There is an excitement in the air, it’s unavoidable, contagious and seems to be seeping through the veins of every fan standing on a curb or corner outside Twickenham Stadium. It’s there because Britain’s biggest and greatest heavy metal band has finally come home after a 2-year long absence.
As you walk into the stadium, it’s now that you realise you are part of history and tonight is going to be one of the best of your life.
Lauren Harris (daughter of Maiden guitarist and founder Steve Harris) is the first of the support acts on stage. When you’re playing to a 50,000+ crowd, this is a tough slot to fill. Lauren and band managed to put on a sturdy performance, although at times, seemed to lack the stage presence that would be discovered with a little more experience. Lauren was promoting her album, ‘Calm Before The Storm’, released in June, with powerful vocals and heavy guitars it looks set to do well.
The second band on, Within Temptation have been around for a while, forming in 1996. Because of this, they know how to work the crowd and use the size of the stage to their advantage. They play crowd-pleasing songs, ‘What Have You Done’ and ‘The Howling’, from their latest album, ‘The Heart of Everything’. All the songs were complemented by front woman’s Sharon Den Adel’s ever operatic vocals, the band played greatly, supported by the fans.
The third and final support act, the mighty Avenged Sevenfold seem to have been influenced by the crowd’s excitement as they kick into gear and use the whole stage to prove just how passionate about music they are. They entice the crowd with songs, ‘Almost Easy’ and ‘Afterlife’; this causes a mosh – fest. ‘A7X’ have come a long way in the 9 years since they formed and it’s very likely that in the future they could be headlining stadium’s like Twickenham themselves, with incredibly powerful vocals, intense drumming and heavy intertwining guitars. It’s unfortunate that the band had to cut their set – list a song short due to frontman M Shadows spotting somebody in the crowd who needed medical attention. The band received a massive reception as they exited the stage. But even as Avenged Sevenfold themselves said, tonight is about Iron Maiden.
The fans now start up chants of, ‘Maiden! Maiden!’ and the atmosphere and volume turns up. A few minutes later, the lights go down and a wave of throaty roars bounce around the stadium. Iron Maiden burst onto stage with ‘Ace’s High’, like the veterans of performance they are and all hell breaks loose! It’s now you begin to notice the amazing stage scenery with an Egyptian theme and different backdrops for each song. This adds to the already extraordinary atmosphere and Maiden continue to play favourites such as, ‘The Trooper’ and ‘Run To The Hills’ – which has every person in the stadium singing along to the some of the most legendary choruses of all time.
The eerie feel of ‘Fear of the Dark’ is mind-blowing as front man Bruce Dickinson runs around the stage with ease, more like a 20 year old rather than a 50 year old as he shows the younger bands of today exactly how its done. A stunning rendition of ‘Wasted Years’ throws both band and crowd into chaos with flawless vocals – showing that Bruce Dickinson’s astounding vocal range is still very much in tact. This combined with the great musimanship shown by Adrian Smith and co creates a union of incredible music which the fans were loving every minute of.
If there’s one thing you can take from an Iron Maiden show, it’s that it is that, a show. It’s an unorthodox performance in every way possible. Theatrical, exciting, unpredictable and most importantly, the performance shows the band still has it. Tonight’s extraordinary range of fans aged from 8 – 70 proves this theory. Dickinson says himself with chipper humour that a lot of the fans up front were nowhere near being born when Iron Maiden was. This shows the appeal the band still has after 30 years on top and judged on tonight’s performance – will have for a very, very long time to come.
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- Amy Parker