Goodness how times have changed.
A quarter century ago British metal pioneers Iron Maidenâs American tour drew picketers across the country and piles of the bandâs albums were burned by Christian activist groups offended (and perhaps a bit frightened) by the bandâs macabre image and subject matter.
But in 2008, an Iron Maiden concert has become a family outing evidenced by the generations of metal heads that gathered at Blossom Thursday night to bang their heads to the bandâs string of classic and hit metal tunes.
A impressive array of familial configurations could be seen rocking to the Maiden. There were toddlers likely attending their first concert (and likely getting their first whiff of marijuana smoke) with their dads; fathers and tween-aged daughters discussing the bands guitars; large families exiting their SUVâs all decked out in Maiden gear and even a women stretching her authentic 1983 tour shirtâs stitches to the breaking point as it tried to cover her very pregnant belly.
The sextetâs latest tour, dubbed Somewhere Back In Time, coincides with the release of yet another DVD and CD compilation and is visually based on the bandsâ 1985 Powerslave tour and features music from their 1980 debut through 1992âs concept album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
The band of mostly pentagenarians (save singer Bruce Dickenson who turns 50 in August) still performed with the energy they did back when protesters were declaring Number of the Beast a danger to the spiritual welfare of our nationâs children. The band is also still having fun onstage, constantly smiling at each other while working through their rock poses ripping through hot versions of classic Maiden tunes including the set opening twofer of Aces High and 2 Minutes to Midnight both from Powerslave.
Dickenson wearing awful ârippedâ leather pants, a camouflaged shirt and a wool cap was the talkative host, shouting his standard audience request to ``scream for me O-Hi-O!,â riffing on the amount of cows in the state, and praising the audience for giving the band its most enthusiastic response in the states in years.
``Many of you were not even born when many these songs were written, which is excellent.â Dickenson said before a double shot of Revelations and a shout-a-long The Trooper from 1983âs Piece of Mind.
Naturally, their early MTV/radio hits, Run To The Hills and Number of the Beast received huge ovations and inspired much air guitar/bass/drums from the crowd, but the band also played their magnum opus and fan favorite, the 13 minute Samuel Taylor-Coleridge inspired Rime of the Ancient Mariner complete with expertly timed pyro and colorful explosions.
While hardcore fans may quibble with the setlist (three songs Seventh Son of a Seventh Son?), many of the songs such as 1992âs Fear of the Dark seem to be chosen in part because they are packed with sing-a-long moments and Dickenson constantly encouraged the crowd to participate and they happily obliged.
By the time Eddie, the bandâs sinister zombie-like mascot and accidentally brilliant marketing tool made his obligatory appearance during the set ending Iron Maiden both the band and fans had worked themselves into a sweaty, fist-pumping metal fervor.
Yes, times sure have changed. Iron Maiden's strong, energetic performance before an equally energetic and appreciative crowd proved that the old 20th century bon mot about families that pray together could easily be modified for the 21st century to âthe family that headbangs together stays together.â
Iron Maiden Setlist - Blossom Music Center 7/12/08
Intro. Churchill's Speech
1. Aces High - From Powerslave (1984).
2. 2 Minutes to Midnight - From Powerslave (1984).
3. Revelations - From Piece of Mind (1983).
4. The Trooper - From Piece of Mind (1983)
5. Wasted Years - From Somewhere in Time (1986).
6. The Number of the Beast - From The Number of the Beast (1982).
7. Can I Play With Madness - From Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988).
8. Rime of the Ancient Mariner - From Powerslave (1984).
9. Powerslave - From Powerslave (1984).
10. Heaven Can Wait - From Somewhere in Time (1986).
11. Run to the Hills - From The Number of the Beast (1982).
12. Fear of the Dark - From Fear of the Dark (1992).
13. Iron Maiden - From Iron Maiden (1980).
14. Moonchild - From Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988).
15. The Clairvoyant - From Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988).
16. Hallowed Be Thy Name - From The Number of the Beast (1982).
Bruce Dickinson - Lead vocals
Dave Murray â Guitar
Adrian Smith â Guitar, backing vocals
Janick Gers â Guitar, backing vocals
Steve Harris â Bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Nicko McBrain â Drums, percussion
Michael Kenney â Keyboards