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Concert review: Iron Maiden at Usana Amphitheatre

by on August 2, 2012

Looking around at the surprisingly large crowd at Usana Amphitheatre Wednesday night, there’s no question that the Iron Maiden show was a bit of a nostalgia trip for most of the folks on hand, myself included.

But it certainly wasn’t that for the band, who came out and delivered a rock-solid two hours of classic metal–along with all the bells and whistles one could hope for out of an Iron Maiden show.

You got serious pyrotechnics. You got the galloping bass lines of Steve Harris. You got the stellar triple-guitar attack of Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers. You got singer Bruce Dickenson–he of the paint-peeling wail–waving a Union Jack and running all over the stage. And you got Eddie, the band mascot, as both a stage decoration and a 3-D beast.

As a kid who landed in Ogden, Utah, around the same time as I hit high school age, heavy metal was something I got into well after my sister had turned me on to indie-rock and punk–you know, “cool” music. And my Ogden teen years were spent listening to a lot more bad hair-metal than the likes of true metal believers like Maiden. Thankfully, somewhere along the line I got into the British old-school scene exemplified by Iron Maiden, and I’ve been waiting probably 20 years for them to return to Utah for a show.

That finally happened Wednesday, and it was well worth the wait. And judging by the size of the crowd, I wasn’t the only one excited to catch up with Iron Maiden.

The band is doing a tour that ostensibly is a history lesson about the group, and the current jaunt focuses on Maiden’s 1988 album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son for much of the setlist. Five of that album’s eight songs made their way into the show, including the opening “Moonchild,” “Can I Play With Madness?”, “The Clairvoyant,” “The Evil That Men Do” and the title track. I remember that album getting a so-so reception when it was released, but the songs were great live.

The rest of the show was filled out with classic Maiden tunes like “The Prisoner,” “Two Minutes to Midnight,”  “The Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills.” “Wasted Years” was excellent–it’s probably my favorite Iron Maiden song, and the band did it justice Wednesday night.

Among the other highlights–delivered with plenty of visual stimulation courtesy of the video screens  on both sides of the stage, an excellent light show and plenty of explosives–were “Afraid to Shoot Strangers,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Fear of the Dark” and “Iron Maiden.” Any band who names a song after themselves better be pretty badass, and Iron Maiden certainly fits that bill.

An encore including “Aces High” capped off a fine show that proved, as if there were any doubt, that Iron Maiden is a great live band still in 2012–a mere 37 years after they formed in 1975. Here’s hoping they become regular visitors to Salt Lake City once again, as they were back in the ’80s.

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