Iron Maiden & Dream Theater – Concord – June 20th, 2010
I’ll start out by saying that this was an exceptional concert. I’m not the biggest Iron Maiden fan and a big Dream Theater fan; so I was pretty undecided on going to this for a while. Iron Maiden are absolute legends and with the unfortunate passing of Dio, I knew that I had to see these guys at least once. And boy was I glad I did.
Dream Theater delivered the performance that I’ve come to expect from them. Precise and proficient. They didn’t have their usual set ups with tons of cameras and screen projections, so it really boiled down to delivering a great sounding performance; which they definitely did. James’ voice was quite decent that night. John Petrucci delivered some amazing solos. If I remember correctly, he had one in every song. Jordan was actually a little short on the solos this time around, probably due to their (relatively) shorter setlist. Mike, however, did manage to sneak a mini-drum solo. All around, great performance by these guys. Their setlist was exceptional. They spanned 6 of their 10 albums and picked great songs from each of them, all of them showing off their more metal side.
Iron Maiden. I don’t know if my writing is good enough to describe how awesome their performance was (it’s not). I’ll admit, I only really know their “classics.” The only albums of theirs I own are The Number Of The Beast and Piece Of Mind. And after sneaking a peek of their setlist, I was kinda worried I’d be lost and wouldn’t enjoy it as much. Boy was I wrong. Despite not knowing the songs, just about all of them were absolutely rocking. And on every song, every single one of the guys were pouring all their energy into it. They were really feeding off the energy the crowd was giving them and blasting it back at us with every beat and riff. Bruce especially was energetic, moving all over the stage. In one instance, he was on stage right, then took off running, up the setpiece, over Nicko and his drum set, then down the setpiece onto stage left. All in the span of like two phrases. Having so many talented musicians on stage makes it so hard to keep up with who’s doing what. Especially when exceptional ones like Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are laying down awe inspiring solos. Or when Janick Gers is all over the stage spinning and doing windmills. Or when Steve Harris tries to steal the spotlight from the guitarists (and sometimes succeeds). They also gravitated towards each other a lot, striking epic metal poses while nailing solos. After seeing them play, I’m convinced that they could play any setlist and still put on a fantastic show. That being said, I kinda wished they did play a few more of their classics. I know there were a good amount of people who were angry that their song didn’t get played. I’m sure with such a huge discography, the guys of Iron Maiden don’t want to get pigeon-holed into being a nostalgia band who is stuck playing all their classic songs and not supporting any of their new material. At the same time, those classics are insanely popular amongst the fans. It’s a delicate balance, and I feel that it would’ve gone over better if there were maybe a few more classics and if they weren’t all saved for the end. But something like that is not gonna make me say it was “the worst show ever” or that I’m not going to their next show. Because I’m a much larger Maiden fan now.
We arrived at the Pavilion around 6. Even though we got parking in the 4th or 5th row, there was a swarm of Maiden fans already waiting in line. We took a peek at the front of the line and saw it wrapped around even more at the entrance. After waiting at the back of the line for a while, a friendly staff person announced there was a second entrance. We effectively became the front of the new line. By the time they were letting us in, the two lines had merged and was way down the parking lot. We hit up the fustercluck that was the merch booth and clawed our way to a sweet Maiden shirt (and in my case, a kinda sweet Dream Theater shirt). As we were walking away some music started playing louder than the usual stuff. Even though there were no screams and cheers, I thought Dream Theater had hit the stage and we hurried out onto the lawn. Nope. They had decided to play The Best of Times. It was a fitting choice for Father’s Day. Anyways, we parked it center stage and waited it out.
Dream Theater‘s Setlist
After what it felt like 20 minutes, the booming and frantic strings intro of Dream Theater played over the speakers (after 3 years of hearing it, I’m still at a loss of what that’s from. If you know, I want to know!) There was only a pause of a few seconds after it ended before it was replaced by that familiar rising synthesized strings intro of…
As I Am (They must have had the quickest entrance ever. Nobody was on stage during the bass intro, then that first chord they all play everyone was suddenly there. Wicked guitar solo here by Petrucci, as expected.)
