My 13th gig of the year but debut gig at the O2 arena and no better way to break your duck than with the mighty Iron Maiden. First of all let me say that this gig very nearly didn't happen for me. A week or so before the gig my left ear started to get a clogged up feeling and to cut a long story short by Saturday morning it was touch and go whether I could go as I was feeling pretty miserable having almost no hearing from the left ear from the excess wax.
On Saturday morn I decided I had to do something to find a way to get that shit syringed out of my ears so I'd have souped up, turbo hearing in time for Maiden! It was difficult but I managed to find a place that would do it after first being turned down at the first place I went to. The lady nurse sucked two horrible balls of wax right out and she showed me them and yes it was disgusting but thank the devil, when I walked out of that place I was sort hearing more or less 100% ready to hear the beast sent with wrath! It was actually odd cause everything sounded vibrant and my ears tingled with noise but damn it was a relief and I headed to the O2 and the Maiden gig with renewed vigour and ready to actually enjoy myself even more than usual.
First up the O2 is just a huge damn place. This is the first time I have seen the Millenium Dome up close and personal and it really is a monstrous great dome with now a 20,000 set venue with floor standing in front of the stage. In fact I was a bit surprised how small the stage was actually. I was expecting one of those big runway type things with banks that lead into the crowd but in general the stage seemed pretty small for such a large venue though maybe other acts utilize a bigger set than Maiden.
Anyway on with the music. First up were Trivium a band who I mock quite vociferously I have to admit. These guys are just trend hoppers like you won't believe in my opinion. They are great at playing their instruments but I almost cannot stand Matt Heafy's stupid barking vocals and to me The Crusade is by far their best album. Musically the band is cool with some stupidly effective thrashy melodic riffs to get your teeth stuck into but in the end they just don't do it for me. Oh yeah and they didn't play even one song off The Crusade that I recall. One thing though, the sound in the o2 is pretty amazing. My vantage point in the upper tier was sheer nose bleed territory and they sure as hell weren't wrong when they said the seats are no suitable for those who suffer from vertigo. That's some steep angled seating they got going on!
Finally at 8.45pm after the last strains of Doctor Doctor had finished the video intro started up for The Final Frontier which the band insists on you hearing or watching even though I personally find it a complete waste of time but then finally there they are we're into the final date of The Final Frontier World Tour! The band sounds energized with the near perfect sound and Bruce sounds loud and proud as he belts out the opening lines. The crowd seems to be in a real party mood and there are lots of smiles and hi fives and then everyone belts out the chorus as loud as they can. Follow up song El Dorado does precisely zilch for me even though the chorus is sort of not bad.
The band and Bruce are just about hitting their stride now with the great iron Maiden song book being plundered again and again for classic after classic with new tunes interspersed in between. And it's the new tunes that sit best with me such as the already classic The Talisman and the epic Where The Wild Wind Blows which was performed magnificently by Bruce and the band. Going back a little we had a totally enchanting and slightly sped up version of Dance of Death which had everyone in the crowd doing little jigs even if they were in the nose bleed seats! A truly awesome song that one and a real highlight.
Another huge crowd favourite was of course Fear of the Dark which has always gotten the best response I have ever seen on every Maiden gig I've ever been to and it was no different last night. The crowd participation in that song is always unanimous and it has a wide appeal with Maiden fans of all ages. The Trooper was as exhilarating as it always is. Coming Home from the new album was brilliant with it's wonderfully emotional chorus ringing loud and true as it was the last night of the tour.
The Wickerman was perfect and the woah woahhh crowd chants was again done by the whole 20,000 no doubt. The same with Blood Brothers which Bruce dedicated to all the Maiden fans of whatever religion or race or colour. The Evil That Men Do was brilliantly sung and played with mass sing along on the chorus of course.
Encore time saw three Maiden classics that any Maiden show cannot be without I guess though personally speaking I am a little tired of Number of The Beast. I can never tire of Hallowed Be Thy Name though and yet again the crowd took over from Bruce a lot on this one with mass singing on cue. Finally it was time for Running Free with a lot of chat and band introductions by Bruce in between and finally it all came to and end for the ageing but never dull Iron Maiden machine and The Final Frontier World Tour.
Thanks to Maiden for a great night and thanks to the NHS and that nurse for getting me to the show on time! Maiden will be back in some shape or form next year no doubt. I don't think they know how to stop and why should they when they are still probably the best live metal band on the planet.
Some bad photos for you from my seat somewhere near Mars!