I couldn’t believe my luck: I’m spending the week in Vancouver for work, and Iron Maiden is playing a block away from my hotel. I couldn’t pass up the chance to experience the amazing ‘Legacy of the Beast’ tour once more, after having been blown away when they stopped in Montreal last month. No amount of jet lag would prevent me from being there.
Knowing that this tour features Iron Maiden’s most visual tour ever, I went for a dead center seat to take it all in. As a nice side effect, I thought the sound mix was much better than it was from the side in Montreal. Even the opening act The Raven Age sounded much clearer this time around, and was more enjoyable as a result, although I still failed to connect with their generic metal core.
Iron Maiden’s opening war segment with ‘Aces High’, ‘Where Eagles Dare’, ‘Two Minutes to Midnight’, ‘The Clansman’ and ‘The Trooper’ was played with a reckless abandon that instantly got the crowd going, even though singer Bruce Dickinson awkwardly greeted the crowd with a “Salut!” that was greeted by a fair amount of boos. Inexplicably, he still threw in a few sentences in French during ‘The Clansman’, although these went a little more unnoticed. Maybe Bruce has more faith in Canada’s bilingualism than is warranted… Nicko McBrain flubbed a fill on ‘Two Minutes’ and nearly derailed the band, something that happened a few times in Montreal (and honestly Bruce isn’t helping by delaying the phrasing of his vocals at times). Fortunately, this was the only such error in the show. When McBrain was in the groove, his drums thundered throughout Rogers Arena and were the engine driving the galloping band in front of him.
‘Revelations’ has never sounded heavier or better than on this tour, but ‘For the Greater Good of God’ fell flat, mostly because it sucked the energy out of the crowd momentarily. ‘The Wicker Man’ cranked the dial back up, followed by a magnificent rendition of ‘Sign of the Cross’. That song saw the band kick it up a notch, and from that point to the end of the concert, it was one of the best Iron Maiden performance I’ve ever seen. The crowd went nuts for the slightly rushed ‘Flight of Icarus’, and never let off for the final trio of ‘Fear of the Dark’, ‘The Number of the Beast’ and ‘Iron Maiden’.
The encore of ‘The Evil That Men Do’, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and ‘Run to the Hills’ topped the two hour concert in a majestic way. This might just be their best setlist ever; off the top of my head, I can only think of the Ed Hunter tour that compares. Yes, they are getting up there in age: as Bruce Dickinson quipped, if you put their combined age against the history of the United States, they have 1776 beat by about a century. But they’re still heavy metal royalty, and with a sold out crowd that skewed much more towards a new generation of fans than mine, their legacy is written in stone.