By Mike Elliot
When one of the largest grossing metal bands of all times decides to visit Ottawa, who am I to pass up an opportunity to see it right? That’s the reasoning in my mind when I pressed the submit button to purchase my tickets to Iron Maiden! My 20 year old son and I then ventured out to Ottawa Bluesfest to take in the show.
The opening act was Dream Theater. Their progressive metal is groove oriented and accentuates the theoretical and technical aspects of the metal genre. They were quite entertaining at the same time. It was obvious that they were having a great time, and the crowd seemed to love them. I don’t know a heck of a lot about them, but John Pretrucci is quite possibly the most accurate, and technical player I’ve ever witnessed.
Just before Iron Maiden hit the stage, we just happened to have made our way to the very front of the crowd. This was our first mistake. If you can imagine the most crowded concert you’ve ever been to, then triple the number of people, this was what we experienced. There was barely a few inches of my body that were not in contact with someone else’s body. We were sweaty, and everyone wanted into the same small area.
When the guys blasted onto the stage, the surge of bodies was unbelievable. Although I thoroughly enjoyed moshing as a kid… and well into my 20’s, my 40 yr old body wasn’t equipped to handle the situation. I found that I was spending way too much energy trying to keep myself upright, and I was missing the show. I decided to move back. Once I got out of the melee, I got to really see the band.
As stated in many other reviews, Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer, is a ball of energy. This 51 year old metalhead covered the entire stage with his wireless mic in tow. His charisma is undeniable and he really makes metal, specially Iron Maiden’s genre of it, entertaining. He is quite theatrical, however not overly dramatic. His voice is simply amazing. He really is the consummate metal front man.
Steve Harris, the bass pounding maniac, also into his 50’s was not only the backbone of the band, he also entertained the crowd with his antics on stage. He too is a very high energy performer, using his physical fitness to run around pounding on his bass and literally shaking the ground.
The three guitars in Iron Maiden’s lineup sounds like too many cooks, doesn’t it?? Well, it’s definitely not the case. Each of the three (Dave Murray, Janick Gers and Adrian Smith) have their strengths! Murray is the shredder of the bunch. His leads are melodic, accurate and typically fairly complex. Janick is a maniac on guitar. His sound is not as polished, but he rips up the fretboard, and his stage presence is phenomenal. Adrian Smith, has a very earthy tone, he’s very soulful in his approach.
Metal guitar players are usually very funny creatures. They typically don’t like having to take a back seat to other guitar players. This situation is easily overcome by the string section in Iron Maiden. A lot of the leads have been created in such a way that 3 part harmonies sound very good with them. A good number of solos were played by all 3 guitars, with impeccable timing and an overall respect for each other’s style. They are professional in their approach and entertaining to see all 3 of them wailing away and sounding great when they do it!
Nicko McBrain, the skin pounder was also amazing. His kit was set back deep in a huge riser. His relentless assault on the skins was nothing short of breathtaking.
All in all, this was a great show. I had caught wind a few weeks earlier that they weren’t out doing a "greatest hits" tour, and that they would be playing most of the songs from their latest album. I was prepared to enjoy music that I had not much exposure to, and I was not disappointed that they did not play all of their hits. Would I have liked to see a few more older songs, sure, but that’s not what this show was about, and I accepted that before I even got there.