A Rite of Passage (This is my third time seeing Dream Theater, and the first time hearing a song played live more than once. Not my favorite track off their latest album, but it’ll do. I feel like Wither would’ve been a more appropriate choice since it wasn’t played their last tour, but I can’t really complain.)
Home (Wasting no time, they launched right into this one after the previous. I’ll gladly listen to anything they play off Scenes From A Memory! At the end of that last instrumental tag at the end, Mike launched into a mini drum solo. I’m pretty sure he even managed to sneak in the drum intro of Maiden’s When Eagles Dare. I could be wrong though.)
Constant Motion (A little more banter. James wishes the fathers a happy Father’s Day by answering his own question: “We’re great aren’t we? Yeah, we’re great.” Then right back to the music. Despite Mike singing a lot on this song, I couldn’t hear him that well. Brilliant drumming on this song though plus more awesome solos.)
Panic Attack (Suck a rocking song. The best part was when Jordan took center stage with the John’s with his KEYTAR for solos! He and Petrucci did the cool back to back playing during the harmony unison part which was very epic.)
Pull Me Under (This was definitely the highlight of their set for me. There was a very brief pause where none of the guys did anything. Then Petrucci plays the first bar of the song and tons of people cheer. James tells us to sing very loud on this one. He, in turn, sang wonderfully and clearly. I absolutely love Jordan’s doubling of the keyboard part after the first part of the first verse. Then in the second part of the first verse, it looked like he was taking a knee and was collapsing on his keyboard. Weirdest metal move I’ve seen, but I suppose when you have keyboard you can’t do many cool moves. And holy crap, John Myung was sighted on stage left! Seeing him near center stage is rare enough, but seeing him over there blew my mind. It was a bummer when they neared the end. They ended the song abruptly just like on the album and it fit the song well to not know exactly when they would stop playing.)
Iron Maiden‘s Setlist
Man it was a thrill watching these guys up on the stage. Even though I barely knew the songs, it was still a very enjoyable concert. The stage had a lunar bunker type base going around the sides and the back, with Nicko and his drums in the middle. Bruce would be using that as a second stage throughout the night. They also had some great giant backdrops that changed after just about every song. Some of them were scenery, but most of them were of Eddie. After they dimmed the lights, they teased us with two full tracks (“School’s Out For The Summer” and then another song by UFO). But then this crazy, epic, orchestral piece started booming over the speakers accompanied by lots of space-related images on the screen. Then the guys charge onto stage with…
The Wicker Man (Once the band hit the stage, the crowd’s response was overwhelming. Plus with 5 guys suddenly rocking out all over the stage, it was hard to take it all in. A short and energetic song to get the night started. Also, the first windmills of the night by Janick.)
Ghost of the Navigator (A quick welcome and happy Father’s Day by Bruce during the relatively calmer intro. Then they took right off again. I really liked the chorus of this song as well as Janick’s blazing solo.)
Wrathchild (Another absolute rocking song. Steve Harris dropped a very awesome bass groove to start it off. The song felt really, really short though.)
El Dorado (Sneak peek at their newest album. Bruce tells us that even though they released this song to download, everything we download sounds like shit. Then he rants on about how we stick cotton in our ears which is powered by a battery which is run by Steve Jobs and Google. “This is what it should fucking sound like!” Then everyone starts blasting their instruments like it was the end of the song. Followed by another grooving bass line. Followed by Bruce yelling “Scream for me, Concord!” As for the song itself, it was alright. One of the few times we got to see Adrian and Steve sing backing vocals.)
Dance Of Death (Nice calm acoustic intro for us before picking right back up. The instrumental section was amazing, great solos all around. Nice transition back into the calm part to finish it off.)
The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg (Despite starting off with a slower, calmer guitar solo, this song ended up with a very forceful, driving riff to it.)
These Colours Don’t Run (Nice little pep talk by Bruce as the guys warmed up. He tells us that the song is about warriors and how you don’t have to kill someone else to be a warrior. You just have to fight for what you believe in and never fucking give up.)
