Tonight Iron Maiden will play their 3rd concert at Chile‘s National Stadium in Santiago in front of over 50.000 fans. The event is only one of many spectacular highlights the band will deliver this year.
2015 started off in the worst possible way with Bruce Dickinson being diagnosed with head and neck cancer. Touring plans were canned and the album release pushed back. Luckily he was given the all clear in May the same year. But given the rough nature of a treatment like that, the big question was: Would he ever be able to get back to his usual self again?
Needless to say, the level of anticipation was sky high leading up to the The Book of Souls World Tour premiere in Sunrise on the 24th of February.
But let’s leave the tour out for a little while and focus on the months leading up to this massive event. From the very announcement of the world tour back in August 2015, including the presentation of their new humble little ride, the 747 – 400, there was no doubt that this would be one of the most ambitious treks the band would ever undertake, with 35 countries in 6 continents and over 70 gigs lined up for the roughly 6 month long haul.
The tour is a mix of playing arenas, fields, festivals and stadiums, and judging by the response from ticket buyers, the world is more than ready for a new Maiden stint across the globe.
Nearly all of the shows in North America is sold out completely, including two nights at the LA Forum. The same goes for Canada. Huge stadiums in South America such as the prestigious Allianz Park in Sao Paulo and Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile is packed to the hilt with over 50.000 fans expected to take part in the event. Over 25.000 turned out for Maiden’s first show in El Salvador, with the Ministry of tourism issuing an official thank you to the band. Stadiums in Cordoba, Argentina and Fortaleza in Brazil are lined up for the the band’s first visit to the respective cities.
In Europe stadiums are filling up in Sweden, Poland and Czech Republic. In Spain the show at Madrid‘s Barclaycard Center sold out within hours, leading the band to add a fourth Spanish date at Seville‘s Olympic Stadium.
Not bad for a band well into their 5th decade!
So why is Iron Maiden experiencing this massive momentum at the moment?
There are several key factors, one of the being the tremendous success of the new album. The Book of Souls topped the charts in 40 countries worldwide. An impressive feat, and it goes to show that Maiden fans are far beyond the nostalgia aspect. In fact I believe that after being treated to the retrospective Maiden England World Tour for three years, it’s refreshing to be able to look forward again. The band is certainly feeding off it.
There is also a renewed sense of purpose in the whole team it seems. There’s a positive energy surrounding the whole operation in regards to this tour. The band has finally indulged in the social media sphere, which makes everyone feel more involved and thus adding to the excitement level around the globe, even when the band is on the opposite side of the planet.
The marketing scope of the Ed Force One thing is also second to none. The sheer scale of the plane and the whole idea of the band traveling around the globe with the gear and crew is newsworthy enough for all news stations wherever they land to show up at the airport and make it national news. Normally they arrive the day before the show, so all the hoopla might actually have an effect on the turnout for the shows.
So we can all agree on the fact that there is a newfound spirit and a sense of ambition in the Maiden camp. Let’s see how they’ve seized the opportunity.
Here is a few good reasons for why The Book of Souls World Tour is Iron Maiden’s finest in decades:
BRUCE DICKINSON: He has finally confirmed that he is a super human. Not only has he kicked cancer’s ass, he has kicked all of our collective asses by singing better than he has done in years and running a few extra miles on stage. If you don’t believe me, search for “If Eternity Should Fail” on YouTube and see for your self. And the best thing about it, he seems to love every minute of it.
SETLIST: Let’s face it – Maiden England was a bit on the safe side. It lacked the adventurous spirit of the previous History Tours and felt a wee bit defensive. The same thing can be said about the 2nd half of the The Final Frontier Tour.
This time they’ve really made an effort to shake things up a bit. Gone are most of the overplayed staples, which in turn leads to how the staples that remain in the set feel more vital. The best renditions of “The Trooper” and “The Number of the Beast”, you’ll find them on this tour.
A large portion of the first half of the set is new material and it works really well. The opening song, “If Eternity Should Fail”, with all the added drama and the moody intro with Bruce leaning over the smoking cauldron, sets the tone perfectly. Hands down the best opening song since “Caught Somewhere in Time” from 1986. The title track works wonderfully as the centerpiece of the show, with Bruce doing stuff to Eddie that we won’t reveal here. But it’s a sight, believe me.
There is some brilliantly selected deep cuts here, “Children of the Damned” and “Powerslave” blend in perfectly. There are after all pyramids and talk of ancient civilizations here, even if it’s a different place on the planet.
The idea of ending it all with the unifying “Blood Brothers” and the anthemic “Wasted Years” is a very clever touch. Giving the recent events, the theme of “Wasted Years” makes perfect sense and ends the show on a very high note. The pacing of the show is good, it flows very well. And welcome back “Hallowed Be Thy Name” – we have missed you!
PRODUCTION: Again, the previous tours felt a bit uninspired (bar the exceptional big Eddie on the Maiden England tour). The current one, however, it’s just a sight to behold. It is very clear that everyone involved has gone to great lengths to make everything look as good as it possibly can, with lots of small details in the elaborate decor that really makes the Mayan theme sparkle. The use of dry ice and towering flames enhances the whole scenery beautifully and gives it depth. “The Book of Souls”, “Iron Maiden” and “The Number of the Beast” are really a new Maiden experience this time. And not to mention the lightning rig – holy smoke, it looks stellar! Without a doubt the best looking production since the 80s. And that says a lot.
PERFOMANCE: We’ve commented on Bruce’s performance, but it seems like the whole band has a newfound drive. The songs are brimming with energy, both the classics and the new arrivals. It’s clear that Maiden are not resting on their laurels, but are on a mission to prove that they can still cut it. And they sure can! Hell, Nicko even has a drum kit with a gold finish!
EDDIE: What would the world be without him? Boring, that’s what it would be. On the current tour he appears two times as usual. Milling around on stage with axe in hand and hovering over Nicko during the main set closer, “Iron Maiden”. The walk-on Eddie is the most flexible yet and it looks fantastic when flexing his lips and swinging his arms. And he does indeed have a heart. Big Eddie looks particularly impressive in the Mayan ruins. Very gloomy and very BIG.
ALL IN ALL: The Book of Souls World Tour is Iron Maiden at their most vital and ambitious. The show is no holds barred and the set is both challenging and rewarding. There is something for everybody in there, new and old, obscure and classic. At this stage in their career you’d expect them to wind down, but The Book of Souls World Tour is onwards and upwards for Iron Maiden. It reminds us all why we fell in love with this band.
Up the Irons!
All pictures taken by John McMurtrie for IronMaiden.com