5 things we learned at the first date of Iron Maiden's UK tour

Iron Maiden
(Image: © John McMurtrie)

It might surprise you to know that we’re big fans of Iron Maiden here at Metal Hammer – not only did we put them on the cover of our last issue but we have a massive poster in the new issue! So when we were given the opportunity to make the pilgrimage from our offices to Nottingham aboard The Bus Of Souls we jumped at the chance, because we couldn’t miss the opening night of the UK tour. Having seen them in Mexico at the start of the mammoth The Book Of Souls tour, we had to see them back on home turf. And, y’know, it’s Iron effing Maiden! Here are five things we learned from the experience.

The UK has missed Iron Maiden

You might think that sounds odd considering that Maiden headlined Download last year, but it’s been seven years since their last full UK tour. Seven years! And sure, some of the crowd at the sold out Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham probably saw them at Download or even Sonisphere in recent years, there’s something truly special about seeing the Irons back indoors, galloping at 100mph, while thousands of fans (all in Maiden shirts, it seems) lose their minds. The old guard who’ve been there since 1980 and young metalheads who don’t even remember nu-metal are side by side, throwing horns and blowing out their lungs to Fear Of The Dark. Great stuff.

(Image: © John McMurtrie)

Bruce is a true showman

It’s no secret that Bruce Dickinson is one of the most energetic, likeable and genuinely entertaining frontmen of all time. From his signature bellows of “Scream for me Nottinghaaaaaaaaaam” to the Union Flag waving Trooper persona, you can’t take your eyes off him. But while metal is serious business, Bruce runs around the stage like a kid in a toy shop; donning a monkey mask for Death Or Glory, ripping Eddie’s heart out of his chest (before tossing it into the front row), or having a long rant about how awful Budweiser is (or Buttwiper as he calls it), it hammers home how important performance is in heavy metal, not just songwriting ability.

(Image: © John McMurtrie)

The new songs sound great

Well, we say new, The Book Of Souls came out two years ago, but it’s the first time they’re being played in the UK outside of Donington – and Maiden are still mixing up the setlist. Swapping out Tears Of A Clown for The Great Unknown, as seen on last year’s European run, it sounds just as integral and hard-hitting as the rest of the set. But with the newies it’s really the gargantuan opener If Eternity Should Fail and the powerful The Red And The Black that probably won’t leave the setlist for many years to come. That said, we’d still like to see Run To The Hills return to the set.

They know how to put a stage together

One thing’s for certain with an Iron Maiden show: at some point, Eddie is coming out. It’s a given, as sure as the sun will rise, Eddie will appear and attack guitarist Janick Gers for no reason. But that’s not all Maiden are packing in the UK. From the fire pits and the smoking cauldron, to the giant inflatable Beast, to another Mayan Eddie engulfing the entire stage, it’s a horror fan’s dream. It would have been fun to see an Eddie vs Satan street fight like the Speed Of Light video, though.

(Image: © John McMurtrie)

The future is a mystery

Following the UK tour is a two month run across the United States, but then we have no idea what’s going on. Bruce himself says that after the US dates they’re going to pack the Book Of Souls stage back into its box and they’re going to have to think of something new. A greatest hits tour? A new album? Next year is 30 years since Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, could you imagine a full album show of that?! We’re just dreaming now, but Maiden will be back. That’s for sure.

(Image: © John McMurtrie)

Setlist

If Eternity Should Fail
Speed Of Light
Wrathchild
Children Of The Damned
Death Or Glory
The Red And The Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
The Great Unknown
The Book Of Souls
Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden
The Number Of The Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years

Coming home: Iron Maiden gear up for their first UK tour in six years