So my Brother Todd back in January of this year received an email saying that Iron Maiden would be playing the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St Paul Minnesota on June 16th.
Todd was working up in the area of Hudson’s Bay(Manitoba) back in January when the pre sale happened so with crappy WiFi where he was working he drove 60 miles to get a decent signal and viola grabbed us two tickets which was good as all 15,000 tickets sold out in less than a few hours!
Todd was pumped that not only Maiden was showing up but they were bringing Ghost as an opener. Todd vouched for them but I was on the fence with Ghost as I tried watching some of their live stuff on YouTube but for some reason I could not grasp the concept of the whole Ghost shtick! Would they convert me?
So the day of the show we took off bright n early and headed to St Paul Minnesota which is right next door to Minneapolis Minnesota(Twin Cities the locals call it) and Todd was on the ball and got us a hotel within a 10 minute walk to the Xcel Center.
So about 3 hours before show time we headed towards the Xcel Center (where there was a bunch of Maiden fanatics hanging out by the doors a good 3 hours before door’s would open. We realised later why as the floor was general admission)which has a bunch of Burger N Booze establishments so we picked one and had a few beers and you knew Maiden was in town as there were a ton of Maiden shirts everywhere. Let me clarify that. A ton of dudes wearing Maiden T’s with a handful of woman wearing some as well…Kinda like being at a Rush show!
It was funny as once as we headed back to the Xcel Center on the entrance side of the building that we were going to enter into I counted 7 poh poh cars and one K-9 Unit sitting right beside the Arena. Ha! Guess they were calling in extra’s for the Maiden show thinking there was going to be trouble! Strong Arm Of The Law!
Once inside and tickets scanned it was off for me to the Merchandise tables and there must have been about 12-14 different Maiden T’s (One T was an Xcel exclusive in which we snagged a few of those stat) There was another table set up that was selling a bunch of silk screen covers of albums. All the bases were covered! Todd was talking to a guy who drove in from Des Moines Iowa for the show and he bought a couple of these Maiden only Minneapolis T’s and told Todd that he puts a couple up on eBay and gets about $150 U.S per shirt as Maiden fanatics will pay for rare shirts!
At 730 pm sharp Ghost hit the stage opening with Square Hammer and I was hooked! What a great opening song and let’s for a second talk about these guys.
Ghost consists of 6 members with the Lead Singer going by the name of Papa Emeritus while the 5 other fella’s names or well they call em Nameless Ghouls. Papa looks like during the first three numbers an anti Pope. Seriously but I will say he has a wickedly good voice that with an excellent band of musicians around him whoever the Ghouls in real life are. Opening number Square Hammer is a great track but it was the tune Absolution that made me really take notice. This tune blends heavy and melodic rock with a smattering of Alice Cooper vocally mashed with the Keys of Deep Purple. The two Ghouls on guitars are a show upon themselves getting the crowd into it with their demonic like silver masks. Papa after awhile ditches the Anti Pope deal and goes for Think Andrew Loyd Weber with a mix of Phantom Of The Opera. He even has quite a bit of humour at times between songs when addressing the crowd. Good to see these guys don’t take themselves that seriously except when it comes to the music its taken very seriously! I posted a clip of Ghost from St Paul playing the track Cirice. You can see how they have that edge throughout but can snap into a real melodic bit and snap right out of it. Great stuff.
I don’t think I have ever seen an opening act get this much stage space and a real good use of lights(purple and green dominated the set ) from a headliner. Than again it’s Maiden!
The crowd was stoked as this was Maidens first appearance in the St Paul/Minneapolis area in 17 years!
At 8:55 pm the opening keys of UFO’s Doctor Doctor filled the arena and you knew once this song was over it was time for Maiden.
I have to say the whole Mayan like themed stage is very slick-looking and as it filled with smoke out appears Lead Singer Bruce Dickinson perched above Drummer Nicko McBrain’s Drums and does his Capella opening to the first song of the night If Eternity Should Fail for a few minutes than the rest of the Maidens hit the stage amidst a blast of pyro it is definitely show time.
It’s official I lose my shit!
Speed Of Light is up second and everyone is at the front of the stage with Bruce handling his mic stand like a Fencer swinging his sword. Guitarist Janick Gers is a show upon himself. Doing a bunch of wind mill’s on his guitar like Townsend. The dude is a throwback to the late 70’s early 80s look complete with the bullet belt around his waist. Flinging his guitar around his neck/back,legs stretched out over the PA and at times tossing in a solo for good measure. Must mention I dig Bruce’s stage attire for this show. Cargo pants/Hoodie and Boots. The dude is hanging with Mayan’s!
Great to hear Nicko and Bassist Steve Harris lock in at the start of Wrathchild. Bruce lets off his patent Air Raid Siren scream and wow man the guy is so good! Childern of The Damned is played this night and right before Children, Bruce addressed the crowd and asked how many people at the show where born after 1982. (The year COTD was released) The response was pretty loud as this is what Maiden wants to hear. Kids getting into Maiden from their parents and plus it keeps Maiden themselves from becoming a straight nostalgia act! Case in point there was Dad sitting beside me with his two young teenage son’s.
Death or Glory and The Red And Black from the current album Book of Souls are front and centre and Death And Glory is a great track with Bruce “Climbing Like A Monkey” as he gets the crowd into it(watch the video below) and Adrian Smith plays some real slick slide guitar during the solo. The Red And The Black is epic and clocks in at over 10 minutes with spectacular lights and a boatload of guitar solo’s!
1983’s classic The Trooper complete with Bruce in a red war jacket jostling a Union Jack Flag cranked up the crowds even more as this is one of those tracks that you will always be played. My brother who plays guitar says that Dave Murray is one of the smoothest Soloists out there as you don’t hear his picking and he flawlessly goes up and down the fret board during his solo’s. Todd also mentioned on the drive home between Ghost and Maiden we heard probably over 60 guitar solo’s between the act’s. An exhibition in axemanship I would say!
Powerslave encompasses everything I love about Maiden. Ripping verse’s huge chorus/total chill out in the midsection of the tune and the solos of Smith/Murray bring the song back up and Nicko does those crazy rolls right before the song goes back into its final verse! Told Todd that this track takes me right back to when I first bought Powerslave the day upon its release back in 1984! Must mention as well the huge wall of fire upon Bruce’s entrance…Impact!
The Great Unknown with its melodic opening and ramps up and ends with an extended melodic jam with all three guitarists getting there shot at playing some bluesy like riffs while Bruce works the crowd( all night Bruce was pointing to the front/back/upper deck’s all sections were acknowledged throughout the show)
Bruce soars vocally on the track Book of Souls and basically is a 13 minute Maiden Metal Masterpiece especially when Nicko lifts the tune off into a crazy tempo during the solo and here comes at least a 12 foot Eddie swinging at Janick before Bruce takes Eddie’s heart out and chucks it into the crowd! Steve Harris has written many classic tracks but this tune is one my fav’s. Like Powerlsave (song) it encompasses everything I love about Maiden!
Fear of The Dark has Bruce running back and forth behind Nicko on and not missing a line vocally. Endurance the man has! Janick throws down a great solo on FOTD. Love the last verse as the band just rip it up and just like that it’s time for …
Iron Maiden! The classic tune from the self titled 1980 release is performed and there’s Eddie behind Nicko rising up and Bam out comes the fire/pyro off of Ed’s noggin and just like that …the show is over!
The stage goes red and The Number of The Beast is dialled up and you want a ton of fire set off look no further than this track complete with another round of Bruce’s Air Raid Siren wail at the start of the track. Love Smith/Murray’s solo’s and Harris when he razzle dazzles with that bass riffing after the guitar solo’s…
Blood Brothers is next and I’m going to post the video and Bruce actually thanks Dekes and Todd for showing up(kinda thanks us..check it out it’s at the beginning of the song about the minute and half mark)
Wasted Years closes the show and it’s a great Adrian Smith track complete with A Plus solo. Maiden end things on a high!
First of thanks to Todd for making this trip happen! Maiden is still the best live act around and considering Nicko just turned 65 it’s crazy that these guys are still playing at this level! The solo’s/vocal’s it’s like its 1985 again! No dip in anything folks!
Bruce mentioned that there putting this show to bed at the end of July and they will go away for a bit but will be back. So it’s not quite the end yet.
Umm… yeah when they come back…..Myself and Todd will be there again!
Long Live Maiden!