It’s somewhat funny to see how Iron Maiden brings out the best – and worst – in metalheads. The best is how nearly half of the over 10,000 fans crammed into the Saddledome were adorned in Maiden T-shirts – kvlt’r than thou be damned – and were beyond excited their British heroes were once again in Calgary (three times in four years, hell yeah!). The worst? More on that later.
Prog punk/metal quartet Coheed and Cambria started the evening. The band is in a similar vein as Rush, minus the dazzling instrumental capabilities and cerebral sci-fi concepts. For most of their 45-minute set, vocalist and guitarist Claudio Sanchez’s wave of frizzy hair (à la Buzz Osborne) obscured his face, but his nasally, powerful voice resonated, despite a crowd who lacked appreciation until they performed a stirring cover of “Heaven and Hell.” From then on, horns were up and screams of appreciation were out.
After a brief intermission, “Doctor Doctor” blared through the loudspeakers indicating that the chaos would begin, and the line of photographers in the pit craned their necks and avoided the oncoming pyrotechnic blasts. First up was “Moonchild”; vocalist Bruce Dickinson climbed aboard the elaborate stage, adorned with an icy montage of Eddies, and Maiden’s triple guitar threat whizzed on stage. ’80s classic after ‘80s classic were performed and the floor crowd was absolutely drenched in sweat and itching to fight. Fight they did: several were pulled apart, including a particularly vicious fight where the loser limped away, bleeding from multiple lacerations on his face.
As Dickinson continuously came back adorned in a different outfit, the sextet ploughed through the expected hits (“Can I Play With Madness,” “The Trooper,” “Number of the Beast,” “Run to the Hills,” “Fear of the Dark”) and a plethora of rare treats. As fireworks and explosions pushed heat in waves towards the screaming crowd who knew every word, curtains and elaborate props – including three separate, robotic Eddies – continuously moved and changed. An organist decked in a Phantom of the Opera mask rounded out that track and it was a treat to hear somewhat lesser-known cuts, such as “Afraid to Shoot Strangers” and “The Clairvoyant.”
As always, bassist Steve Harris led the throng, though every member was in top form. At times, both Dickinson and drummer Nicko McBrain seemed to be diverting from the time signatures, though fatigue and the suffocating heat could be to blame. Regardless, the band was as stirring and jaw dropping as always and, after a fantastic encore, the crowd poured out into the streets, chanting “MAIDEN MAIDEN MAIDEN.” Scream for me Calgary, indeed!
By Sarah Kitteringham
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