Written by Alex Stojanovic
IRON MAIDEN w/ GHOST
@ Budweiser Stage
Toronto, ON, Canada
July 15, 2017
Presented by Live Nation
Kicking off the evening were Ghost. Now before I talk about their set, I need to say one thing. I will fully admit that I'm not really a fan of their studio stuff, except for a couple of songs, but they did sound pretty good live and their live show was pretty entertaining. Will my mind change after giving their studio stuff a few more listens? I don't know. I do that quite often with a lot of bands that don't grab me right away. Sometimes I'm hooked after a few more listens, sometimes I'm not, but I digress. The band kicked off their set with "Square Hammer". One thing about the show that had me scratching my head a bit is whenever vocal harmonies would be sung, you don't see anyone else but Tobias Forge, aka Papa Emiritus III, singing. Whether the vocal adding the harmony was on a track (which I'm not down with) or one of the Nameless Ghouls had a mic inside his mask, I'm not sure. I'm glad that they played "Absolution" because that was one of the songs where I liked the studio version and it sounded great live. The heaviest point of the set was "Mummy Dust". What really made me crack up was when Emiritus was giving the men in the audience a lesson on how to make a female achieve an orgasm during sex. This was happening before they launched into the last song which was "Monstrance Clock". Like I said, their live show left me pretty impressed, but I'll need to give their studio stuff another chance. We'll see what happens.
Now it finally came time for Iron Maiden to take the stage. As usual, to warm up the crowd, UFO's "Doctor Doctor" played on the P.A and as those last notes closed out the song, the crowd roared with excitement. The band had a different video intro this time around as opposed to last time. As the video screen turned black after the video ended, the opening notes to "If Eternity Should Fail" began and all lights were on Bruce Dickinson who sang the opening lines while standing above a cauldron with smoke pouring out of it, which was followed by the entire band running out on stage. They kept the start of the show new school with "Speed Of Light" coming right after. As many of you know, "Hallowed Be Thy Name" had to be dropped from the setlist due to the ridiculous lawsuit the band are caught up in right now, but replacing the song was another "oldie-goldie" (as I call them), that I've been wanting to hear Maiden play live and that was "Wrathchild", which was followed by "Children Of The Damned". Before kicking into the latter, Bruce made his introductory speech and told the crowd that this would be our last chance to see the Mayan-themed stage set that they used for this tour, and even joked about maybe seeing the set appearing on an episode of American Pickers or the History Channel. He even acknowledged Metallica's presence in Toronto by throwing in a joke about the possibility of them buying the stage set from Maiden, which received a pretty good laugh. There was a pattern to their setlist, where they would do two new songs, then two old songs, then the pattern repeats. Throughout the show, the backdrops changed for every song and some songs had pyro with flame spurts.
The time machine then returned to the Book Of Souls with "Death Or Glory" and "The Red & The Black". The latter has sort of become a modern Maiden classic. When the band started touring last year, it always got a fantastic reception whenever played live, which is pretty rare for a lot of new songs by legendary bands in this day and age. We now came back to the old days with "The Trooper" and "Powerslave". During the latter, Bruce sang while wearing one of those Mexican boxing masks. One of the new songs that was in the set last year was "Tears Of A Clown", but this year, that has been replaced by "The Great Unknown", which followed right after. Ending the new song segments was "The Book Of Souls", during which Eddie came out for his appearance. As usual, the crowd roared and pulled out their phones as Eddie entered the stage and the band began messing with him, especially Janick Gers, who kept running between his legs, and it culminated with Bruce ripping Eddie's heart out and squirting the crowd with the fake blood. We then arrived at "Fear Of The Dark", which got the entire crowd singing along. You can't have a Maiden show without that song. The main set was ended with "Iron Maiden". During the latter part of the song, a large inflatable Eddie appeared from behind the risers.
The encore began with "Number Of The Beast" during which a large inflatable baphomet appeared behind the band with his arms crossed, making it look as if he was judging the performance. After the song, Bruce made a monumental speech about how Maiden is all about unity and always promoting peace. This was followed by the band launching into "Blood Brothers" and they closed off the night with "Wasted Years". Now I do have a couple of criticisms regarding the sound as it was not great. Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick's guitars were muffled, Bruce's mic kept cutting in and out during several parts, and it seemed that Nicko McBrain's kick drum and one of his high toms were amplified a lot more than the other drums on his kit. Steve Harris' bass seemed to be the only instrument that had a decent sound. Ghost however had a much better sound. Hopefully when Maiden return, the sound will be much better, but it's always amazing to see them live. I'm sure that either next year or in 2019, they will hit the road again on one of their history tours where they re-visit a classic period and delight the fans with a full set of classic material, which they do after every tour supporting a new record. As Bruce mentioned earlier in the show, the Book Of Souls tour may be done, but they as a band are NOT done! That's always ear candy for us fans. UP THE IRONS!
Bruce Dickinson - Vocals
Steve Harris - Bass & backing vocals
Dave Murray - Guitars
Adrian Smith - Guitars & backing vocals
Janick Gers - Guitars
Nicko McBrain - Drums
Label: BMG Records
Tobias Forge "Papa Emeritus III" - Vocals
Fire (Nameless Ghoul) - Lead guitars
Earth (Nameless Ghoul) - Drums
Wind (Nameless Ghoul) - Keyboards
Water (Nameless Ghoul) - Bass
Ether (Nameless Ghoul) - Rhythm guitars
Label: Loma Vista