So we’ve come to it at last, the very end of the incredible Maiden England World Tour. Here’s our experience of the Bergen show, with a little helping of Knebworth Sonisphere as well.
There’s nothing new to tell. The tour has been going for over two years. The setlist is known to anyone who cares. But all the same, a significant cycle in the history of Iron Maiden has now come to an end, and it’s time to take stock.
CLICK HERE for our 2013 end-of-tour summary, at a point where we didn’t know that the tour would go into its third year in 2014.
At long last Norway got a Maiden England show. It looked for a while like we would miss out on this particular concept, possibly because the not-entirely-successful 2011 The Final Frontier show in Oslo had cast a shadow of doubt over whether Norway was suited for another Maiden extravaganza so soon.
Enter Bergen. Enter the Koengen Fortress.
If any one spot in Norway was ever designed for Maiden shows, it must be this one. Close to 20 000 people packed the venue and enjoyed brisk performances by support acts Sahg, Kvelertak and Ghost. All was ready. The moment had arrived. The sound in this fan’s video of opener Moonchild is terrible, but the audience excitement and incredible setting should leap at you:
Maiden Revelations have seen a fair few shows on the 2012-14 tour, and we are of the clear opinion that the band sounds better at the end of the tour than they did in 2012 and 2013.
This performance of Revelations (much better sound in this clip) should explain why we feel that way:
How to sum it up? The band sounds leaner than they did two years ago. We love the way their grooves are a little more laid-back and heavy these days, but earlier in this tour we were wondering if it all got a bit too laid-back. All of that has disappeared this year. Nicko McBrain directs a perfect groove. The band sounds as good as they ever did. And Bruce Dickinson, at age 55…
Once again, the sound is not great in this fan clip of Aces High, but all you Maidenheads will surely appreciate the incredible delivery that Bruce musters, particularly in the final verse and chorus:
Take that, Geoff Tate. Or Paul Stanley.
And of course, Bruce isn’t just the greatest metal singer on the planet. He also flies planes. When the tour came to its triumphant conclusion at the Sonisphere UK show in Knebworth, he got a chance to show off more than a little bit:
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By all accounts, the Maiden show at Knebworth was great. Maiden fan and Maiden Revelations follower 2Mins was there to experience both the show and the air display. In his first-hand words:
“Eddie was in the gunner seat on the Knebworth T-shirts, proclaiming “Fokkers at 6 o’clock”. And, true to his word, at 6pm that beautiful opening guitar figure to Paschendale came crystal clear from the Sonisphere main stage. Sepia film of replica First World War fighter aircraft being readied played on the big screens to an abridged version of Maiden’s trenches epic, and eight dots became visible on the horizon.
A commentary told the crowd what we were looking at, and told us that Bruce was flying the last plane in the formation, a replica Fokker tri-plane, with Eddie in the rear gunner position! As the planes flew over the stage they broke up and began circling for targets. German and British planes engaged, sounds of machine gunfire rang out from the speakers, and streams of smoke showed where targets had been hit.
One plane remained apart, Bruce in his Fokker circling high above the action, waiting patiently for a mark. He shook off a Sopwith Camel and then, in a flash, was on the tail of a British plane. They engaged in what the commentator called a classic circular dogfight, and Bruce never let his target go.
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After 15 minutes, a military band appeared on the main stage and the Last Post rang out. There was one last flypast, and the planes disappeared off over the trees. Presumably Rod Smallwood and Steve Harris breathed a sigh of relief when that Fokker safely reached the ground.
It was humbling to see those fragile machines (or “flying venetian blinds” as Bruce referred to them from the stage later that night) that carried brave young men to their deaths one hundred years ago. As the commentator said, ours was the view that the men in the trenches would have had of the deadly action in the skies above, and it was a humbling experience.”
So says 2Mins.
Bruce Dickinson. Iron Maiden. The triumphs and tragedies of human history. As fans of the band, we can hope for more tingles up the spine in the years to come. In THIS STORY you’ll find out that Bruce himself says Maiden will release a new album in 2015.
And in THIS STORY Bruce talks more about writing that next album, smoking or not smoking dope, and keeping his incredible voice in shape. The voice that blew our minds in Bergen this summer. And probably will blow more minds next year.
Here’s to the next Iron Maiden cycle!
(Now if we could please get to buy a bloody Kevin Shirley-produced DVD from this tour…)