“Some of you — hopefully not too many — might be glad to hear that we’re not playing any new songs tonight,” Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson told the audience Friday night (July 26) at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. That was true: the band’s current “Legacy of the Beast” tour is meant to be a look back. Their last tour was for 2015’s The Book Of Souls, and that setlist heavily leaned on new material.
Not having a new album to support gave more room for more of their most popular songs, and some pretty deep cuts. “Aces High,” “2 Minutes To Midnight,” “The Trooper,” “The Wicker Man,” “Flight Of Icarus,” “Fear Of The Dark,” “The Number Of The Beast,” “Hallowed By Thy Name” and “Run To The Hills” were all there, as were “Where Eagles Dare” and “Revelations.” On the other hand, there was also the lesser-known song, “For The Greater Good Of God,” from 2006’s A Matter Of Life And Death.
They even dove into the band’s ’90s era when Blaze Bayley replaced Dickinson, with “The Clansman” (Dickinson joked with the audience that they should be sure to spell the song’s title properly) and “Sign Of The Cross.”
The latter two songs were interesting and surprising choices; the Bayley era was not especially popular with Maiden fans (and saw the band playing much smaller venues in the U.S.). Yet neither performance was just a perfunctory nod to that point in the band’s history: each song clocks in at about ten minutes. And to his credit, Dickinson seemed as invested in those songs as he was in his own material. (As always, “Iron Maiden,” the one song that they did from the era featuring original singer, Paul Di’Anno, was one of the highlights of the show). By contrast, when Rob Halford reunited with Judas Priest, he didn’t sing any of the songs from the albums by his replacement, Tim “Ripper” Owens, and when Ozzy Osbourne rejoined Black Sabbath, the band’s setlists skipped over the Ronnie James Dio era.
Iron Maiden – Dickinson, bassist Steve Harris, guitarists Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Jannick Gers and drummer Nicko McBrain – remain one of the tightest and most ferocious units in metal or any subgenre of rock. Had they just showed up and played these songs on a sparse stage, the audience would have been thrilled. Of course, Iron Maiden is a visual band. They could have taken the easy way out, though, and filled their stage with LED screens to create their visuals. Instead, they had actual props, most notably a lifesize airplane replica hovering over the stage for the opening number, “Aces High.” Dickinson – who changed outfits frequently – wore old school aviator goggles for the opening of the show.
As for Dickinson’s quote about “no new songs,” some fans may have been bummed about it; Book Of Souls was a great album, yielding a number of Maiden classics (the title track, “If Eternity Should Fail,” “The Red And The Black,” “Empire Of The Clouds”), and surely the fans would have been happy to hear one or two of those. Conversely, more songs from the Di’Anno era surely would have been welcomed. But that’s the rub with a band like Maiden, there are just too many great songs to play in one night. But Dickinson mentioned that there “might” be more new Iron Maiden songs in the future. After all, it’s not like Maiden to rest on their history for too long.
The opening act, The Raven Age, is a British quintet (sound familiar?) who is clearly influenced by Maiden and other classic metal bands but also have a more modern metalcore sound. Some of their songs even sounded radio-friendly, but they have surely paid attention to the headliner’s nearly hit-free career path. Hopefully, they’ll be around in the decades to come, playing classic metal to packed houses.
Iron Maiden setlist:
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
For the Greater Good of God
The Wicker Man
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills