Iron Maiden began their Book of Souls tour of world domination back in February 24, 2016 at BB&T Center in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. On March 30, 2016, that tour skidded to a screeching halt at an incredibly sold out Madison Square Garden. They brought with them their signature elaborate stage design, complete with changing backdrops and a massive walking Eddie and other sick props, a roster of new and classic Maiden tunes, and a level of energy and athleticism that you wouldn't think a 40 year old band could still be capable of. I have been a fan of Iron Maiden for nearly 30 years, but last night's ripper at MSG was the first time I got to see them in real life and, boy, am I forever grateful for the opportunity. For me, in metal, consistency is everything. Iron Maiden have been releasing ripper after ripper since way back in 1980 like it's no big deal. This includes 2015's Book of Souls which Maiden are currently touring in support of and which will land in basically every city on earth in the coming months (seriously).

Last night's show kicked off with the classic song "Doctor Doctor" by UFO, a band who Steve Harris, Iron Maiden's bassist and primary songwriter, cites as one of Maiden's bigger influences, playing over the house system. Afterwards, the room went black and an animated video played showing a jungle entangled Ed Force One being thrown into the air by a massive, rotten, subterranean hand (Eddie's). The stage elements were uncovered, fog began rolling out of every crevice on the stage, and four cauldron fires became alight at the top of the stage. A single super bright spot light lit up frontman Bruce Dickinson and so began the Iron Maiden set in earnest, with a one-two punch of "If Eternity Should Fail" and "Speed of Light," both from Book of Souls. For the next two hours Iron Maiden thrilled the audience with a fantastic career-spanning setlist (full setlist below). Their newer stuff really did stand up to time-tested classics like "Children of the Damned," "The Trooper," "The Number of the Beast," and "Wasted Years." I always sort of wince when a band that's been around for 40 years is about to put out a new record because there is always the very real risk of unbearable samey-ness and caricature. But Souls is so full of sick riffs and heaviosity that it's really a triumphant continuation of the Maiden catalogue.

As performers, the crew were impeccable. Bruce Dickinson had an unbridled energy that didn't abate for one second during their entire set; he was running around like a mad man, jumping over shit, and doing high kicks. And it goes without saying that he definitely knows his way around a mic stand. And the same goes for fellow old timers Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Nicko McBrain, and Janick Gers. Aside from their musical agilities, these guys, who are 60 years old or close to it, were as energetic as they were in the '80s and '90s. When you put all of these incredible performative elements inside an staggering and immersive set design with gorgeous artistry and other gloomy bells and whistles, you get a truly peerless live experience. It goes without saying, but if you have the chance, seeing this tour is a must. It's heavy metal musical theater at its best.

More pictures, including shots of openers The Raven Age (led by Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris' son George), below. We've also got another set of pics up on Invisible Oranges.


The Raven Age

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden : Madison Square garden : March 30, 2016
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Tears of a Clown
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Death or Glory
The Book of Souls
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years