I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Iron Maiden in my life. I can tell you that the last time I saw them was on the Maiden England Tour in 2012, when I wrote the review below. And I can tell you that I’ve had this very cool promo poster for Number of The Beast since it came out in 1982 — and it’s still in pretty great shape. If you’d like to take it off my hands, email me. I’m sure we can work out a number.
Maiden England Tour: Tuesday July 24, MTS Centre
You can always count on Iron Maiden. In more ways than one. First and foremost, of course, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal icons are one of the most dependable touring bands on the planet. When you plunk down your hard-earned dosh for tickets to a Maiden show, you know exactly what you’re going to get. And you know you’re going to get plenty of it. That’s how it was when I first saw them as a wee gaffer in the last millennium. And that’s how it was when the Irons returned to town for the umpteenth time Tuesday to play with madness once again for a sea of black-shirted hardcore fans at MTS Centre.
But it doesn’t stop with respecting their fans; you can also trust Iron Maiden to respect their own past. There are few groups these days who mine, resurrect and celebrate their legacy as effectively as these guys. Case in point: Their current trek, the Maiden England Tour, pays homage to their 7th Tour of a 7th Tour in 1988, from the vintage set list to the Arctic-themed decorations and lighting. If you were around to see it the first time, it’s a great bit of nostalgia; if you weren’t, it’s a chance to play catch-up. Either way, it’s a savvy and satisfying way for Maiden to keep fans interested (and keep the money coming in) between album cycles.
Of course, there is a flip side to that number. And that is the fact that there’s a thin line between reliability and predictability. Truth be told, there aren’t many surprises at a Maiden show these days. The set list is the same night after night; aside from the decor, their two-tiered wraparound stage hasn’t change in years; and singer Bruce Dickinson has been hounding fans to “Scream for me, (insert your city here)!!” longer than some of those fans have been alive. Bottom line: Once you’ve seen Iron Maiden a few times, it can seem like they’re doing things by the numbers.
Well, two can play at that game. So without further ado, here’s a look at Maiden’s latest visit — by the numbers:
8,000 | Fans in attendance.
10,000 | Fans who were at their space-themed Final Frontier Tour stop in 2010.
85 | Approximate percentage of fans were wearing vintage Iron Maiden T-shirts (and lining up to buy new ones).
1 | Dude overheard boasting about his ancient shirt. “I’ve only washed this once,” he said, “If I’ve washed it at all.” Good news, ladies; I think he might be single.
6 | Members in the band: Frontman and cheerleader Bruce Dickinson, bassist (and taskmaster) Steve Harris, drummer Nicko McBrain (aka Dude With the Coolest Name in Rock), and guitarists Dave Murray (aka The Old Man), Adrian Smith (aka The Black Sheep) and Janick Gers (aka The Prancing Pony).
103 | Length of Maiden’s show in minutes.
17 | Songs in the set list.
5 | Songs from their 1988 album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
6 | Songs from their first two albums.
11 | Songs that appeared on their compilation Somewhere Back in Time – The Best of: 1980 – 1989.
0 | Songs from the last 20 years.
2 | Levels on the wraparound stage.
5 | Individually mobile segments in the snowflake-shaped lighting rig.
2 | Minutes until the first pyro blast in the opening number Moonchild. The band brought the pyro back this tour after laying off during Final Frontier.
100+ | Pyro blasts during the show (an average of one per minute or, as Dickinson so eloquently characterized it, “a shitload of pyro”).
2 | Dry ice effects.
13 | Different backdrops I counted (I may have missed some).
5+ | Approximate number of miles Dickinson ran.
3,000+ | Approximate calories burned by Dickinson as he bolted round the stage, climbed up and down from the upper deck of their set, and vaulted over his monitors.
3 | Songs played before Dickinson first demanded “Scream for me, Winnipeg!!”
3 | Times he said it during 2 Minutes to Midnight alone.
14 | Times he said it during the performance. Either Dickinson has a hearing problem, or we really suck at screaming.
21 | Years since they’ve played The Prisoner on tour.
44 | Age in years of the dialogue clip from The Prisoner TV series used to introduce the song.
4 | Songs played before Dickinson spoke to the audience.
1 | Comparisons he made between their icy set and Winnipeg in the winter. “I went out for a walk in Winnipeg once in January or February,” he recalled. “Bad mistake.”
5 | Songs played before I noticed the first crowd surfers during Afraid to Shoot Strangers.
1 | Dude seen skipping out of the pit and down the aisle like a happy little girl.
14 | Years since they’re played Afraid to Shoot Strangers on tour.
5 | Songs played before Dickinson took off his long-tailed tux jacket.
4 | Outfits worn by Dickinson. Along with the tux, there was a red serge jacket (The Trooper), a trench coat (Seventh Son of a Seventh Son) and his usual vest (the rest of the time).
10+ | Times guitarist Gers put his leg way up on top of his cabinet-sized side monitor while playing, as if he were a ballet dancer at the barre. OK, you’re limber; we get it. Now stop stretching your hammies and trotting around like My Little Pony. Act like you’re in Iron Maiden, for crying out loud.
666 | The Number of the Beast.
668 | The Neighbour of the Beast.
1 | Giant Goat/Devil Statue with glowing red eyes used in Number of the Beast.
3 | Appearances by their mascot Eddie during the show. First was a giant Custer-like soldier (with sword) roaming the stage during Run to the Hills; then a towering statue of a scribe in Seventh Son of a Seventh Son; and finally, a giant recreation of the Seventh Son album cover, complete with squirming baby in utero (apparently a roadie in a pink plastic bag; good gig, dude!) and flames shooting from the top of his head.
11 | Length in minutes of the song Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
24 | Years since they’ve played Seventh Son of a Seventh Son on tour.
1 | Glimpse of keyboardist Michael Kenney during Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. He has played with Maiden for nearly 25 years but is still not officially in the band, which seems weak.
1 | Red bra handled onstage by Dickinson (“Excuse me sir, I believe this belongs to you!”) before ending up strung from the headstock of Gers’ guitar.
4 | Weird statues unveiled in the set-closing anthem Iron Maiden.
3 |Songs in the encore: Aces High, The Evil That Men Do and Running Free.
72 | Age in years of the Winston Churchill speech used to intro Aces High.
6 | Approximate number of times Dickinson got crowd to sing the chorus of Running Free.
100 | Likelihood (in terms of percentage) that Iron Maiden will return every two or three years until every single one of them drops dead.
Can I Play With Madness
2 Minutes to Midnight
Afraid to Shoot Strangers
The Number of the Beast
Phantom of the Opera
Run to the Hills
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Fear of the Dark
Churchill’s Speech/Aces High
The Evil That Men Do