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IRON MAIDEN, THE RAVEN AGE In Houston, TX With Photos!

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 @ 12:41 AM


Band Brings Its 'Legacy' To The Storm Battered Houston Area On September 22nd

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All Photos By Larry Petro/Petrofyed Photography

The last time British Metal Legends IRON MAIDEN swung through town there was the ominous Tropical Storm Cindy swirling in the Gulf that threatened to derail what was otherwise an awesome show at Toyota Center in downtown Houston. Fast forward two years and three months later and once again, Houston was dealing with another tropical storm, this one Imelda, and she was just as much a bitch as her predecessor. This time, however, Imelda made landfall just days prior to MAIDEN's expected appearance in the Lone Star State, despite the fact that even when the low pressure system first entered the Gulf Of Mexico all the weather forecasters stated repeatedly that the system would not develop into anything tropical but would simply be a source of some much needed rain for the drought-affected area of Southeast Texas. Riiiiight....Anyone with half a brain that has lived in south Texas for any measurable length of time knows never to trust that kind of statement, especially given the number of times we've been hit with something from just such a scenario.

Sure enough, immediately preceding landfall, Imelda was born and moved inland toward Houston at a relative snail's pace (7 mph). This was Tuesday. By Thursday the storm was still only just over an hour or so north of the metro area and by the time it had dissolved it had managed to dump anywhere from a foot to over 40 inches of rain on the area. Luckily for the fans, the storm waters managed to recede in time for the show to take place, this time in the northern Houston suburb of The Woodlands at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. While driving to the venue I noticed a nice sized thunderstorm brewing in the area and though it was lightly raining when I arrived, once I had secured my photo pass, stowed my camera gear and went inside, a full length rainbow appeared in the sky, a sign that things would be good on this night after all.

Over the past several tours, IRON MAIDEN had been somewhat alternating their tours between celebrating a new album (such as the 2017 tour for the album The Book Of Souls) and memorializing a specific period of the band's history (like the Maiden England Tour a few years back). For this run the band had been on the road in the States since late July on their 'Legacy Of The Beast Tour', one which celebrated the band's mobile video game of the same name. Of course rumor has it that the band already has a new album set to go and its announcement should be forthcoming any day now, not to mention a rumored monster 'Metal Legions Tour' next year with JUDAS PRIEST and alleged support acts TESTAMENT, OBITUARY and THE RAVEN AGE. I guess we shall see.

The opener for this show, as has been the case for the whole North American run, was THE RAVEN AGE, with guitarist George Harris, son of MAIDEN's Steve Harris. They promptly took the stage at 7:30, opening with "Betrayal Of The Mind", a track from the band's latest album Conspiracy. It's amazing to see how much this band has progressed and gelled since it's self-titled debut EP was released in 2014. Now with a consistent lineup of Harris, guitarist Tony Maue, bassist Matt Cox, drummer Jai Patel and newest member, vocalist Matt James, the band has been firing on all cylinders since Conspiracy's release. The album was well represented during their set, with 7 of 9 tracks performed coming from that album. The final two, "Promised Land" and closer "Angel In Disgrace" coming from 2017's Darkness Will Rise album. This band is definitely on the rise and with the MAIDEN pedigree firmly entrenched in the lineup, it really should surprise no one.

At just before 9pm, the large screens on either side of the amphitheater lit up and started showing a variety of scenes from the Legacy Of The Beast game, all to the tune of "Transylvania" being played. When the strains of UFO's "Doctor, Doctor" then began, the crowd started to lose their shit as they knew that their heroes would soon be upon us. Following its conclusion the lights dimmed and the screens once again lit up with the opening scene of Winston Churchill's speech and visuals from the intro to "Aces High". MAIDEN stormed the stage and it was on! Surrounded by a stage setup like a World War II bunker, complete with camouflaged netting and barbed wire, the band was on another level. The band plowed through the song with intensity and purpose as a huge Spitfire airplane hovered and maneuvered overhead, one of several inflatable props the band would use on the evening.

In keeping with the WWII theme, more bomb and air raid siren sounds filled the arena following "Aces High" as one could catch an occasional glimpse of the mountainous war base backdrop through the flashing strobes as the band then launched into "Where Eagles Dare", one of several tracks the band hadn't played recently but were included in this set. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson sang this one from the platform behind the drum riser, dressed in a white snow parka, no doubt hot as hell on the steamy Texas night, exhorting the crowd into cheers throughout the time he wasn't singing.

The backdrop changed for every track played as near as I can tell and it seemed that so did Bruce's wardrobe, probably more times than I've ever seen before. Of course, mascot Eddie made his gratuitous appearance, this time during "The Trooper", and was much more animated than in years past, moving and swinging his sword, using it as an air guitar during the solos and of course battling Dickinson. "Revelations" followed, then another pair of less played songs, one of my favorites from 2006's A Matter Of Life And Death album, "For The Greater Good Of God", and "The Wicker Man", from MAIDEN's 2000 'comeback' album, Brave New World.

The Blaze Bayley era of the band was once again represented in the form of "Sign Of The Cross" ("The Clansman" was played a handful of songs earlier), followed by a number that I had not heard in years, "Flight Of Icarus", during which a huge inflatable Icarus hung over the back of the stage as Dickinson performed the song with flamethrowers attached to his arms, occasionally shooting off bursts of flames as he sang. Ath the conclusion of the track, flames shot downward at angles from the lighting rig at the Icarus until finally it collapsed into a cloud of smoke. Absolutely killer!.

More wardrobe changes were in order as the band capped off the pre-encore portion of the show with "Fear Of The Dark", "The Number Of The Beast" and "Iron Maiden" (which once again had a huge inflatable of Beast Eddie from the mobile game). After a brief intermission the band returned to perform "The Evil That Men Do" and Hallowed Be Thy Name", which the band had to drop from their setlist on The Book Of Souls tour due to legal proceedings regarding the song but could now reinsert into the show now that everything had been settled. It was awesome to see it played again because, let's face it, it's probably their most popular song. The show concluded with the band's first mainstream hit, "Run To The Hills", with Bruce Dickinson capping off the night by 'blowing up' the stage by depressing the handle on a large TNT box.

The general consensus has been that this was one of their greatest tours ever and though there is still one U.S. show left (San Antonio on 9/25), this must reviewer must wholeheartedly agree. And while some bands basically regurgitate the same setlist tour after tour (KISS anyone?), MAIDEN keeps things fresh by changing things up a bit each time they go out. The band has proven time and again that they just don't raise the bar, they ARE the bar! As the entire band pushes into their 60s they are still on top of their game, particularly Bruce Dickinson, who at 61 still has the chops to perform at a high level and remains near the top of the greatest heavy metal vocalists of all time. Let's hope all of the rumors are true and we get a dose of new IRON MAIDEN music and an epic tour next year to go with it!

UP THE IRONS!

Setlist:

  • "Doctor, Doctor" (UFO, tape)
  • Churchill's Speech
  • "Aces High"
  • "Where Eagles Dare"
  • "2 Midnight To Midnight"
  • "The Clansman"
  • "The Trooper"
  • "Revelations"
  • "For The Greater Good Of God"
  • "The Wicker Man"
  • "Sign Of The Cross"
  • "Flight Of Icarus"
  • "Fear Of The Dark"
  • "The Number Of The Beast"
  • "Iron Maiden"
Encore"
  • "The Evil That Men Do"
  • "Hallowed Be Thy Name"
  • "Run To The Hills"
Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By Larry Petro/Petrofyed Photography


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