LIVE: IRON MAIDEN with The Raven Age – Perth, 14 May, 2016
Perth Arena, Western Australia – Saturday, 14 May, 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Stuart McKay
From the moment Iron Maiden took to the Perth Arena stage on Saturday night, they owned it, and had the thousands in attendance in the palm of their hands for two hours of heavy metal, 1980’s-style.
Opening the show was The Raven Age, featuring Maiden bassist & founder Steve Harris’s son George on guitar. Whilst allegations of nepotism are far from unfair for these relatively untested London lads scoring the coveted support slot, they delivered a thoroughly enjoyable set of energetic and catchy modern metal that far exceeded expectations.
The crowd continued to swell as the support band’s set won new fans, but it nearly doubled again in time for the headliners. Iron Maiden have been easily the biggest metal band in the world (Metallica who?) on and off since their first single with singer Bruce Dickinson, Run To The Hills, appeared on Countdown in Australia in March 1982. That song didn’t appear tonight unfortunately, but with sixteen studio albums to draw from, the set list didn’t disappoint any true fan.
The six band members may have dressed like average fifty-something blokes down the pub on a Friday night, but the set was incredibly decked out in a theme that riffed on latest album Book Of Souls’ Mayan culture theme.
With six tracks from the new album, the tour was designed to appeal to dedicated fans – fans who have got the impressive latest record. And appeal it did: tracks If Eternity Should Fail, The Book Of Souls, and especially their tribute to the late actor Robin Williams, Tears Of A Clown and an immense The Red and the Black really came into their own live, the band’s three lead guitarists weaving an exquisite spell.
Dickinson – not just the band’s singer, famous for his exhortations “scream for me,” but also the pilot of their hired jet traversing the globe – injects not only stunning vocals (impossibly good for a man of his age who has just won a battle with throat cancer), but a strong element of prog rock drama to proceedings, donning a robe for the opening track, a uniform and tattered British flag for Crimean War epic The Trooper, and a Pharoah’s mask for the Egyptian-themed Powerslave.
The image of Harris, one foot perched on a monitor, hair flailing and all four fingers dancing away at his bass strings, is as iconic as any in metal. As is Maiden’s larger-than-life mascot Eddie making a panto appearance, as he does in Book Of Souls, looking every bit the Mayan ghoul, and playfighting with ever-energetic guitarist Janick Gers, until Dickinson playfully extracts the stilted monster’s heart.
The classics, though, are what fills the room: an early Children Of The Damned proves that it’s not just their singles that are beloved. Hallowed Be Thy Name – also from 1982’s Number Of The Beast, enormous crowd-pleaser Fear Of The Dark, and the eponymous Iron Maiden – the only track from the two albums prior to Dickinson joining the band – which is punkishly muscular, and features an inflatable Eddie head and shoulders behind the band before spewing pyro.
The encore came straight from the heart of the band: The Number Of The Beast – complete with a huge Horned Beast looming ominously over the stage, an epic Blood Brothers following a heartfelt introduction by Dickinson, and a much-loved Wasted Years bringing the show to a halt before the band ready themselves to jet off to South Africa for the next leg of the tour.
Set List: Iron Maiden
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Tears of a Clown
The Red and the Black
Death or Glory
The Book of Souls
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
Set List: The Raven Age
The Death March
Eye Among the Blind
The Merciful One
Angel in Disgrace
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE