September 27, 2022
Photos by Raymond Ahner
Returning to the Bay Area for the first time since September of 2019, the nothing short of legendary Iron Maiden returned to these parts for a nearly sold out, two hour show that saw multiple set changes, plentyof pyro, and a career spanning set list. For most bands that may seem like a big deal, but for Iron Maiden, it’s simply par for the course. The band is touring in support of their seventeenth, and latest release, Senjutsu, but made sure to include some of their biggest songs into the fifteen song setlist. By the time they wrapped it all up, there wasn’t a disappointed fan to be found.
Any Iron Maiden fan worth their collective salt knows that when UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” is played over the P.A., the show is about to begin. This evening was certainly no exception, and as the song faded away as the lights dimmed, the electricity in the air was palpable. Frontman Bruce Dickinson charged the stage, hopped up onto the center monitor and immediately led the charge as the band played the first three songs (“Senjutsu,” “Stratego,” and “The Writing on the Wall”) from the latest release. The band’s mascot (and unofficial seventh member), Eddie, who usually makes his first appearance later in the set, appeared from stage right as a samurai, completed with a sword, and interacted with the band and posed for the crowd before disappearing from where he came in. Bruce then addressed the crowd and jokingly said that they were going to play the new record in its entirety. And although the crowd cheered, everyone in the now packed venue knew that was not going to happen.
From there the band tore through the classics, including “Revelations,” “Flight of Icarus,” and “Fear of the Dark.” All the songs had a completely different, over the top production that one would expect from Iron Maiden. Guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, who are arguably still the greatest guitar duo in metal, traded riffs effortlessly, while bassist and founding member Steve Harris spent much of the set in his iconic one foot on the monitor pose, while making eye contact and pointing his bass at the headbangers in the front row. Dickinson’s voice sounded stronger than it has in years, and he can still hit those high notes, as evidenced in “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” The one-two-three punch of “The Trooper,” “The Clansman,” and “Run to the Hills,” closed out the first encore, but everyone knew the evening was not quite over yet.
Of course no Iron Maiden set would be complete without “Aces High,” and as Winston Churchill’s famous speech played over the PA, the fans knew the moment had arrived. Just as the band launched into the classic, a giant British fighter plane hovered over them, closing out yet another epic Bay Area show by the band.
By the time it was all said and done, Iron Maiden once again proved that they have nothing to prove, and can still put on an amazing performance on their own terms, just as they have always done. All of the Headbangers, Earthdogs, Rivet Heads, Hell Rats, and Metal Maniacs in attendance would agree.
Here’s a slideshow with more photos of Iron Maiden by Raymond Ahner: