlan Douglas
This was classic rock theatre at its very best, an epic performance beyond all measure and expectation, and Australian fans of Iron Maiden have a lot to look forward to as ‘The Book Of Souls’ tour makes its way around the country.Click here for more photos.