Iron Maiden's triumphant set at Power Trip has set the bar for a legendary event

Iron Maiden kicked off this weekend's massive Power Trip festival with a curveball set that nonetheless proved their triumphant power

Bruce Dickinson on stage at Power Trip
(Image: © Getty Images)

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Iron Maiden. Guns N' Roses. Judas Priest. AC/DC. Tool. Metallica. With just six bands, California's Power Trip festival still nonetheless represents possibly the biggest metal bill ever assembled, three of its acts boasting some of the best-selling records of all-time while the other half represent some of the most prestigious and influential forces in the metal world. So how do you kick an event like that off? By getting a band who eats such things for breakfast. 

Maiden might have headlined plenty of festivals in their time, but Power Trip still nonetheless feels special. The closing show of 2023's massive Future Past tour, the band haven't deviated from their prog-tinged vision in the slightest, instead taking advantage of the massive production values of the stage to bring fans an IMAX-style experience (IMAX Maiden?). 

Dashing on to explosions and the typically ebullient riff of Caught Somewhere In Time, Power Trip finds the band in fine form as they explore the lesser explored reaches of their back catalogue. So no, there's no Run To The Hills, no Hallowed Be Thy Name or even Number Of The Beast (their second-most played song), instead it's a deep-dive into some of the more concept-driven songs in the band's catalogue - and naturally, opinions are split. 

While fan reception isn't frosty - far from it - there's no denying the marked change in energy when the band tip the balance to tried-and-true hits in the set's latter half. Can I Play With Madness kicks off a triumphant run of hale sing-alongs that reaffirm the fact that even without gigantic Samurai Eddies and playful gun battles, it's the band's arsenal of massive anthems that put them firmly on top. 

The enormous one-two of Heaven Can Wait and Fear Of The Dark brings the main body of the set to a fist-pumping and victorious close, a breathless Bruce giddily declaring, "We've been on for two hours and I'm roasting! I don't know how you lot are still doing it after four, five or even six hours!" That doesn't stop the band pulling out a pyro extravaganza on Hell On Earth, the big theatrical flourish before the band close proceedings on titanic renditons of The Trooper and Wasted Years. 

With Bruce Dickinson returning to his solo work after almost 20 years, it's anyone's guess when Maiden will return, but there's no doubting the appetite for it, particulary as their theatrical influence and stagecraft has clearly inspired some of contemporary metal's biggest hitters like Sabaton, Ghost and Within Temptation (all of whom have supported the band).

Easy as it would have been for Maiden to come out, belt out some classics and ride off into the sunset, the fact the band have stuck to their guns - and delivered such a delightful spectacle - speaks volumes to their singular vision, even when stacked against legends setting a bar so high few could dare to touch, let alone top it. 

"We'll see you again America, I promise!" Bruce offers as a parting sentiment - and we can't help but hope it won't be too long - heaven might wait, but we certainly can't. 

Iron Maiden Setlist: Power Trip October 6 2023

Caught Somewhere In Time
Stranger In A Strange Land
The Writing On The Wall
Days of Future Past
The Time Machine
The Prisoner
The Death Of The Celts
Can I Play With Madness
Heaven Can Wait
Alexander The Great
Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden
Hell On Earth
The Trooper
Wasted Years

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.