Iron Maiden, The Forum, April 15, 2016
Ed Force One made its way into the Los Angeles area, and on board was the legendary Iron Maiden, ready to commence upon two sold out nights at The Forum in Inglewood. The Books Of Souls World Tour was about to rip the roof off the iconic venue, with fans arriving early for a party in the parking lot as they awaited the magical hour when Bruce Dickinson, Janick Gers, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain, Dave Murray, and Adrian Smith would take to the massive stage.
There was a fantastic selection of Iron Maiden shirts at the merch stand, including one that depicted the imminent destruction of The Forum at the hands of the ubiquitous band mascot Eddie. Just about everyone in the crowd was sporting their favorite Iron Maiden shirt from the past or present, metal fans young and old, now filling the cavernous arena and ready to head bang to the thunderous sounds of the mighty Iron Maiden!
Opening the show at 10 minutes to eight was The Raven Age, a band led by guitarist George Harris, the son of Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris. And even in spite of the obvious family ties, The Raven Age definitely held their own, quickly gaining the attention of fans hell-bent in seeing Iron Maiden. Presenting their own driving brand of modern rock with a decidedly heavy edge, The Raven Age unveiled a spirited set of tunes that sent the imagination in flight. The band performed selections from their Self-Titled EP and more, with standout cuts including The Death March, The Merciful One, Salem’s Fate and the glorious closer Angel In Disgrace. Performances from each and every member were absolutely first rate, featuring the participation of Michael Burrough on vocals, Matt Cox on bass, Dan Wright on guitar, George Harris on guitar, and Jai Patel on drums. Definitely a star making turn from a collective we will be hearing a lot more about in the months ahead. The Raven Age’s very first show in LA was nothing short of a triumph – here’s hoping these talented lads come back to visit us again soon!
With torches set ablaze and a sole hooded individual at the top of the rafters, you knew it was time for the Iron Maiden experience to begin. That person raising his hands in the air igniting the wicked flames was none other than Bruce Dickinson, who tore into the grand refrains of If Eternity Should Fail, the spiraling opening track from their 16th studio album The Book Of Souls. One noticed instantly the classic Dickinson voice in top form, a towering front man still at the very height of his craft. The entire band would soon to take the stage, finishing off the first song with a vibrant sense of intensity that was staggering to behold! Up next was the second track from The Book Of Souls, with the rapturous Speed Of Light completing the hard hitting one-two punch of a sampling of Iron Maiden’s auditory adventures in the modern day! The venue then exploded into the stratosphere when the band unleashed their first classic cut of the evening, a raging performance of Children Of The Damned from their landmark The Number Of The Beast magnum opus. Dickinson would humorously note that a lot of the audience was not even alive in 1982 when the song was first conceived.
For the fourth song, it was a return to The Book Of Souls where Dickinson would introduce Tears Of A Clown as their tribute to the legendary comedian Robin Williams. And what a celebration of life it was, as there is little doubt that wherever Williams is at now, he would be head banging and showing the devil horns in vast approval of this sweeping heavy metal tribute to his life. This would be the last of the new songs for a while, as Iron Maiden would now rev it up for back-to-back classics – The Red And The Black, The Trooper, Powerslave, and Death Or Glory sending the room spinning with a timeless sense of heaviness and intrigue. The standing room only crowd on the floor was swaying back in forth, the sweaty mass of bodies enraptured by the pummeling entreaties Iron Maiden was offering. A circle pit towards the center of the room also ensued. Looking around the arena, you could see it was packed all the way up to the ceiling, with metal heads in the top rows participating with as much feverish delight as those cramped up against the first few feet of the stage.
Bruce Dickinson was jumping about all over the stage like a man possessed, delivering a commanding performance that set the material in flight. The three guitar sonic attack was nothing short of mesmerizing, featuring the virtuosic work of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers. There were literally fans in front of the stage waving their hands up and down saluting at the altar of these truly illustrious axe men. Bassist Steve Harris presented a pulsating low end that literally shook the room. Drummer Nicko McBrain was an absolute joy to watch, smiling while delivering the unearthly beats in a majestic and relentless manner. Iron Maiden 2016 is a force of nature to be reckoned with, and they were clearly captivating the masses with a truly extraordinary presentation!
After a blazing rendition of Fear Of The Dark, Iron Maiden was bestowed upon the audience – a rendition so devastating that Eddie the mascot was summoned and made an appearance to the wildly cheering throngs. Then for the encore, The Number Of The Beast was unfurled, featuring a visit by the devil himself! Closing out the night of music and mayhem was Blood Brothers and Wasted Years – a gripping grand finale that left the audience wanting to hear a whole lot more! The heavy metal party would continue on for a second night at The Forum – and there were many in the audience indicating that they would indeed be attending again! An astounding performance from a band that still packs a wallop in a live arena after all of these magnificent metal years! Up The Irons forever!
(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue
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