Iron Maiden @ Birmingham NEC 12.12.06 – Issue 2

March 9, 2009 | By:

Iron Maiden @ Birmingham NEC 12.12.06

After three decades in the business you can forgive any band for a little self-indulgence on occasion, but Iron Maiden’s decision to play the whole 72 minutes of new album “A Matter Of Life & Death” in its entirety, in sequence, at the beginning of tonight’s show proves many things. It proves they have a unique relationship with their fans; trusting them to allow the band to perform the way they wish to perform rather than trotting out the Greatest Hits set. Again. It proves that after all this time, Iron Maiden are a group more confident than ever in their music and what that music represents. And after tonight’s gig, they also prove they have the showmanship, talent and musical integrity to pull the whole thing off.

The new album sees Maiden as good as they’ve ever been with epic songs that will surely stand the test of time alongside the classics we all know and love. “The Longest Day” and “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns” stand out particularly and sound even more dynamic in the live setting. Bruce Dickinson leaps about the stage like a trooper (pun intended), putting to shame men half his age. And the elaborate stage sets featuring a giant tank and 12 foot tall Eddie, combined with a stunning light show, make this a truly monstrous spectacle as we’ve come to expect from one of metal’s most successful bands.

When the old tunes eventually surface there’s a palpable sense of excitement from the arena floor. “Fear Of The Dark” is as dramatic as ever and even the calling card of “Iron Maiden” from their debut album shows no signs of losing its energetic bite.

As the encores arrive and Bruce pays tribute to “the home of heavy metal”, promising a large outdoor summer gig, presumably at Donington, they plough headlong into “2 Minutes To Midnight” and the majestic “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. Of course, with over an hour being taken up with new material, some of the Maiden favourites are unfortunately missing from the set. No “Number Of The Beast” or “Run To The Hills”. No “Bring Your Daughter..” or “The Trooper”. It’s a small price to pay however and nobody could say they didn’t get their money’s worth.

Thirty years on and Iron Maiden remain a beast to be reckoned with. Long may they reign.

Words Steve Gerrard