Ten songs we want Iron Maiden to play at Download festival

Sing hosannas! Iron Maiden have been announced as one of next year’s Download headliners. This is the best news ever, obviously, and it also gives us a chance to speculate wildly about what the greatest metal band of all time will have in store for us. With a brand new (and universally acclaimed) new album to draw from, not to mention one of the biggest and most consistent catalogues ever assembled, the possibilities are almost limitless. But these are the ten songs we’d like to see Maiden deliver to the hallowed Donington turf next summer…

Hallowed Be Thy Name
A song that provided Maiden sets with an epic and stirring finale at nearly every gig until fairly recently, Hallowed hasn’t been aired since the summer of 2011. Undeniably one of the greatest metal songs of all time, it would be a very welcome addition to the band’s plans for 2016.

The Red And The Black
Steve Harris has already stated that there is little chance of Maiden playing the gargantuan Empire Of The Clouds, but fans of the band’s more epic excursions would be well served by this hulking belter from The Book Of Souls. With plenty of potential for communal sing-along moments for the Iron faithful, this promises to be a major new live favourite.

**Ghost Of The Navigator
**After spending the last few years revisiting their ‘80s glory days, Maiden now have the opportunity to revisit some of the amazing material they’ve released since Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith rejoined the band at the tail-end of the ‘90s. This glorious cut from 2000’s Brave New World deserves to be near the top of the list, we reckon.

**Another gem from Maiden’s last 15 years, this towering war story remains the finest moment on 2003’s Dance Of Death and has already proved itself to be an extraordinary live tune, with tons of the drama and intensity that are such a laudable hallmark of the band’s recent past.

If Eternity Should Fail
Quite possibly the heaviest track in Maiden’s vast repertoire, this imperious anthem from The Book Of Souls will sound amazing booming over the Donington fields. When Maiden have a new album, they usually begin their gigs with the opening track, so we’re quietly confident that this will kick things off at Download.

These Colours Don’t Run
If one recent Maiden album deserves to be plundered anew, it’s A Matter Of Life And Death. This song was a dazzling highlight when the entire record was played end-to-end back in 2006. One of the finest war-themed anthems in the Maiden canon, its rousing refrain is guaranteed to send the diehards into a bellowing frenzy.

Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
Another outright stormer from A Matter Of Life And Death, this thunderous, prog-tinged epic is one of the most daring things Maiden have recorded in recent times, with all the colossal riffs and spine-tingling dynamics that any slavering acolyte could wish for. A long shot for next summer’s shows, perhaps, but we’re crossing everything just in case.

Isle Of Avalon
When Maiden hit the road to promote 2011’s The Final Frontier, they treated us to the title track, El Dorado, When The Wild Wind Blows, The Talisman and Coming Home. They didn’t play this stunning Smith/Harris collaboration… but they should’ve done. One for Maiden connoisseurs, maybe, but a sublime piece of inventive heavy metal that truly deserves to be performed live.

Where Eagles Dare
Is there a more thrilling beginning to a metal album than Where Eagles Dare? Not just the explosive starting point for 1983’s classic Piece Of Mind album, but also the first time we heard Nicko McBrain’s unmistakable percussive skills, this thunderous tale of aerial derring-do is one of the most insanely exciting songs Maiden have ever recorded. Play it again, chaps. Go on.

Alexander The Great
No, Maiden have never (as far as we are aware) performed this historical barnstormer from 1986’s Somewhere In Time before. Ever. No, they’re not likely to wheel it out for Download. Yes, we’re ridiculous for even suggesting it. But how fucking cool would it be? Very fucking cool. A metalhead can dream, right?

Download takes place on the weekend on June 10 to 12 at Donington Park, Leicestershire. Tickets go on sale at 9am on October 23 at the official festival website.

Iron Maiden to headline Download 2016

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.