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IRON MAIDEN, GHOST In Houston With Photos!

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 2:00 PM


Tropical Storm Cindy Is No Match For Eddie

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All Photos By Larry Petro/Petrofyed Photography

Tropical Storm Cindy churning toward the Texas Gulf Coast did little to damper the spirits of the 17,000+ diehard fans who, for the second time in as many weeks, had the opportunity to witness another of the greatest heavy metal acts of all-time, this time in the form of metal giants IRON MAIDEN, who flew (literally) into town for a concert at Toyota Center in downtown Houston. From the moment the tropical system entered the Gulf of Mexico, fans started to become a little nervous, especially since the storm's exact path had yet to be determined until a little more than 24 hours before show time. Even then the threat of severe weather for Houston had many wondering if the mighty MAIDEN would err on the side of caution and cancel the show. Luckily for us they didn't and we were treated once again to a fine evening of British Heavy Metal.

When IRON MAIDEN toured the States last year there were no Texas shows on the itinerary, an oddity to be sure, as MAIDEN LOVES Texas! We even get our own special tour t-shirts with the Texas dates listed on them. Thankfully, when the 2017 North American Tour was announced there were 3 shows tapped for the Lone Star State: Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. We were not forgotten!

Tagging along for the ride on this stretch of the tour was Sweden's GHOST, led by frontman Tobias Forge (aka Papa Emeritus) and his band of Nameless Ghouls, an apparently interchangeable group of hired gun musicians whose faces are hidden with masks. Love 'em or hate 'em (I personally could do without all the satanic imagery and lyrics), their music is pretty damn good and the musicians are quite talented. They stormed out of the gate at 7:30 with the intro "Masked Ball", which led straight into "Square Hammer", a pounding opening number that had fans bobbing heads and pumping their fists in short order. From there the band rolled through seven more tracks during their allotted 45 minutes with such numbers as "From The Pinnacle To The Pit", "Cirice", "Year Zero" and set closer "Monstrance Clock". This band was the perfect fit to warm everyone up for what came next: IRON MAIDEN!

GHOST Setlist:

  • Intro "Masked Ball"
  • "Square Hammer"
  • "From The Pinnacle To The Pit"
  • "Ritual"
  • "Cirice"
  • "Year Zero"
  • "Absolution"
  • "Mummy Dust"
  • "Monstrance Clock"
MAIDEN have always done a fine job of matching up their stage show to whichever album they happened to be supporting at the time, just one of many facets of the band that keeps them in the upper echelon of heavy metal royalty, and the tour in support of The Book Of Souls is no exception. As the crew began disassembling GHOST's stage setup you could see MAIDEN's stage start to take shape. Obviously based around the Mayan theme of the album, the stage was replete with all manner of Mayan imagery and props.

Every MAIDEN fan knows that once they hear the opening chords of UFO's "Doctor Doctor" the show is about to begin and on this night the crowd roars and the anticipation reaches a crescendo as the song ends and the lights go down. Video screens on either side of the stage fire up the intro mini-movie that takes you on a virtual journey through the jungle as we find a Mayan Eddie who leads us through a labyrinth of subterranean tunnels to a chamber holding a massive beating heart. The movie ends with a hand coming up from below the heart, grasping it until it bursts. Onstage we now find a hooded vocalist Bruce Dickinson hunched in front of a smoking cauldron perched atop the walkway that runs from side to side behind Nicko McBrain's drum kit. As he unveils himself and finishes, a wall of flames rise up and the rest of the band takes the stage and launch with the 1-2 (literally) punch of the first two tracks from The Book Of Souls>, "If Eternity Should Fail" and "Speed Of Light". For guys that are all in their 60s or pushing the 60 envelope, the band still displays the energy of performers half their age. Guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith for the most part are content to stay in their respective positions, wherever they may be at that moment but guitarist Janick Gers is somewhat of a whirling-dervish loose cannon on stage as if he's had way too much caffeine prior to showtime. Bassist and 'the man' Steve Harris also hardly ever stands still and Bruce is, well Bruce, full of energy and vigor.

Dickinson addressed the crowd briefly before the band continued their 15 song, 2 hour auditory and visual assault on the helpless Houston crowd with a pair of classics, "Wrathchild" and "Children Of The Damned". It was back to The Book Of Souls album for another pair of six total they would perform from the new opus, "Death Or Glory" and "The Red And The Black". Admittedly at times a couple of the songs seemed to drag on forever and the crowd would become a little restless, as was the case during "The Red And The Black", but that restlessness turned to roars of approval as the backdrop behind MAIDEN's stage changed over to the familiar picture of Eddie in uniform carrying the Union Jack flag, for they knew what was coming: "The Trooper"! The excitement returned as the band plowed through the classic track, following it up with another classic, "Powerslave". The final pair of new songs came next, "The Great Unknown" and the epic ten-minute title track, "The Book Of Souls", during the latter of which Mayan Eddie made his appearance onstage to more cheers from the crowd. The band wrapped up the pre-encore portion of the show with "Fear Of The Dark" and their namesake, "Iron Maiden". A huge, maybe 40 foot, inflatable Eddie arose from the back of the stage during the final part of the song before a barrage of pyro sent him back from whence he came.

Following a very short few moments the band returned to play a 3-song encore of "Number Of The Beast", "Blood Brothers" and "Wasted Years" before calling it a night as the crowd exited the arena to the sounds of MAIDEN's chosen outro, the Monty Python song "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life". The most notable omission from the show and one that probably no one didn't notice was the absence of "Hallowed Be Thy Name", probably MAIDEN's most popular live inclusion. Due to an ongoing lawsuit over songwriting credits that was supposedly settled decades ago, the band made the decision before the tour that they would not play the song until the legal issues had been resolved once and for all. It was quite disappointing for the fans but hopefully it will work itself out soon and the guys can go back to kicking ass with it in concert once again.

And I get that the tour is in support of the new album, but for this reviewer, having almost half of the set be songs from the record was a bit much. Four probably would have been better with the other 2 song slots then being filled with a couple more hits like "Aces High" or "Two Minutes To Midnight", but what do I know? MAIDEN have always done things on their terms and this tour is no different.

IRON MAIDEN Setlist:

  • "If Eternity Should Fail"
  • "Speed Of Light"
  • "Wrathchild"
  • "Children Of The Damned"
  • "Death Or Glory"
  • "The Red And The Black"
  • "The Trooper"
  • "Powerslave"
  • "The Great Unknown"
  • "The Book Of Souls"
  • "Fear Of The Dark"
  • "Iron Maiden"
Encore:
  • "The Number Of The Beast"
  • "Blood Brothers"
  • "Wasted Years"
Be sure and catch IRON MAIDEN at one of these remaining shows!
  • 6.23 - DALLAS, TX - AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER
  • 6.24 - SAN ANTONIO, TX - AT&T CENTER
  • 6.27 - ALBUQUERQUE, NM - ISLETA AMPHITHEATER
  • 6.28 - PHOENIX, AZ - TALKING STICK RESORT ARENA
  • 7.01 - SAN BERNARDINO, CA - SAN MANUEL AMPHITHEATER*
  • 7.03 - LAS VEGAS, NV - T-MOBILE ARENA
  • 7.05 - OAKLAND, CA - ORACLE ARENA
  • 7.07 - SALT LAKE CITY, UT - USANA AMPHITHEATER
  • 7.09 - LINCOLN, NE - PINNACLE BANK ARENA
  • 7.11 - KANSAS CITY, MO - SPRINT CENTER
  • 7.12 - ST LOUIS, MO - HOLLYWOOD CASINO AMPHITHEATER
  • 7.15 - TORONTO, CANADA - BUDWEISER STAGE
  • 7.16 - QUEBEC CITY, CANADA - VIDEOTRON CENTRE
  • 7.19 - MANSFIELD, MA - XFINITY CENTER
  • 7.21 - BROOKLYN, NY - BARCLAYS CENTER
Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By Larry Petro/Petrofyed Photography


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