It’s been six years since Iron Maiden played Glasgow and, I’ll be honest here, I swithered about going to see them this time round. However, common sense prevailed and tickets were duly procured.
Three firsts happened before we were even in the venue, Glasgow’s SSE Hydro arena.
The first of these is that we made it to the car park without taking a wrong turn. (We miss that turn every time!)
The second was that Boy Child and I found ourselves queuing in warm, evening sunshine. (Every other time we’ve visited this venue it’s been cold, dark, windy and usually raining.)
And the third? Well, this was the first arena show I’d attended when it was just Boy Child and I. No chaperones. Just a mother and son outing.
As we queued in the sunshine, we counted up the number of shows we’ve been to together. This one marked the twenty sixth mother and son outing.
Doors were soon open though and the arena bowl beckoned us in once more.
Shinedown were the support band for the evening. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Shinedown fan but I have to admit that they had been a bit “off the boil” the last couple of times I’d seen them live so I was more than a little concerned as we stood a couple of rows off the rail.
Purple light swathed the huge Shinedown backdrop as the pa system played Prince (definite improvement from 2016’s meditation tape!) My concerns were still twitching a little however Shinedown blasted their way into their hour long set with Adrenaline. This was closely followed by Fly From Inside and, after a little vocal coaching for the crowd from Brent Smith, Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom). What an opening trio!
It was a joy to see these guys back on top form and commanding the stage. It’s a pity, certainly from where we were standing, that the audience weren’t more enthusiastic. C’est la vie!
Current single, How Did You Love, from the album Threat To Survival, slowed things down a little before Shinedown revved the crowd back up with Unity, Enemies, the awesome Second Chance and Cut The Cord.
Around us the arena was rapidly filling up and the crowd’s enthusiasm for these guys was growing with it.
All four members of Shinedown were in top form. It’s always a joy to behold Eric Bass’s frenetic performance and, yay I got a pick from this guy! Zach Myers made a few ventures over to our side of the room , looking all too like Ed Sheeran’s long lost brother. Up at the back on drums, Barry Kerch’s dreads were flying all night. Sign of a great performance.
All too soon Brent Smith was thanking the crowd, thanking Iron Maiden for having them along and introducing the epic Sound of Madness to close out their set.
It’s never goodbye. It’s just till next time. It sure is. We’ll be there next time for sure!
The well-oiled machine that is the Iron Maiden stage crew swarmed all over the stage for the next half hour as they transformed the setting into Mayan ruins.
Shortly before nine, the lights dimmed once more and two video screens either side of the stage played an animation of Eddie journeying through the Mayan temple as the walls crashed down around him and us from the sound effects.
On stage, smoke billowed from a cauldron on the runway above the drum kit. The sconces were lit and the intro for If Eternity Should Fail began. Druid like, Bruce Dickinson emerged behind the cauldron, gazing into its smoking depths. His distinctive voice rang true over the capacity crowd. With a flash of lights and flames, the rest of Iron Maiden joined in and the Scottish fans went wild. The crowd around us erupted!
Iron Maiden’s fifteen song set was top heavy with tracks from their latest album, The Book Of Souls, as was to be expected. With a back catalogue as extensive as theirs, there may have been some fans who left a couple of hours later wishing that they’d played their favourite track. If they’d played everyone’s favourites these guys would have been playing till dawn.
Wrathchild and Children of the Damned proved that some thirty five years down the line they still stood the test of time. Both sounded as fresh as they did circa 1982.
Every member of Iron Maiden looked to be having a blast out on stage. If the band are enjoying themselves then you know you are in a for a hell of a night.
Dave Murray was positioned in front of us and was grinning all night. When Steve Harris bounded over there was a piercing intensity to his gaze as he scanned the throngs of fans in front of him. One thing all of them quickly had in common was the fact that the sweat was pouring off them. Iron Maiden play hard!
One of the highlights from The Book of Souls was The Red And The Black. It’s probably my personal from the album and live it was awesome! All ten and a half minutes of eargasmic awesomeness.
The mighty The Trooper followed. With a patriotic Eddie backdrop, Bruce Dickinson emerged on the walkway above and behind drummer, Nicko McBrain, in his distinguished red military jacket waving a huge Union Jack flag. As he prowled the huge stage, the Scottish fans proved they were still in fine voice.
Title track from the album The Book Of Souls saw the arrival on stage of Eddie. Wielding a short handled axe, he roamed the stage menacingly, pausing for a few moments to “play” with Janick Gers who ran rings round the towering Eddie as he sprinted round through his legs in taunting circles. Eventually Eddie came face to face with Bruce, who after a short tussle, ripped his heart from his chest and held his trophy aloft for the fans to see. Awesome performance with just the right level of gruesome theatricals.
Fear Of The Dark, my all time favourite Maiden song, followed. The gentle hi hats from Nicko introduced the immediately recognisable intro. Instantly, the fans were singing along to it. Bruce’s voice sounded as strong as ever as the crowd erupted into a writhing mass in front of him. Glasgow sure does love this song!
“Scream for me, Scotland,” declared Bruce at the end of Fear Of The Dark. He didn’t need to ask twice. The fans obliged at a deafening volume as the band launched into the final song of the main set , Iron Maiden.
With red eyes blazing, a Mayan Eddie head emerged at the back of the stage. The flaming sconces remained lit and Iron Maiden rounded out their main set as energetically as they had begun.
After a brief pause, Iron Maiden returned to the stage for a three song encore. The iconic voice over tape echoed round the arena, introducing encore opener The Number Of The Beast, another anthem that has stood the test of time. As huge flames shot up into the air behind him, Bruce led the Glasgow choir once more. Behind Janick Gers, the huge inflatable horned Beast gazed down menacingly upon proceedings.
Blood Brothers followed before Iron Maiden brought the evening to a climax with Wasted Years. Awesome end to an incredible set.
I’ll not lie here, I was totally wasted after this. My legs were like jelly and the world was beginning to spin through dehydration and heat exhaustion. Down at the front of the crowd, it had been hot as hell, sweaty and odorous (thanks to the guy in front of me who really needed to check his underwear) and it had been a boisterous two hours. I was battered and bruised (I’m still bruised) but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Don’t leave it another six years, guys, please. Haste ye back!