Only my second gig of the year and I was lucky to get a ticket at that considering the show sold out in 12 minutes apparently. Since then of course they added a second night to appease those unable to get tickets for the original date. Of course it was intended to be the final date of the European leg of the Maiden England tour before the addiction of the second date due to high demand.
As usual I was seated in the clouds nevertheless I had quite a good view of the stage, although the O2's tight seating arrangements and steep seating tests the old legs after a beer or two! Mind you at £5 a pop two beers was my limit I think and I had eaten outside as I didn't fancy further rinsing out of my wallet food wise!
First band was local guys Voodoosix. I've heard their rock and roll hard rock here and there and they were pretty good as support bands go. A mix of UFO and say Whitesnake with some Led Zeppelin thrown in as well. They were given a decent sound mix as well which is highly rare for a support band these days so well done the sound guys.
Finally at about 8.45pm the strains of Doctor Doctor started up and the packed crowd started to get into the mood for some good old Maiden. Now last time I saw Maiden which was also at the O2 they were touring Final Frontier but this was a good old fashioned nostalgia night. Some people don't really like this type of thing but I guess they are far in the minority. There would be no having to sit through and politely applaud new material kind of malarkey from the crowd. We'd be getting the full Maiden England run through plus of course a few obligatory classics.
As Doctor Doctor the band did their usual burst through the first few bars of Moonchild, a song I've never heard live before and not a particular fave of mine. First thing to note was that the sound was a touch loud and off and you couldn't make out much until the familiar chorus. Mind you straight off the bat Bruce sounded in prime form. I must admit his performance on record has been rather dubious of late with a lot of straining for high notes in particular but live he sounded pretty flawless last night even though he was fighting to be heard over the PA.
Can I Play With Madness followed which is a song I've never heard live I think though I could be wrong maybe I heard it with Blaze I can't remember. This was the first big sing along for the feverish crowd with lots of pogo-ing and surging going on. Must have been a crush down there and I didn't envy then from my high vantage point haha! The sound was a touch better and my ears had adjusted to the rather high volume level after the first song.
The Prisoner followed which is a song that I'm certain I've never heard but it's not really a fave of mine though it was nice to hear it anyway. 2M2M followed and was excellent as it always is. Very energetic and riotous indeed. Afraid To Shoot Strangers followed and again I'd hazard a guess I haven't heard it live before and it was a nice change of pace. I used to love that song a lot especially the beautiful guitar melodies and the rather dark subject matter. Bruce's voice is rather unsuited to this song I think though. I think Blaze sounds better singing that song believe it or not! The Trooper as always causes a big crowd reaction with it's relentless energy and gallop. 666 is a great song don't get me wrong but I'm a bit tired of it but the crowd loves it of course and Bruce was amazing on it.
Next up was one of the big highlights of the night with Phantom of course and iconic Maiden song IMO. The band played with it with high energy and super tight. Again I'm not sure Bruce's vocals were that great on it but I love Phantom more for the music than the vocals personally speaking. Run To The Hills we've heard a million times. It's fun and good and people love sing a long to it but it does get a touch boring. Mind you I could say that about The Trooper but for some reason I love that song no matter how many times I hear it.
Wasted Years was another big highlight and showed a mid paced more commercial angle of the set list. People loved it with wholesale crowd sing along. Next was mammoth epic and tour centerpiece SSOASS a song I've obviously never heard live before. I haven't heard it on record in an age either mind so it was good to familiarise myself with it again. The sound on this song was superb indeed, the levels just perfect. Didn't quite realise how long the second part of the song goes on for after the vocals have finished haha!
Back to ore immediate melodic fare with the lovely Clairvoyant next with it's sweet little guitar melodies probably one of the best songs of the night if truth be told. FOTD was up next and I don't think I've seen a Maiden gig without it as yet. The thing is it never fails to set the crowd alight no matter how many times they hear it. A live Maiden staple no doubt. The last song of the main set was of course Iron Maiden the song which I actually enjoy a lot as it's a great set closer or at least in the encore. Strangely enough at this point I'd be gearing up for my fave Maiden song of all time Hallowed but that's not on the Maiden England set list alas and a Maiden gig didn't feel quite complete without it I must admit.
In any case after a short period the band returned for the rousing encore including the famous Churchill's Speech which still makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up after all these years as the bands leads the charge into the exhilarating Aces High. The Evil That Men Do followed on swiftly with the band barely stopping for breath before the extended band introduction filled end that is Running Free. I like the song but damn I wish they bent the rules and ended with Hallowed!
Bruce said that they hope they got up tomorrow and had some energy left for the Sunday night gig as they put a hell of a lot into the Saturday show! He wished the crowd good night and said he'll see some of us again tomorrow and that they'll be back again soon if not. Maiden overall are better live these days than a few years ago I think. Their albums maybe fairly pedestrian affairs but this doesn't transfer at all into the live show and believe Bruce sounds better live these days than he does on record. See you at the O2 Arena next time and hopefully with a new album under your belts you old gits. Till then Up The Irons!
Can I Play with Madness
2 Minutes to Midnight
Afraid to Shoot Strangers
The Number of the Beast
Phantom of the Opera
Run to the Hills
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Fear of the Dark
The Evil That Men Do