Veteran British hard rockers Iron Maiden gathered what’s left of L.A.’s old-school metal faithful at the Greek on Friday and treated the scruffy sold-out crowd to an ear-piercing, eye-popping barrage of headbanging selections mostly lifted from the band’s classic ’80s albums.
Group’s now-wrapped SRO U.S. itinerary boasted the return of vocalist Bruce Dickinson, and both parties were far better for the reunion; Dickinson’s post-Maiden solo career went nowhere, and the band floundered creatively and commercially in the mid-’90s with replacement vocalist Blaze Bayley.
Prodigal guitarist Adrian Smith also made his return to Maiden on this tour (which promotes an upcoming best-of album and videogame), giving the group a new, unrelenting triple-guitar attack. (Smith’s replacement, Janick Jers, remains with the band despite Smith’s return.)
Following warmup sets from heavy bands Monster Magnet, Soulfly and Puya, the headliners hit the Greek stage to the strident strains of “Aces High” and lustily proceeded with satisfying versions of old faves like “2 Minutes to Midnight,” the dramatic, immortality-seeking “Powerslave” and oldie “Phantom of the Opera,” which Dickinson intro’d by recalling Maiden’s glory days appearances at the Long Beach Arena.
The group also sprinkled newer material, like the nightmarish “Fear of the Dark,” throughout the set, though with far less effect on the crowd.
The genre’s usual stage effects, including lots of foglike smoke and blinding flash-pot explosions, were supplemented by Iron Maiden’s trademark set decor, which resembled a haunted castle, and the production’s ever-changing backdrops, which featured numerous stimulating visuals.
Evening also saw the mid-show return of bloodthirsty group mascot Eddie, a 14-foot-tall rotting zombie who staggered about the stage swatting at band members. Show closed strongly with a trio of songs from Maiden’s excellent 1982 album “The Number of the Beast,” capped by a quick version of “Run to the Hills.”
Sony will distribute a new album from the recharged Iron Maiden in early 2000.