Concert Review – Iron Maiden (FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton, ON, 10/12/2022)

A “Hamilton virgin”? No problem, Bruce. We know how to take good care of you.

INTRO: First to the Barrier, here we go again… or maybe not!

Due to work-related duties, I was unable to join my fellow brothers and sisters from the Iron Maiden Fan Club for the First to the Barrier yesterday at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a very good time enjoying my second night in a row of pure awesomeness with the Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022. As a matter of fact, the venue was so small and cozy that even if you arrived five minutes before Iron Maiden started their concert, you would still be able to grab a very good spot and witness everything happening on stage, and I still had time to be on the flag photo of the night with my fellow members of the IMFC, meeting a few new faces, and so on. This Saturday I’ll be in Ottawa and will certainly do the FTTB, but for now let’s focus on another amazing night of metal music in Hamilton.

OPENING ACT: Within Temptation

I was so late to the concert last night that I missed pretty much the entire concert by WITHIN TEMPTATION, plus the fact that I spent the first 20 minutes at the venue checking the merch and grabbing a beer. However, everything I said about the band’s performance from the Toronto show is also valid for Hamilton, with Sharon den Adel leading her henchmen throughout their solid setlist and, therefore, properly warming up the fans at the venue for another flawless performance by the one and only Iron Maiden. I saw a few people complaining about Within Temptation, saying they’re boring and shouldn’t be opening for Iron Maiden during this part of the Legacy of the Beast World Tour, but that’s most probably because Symphonic Metal is not as appreciated in the US and Canada as it is in Europe, for example, and when the type of music being played is not your cup of tea not even the best band in the genre can entertain you, don’t you agree? Anyway, there are still two more dates for me to see Within Temptation on stage this tour, so I’ll try to make the most out of it and support those Dutch metallers as much as I can.

Setlist
The Reckoning
Paradise (What About Us?)
Faster
In the Middle of the Night
Stand My Ground
Supernova
Don’t Pray for Me
Raise Your Banner
Mother Earth

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Stefan Helleblad – guitars
Jeroen van Veen – bass
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Mike Coolen – drums

IRON MAIDEN

By now you might know already that if there’s one thing that IRON MAIDEN love to do, that is starting their concerts precisely at 8:50pm, and it couldn’t have been any different in Hamilton, of course. As I was a little further back than the barrier I was able to see the full stage last night, paying attention to each detail (while obviously screaming all songs together with the band), and what really caught my attention this time is the “massive” break between the three songs from Senjutsu and the Legacy of the Beast ones. Also, not sure if anyone has noticed it yet, apart from those two very distinct acts we can also notice in the Legacy of the Beast one how the band begins in a slower, darker and more melodic mode and starts speeding up with each upcoming song, culminating with the breathtaking Aces High. Those guys always think of every detail, providing their fans with a unique experience even when the setlist is absolutely the same during an entire tour.

Bruce was having a lot of fun playing with the band in Hamilton for the first time ever, calling himself a “Hamilton virgin” while also explaining he has already been in the city for his “An Evening with Bruce Dickinson” spoken tour, and complementing by saying the rest of the band had already played in Hamilton but in 1998 (with Blaze Bayley on vocals during the Virtual XI tour). Also, during Blood Brothers as usual Bruce began pointing out different flags from all over the world, focusing on two fans from Puerto Rico and Bangladesh which were let’s say a surprise to him, as in his opinion those places are too far from Canada. Well, maybe he hasn’t realized yet that Canada, in special the province of Ontario, is beyond multicultural, with people from pretty much every country in the world living here. I’m pretty sure those two guys didn’t travel all the way from Bangladesh and Puerto Rico to the show, but letting Bruce think about that was all the fun, right?

Musically speaking, the band was tight and electrifying as usual, with Adrian and Dave kicking some serious ass with their beautiful solos while Steve was in his natural beast mode running around the stage and jumping up and down nonstop. Depending on the night, and of course on the fans, some songs get more incendiary than others, and last night that was the case with Sign of the Cross, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Trooper, The Clansman and Run to the Hills, proving that although their concerts on the same tour might look the exact same things, they’re never the same. Add to that the fact the venue was smaller than the Scotiabank Arena (and it was fun seeing Bruce checking if the fans at the highest seated sections were alive by asking them to move their arms and scream), and there we had a very intimate and flammable night with Eddie and the boys. Moreover, I still had some time after all was said and done to chat with a couple of buddies from the IMFC, who will obviously be in Ottawa this Saturday. Or do you think that one or two Iron Maiden concerts in one tour is enough?

