From Churchill’s ‘We shall fight them on the beaches’ introduction, a near life-sized Spitfire replica that glides over the stage, a war-ravaged military attired Eddie, Maiden’s very own Trooper ale served by the tankard load in the foyer, this meticulous production is run with a military precision that has captured thunder and lightning in a bottle.
Aces High flew out of the phalanx of speakers as the band raced towards the front of the stage. Donning a leather goggled flying cap, Dickinson whipped up a fan frenzy as the mosh pit swirled below the overhead supersized Airfix Spitfire model.
Follow up classic Where Eagles Dare soared through this cavernous arena as the Spitfire swooped and dipped across the stage.
Frankly, it’s the most impressive start to any concert that I and 20,000 dedicated Maiden-heads have probably ever witnessed.
With army camouflage covering the stage, a spritely Dickinson wasted no time in running around on top of it dressed in various guises as the show progressed; a monk’s cowl for Sign Of The Cross and a plague doctor’s mask, frock coat and lantern on Afraid Of The Dark.
A keen fencer, he produced a large bloodstained sword for The Clansman with which he, later on, fenced with ‘Eddie’ the band’s stalwart giant mascot.
In many ways, this is a ‘coming home’ show as Maiden embarked on their metal music odyssey in the Cart and Horses pub not far from this iconic venue.
Longest serving members bassist Steve Harris – who formed the band – and guitarist Dave Murray still exude a gritty passion and playful stamina for Maiden’s music.
Grinning as they engaged their fevered following, they are joined by guitarists Adrian Smith and a frantically fidgety Janick Gers who mesmerises as he flings himself and his guitar around the stage.
All the players add an individual finesse and rock solid ballast as big thumper Nicko McBain brings up the rear with his concussive barrage of drums.
Fully recovered from his mouth cancer, Bruce Dickinson – armed with a backpack flamethrower shooting out fire – sings with an operatic power on Flight Of Icarus and The Number Of the Beast as though channelling his inner heavy metal Pavarotti.
Darting around the flames shooting up from the stage to belt out Run To The Hills, the indefatigable Dickinson and this venerable band of British heavy metal troopers are still going strong and with no intention of surrendering their coveted iron throne.