Iron Maiden’s Gamble Pays Off

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden

LIVE: Iron Maiden
October 16, 2006
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, ON

For a legendary metal act like Iron Maiden it was a bold and brash gesture when, four songs in, singer Bruce Dickinson declared they were going to play their entire new album, A Matter Of Life And Death, from start to finish. That would mean 10 dense songs, a few of the more sprawling numbers licking just under 10 minutes in length, eating up more than 70 minutes of the concert’s running time.

Under normal circumstances, this could have been riot-fodder for the well-merchandised near-capacity banger crowd, but Dickinson played things deftly by declaring that Canadian fans propelled A Matter Of Life And Death to debut at #2 on the SoundScan album sales chart (their highest Canadian debut), so Canada was going to be rewarded with more Maiden shows in the future. Pavlovian, sure, but his speech came right at the point where the assembled metalheads were just starting to restlessly realize, “Hey, fuck, this ain’t ‘Powerslave.'” It turned the whole building in Maiden’s favour.

The early numbers — “Different World,” “These Colours Don’t Run” and the excellent “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns” — were well-received, but it wasn’t until the post-speech blast of the galloping “The Longest Day” that Maiden’s hold was solidified. The front half of the general admission floor was a frothing mass and there were salutary fist-pumps arena-wide.

“Out Of The Shadows” followed. It was Dickinson’s best and most dynamic vocal performance of the night. Unfortunately, though, it was wasted on the album’s most tepid song.

From there, it was on to the constructed-for-Rock-In-Rio-singalong-songs, starting with “The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg” and followed by the reflective yet epic “For The Greater Good Of God.” The last four songs were heavy on the”Oi-oi-oi-oi-oi” and “Whoa-ooo-OO-oo” participatory theatre that Maiden songs never really had to trade in before, and it felt somewhat pandering.

Still, just when Maiden ran the risk of backsliding and losing the audience, they jumped headfirst into their back catalogue. First up was ’92’s “Fear Of The Dark,” followed closely by the set-closer and highlight of the night, “Iron Maiden.”

During the song, the stage morphed Transformers-style into a giant tank with the ubiquitous Eddie on top in military garb. Spinal Tap-ish though it was, there are few things cooler than seeing Maiden’s zombie mascot, 30 feet tall, at the helm of a Sherman.

This dovetailed into the evils-of-war-themed encore section of “2 Minutes To Midnight,” “The Evil That Men Do” and grand finale “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” The three songs were delivered with fire, sending the audience to a well-executed peak.

Walking through the hallways of the ACC afterwards, the building was still roaring. The crowd filing out were cheering, yelling, high-fiving and bellowing “Maiiiii-dennnn!” Proof that the band’s gambit, A Matter Of Life And Death, paid off.

This review was originally published October 18, 2006 via Chart Communications.

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Filed under Concerts, Music, Recollections

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