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor
Senjutsu
Stratego
The Writing on the Wall
Revelations
Blood Brothers
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Trooper
The Clansman
Run to the Hills

Encore 2:
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, 10/11/2022)

Finally, after over three long years, the city of Toronto was able to scream for the one and only Iron Maiden again in a perfect night of beautiful Heavy Metal.

INTRO: Scream for me, IMFC!

Before I start talking about the concert itself last night, I must say it’s awesome to be part of a family like the Iron Maiden Fan Club, also known as IMFC. As Bruce likes to say, we’re all blood brothers, and on Monday night at The Loose Moose it was really fun meeting some of the IMFC members that were going to the concert the next day in Toronto, enjoy a few pints together, talk about the current tour and the upcoming The Future Past Tour 2023, and so on. I know it’s not easy to invest some good money into the IMFC these days due to everything that’s going on with the world, but if you’re lucky enough to have some spare budget it’s definitely worth it. I can’t wait to meet some of my IMFC buddies tonight in Hamilton, because as I said, there’s nothing like the Iron Maiden family, right?

OPENING ACT: Within Temptation

One of the most fun perks of the IMFC is undoubtedly the First to the Barrier, or the FTTB, and this year I must say I was extremely lucky getting the FTTB for all three Ontario dates, those being Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, and of course I was more than excited for it in Toronto because if you’re familiar with the Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022 setlist, you know you’re in for a treat, getting to a very decent spot on the right side of the barrier. And Maidenmaniacs from all over the world started packing the Scotiabank Arena up early, allowing Netherlands-based Symphonic Metal/Alternative Rock act WITHIN TEMPTATION to play to an already big crowd, and we could see on the faces of all band members how happy they were because of that.

Promoting their latest EP Don’t Pray for Me, the band spearheaded by the charming vocalist Sharon den Adel played a short and sweet setlist including one of my favorite songs from their career, the exciting Paradise (What About Us?), and after each and every song the reaction from the fans at the venue was really heartwarming to the band. Right before playing the song Raise Your Banner, Sharon dedicated the song to Ukraine, raising an Ukrainian flag and waving it during the entire song, another moment that generated several claps and screams from the fans acknowledging not only how good the band is, but also that they’re on the right side of this stupid war. And after all was said and done, the band said farewell to their Torontonian fans, promising to be back soon to the city with more of their classy music.

Setlist
The Reckoning
Paradise (What About Us?)
Faster
In the Middle of the Night
Stand My Ground
Supernova
Don’t Pray for Me
Raise Your Banner
Mother Earth

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Stefan Helleblad – guitars
Jeroen van Veen – bass
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Mike Coolen – drums

IRON MAIDEN

Precisely at 8:50pm, the speakers began playing UFO’s classic Doctor Doctor as a “warning” to anyone who wasn’t on their seats or still outside buying beer or merch that the party was about to start. Actually, there was an even earlier warning when they played a video of the Legacy of the Beast game with Transylvania as the soundtrack on the big screens a few minutes before that, but you know, there’s always time to grab another beer before the show. And what a show! The unstoppable British Heavy Metal machine IRON MAIDEN was on absolute fire from the very first second, captivating their crazy fans with the three songs from Senjutsu they’re playing on this tour, those being the title-track Senjutsu, Stratego and my favorite of all three live, The Writing on the Wall, with Bruce inspiring everyone at the venue to sing it along with him, before kicking us hard in the head with an avalanche of classics, including of course Revelations, Flight of Icarus and Hallowed Be Thy Name, making up for the long wait of over three years for the band to return to Toronto.

It feels like every single time the band comes to Canada they love to point out how diverse the audience is, with people from all over the world like Brazil, Mexico and Peru, as mentioned by Bruce before playing the beautiful Blood Brothers, visiting the city for another night of Iron Maiden magic. The entire band was flawless and I heard several old school fans saying that was one of the best Iron Maiden concerts they’ve seen in the past few decades, and based on the crowd’s reaction to Sign of the Cross, The Trooper, The Clansman and Run to the Hills, I have to admit that was indeed a night to remember. Furthermore, what can I say about the performance by Mr. Janick Gers? The man was out of control (in a good way, of course), feeling like he was not just playing the guitar but also giving us an aerobics lesson, playing and throwing his axe around in all possible and imaginable ways.

I must confess that when I first saw they were closing the concert with Aces High I was a little worried if Bruce was going to be able to sing it after such intense performance, but of course to the surprise of zero people he nailed it as usual, ending the night in such an electrifying note it was hard to believe the concert was over when the speakers started playing Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. One funny thing Bruce mentioned during the show was the fact that he was very, very happy to be playing indoors and not at the Budweiser Stage (as per their latest concerts in Toronto), which I don’t fully agree because the Budweiser Stage is a lot cooler than the Scotiabank Arena. Well, to be honest, I don’t really care where they play as long as they keep coming back to Toronto, and please excuse me for such short and not-very-detailed review as I’m heading now to the FTTB in Hamilton. Oh yeah, the show must go on. UP THE IRONS!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor
Senjutsu
Stratego
The Writing on the Wall
Revelations
Blood Brothers
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Trooper
The Clansman
Run to the Hills

Encore 2:
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/10/2019)

Who’s ready for another night of Iron Maiden and their ass-kicking Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019 in Toronto?

INTRODUCTION: “No FTTB nor The Raven Age for you”

As I wasn’t selected for the First To The Barrier experience by the Iron Maiden Fan Club for the second night of the one and only Iron Maiden in Toronto at the always pleasant Budweiser Stage, and as a few friends invited me to a BBQ with lots of beer and metal music before the concert, let’s say that I “had to” miss the opening act THE RAVEN AGE, which in the end was more than good for me because watching their concert in full from the first row on Friday wasn’t what we can call a very entertaining experience. If you were there on the second day and saw The Raven Age, I’m pretty sure it was the exact same thing as the previous night, with the same band’s lineup, the same setlist, and the same confusing sonority. However, if you missed The Raven Age both days you can take a look at how their concert was by clicking HERE.

IRON MAIDEN

Just like what happened on Friday, 15 thousand fans from the most diverse countries such as Australia, Peru, India, Brazil, El Salvador, Germany, Colombia, Sweden and so on (including WWE badass superstar and a true metalhead Erick Rowan, whose real name is Joseph Ruud) were gathered together at the Budweiser Stage at around 9pm to enjoy another round of classics by the one and only IRON MAIDEN, once again as part of their Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019. Their setlist was the absolute same as Friday, of course, but because I wasn’t so close to the stage let’s say I was able to move more, to jump up and down a lot more, and to have a much more complete view of the stage, including Janick Gers who I must confess I couldn’t see much on the previous night. I was really tired from the previous day and I thought I was going to take it easy on Saturday, but you know what? As soon as Doctor Doctor started playing on the speakers, it was pure madness one more time.

As I mentioned, this time I could enjoy their full stage without having to force my neck up, right or left too much, and my neck is very thankful for that. The whole band was on fire as usual, with Dave and Adrian delivering their traditional crisp and crystal clear riffs and solos while Steve was the beast incarnate on stage. How can he do that? He doesn’t stop smashing his bass chords, singing, running around the stage and jumping up and down not even for a single second, and he’s already 63 years old! It’s absolutely impressive, reminding me why I admire and respect his work and passion for Iron Maiden so much. It’s always a pleasure to watch him play The Trooper, “galloping” his bass as if he was riding a horse into the battlefield, and his endless energy while screaming the famous “Oooh! Ooo-oooo-oooh!” together with the crowd during Fear of the Dark. After another superb and impeccable performance by Bruce, Steve & Co. was over (and this time Bruce’s flame thrower worked during Flight of Icarus), I started thinking how boring the world of music will be without Iron Maiden when they call it quits, but that’s something we don’t need to worry about at least for the next few years, as Bruce himself promised they’ll return to Toronto, most probably after the release of their upcoming studio album. I wish I could attend more concerts from their current tour, but for obvious reasons like time and money, for now I’ll have to  content with two nights in Toronto I’ll never forget. UP THE IRONS!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Clansman
The Trooper
Revelations
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
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/09/2019)

How about witnessing the almighty Iron Maiden and their Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019 from the best spot of the Budweiser Stage in Toronto on a perfect summer day?

INTRODUCTION: First To The Barrier

Thousands of fans from all over the world, a perfect sunny day, a lot of (overpriced) beer, and another memorable performance by the unparalleled Iron Maiden at the Budweiser Stage to shake the foundations of our beloved city of Toronto. That would have already been a damn good summary of the night if I hadn’t been one of the 40 lucky bastards (plus one guest each) from the Iron Maiden Fan Club who were chosen to get into the venue before the rest of the crowd and bag the best spot at the barrier, which is obviously right at the front. That’s what’s called the FIRST TO THE BARRIER (or FTTB if you’re a fan of acronyms) experience, a fun but quite exhausting adventure as you have to be there at the venue several hours before the concert starts, most of the time without food or anything to drink, and if you move or try to go to the washroom you simply lose your spot and all that effort will be in vain.

Fortunately, I can say I’m good at standing for hours waiting for a concert to start without eating or drinking anything, and all I can say is that the whole experience was more than amazing. What an unforgettable night in another celebration of classic Heavy Metal, where all fans had the chance to not only sing and scream lots of classic together with the band, but a night where we were also able to make new friends, uniting our metal universe even more. Even if you’re not part of the Iron Maiden Fan Club, you can try to be someone’s guest by asking people on Facebook’s FTTB Public Group if they have a spare available when the band takes your city by storm. That’s totally worth it, and that’s how I met a very nice Maidenmaniac who drove hours from Montreal wearing his Aces High pilot hat to join me a couple of feet from the stage from around 5pm until the end of the show.

OPENING ACT: THE RAVEN AGE

Let’s say the only part of the day that wasn’t exactly fun was having to endure British Melodic Groove Metal act THE RAVEN AGE’s performance in full from the first row without having the option to simply ignore them and go grab a beer. Formed in 2009, this London, England-based band has just released a new album named Conspiracy, featuring new vocalist Matt James, who joined the band in 2018. I’m not going to say it was a bad concert, but I think due to the fact those boys are still trying to find their core essence, playing a confused mix of Power, Thrash, Death and Heavy Metal with Hard Rock and even Southern Rock, it was tough to follow them and to actually enjoy their concert. There were a few good moments, though, like the opening song Betrayal of the Mind and the closing tune Angel in Disgrace, especially the last one as it was the heaviest and most detailed of their setlist, but overall it wasn’t the warmup I was expecting for the main attraction of the night. And believe me, standing there for almost one hour listening to something you don’t really enjoy was not what we can call a nice experience. On a side note, both guitarists Dan Wright and George Harris (and yes, he is Steve Harris’ son) are quite talented and have a great future in heavy music. Just maybe not with The Raven Age, unless they stop trying to sound like a generic version of Trivium or Avenged Sevenfold and find their own sound in the future.

Setlist
Bloom of the Poison Seed
Betrayal of the Mind
Promised Land
Surrogate
The Day the World Stood Still
The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships
Fleur De Lis
Grave of the Fireflies
Seventh Heaven
Angel in Disgrace

Band members
Matt James – vocals
Dan Wright – guitar
George Harris – guitar
Matt Cox – bass
Jai Patel – drums

IRON MAIDEN

Finally after a short break, when it was around 9pm, the almighty IRON MAIDEN hit the stage to stun us all with their flawless Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019, obviously inspired by their successful mobile game Legacy of the Beast (don’t forget you can also follow the game’s official Facebook page for news, updates and other shenanigans). As a matter of fact, the short and sweet video showing scenes from the game and several of its versions of our beloved Eddie (most of them already available as Legacy of the Beast Figurines), while the classic instrumental tune Transylvania was playing in the background, was more than enough to warm up our senses for the metallic hurricane that was about to start, but we all needed of course to sing in unison UFO’s all-time classic Doctor Doctor and scream the spoken words from Churchill’s Speech to properly invite Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko McBrain to crush our minds with my favorite Iron Maiden song of all time, the one and only Aces High, while a giant airplane was “flying” above their heads.

That beyond epic start was followed by an avalanche of the band’s old and not-so-old classics, with Where Eagles Dare, The Clansman, The Wicker Man and Flight of Icarus being the highlights of the night for me. By the way, Bruce’s speech before The Clansman was quite fun, where he “complained” about the fact an Australian (Mel Gibson) portrayed one of the most important Scotsmen of all time, Mr. William Wallace. The song was played to perfection, of course, with all 15 thousand fans at the Budweiser Stage screaming “FREEDOM!” together with Bruce & Co. at the top of their lungs (including of course this guy here that’s writing this review). Another memorable and extremely funny moment was when Bruce’s flame thrower just stopped working in the middle of Flight of Icarus, and after blowing raspberries (yes, he did that), why not showing everything he got by beautifully and powerfully screaming “FLY AS HIGH AS THE SUN” to end the song in great fashion? We might not have had Bruce’s flames in our faces, but we got something even better than that, his unique, trademark high-pitched scream piercing our ears and minds.

It was also amazing to witness all fans singing together with the band even the longest and most obscure songs (or maybe not as classic as the others) of their setlist, those being For the Greater Good of God and Sign of the Cross, proving once again not only Iron Maiden’s newest creations are still meaningful and appreciated, but also that it doesn’t really matter how long their songs are, they are never ever tiresome or boring. And what to say about the poetry found in the lyrics for the gorgeous Revelations? I’ll never get tired of witnessing Bruce declaiming those dark and touching lyrics live, no doubt about that. Well, after almost two hours of perfection, with an encore that brought to our avid ears the insanely awesome The Evil That Men Do, Hallowed Be Thy Name and Run to the Hills (needless to say, all three perfectly executed), it was time to enjoy Monty Python’s inspiring hymn Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and get ready to see the boys in action once again on Saturday. Because you know, one Iron Maiden concert is never enough.

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
Churchill’s Speech

Aces High
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Clansman
The Trooper
Revelations
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
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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