BEST & WORST: The Book Of Souls World Tour 2016

booktour8So it’s the end of the year. Let’s take a look at the 2016 Book Of Souls World Tour and gauge the highs and lows of Iron Maiden’s latest road adventure.

After three years of touring a nostalgia package, the not-entirely-satisfactory Maiden England tour that launched in 2012 and ended in 2014, Iron Maiden finally entered the studio again and recorded 2015’s The Book Of Souls.

Release and tour were put on hold in early 2015 as singer Bruce Dickinson underwent cancer treatment, but with his full recovery the band let their new album loose in September last year. At the start of 2016 they boarded their Maiden 747 and set out on the most ambitious tour of their career. Yes, we know, there’s the World Slavery Tour, but really – taking their own jumbo on a 6-month trek across 6 continents? No contest.

Bruce got well. An entire planet of Maiden fans hoped and prayed for months in the first half of 2015. It was awesome when Bruce got the all clear. But could he still sing fairly well?

Ah, that. Not only did he come back, but we’re of the opinion that he sounded better on this tour than the previous Maiden England trek. Highlights often included raunchy takes on “Speed of Light” and highly emotional renderings of the somewhat rare “Children of the Damned”  – and let’s not forget, the absolutely epic heights he climbed on the massive “The Book of Souls”.

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The symbolic meaning is not lost on anyone, as Bruce comes back to health and belts out “Hallowed Be Thy Name” for the first time in years.

Setlists will always spawn heated debates no matter what. Although we might want to change a song or two for something else, the overall approach to this set is inspired, uncompromising and fresh. They’ve changed up the order a fair bit. A lot of the staples are gone in favor of some very welcome deep cuts. Everything tied in beautifully with a big batch of songs from the new album, which Maiden always insist on including. Unlike contemporaries like Metallica, you’ll always find at least five new album numbers in the Maiden setlist.

The pacing of the set worked really well and “The Book of Souls” really stood out as the centerpiece of the show. “If Eternity Should Fail” had all the dramatic flair needed to kick off a Maiden show in style, and boy it did. The instrumental section of “The Red and the Black” floored fans all over the world and finally the new-style closing of the set with the unifying “Blood Brothers” and the upbeat “Wasted Years”, with renewed topic relevance, sent the audience home in high spirits.

We haven’t been this happy with a Maiden setlist since 2008.

Alarmingly close to Spinal Tap, but still so beautifully done that it worked brilliantly. Easily the coolest and most cohesive stage show they’ve had on this side of the reunion. All the dramatic effects with the torches, the vines, the dry ice and the dim lighting really made the show come to life in the most remarkable way.

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Bruce stands at the couldron, and the band enter the stage to kick off their show amid a very theatrical Mayan-inspired stage production.

Bruce’s open heart surgery on Eddie at the climax of the title track also added a much needed humorous touch to the whole event. Both Eddies were brilliantly executed, including the big inflatable head that somehow managed to not look like a big inflatable head.

We had a feeling of slight disappointment during the Maiden England tour. We were thrilled that they were finally doing it, cannot forgive the exclusion of “Infinite Dreams” and general low count of deep cuts, but we also sensed that the onstage enthusiasm of the 1999-2010 period had been replaced by a professional going-through-the-motions kind of vibe. Where the Early Days and Somewhere Back In Time treks oozed pride in the Maiden 1980s heritage, the Maiden England show seemed a little more … well, here we go again with the 80s, and we’re so excited that we’re gonna do a deep cut, from the 90s!

Not so this time.

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It seems that touring a new album renewed Maiden’s enthusiasm.

It’s almost as if the retro concept got tired for them. Which makes you wonder why on Earth they dragged it out for three calendar years, a first in the band’s history. It’s not like they aren’t making the same kind of money on this new album tour. And this time we’ve got a properly energized Maiden again. They’ll never be bad, of course, they’re always good. But this time the fire is truly back.

Was it the curse of Davey’s hair?

Guitarist Dave Murray ditched the shorter-and-darker-hair experiment of the Maiden England tour to get back to his dyed regular length, although there isn’t too much left on top these days. Indeed, it becomes increasingly obvious that Bruce is the only man in Maiden with honest hair.

It became all the rage when Bruce made audiences do it. Immortalized in the video for “Death or Glory”, the monkey climb is so frustratingly dumb that it ruins the song and sends us into a tailspin just writing this paragraph.

Even Steve Harris likes flying when it’s like this:

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Iron Smugness. In the decade and a half since Bruce and Steve rejoined forces in Maiden, they’ve gone from a Cessna to a 747.

It’s as if Bruce just can’t get enough. After battling cancer in the throat, the singer and pilot returned with a jumbo and his best performances in years. We almost expect him to take Maiden on a space shuttle tour next time around. Pretty sure his voice will tear through the vacuum of space like it’s no bother.

There is no sign that the band ever intended to film and release a show from the 2016 tour. This is a shame, since we’re very happy with the production and pleasantly surprised by the setlist all things considered. In addition, Bruce had some of his best ever performances on this tour, particularly some stunning renditions of the title track.

The live stream from Wacken was not at the level of some of his mid-tour vocal acrobatics, and Maiden have now gone almost 6 years without shooting a live DVD. Let’s hope this gets rectified in 2017, without any conservative changes to the setlist…

THE 2017
Maiden Revelations will be back on the road as the 2017 tour kicks off, to give you all the details on the next leg. Same set? Identical production? Or what? We’ll also continue exploring Maiden History (see the menu, top right), digging deeper into the 1990s now that the 1980s nostalgia era is over. Particularly when the DVD release of Donington Live 1992 finally arrives, which might be next year.

So what’s in store for 2017? There’s been no words yet about them changing things around. However, they usually change a song or two when they’re doing a new tour in many of the same territories as the previous run. UK, Ireland, Germany and Belgium are on the map so far, and everything points in the direction of a US summer tour.

What do you expect? Give us a shout in comments and we’ll see you somewhere on tour in 2017!




21 thoughts on “BEST & WORST: The Book Of Souls World Tour 2016

  1. Great review!!! I’m very excited about The Book of Souls World Tour to be continue in 2017. I’m a big Maiden fan from Bulgaria and sadly they not gonna come in my country again in 2017 , but I’ll hope for a DVD from this tour .
    Your site is awesome. I read it every day – great reviews , and great comments too. Keep going!
    I wish for the tour in 2017 they will be changed some songs on the setlist – No , I don’t mean they are bad , but it will be so awesome to play some other songs. The set in 2016 is amazing for me with one of my favorite song – Powerslave . But I’ll hope to change Children of the Damned with No Prayer for the Dying – a superb song with a very good solos musically.
    We all need a live DVD of this tour , so other fans from all over the world to enjoy the best band in the history . They don’t release DVD from 4 years , from 2012 En Vivo – that’s sadly.

    Merry Christams and Happy New Year , and of course, UP THE IRONS !!!

  2. Good reading, I agree with most of it. However, I don´t think there will be any US summer tour.
    Why? Steve Harris side project British Lion are booked for several summer festivals shows, including Wacken in Germany and another one in Falun, Sweden and some more. Probably there is more
    to come, check out their facebook page and official sites. There might be some more touring at the end of the year – in the fall and winter, but i doubt it. We´ll probably have to wait until to 2018 until we see them again (exept for the european leg of course).
    Btw, it´s a shame thats Adrians side project Primal Rock Rebellion never tour or do any shows. As far as I know, they have not played a single show (please correct me if i´m wrong). I think they are more interesting and better than British Lion, though they are Ok. It´s also a shame that Bruce dosent do any solo shows any more, exept from a few guest apperances here and there.

  3. There’s been talk of a US tour??? I was starting to worry they wouldn’t be bringing this tour over for a full, proper US leg. It’s going on 5 years since I last got to see em and I’d been basically praying for some word about the possibility of a US tour so this article gave me hope haha

    Knowing the internet I know someone will probably point out to me that there WAS, in fact, a US leg, but that small handful of cities was hardly a proper stateside tour leg…

  4. Sorry, folks. We’ve been away from the site for a few weeks, so it took some time for your comments to be approved.

    @James, North American tour dates are usually announced in February or March, quite a bit closer to the time than what’s normal in Europe.

    A North American summer tour is a no-brainer, in my opinion: 1) Maiden tour every summer. 2) They’re done with Europe at the end of May. 3) They did the rest of the world on the plane last year, but not a full-blown US tour.

    @Anders, the British Lion dates you mention are set from early August and onward. My money is on Maiden touring North America from early June to mid or late July. Steve has stated many times recently that he’ll be busy with Maiden in 2017, and nineteen dates in the spring is not Maiden-style busy. 😉

  5. @ Christer Bakke Andresen Thanks for the answer, maybe you´re right, we just have to wait and see.
    For me it dosent matter at all, since I´m living in Sweden. But there seems to be a demand from folks in the States for a tour so i pray for them 🙂 However, I thought Steve was talking (and mentening being “busy”) about of doing even more stuff with British Lion, other than touring also recording a new album as well as releasing a live album, which requiers some work too mixing etc. And they don´t exaktly tour “every” summer even though they often do it. For example they dident tour in the summers of 2006 and 2009, but since 2010 they have toured every summer exept 2015 (for good reasons).

    • Of course I’m right. 😉 And I didn’t say Maiden have always toured in the summer. Rod’s statement about wanting to do some touring every summer is from the Maiden England tour. Steve’s recent comments about being busy in 2017 have been precisely about being busy with Maiden but hoping to find time for a new BL album at the end of the year. Believe what you will, but there will be a tour this summer.

      • “busy with maiden and everything” is a quote from blabbermouth. Not precisly only maiden, a bit fuzzy. “They tour every summer” is a quote from You, not me. And believe me, i’m believing in anything i want regardless If i’m wrong about this issue or not 🙂

  6. About 3 Months of total maiden touring if The US tour happening is not exactly “busy” either. Its nothing compered To last years (2016) tour. With “busy” he probably means something more exept maiden and bl.

  7. Hats off, you were right about the US tour 😉 however i still think that Steve was talking about something more when he mentioned busy. Whatever.

  8. I was in resurrection fest in July 16, and the worst of their brilliant concert is that nearly the whole show was under daylight.. ..until Fear of the dark. But sunset came while the song was starting .. amazing moment..

  9. Rumors say that Iron Maiden plan a 2018 best of tour. This can perfectly match with a dvd release from Donighton 1992 performance.

    • Yeah, since there seems to be little chance of a studio project later this year, a best of set next year is the obvious thing. The 92 show should be released somewhere during that window, but I don’t think they’ll make a big deal out of it like they did with Live After Death and Maiden England.

  10. I found it weird how my least favourites from the new album, translated so well live! There’s a lot of energy there. Unfortunately, the energy dropped when one of my favourites from the album, red and black, was played. It’s too mid paced, and long. At least with seventh son or rime you have the atmospheric middle section, theres simply more parts to it but red and black just goes on and on and…’north across the sea’. Sorry I had to! Tears of a clown is at a constant level too, there’s no punch when the chorus comes in or anything. But I suppose they’re both better than something like man of sorrows would be live. If they could drop an 80’s classic for a 90’s classic, like lord of the flies or something, I’d appreciate that more I think. Anyway, the set is incredible, Bruce is on top form (I saw them at Donington last year and he held it together when everyone else messed up on eternity). It’s just a great show, even for people who may not like the music. I simply can’t wait.

  11. Hi Christer.

    This is totally unrelated to this thread. Couldn’t find a way to contact you directly. Sorry.

    Really been looking forward to reading your thoughts on Maiden’s troubled ’90’s period for ages – should be an interesting read, probably even more so than the posts on the glory years. Trouble is… I can’t find it! :(. Followed the link in the notification e-mail – nothing! Copied and pasted in multiple browsers. Nope! Searched on the main site and in the ‘Feature Friday’ section. * OOPS! THAT PAGE CAN’T BE FOUND. Am I doing something wrong or is there something glitchy going on?



    • Hey! You’ll find all such things in the Maiden History section in the main menu. The first part of my discussion of the 90s covers the making of No Prayer and the departure of Adrian.

      The next installment is currently in progress and will be published sometime this spring or early summer to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Fear Of The Dark. It’s weird if you’ve received a notification e-mail for that, as it’s just in draft and not published…

      All our history articles will from now on be collected in the Maiden History category, but you’ll have to browse around a bit to find them.

      Hope that helps!

  12. Hi Christer.
    Thanks for the quick reply. That is totally weird. Typically, I have managed to permanently delete the e-mail and am therefore unable to forward it to you. All I have left is the heading:
    [New post] FEATURE FRIDAY: Into Darkness, 1992-1993. Strange stuff indeed!


  13. Love this site. Only found it recently and been reading through it steadily. I saw them on the 2017 U.K. tour and it was masterful.

    One thing though, you mention their “contemporaries like Metallica wouldn’t play 5 songs from their new album”. Metallica do in fact play around 5 songs off the album they’re promoting and in fact played 10 of the 12 songs off their most recent album live.

    Otherwise, great stuff 🙂

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! In our defense, this piece was written in 2016 and Metallica broke their decades-long tradition on that most recent world tour for Hardwired. From the late 90s until 2016 you would often find as few as one or two new album tracks in their set, even on an album tour, but they seem to be much more confident in Hardwired. Maiden, on the other hand, have played at least 5 off every album they ever released.

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