The legends put on a rock spectacle perfect for Halloween
“The nightmare is over!” exclaimed Iron Maiden’s lead singer Bruce Dickinson early in the night at their DC stop on their Legacy of the Beast World Tour. He was referring to COVID-19.
Indeed, as 20,000 “Blood Brothers” joined at Capital One Arena last night (Sun, Oct 23rd), the only nightmare fuel were the sporadic appearances of “The Beast” himself, Eddie. Thousands of fans smashed together in the mosh pit, filling the floor. With their gargoyles, hellfire imagery, and medieval inspired backgrounds, it was clear that Maiden’s elaborately ominous stage show was a perfect fit for “Spooky Season” in the District.
The energetic Dickinson rocketed to the stage with the rest of his band mates shortly before 9 pm. Performing at first in front of a three-dimensional Asian pagoda, the practical set changed many times during the evening. This added to the timeless feeling of the “Legacy” show.
There were no giant screens. Instead, canvas curtains transported Cap One to various settings, from a church to a fiery graveyard, and everything in between that is synonymous with Beastly imagery. And, instead of opting for in-ears, Maiden chose to litter their stage with wedges. Talk about a throwback. But when you’ve been doing this for decades, if the hearing hasn’t gone by now, it never will.
Musically, the six-some were on point and tight. The mix allowed their trademark triple-guitar sound to reverberate inside the cavernous venue and resonate in the bones of every fan in the crowd. This style was showcased on an extended jam within “Sign of the Cross.”
Throughout the night, Janick Gers was full of energy and never stopped vamping with the crowd. Adrian Smith dug into the intricacies of the melodies, while Dave Murray stayed stoic and let his fingers do the flying.
Steve Harris’ bass was buried under the sheer weight of the guitar sound, but provided the necessary focal point from which the guitarists took their lead. But the backbone was 70-year-old drummer Nicko McBrain, whom one can only guess is the true “Beast” of Maiden lore. He did not stop all night, and made the music transcend the stage and turned it into something that was able to be felt.
Bruce Dickinson’s legendary 4.25 octave voice was pristine. The most astounding thing about this man is his ability to sing in his pioneering operatic rock style while darting to every corner of the stage to maintain his intimate connection with the crowd. He is the perfect blend of sincerity, vocal talent, and energy. From the aggression of “The Number of the Beast” to the majestic pride of “Clansman,” he nailed it all.
Full of costumes, beautiful background artwork, and endless fire, the stage show must be seen to be believed. Iron Maiden is that rare rock group that understands its own aesthetic and how to blend it with damn good music. And, much like this reporter said of Alice Cooper at the start of “ Spooky Season” last year, that blend has led to a well-earned longevity and an undying loyalty. By naming the tour “Legacy,” the group is acknowledging their place in rock history.
Hear that, Rock Hall? The Beast is here to stay.