Blood Brothers (Time for another pep talk. Bruce tells us the great thing about metal and Maiden is that it’s like joining a giant family that doesn’t care who you are or what soccer team you like. He then dedicates the song to someone we lost recently, Ronnie James Dio. The crowd goes nuts, screaming, raising the metal sign and chanting a resounding “DIO! DIO!” into the night. Bruce laughs and exclaims, “You know, I think he did fucking invent that,” referring to the infamous metal sign. I very much enjoyed this one. Great drumming by Nicko and Bruce’s voice nailed the chorus perfectly when he wasn’t making the crowd sing it instead.)
Wildest Dreams (Time for a more upbeat, ‘happier’ sounding song. Short and simple.)
No More Lies (A familiar sound of the slow, calmer, intro to serve as a build up. At this point, it felt like most of their songs in their set list did this. As Bruce joins the song, his voice nails it perfectly. When he sings the line “Maybe I’ll come back some other day,” I believe it was Adrian who echos “some other day.” Bruce quickly looks behind him and asks “Who said that?” before picking up right where he left off. Quite amusing. Lots of crowd participation during the choruses.)
Brave New World (Another one that I really enjoyed. Despite my previous comment about the common trend of calmer intros and outros, I liked them during this song.)
Fear Of The Dark (As we approached the home stretch, Iron Maiden began their classics run. The crowd went absolutely wild when they started playing this song. It was awe inspiring to hear the crowd of at least 12000 people ‘woaaaah’ to this song before the lyrics even started. Then when Bruce cued us, a loud answer of “fear of the dark!” It was here where Bruce bolted from one side of the stage, around to the other while still singing. The other guys led a lot of jumping during this song. I don’t think I can convey how much the crowd was into this song, it was absolutely awesome, one of the highlights of the night for me.)
Iron Maiden (I suppose this is their super-classic old school song. In the middle of the song, everyone stops playing and Bruce commands us, “Scream for me, Concord!” Soon after, Alien Eddie comes lumbering out to many cheers. Janick does his usual bit of battling him, and up on the screen, we see just that, except it’s through Eddie’s point of view. Nice touch. Once the song starts to wind down and everyone starts jamming, Eddie procures his own guitar and joins in. The epicicity is off the charts!)
The Number Of The Beast (After the usual bit of saying thank you, walking off stage, and leaving everyone in the dark, we hear that oh-so-familiar voice, telling us about the number 666. At the same time, we witness the return of Eddie, rising up on the second tier of the stage, bathed in red light. The crowd is going wild again. Although Bruce’s scream isn’t as high as the album, he still manages to make it sound damn good. I sure hope those protesters at the front of the line weren’t around to hear this song, or their brains might melt. I don’t care who you are, but you gotta love those guitar solos by Dave and Adrian, absolutely brilliant.
Hallowed Be Thy Name (This is the moment I had been waiting for the whole concert. It was the very definition of epic. During the guitar interlude between verses, all 4 of the guys hit center stage together with Bruce hanging around above Nicko; fucking sweet. Before Bruce starts singing at the end of the song, he was up at the center, trying to get the crowd to scream for him. Someone with good aim from the pit throws a bra right at him. He picks it up, looks at it confused, then holds it up to his chest. The rest of the song, he waved it around as he sang before launching it back into the pit. Oh yeah, and the song was fucking awesome!)
Running Free (Kinda a fun little track to end the night. The song was modified and extended to do a little crowd participation and introduction of the band members by Bruce. During one little intermission, people started throwing stuff at him. First was a pair of sunglasses missing one lens. They were dubbed James Cameron’s patented 2D glasses. Next up came a set of keys, hopefully the owners were able to leave. To keep us on our toes, Bruce decided to remind us about their upcoming album. Then came one of the most comedic moments of the night. Someone threw some stuff that didn’t quite look like broccoli to Bruce. And it definitely was not spinach. It was a joint. Then he exclaims that he has to return it to its rightful owner and asks who wants it. Just about everyone in the pit screamed before he launched it back into the pit. He walks off stage then returns wearing a constable hat he found at an army surplus store in Texas and warns all of us to not throw any more weird broccoli on stage. Shortly after, he made his way through the band introductions. By that time, we were left with 2 minutes to the end of the show. One more time through the chorus then the big jam at the end, and it was all over.)
The only thing left to say is, “Up the Irons!”