“I close my eyes and think of home, Another city goes by in the night…” And on Saturday night, the 30th of July, that city was Bucharest. Iron Maiden stopped in Piata Constitutiei for one of the last legs of The Book of Souls World Tour that began in February.
4 years after the Maiden England tour, the British heavy metal machine was touring in support of their 16th studio album, The Book of Souls, released in September 2015. Everybody knows what Bruce Dickinson went through last year so I have to admit I was really curious to see and hear how he would behave on stage, considering a Maiden show is no shorter than 2 hours.
I already knew the set list, having watched some videos on YouTube prior to this show, just to get into the mood, and I sensed that I have nothing to worry about, Mr Bruce was in great shape, even though his voice is not like in the past.
I arrived early at the venue, around 17.00, just to make sure that when the gates will open, I will have the chance to be in the front rows, to witness the show as never before. Who knows if we’ll ever have the chance to see this amazing band on stage again? One thing that amazed me was that I felt like attending a concert in a foreign country, I was surrounded by foreign Iron Maiden fans who came from the US, France, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Everybody was very friendly, waiting for the (long) hours to pass and the band to make its appearance on what seemed to be quite a small stage.
As an appetizer we were given a British band, The Raven Age, whose only atout was that it featured Steve Harris‘s son George on one of the guitars. The music they played was definitely not my cup of tea, but it cheered the atmosphere up and to my surprise, many people already knew some of their songs that were featured on their self-titled EP, released in 2012. A sort of modern metal, with some heavy metal touches, they really did not move me. But, for 40 minutes, they warmed up the crowd and made me even more impatient for what was to come.
At 20.30 sharp, after the traditional change over, the scene looked much more bigger than before and from the speakers UFO called for a Doctor, a moment everybody was waiting for. A short animated movie depicting a South American jungle, a monster’s hand and a big plane was shown on the monitors, pushing the excitement to the maximum. On stage, fires were lit, smoke came from a Mayan urn and suddenly, rising up from the smoke, Bruce appeared, singing the first verses from If Eternity Should Fail, the first track from The Book of Souls.
From the very beginning I realized there were some issues with the sound, something was not quite right, but I tried to ignore it and focus on what was happening on the stage before me. Everybody was jumping, singing, headbanging, having fun. People knew the lyrics and an instant communion was established between the band and the audience.
When you are Iron Maiden and you have such an impressive career behind you, I can imagine it’s fucking hard to choose the perfect set list for every show. But I was not disappointed with this one at all, since it was a very solid and inspired set list.
From the new album the lads chose 6 songs, la creme de la creme I can say: If Eternity Should Fail, the extremely catchy Speed of Light, the sad Tears of A Clown, The Red and The Black, with Steve‘s haunting bass guitar, the epic The Book of Souls, during which a huge Mayan Eddie appeared on stage and tried to hack the band members with an axe until Bruce ripped his bloody heart out and threw it in the audience and the 100% Maiden track Death or Glory, where Bruce danced around like a monkey and threw bananas in the audience.
Another album that was honored for what it is was The Number of the Beast, with 3 songs selected for this tour: the fabulous Children of the Damned, (a song I would have never thought I’d see live), Hallowed Be Thy Name and, of course, the title track, that featured a huge, inflatable satanic Bathory-like goat figure.
The links with the past were tighten with The Trooper, Powerslave, Iron Maiden and Wasted Years. Of course one song cannot miss from the band’s almost “recent” catalogue and I mean Fear of the Dark, a classic song that has become a live favorite of both the band and the audience.
A major surprise when seeing the set list was the selection of Blood Brothers from Brave New World, a brilliant album which marked two things: the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith and what Maiden has become to this day: the most powerful heavy metal sextet on this Earth.
Introducing Blood Brothers, Bruce spoke about the friendship, the brotherhood that exists between the worldwide fans that love the same music, life, beer and take care of each other… Beautiful intro and beautiful song that literally made me cry. Yes, I’m not ashamed to say it, I love this song and during Janick‘s solo, I felt shivers all through my body and heart.
This is why I love Iron Maiden and their music. It puts me through all kind of strange feelings, from joy and laughter to sadness, melancholy and amazement.
How these Legacy guys still manage to do it like they’ve done it 30 years ago is for me extremely motivating. And above all, it gives me hope. Not for a better world, but for better music.
I know that at some point, they will have to stop. But I won’t be sad, I will be happy I saw them live and happy that their music reached me so deep inside my heart.
As a closure, the guys returned to 1985, when they were touring extensively (wait, they are also doing it now, haha) and each night spent in a bus seemed like a torment. Wasted Years, that Adrian Smith song, closed a beautiful night that I will remember for ever. As I said, the sound could have been way better, but in the end what matters is that I had the chance, together with the other 18.000 persons, to see THE best heavy metal band live in my hometown, doing what they know best: playing high quality music.
“Face up, make this stand
And realize you’re living in the golden years”
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
On August the 4th, Arte will stream live from Wacken the full show that Iron Maiden will play, as the last one of the tour. The broadcast will start at 21.30 CET.
for more details, check this out: