“Scream for me, Portlaaaand!!”
That’s a phrase this city hasn’t heard in, oh, 32 years—the last time Iron Maiden performed here supporting their Somewhere In Time record. Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson’s classic refrain, immortalized on the band’s classic Live After Death record (“Scream for me, Long Beach!”), never got old Friday night, working the sold-out crowd at the Moda Center into a froth every time.
Of course, there was plenty keeping the audience riveted for the two-hour set: deep cuts. Old classics. Nose-diving World War II bombers. Fire. Costume changes. Sword duels. Guitarist Janick Gers’ white high-tops. And of course Eddie. Iron Maiden’s "Legacy of the Beast Tour" is heavy metal theater, with plenty of melodrama, camp, massive stage production, and songs that practically define the genre.
As I noted after seeing the band in 2016 during the "Book of Souls World Tour" in Tacoma, the only difference between Iron Maiden in 1985 and Iron Maiden now is an extra guitarist, and a few more wrinkles and gray hairs. That held true for the most part Friday night, although the camp factor seemed cranked higher this time around, whether it was Dickinson’s multiple costume changes, or his scripted cheeky banter. And where he looked like an ageless mountain man bounding the stage a few years ago, he went a little heavier on props and pageantry this time around, including a sword, a hangman’s noose, and a large crucifix.
This time around the setlist leaned toward the band’s classic ’80s era, although Maiden locked into a couple Blaze Bayley-era songs “Sign of the Cross” and “The Clansman,” as well as a latter-day epic “For the Greater Good of God” from 2006’s unsung A Matter of Life and Death. While I would have preferred to hear some punchier classics from Killers or Somewhere In Time, I do appreciate Maiden’s choice to roll out a few longer deep cuts.
Any minor quibbles matter not—there were nothing but smiles on the faces of band and audience members throughout the night. And there were plenty of classic cuts to satiate the heavy metal granddads in the crowd: “Aces High,” “The Trooper,” “Flight of Icarus,” and “The Number of the Beast,” which brought out a massive satanic visage of Eddie with a pentagram carved into his forehead.
It was perhaps the campier moments, as much as the riffs, twin guitar leads and operatic vocals, that encapsulated heavy metal so perfectly that night. It’s why we love metal, and why Iron Maiden is arguably the best there’s ever been. I mean, if you can’t have a good time, and take the piss out of yourself, what’s the goddamn point? And to that I say, up the irons!