Iron Maiden Xfinity Center, Mansfield, MA July 19, 2017 Story and photos by Stacey Rose
Let’s get this out there right off the bat – Iron Maiden is my band. My top two are Rush and Iron Maiden. I’ve been a fan since I was about 13 years old. I saw them for the first time in 1988 at the Forum in Los Angeles on the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour. I’ve traveled all over to see them. I’m a proud IMFC member (Iron Maiden Fan Club for those not in the know – the initials a nod to football clubs that the band members are enthusiasts of.)
I’ve stood in line for hours and been “first to the barrier;” I think the number 666 is lucky. I know Eddie is the coolest undead mascot ever. I don’t even like beer, but I’ll have a few swigs of a Trooper beer just because Eddie is rockin’ the bottle! I’ve even had a 737 flight simulator lesson from Captain Bruce Dickinson himself. (It cost £666 pounds and worth every quid!) So, yeah, I love me some Maiden! Iron Maiden played at Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Mass this past Wednesday night. That’s the old Great Woods for you OG locals. I’m a relatively recent transplant, but I understand that concept all too well (i.e., Irvine Meadows to me.)
The night started out great with my boyfriend and me meeting some friends in from Seattle whom I met four years ago at the bat bridge in Austin, TX while we were all in town to see, who else? You get three guesses and the first 666 don’t count! We dined at Flynn’s Irish Pub in Mansfield as it is a go-to before a show at Xfinity. They have great burgers and the staff are all excellent – the food comes out a bit slowly, which can be tough when trying to get to a concert, but they do get slammed on show nights.
We got into the parking lot line a good bit later than we’d planned due to this and it was so badly run it wasn’t funny. We had purchased Premier Parking hoping to make it easier to get in and out of there, but the staff directing parking seemed to not know where we were supposed to be and misdirected us several times, making that process anything but speedy or convenient. Our friends even jumped out so they could catch the opening act, Ghost, whom they really wanted to see.
I can’t comment on them due to not seeing their set! To add insult to injury, it was hot that night. I mean, ridiculously hot. Let me tell you, back in 2012, I saw Iron Maiden in Tinley Park, IL when that area was the hottest spot in North America that weekend – topping out at 107º and I didn’t feel nearly as hot then!
This was oppressive heat, humid with no breeze at all. I was actually feeling it so much, I was getting light headed. I even had to sit down several times, which I never do at concerts, especially not for my beloved Maiden! My companions, other friends in from NYC, were worried about me and my boyfriend even braved the crowds to get me some water, which did help tremendously. I’m sad to report that I had to leave the show during the encore to get some much-needed air and had to resolve to only hear the last two songs from just outside the seating area – missing seeing fan (and one of mine too) fave, “Wasted Years.” I felt much better once out of the throng though and was able to breathe finally, but it was a rough night for sure.
Now, that all said, I have to give serious props to the guys in Iron Maiden. It was brutal for me out in the audience! I don’t know how they managed playing for nearly two hours onstage in those conditions. Lead singer Bruce Dickinson was in a sweatshirt, cargo pants, and boots for most of the show too, looking like he was playing Minnesota in February instead of the 90-some degrees we were sweating in! It didn’t stop him from running and jumping all over the place either!
If you’ve been to one of their shows before, you know that when you hear UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” blaring through the house, Iron Maiden will hit the stage next! The crowd roars and surges forward with the first notes. They opened with Bruce bowed over a roiling cauldron and launched into “If Eternity Should Fail” from their latest album, The Book of Souls. That’s one of the many things I have always admired about Iron Maiden – when they have a new album, you’re going to hear a lot of it when they tour and they did play quite a bit last night.
In addition to the opener, we got “Speed of Light,” “Death or Glory,” “The Red and the Black,” “The Great Unknown,” “The Book of Souls,” and in the encore, “Blood Brothers.” Never fear though, the boys did not leave out the crowd pleasers such as the iconic “The Trooper,” (or Patrooba as my oldest son proclaimed it as a mere lad of 5 whilst listening to Live After Death in the car with me. Go listen yourself now, you’ll hear it too, I promise! Bruce yells, “Here’s a song off the Piece of Mind album! The song is called Patrooba!!” At this point, I’ve either ruined it or made it for you. I’m sorry or you’re welcome!) This is a fun one indeed with Bruce in his red coat Charge of the Light Brigade uniform waving a Union Jack flag. With Steve Harris singing along and his signature galloping bass driving the song home, it’s classic Maiden at its best. The fans love it and it’s pretty well the band’s anthem. Bruce covers guitarist Janick Gers with the flag and Roman-emperor style works the crowd into a thumbs-up or down frenzy.
Maiden changes their elaborate stage set and backdrops to match the era or song all with Eddie, their enduring undead mascot, decked out in various themes. The big songs of past albums, such as “Powerslave,” “Wrathchild,” “Children of the Damned” (a personal highlight for me and one Bruce jokingly said could maybe have been the only song by Maiden some younger audience members could possibly have been conceived to “at least the very beginning smooshy bits,”) the soccer stadium chant-inducing “Fear of the Dark,” and not to be left out, “The Number of the Beast” all had the crowd singing along and screaming for Bruce on command. Eddie, of course, appeared and harassed poor Janick too during “The Book of Souls.” Bruce yanked his heart out and tossed it ceremoniously into the audience. There’s never a dull moment at a Maiden show!
A bit of a bummer element was the absence of “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” a song they did play on the last leg of this tour and one that is so loved by fans, myself included. There’s apparently a lawsuit going on regarding this tune. I’m sure other fans are in the same camp as I am on that one. This song was released in 1982. It took 35 years to decide to sue the band? The initials BS come to mind.
I get why the band left it out for now, but it was very much missed. Bruce Dickinson is one of the best rock vocalists by far and he’s still hitting all those notes with the biggest voice around. Steve Harris on bass rules the Iron Maiden roost for sure. You hear his playing and you know instantly it’s Maiden. Calling his style signature doesn’t do it justice by any means.
Iron Maiden also has three guitarists, original member (along with Steve Harris,) Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and the aforementioned Janick Gers. All three are terrific and often look like a three-headed beast wailing away on stage. Dave and Adrian, with their unmistakable dual octaves, are seamless and classic. I’m a Dave girl, myself. His solos are the ones I’m air-guitaring too more often than not. I love Dave’s style and tone. No disrespect to Adrian or Janick of course!
There’s obviously a lot to love musically in Maiden! Let’s not forget Nicko McBrain on drums either! You never see Nicko though, barricaded as he is behind his wall of cymbals, but he’s a monster up there thundering bare-footed through the set. I heard a rumor that he is suffering from a wrist or arm injury and, if true, you’d never know from his drumming. Bruce said there were 20,000 people in Xfinity last night and despite all the obstacles, mainly heat, it was a fantastic show.
Maiden always close their shows after they leave the stage with Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” and that has fans streaming out of the venue singing and whistling along. Maiden fans are a big family. We’ll always come out to see them and can’t wait for their return. Up the Irons! (Editor’s note: Here you go Stacey! Hope a fan video will assuage you!)
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