“Doctor doctor, please, don’t you know I’m goin’ fast. Doctor doctor, please, don’t you know I just can’t live.
[…] Livin’ lovin’ I’m on the run. So far away from you. Livin’ lovin’ I’m on the run. So far away from you.”
The famous UFO song (always played at the start of an Iron Maiden gig) is a promise that makes the audience roar. Knowing that their heroes are about to hit the stage, the thousands of loud, sweaty people in the arena scream even louder than they have for the past 15 minutes.
This is the type of audience most bands can only dream of. But this is no ordinary audience, no ordinary band, no ordinary night. These people – from teenagers to their retirement-age parents – have turned up at The O2 in London to witness the final show of Iron Maiden‘s spectacular Legacy Of The Beast 2018 Tour, an experience that’s been 43 years in the making.
“We shall fight them on the beaches…” The famous Churchill speech booms around the arena like a punch in the face of today’s world, where fascism has been reborn with new names, handshakes, fake smiles, and clothes. In a world where intolerance has slowly become the norm, it takes guts to speak about freedom and sacrifice.
To the sound of a roaring engine in mid-flight, the stage explodes in lights to reveal an almost full-sized replica of the actual Mk VB Supermarine Spitfire (registration number AA 853 from 302 Squadron) flown by a young Polish pilot on duty in 1941.
As the plane flies above the stage, the distinctive riff of Aces High hits the air and singer Bruce Dickinson jumps straight out of nowhere dressed in pilot’s goggles and leather jacket. Without a doubt, this is the most spectacular start to a show I’ve ever seen.
Where Eagles Dare brings a full scenery change. The Spitfire, goggles, and pilot jacket are gone. With the energy a 20-year-old could envy, Dickinson jumps out in a white winter jacket and hat. It’s hot as hell, yet the group embrace the winter theme with the frontman effortlessly running and singing one of his greatest hits. But despite how easy he makes it look, pushing his voice and body to their absolute limits, Dickinson and the rest of Iron Maiden aren’t just going through the motions.
This isn’t just another night on tour. This is a night of enjoyment and celebration, not just for the fans but for the band themselves. As an Iron Maiden fan, I’ve seen them live multiple times and they’ve never sounded better. This is a night that sends shivers down your spine, that redefines your view on the British music scene.
“Scream For Me London!” Yells Bruce as the band rushed into 2 Minutes To Midnight. The classic tune brings another change in Bruce outfit and sets the different mood to the performance. Bruce is back on the front line, leading his band and fans, like a ship captain during a storm. What a way to celebrate his 60th Birthday that happens to be only a few days before London’s show.
The Trooper brings the band’s mascot, Eddie, to the stage for a sword fight with Dickinson. It’s just one part of a carefully planned performance where, as promised by the singer, the music and pictures tell the story. The well-oiled metal machine known as Iron Maiden smoothly moves from song to song and theme to theme. Revelations, For The Greater Good Of God, Sign Of The Cross, and Flight Of Icarus (back in the set after only 32 years) comprise a precisely planned anti-war, anti-fascist metal opera with crosses, smoke, and singalongs.
In a set that’s equally big on fan favourites, long-lost classics, and the hits, Fear Of The Dark is the peak, as usual. The crowd somehow scream even louder than before and sing every single word of the band’s anthem, before The Number Of The Beast and finally Iron Maiden (the song) wrap up the first part of the show. But the true fans know it’s not yet over. Even with the lights out, it’s still not the end, it’s just the break until you hear Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.
And they’re back, in full power and style with The Evil That Men Do, Hallowed Be Thy Name, and finally Run To The Hills. The air is heavy, and the person standing next to you looks like a friend you’ve known for years. This is the magic of music connecting generations. This is Iron Maiden.
Words and Photography by Edyta K at Iron Maiden live @ O2 Arena, 11th August 2018