It’s fair to say everyone likes a good birthday party.
It’s also fair to say few can throw one quite like Bruce Dickinson, the seemingly indefatigable, newly sexagenarian frontman of one of the world’s most celebrated and enduring bands, Iron Maiden.
It was abundantly clear from the opening seconds of their set that The Legacy of the Beast tour was a seriously ambitious project.
Following support courtesy of Killswitch Engage, Iron Maiden burst onto the stage below a life sized replica of a Spitfire which ducked and dived above them as they launched directly into Aces High.
A mightily impressive opening track, the theatre of the stage props was something that became a feature of the show as a whole.
As 2 minutes to Midnight began and the stage set changed yet again, it became apparent each track possessed its own bespoke backdrop spanning the width of the stage and setting the scene for the song.
No expense was spared and what fans witnessed at the Genting Arena in Birmingham was a full blown theatrical production as well as a concert, all intended to enhance the music as well as deliver a powerful anti-war message.
As impressive as the visuals undoubtedly were, it still must be reaffirmed the music remained at the very heart of the experience.
Maiden are well known for their slight reluctance to deliver ‘greatest hits’ sets, often preferring to push their latest offerings at the expense of some of the older crowd favourites.
Their two hour set, however, was as close as I have witnessed in the five times I’ve seen them to just such a thing.
It was also incredibly well put together and slid with sleek serpentine subtlety from track to track.
Steve Harris swapped his trademark bass for an acoustic guitar during The Clansman, adding another dimension, before the set transformed once again into a giant stained glass cathedral of colour complete with chandeliers suspended above the stage.
A giant Icarus appeared to denote the onset of Flight of Icarus and the set built to a climax with the crowd pleasing Fear of the Dark, The Number of the Beast and finally Iron Maiden.
It only remained for the band to return to the stage for a three song encore, culminating in Run to the Hills all of which were lapped up with alacrity by the now rabid crowd.
As the band finally departed, the house lights came up and the crowd filed out I found myself no longer pondering if a band, already into their fourth decade, can remain innovative and relevant in 2018.
It’s simple. If you’re Iron Maiden, hell yes, you most certainly can.
Iron Maiden played:
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
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
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills