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 Iron Maiden: Commanders Of Metal
Allstate Arena - Rosemont, IL - October 18, 2006

Review and photos by Adam Bielawski

Somewhere into Iron Maiden's fifth or sixth song, Bruce Dickinson started into dialogue to the near capacity Allstate Arena on October 13, 2006. Just over a week into their new U.S. tour, in support of the latest disc titled A Matter Of Life And Death. Dickinson putting Iron Maiden fans on the spot, "who out there has the new album?" A good portion of the fans of the arena cheered to acknowledge possessing the debuting Top 10 Iron Maiden CD. Over the past 20 years, Iron Maiden has sold out arenas around the world, sold albums and artistically themed graphic singles, always showcasing Eddie, Iron Maiden's mascot. No different today, Eddie representing Iron Maiden, now wearing fatigues and honouring the lost heroes of World War II. The theme of the new tour and disc is reflected in visionary of the stage. As Dickinson continued, "well we are going to play the whole album from start to finish." The fans once again got up, threw their fists in the air, devil's horns in place, cheering with agreement and excitement to hear the new songs. 

Dickinson continued, "if you came to see nostalgia, well you came to the wrong place." Many boos were voiced, however the fans who cheered in response to hear the new tracks outweighed the older fans who came to catch the old metal classics which most were never performed. One might wonder what is a show without "The Trooper," "Run To The Hills," "The Number of the Beast," "Powerslave" and all the rest of the tracks from the 1980's. Well the show was outstanding, Bruce Dickinson, the general held his ground, with a army of Eddie to back him up and the rest of Iron Maiden crew, with the arms and artillery of guitars and drums to put the old timers and move them into the current decade. 

I don't know what people are bitchin about, I was there 20 years ago, running to the store to get my Maiden album, putting the record on the player and playing the hell of the album till I knew every word. That is what I know the young fans are doing, they are the ones singing word for word of A Matter Of Life And Death. I'll admit, I do have the latest disc, but have I learned the songs, no I have not, would I liked to have heard some of the older classics from Number of the Beast or Piece of Mind, hell yeah, but the tracks were not performed by Dickinson or Iron Maiden. However what was performed, every single song off the new CD. Which were wesome, I saw and heard all the fans singing and throwing their hands in the air as the old f***s, as my self, sucking on their beers and many cursing under their breath, when they should shut their mouths, drink their beer and rock to Maiden. If you were a true Maiden fan, you would have known that they were not doing any of the old stuff and should have picked up A Matter Of Life And Death and learned the freakin words and then maybe then enjoyed the set, a show that was close to 2 hours of Iron Maiden. This is 2006, the Net, tons of magazines and tabloids, radio, so I ask, "are you living in a cave?" Iron Maiden did revisit some oldies, "2 Minutes To Midnight," "Fear Of The Dark," "The Evil That Men Do" and "Iron Maiden". 

Yes, Iron Maiden did release the latest visual of Eddie, with glowing eyes spotlighting the fans in the battlefield, as commander of the tank, Eddie sat high. Afterwards, coming out and doing some hand to hand combat with Janick Gers and Bruce Dickinson for a quick appearance, as done for the past 20 years. That is what Iron Maiden and Eddie are to the rest of the band, always a reincarnation, always living and coming back. Eddie is alive and Iron Maiden as well, alive, strong, in command and flying the British flag in the United States high. 

Bruce Dickinson and the rest, Steve Harris, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, Nicko McBrain and Janick Gers were all over the stage. Everyone in the arena had personal contact with the band as they forced themselves and conquered the arena. Steve Harris still fires his bass at the fans with the blazing guns commanded by Eddie himself as the tank commander, making sure Steve Harris' back is covered. The 3 lead guitars, Smith, Murray and Gers, harmonize and keep the Iron Maiden sound in check. You know when you tune in and hear Iron Maiden, it's like a finger print in rock and roll and heavy metal. There is only one Iron Maiden, distinct, clear, crisp and heavy. Nicko, the one member of the band that is usually hidden behind the back beat of Maiden, but you know McBrain is there, bashing out nothing but energy and if you look once in a while you'll see him pop out. Familiar or not with the new tracks, Bruce Dickinson kept the momentum alive. Almost 2 hours on stage, giving his vocals as always the sound many of us know as Iron Maiden. This show, Dickinson had spotlights reaching out, available to shine the crown, from the port or starboard, Dickinson enticed the fans and wanted to hear them. "Scream for me Chicago!, Scream for me." Many times I have heard this and I never get tired as Dickinson runs from one side of the arena to the other, giving the crowd competition against each other for who is louder from night to night and who will surrender. No one ever does. Not to forget the set, but it was World War II, barb wire, sand bags, paratroopers and a tank to coincide with the disc. History has always played major themes in many Iron Maiden shows from the past, when you have Maiden, you have history, you get to live and maybe even learn something of the past.

Iron Maiden was nothing less than impressive, from set design, harmony, excellent guitar work, pounding drums and the screams in perfect tune as no other can emulate. Iron Maiden are legends, 20 years ago, this band sold out this same arena 3 or 4 nights. Very few have accomplished this feat; however, those that have sold multiple nights are on the radio and TV 24 hours a day. So I ask who really sold this place out? Twenty years later, still very, if any radio play, twenty years later, nothing has changed and Iron Maiden sells out arenas, or this night to near capacity. Over the years, Iron Maiden brought us through very vibrant visual illustrations of history of philosophy, of war, of nightmares, of mythology, of energy and why should it stop today, let Maiden continue. When Maiden rolls through town again, I will be there, again and again and again. Only fitting to end the set with "Hallowed Be Thy Name," and all you bitchin old timers, you had your song, now to learn what is new.





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Photo By Adam Bielawski
Copyright 2006 Adam Bielawski
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