Iron Maiden @ Bell Centre – 5th August 2019

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Iron Maiden on stage at Montreal Bell centre in 2019

Heavy metal legends, Iron Maiden returned to Montreal’s Bell Centre this week as part of their Legacy Of The Beast tour – the concept of which is inspired by the band’s mobile game and comic book of the same name – featuring their most ambitious stage production to date.

Any band with a long history of theatrical shows reaches a time when it faces a choice to either strip everything down and get back to the music or to somehow push the boat out even further. Iron Maiden’s Legacy of the Beast tour takes the latter course: it’s their most visually extravagant show ever. There are pyrotechnics, a giant noose and a vast model of Icarus. Most impressive of all is the 33 foot wide Spitfire replica, complete with a propeller and flashing lights, which “flies” over the stage until, at the song’s climax, the aircraft dives behind the wall of amps and crashes to the ground. This would be a spectacular climax to any concert but this is Iron Maiden and this is the first song!

As the name suggests, The Legacy Of The Beast tour features a carefully-curated historic setlist, featuring highlights from their 4-decade recording career and offers something of a thematic thread throughout the show. The first third of the show has a military flavour, complete with stagehands dressed in combat outfits, who remove parts of the stage dressing. The one-two of Aces High and Where Eagles Dare – a tale of daring parachute raid to rescue U.S. soldiers from a German army base in the Bavarian mountains – is followed by 2 Minutes To Midnight (nuclear war), The Clansman and The Trooper. 5 songs in a row about war.

Maiden aren’t known for greatest hits sets, but this is the closest they’ve got to that in a long time. And for five guys in their 60s, the energy level on stage is impressive. Janick Gers repeatedly swings his guitar around his head and plays it with his toe; Steve Harris constantly bounds across the stage before finding a spot for his iconic “gunner” pose. Central to it all is Bruce Dickinson, a 61-year-old cancer survivor who is leather-clad, sweat-drenched and never stops running all night. He also impresses with a dialogue completely in French that I’m told he looks forward to and will repeat when the band reaches Quebec City.

The Maiden frontman also has a penchant for dressing up and using props during their performances, but the Legacy Of The Beast show ramps up that sense of the theatrical, with several costume changes during the set. He’s dressed as a World War II fighter pilot during Aces High, dons a snow jacket and winter trapper’s hat during Where Eagles Dare and a cassock as he leads the metal congregation through Revelations. For The Sign Of The Cross, he appears in a black cloak wielding an illuminated crucifix, while Fear Of The Dark sees him resplendent in a Venetian masquerade mask and top hat.

Flight Of Icarus – a Piece Of Mind single which the band didn’t play live for decades – is one of the many highlights. Equipped with a flamethrower strapped to his back, Dickinson gives Rammstein a run for their money and shoots six-foot bursts of fire throughout the song as a gigantic, ill-fated Icarus is suspended above the stage. 

By the time they get to The Number of the Beast – for which the band play inside a mocked-up Hades – the fans are elated and open-mouthed in equal measure. They end the main set with the oldest song, their theme tune, Iron Maiden. But they still have some aces up their collective sleeve.

The encore is an invigorating triple hitter ending with a phenomenal Run To The Hills, where Bruce again proves his voice is as incredible as it was back in the 80s.

Some of this show might be a little too over-the-top and even silly for some, but in terms of live, theatrical heavy metal, it’s a classic of the genre.

Up the Irons!

Setlist

  1. Aces High
  2. Where Eagles Dare
  3. 2 Minutes to Midnight
  4. The Clansman
  5. The Trooper
  6. Revelations
  7. For the Greater Good of God
  8. The Wicker Man
  9. Sign of the Cross
  10. Flight of Icarus
  11. Fear of the Dark
  12. The Number of the Beast
  13. Iron Maiden
    Encore:
  14. The Evil That Men Do
  15. Hallowed Be Thy Name
  16. Run to the Hills

Review and photos – Steve Gerrard

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