Photos & Review by Brady Cooling
September 25th was the latest chapter in the Legacy of the Beast World Tour. Iron Maiden wrote yet another show in their more than four decade long career in Chula Vista, CA at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheater. Maiden celebrated this year with their first major tour in three years with their newest album, Senjutsu. Not shockingly this is the band’s 17th studio album, and the latest installment of the lineup featuring Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, Janick Gers, and Nicko McBrain.
With a near full capacity crowd of Maiden fans of all ages, this was going to be a killer show. The band played an almost two hour show with material ranging from their incarnation to the present day; truly fitting their “legacy” and this cleverly titled Legacy of the Beast tour. As well as the music itself, the band’s stage production was as top notch as ever. With insanely elaborate set design pieces, and backdrops that were changed after each song to correspond with a particular album and era of the music. The changes in backdrop and decor were matched by Bruce’s costumes that also corresponded with a particular album and song played.
The first three songs of the set were from Senjutsu and the aura was met with a temple decorated with Japanese minka set pieces with a chapel illuminated with stained glass windows. “Senjutsu” and “Stratego” both really picked up the pace from an early start with a life-sized Eddie appearing not only in the stained glass windows, but also in form onstage wielding a sword fighting battle with the band.
Part of the beauty of their setlist is how much it truly showcases their versatility as a band over the decades, and how they could play simply the hits and everyone would leave content; but they can mix in newer material as well with the older numbers, and everyone is equally as content. “Revelations” off their 1983 album Piece of Mind followed by the newer “Blood Brothers” off of Brave New World. Bruce commended to the crowd that “when you’re at an Iron Maiden concert, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. WE are all Blood Brothers” to kick it into the song of the same name. What was very awesome to see was how many flags of dedicated fans that there were from all over. Costa Rica, England, Mexico, Germany, Poland, Canada and so many others.
“Sign of the Cross” featured Bruce belting out his vocals from a lit-up cross microphone behind the drum riser atop the band and audience. A nice slow intro with bellowing church bells to really set the scene as the backdrop changed once again. This was a nice change of pace for their setlist alike. “Flight of the Icarus” which has always been one of my favorite songs of Maiden’s stepped the pyro up a notch with Bruce holding a flamethrower sparking fire into the air. Truly showcasing their ultra showman ship aspect in all forms.
An upbeat transition occurred during “Fear of the Dark”, with Bruce wearing a plague-esque mask and a lantern while waltzing across the upper platform of the stage. A fan favorite in “Hallowed Be Thy Name” was a standout with all of the guitarists jamming together and Nicko really showing off his famous tom fills and single bass drum to mimic and match the tempo. It showed Bruce in a cage with a noose as the lyrics played into the theatre atmosphere.
One of the songs everyone had been waiting for, “Number of the Beast” a song that has played in my head and car extremely loudly; amongst everyone in the audience had arrived. A satanic and dark figures of hell and all things unholy were the backdrop change as pyro sparked into the sky on beat. The guitar solo for this track soared into space as Steve Harris provided the machine gun bass underneath as well.
A quick call-and-response from the self titled track, “Iron Maiden” with the mascot Eddie floating on the LED walls in 3D ended the main setlist as the song stated that “Iron Maiden is gonna get all of you.”
Some raucous cheers and applause brought the back right back for their first encore. Maiden immediately came out firing to the metal anthem “The Trooper” with Bruce clad in English military attire from the Crimean War with the iconic Union Jack outfit. Halfway through the song came to be an American flag as well; truly fitting the band’s historical roots and how so many of their songs are about historic events. Another duel between a life-sized Eddie and the rest of the band from the guitars as axes, ending the war with a fire bullet shot at him with the American flag.
“The Clansman” was the second track from the Blaze Bayley era as a nice tip of the hat to the man who took over during Bruce’s time away from the band. The intro for “Run to the Hills” set the crowd cheering and singing back every word back. The blistering bass line and guitar rifts are something of pure magic. The final curtain came for a second encore as a plane flew in for “Aces High” with Bruce dressed as a pilot soaring across the stage. His screaming lyrics ended the amazing night. As he did ask where the fuck Chula Vista, CA was once again; to which he said “is somewhere north of Mexico, and south of Alaska.” He is certainly not wrong there..
An Iron Maiden concert is something of a religious experience, and something I have been picturing my whole life. It really brought me back to the first time I ever heard their music, and tales my dad told me of him seeing them back in the 80’s. Somethings change some don’t, but one thing holds true, and it is Iron Maiden forever!