Iron Maiden: The Tour of Souls

Number of the beast C 22816
IRON MAIDEN – “The Book of Souls” World Tour 2016
Las Vegas, NV – Mandalay Bay Event Center, February 28

On February 24th, the Jedi masters of Metal kicked off a world tour to shame all others.

Iron Maiden’s latest release not only surpassed fan expectations, but sales as well, performing “50 percent better than any other previous release,” according to Bruce Dickinson. That is 50 percent better than their staple classic, The Number of the Beast, which features their first footprint on the Billboard charts, “Run to the Hills.” Fifty percent better than “Piece of Mind,” which features not one, but two MTV video darlings, “Flight of Icarus” and “The Trooper.”

Deep into their 50’s, over thirty years later, these six modest and magnificent men have raised the stratospheric bar that they, themselves, have set. That is a tremendous feat and image to wrap one’s head around.

Blood brothers A 22816No band in the history of music since the Beatles and the Rolling Stones has had more influence on generations of music, community, or economy than these men. As musicians, each of them are the creme-de-la-crème of their craft; Nicko’s consummate attention to detail, Murray’s elegance, Smith’s undefeatable craftsmanship on song and string, Janick’s presence, Bruce’s iconic vocals and showmanship, and the unarguably attested greatest bass player in the world, Steve Harris. Together, along with a formidable management and artistic team, and a beloved larger-than-life mascot, have been able to create a universal empire that continues to transcend color, race, religion, gender, age, or time.

Iron Maiden is a big deal.

A Maiden show is not just a concert, it is a privilege. It is an event. It is a pilgrimage to the Metal Mecca. And “The Book of Souls” Mayan theme is a perfect fit for this experience; beautiful, brutal, mysterious, and tribal.

This year, their set consists of glorious lighting rigs of stars, suns, and beams; stones and swamp vines; and the grandest Eddie entrance to date. The use of the Minotaur in lieu of the traditional Baphomet-esque imagery for the “Beast” is ultra-classy, even for Maiden standards. Though the set list beholds a few surprises, such as the inclusion of “Children of the Damned” and the exclusion of “Aces High” and “Run to the Hills,” the choices they dished from a 130 plus song buffet were no less delicious and fulfilling.

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Bigger plane, bigger sets, bigger lights, bigger sounds, and bigger tour would have much less impact or meaning in the hands of any other band. Maiden is the only entity in existence that can pull this off and keep their impeccable integrity as artists and professionals. They keep it real and they keep it strong making “The Book of Souls” tour quite possibly – and never to be said lightly — the greatest show on Earth.

The Spirit of Ghost

Ghost live HOB 10312015
GHOST
HOUSE OF BLUES, LAS VEGAS
October 31, 2015

“At 10:02, the lights shift, smoke rises and the two shrouds covering the drums and the keyboards are ceremoniously lifted. The pre-recorded church choir takes over speakers, invoking spirits in Latin or backwards English. At 10:10 the stage is bathed in red, then pitch black. After a breath of silence, the Star Trek-y intro for “Spirit” begins to play and an explosion of thrill blows the roof off the House as the Nameless Ghouls take their places. When Papa Emeritus III graces the stage in open arms and flowing robes, the screams of love become so saturating, the band could not be heard at all until after the first chorus.”

http://maximummetal.com/columns/road/col-road.asp?page=142

Sometimes, I love it when I’m wrong.

Papa and Ghoul HOB 10312015When I first heard of these Ghost people, I laughed them off as a ridiculous act behind “patchwork prog” with Michael Stipe-ish vocals. In fact, the actual words I used in my Meliora audio review (Aug. 30, 2015) were: “…pretty much just a joke without a punch-line, a hipster salad, and a novelty…Except they’re not.” I felt almost embarrassed that I found myself practically obsessed with this album and referred to Ghost henceforth as “that damn band.”

“Meliora” review – Maximum Metal

But, when I had the chance to see this “damn band” on stage, I had to swallow my words like rancid medicine. The “Back to the Future” Tour was one of the most elegant, energetic, and dynamic concerts I had ever witnessed. Those parasitic songs just animated like fire when performed live. I didn’t feel Satan’s presence anywhere, but I was blown away by the expert sense of theater this troupe has. Far from ridiculous, I was converted.

I even kept my communion wafer to remind me never to judge a Metal band by its masks again.

Ghost – Official Website
Ghost — Official Facebook page

The Lightning Strikes

11174839_896552887058160_8547711847240695605_nTEMPLE OF ROCK
VAMP’D – LAS VEGAS
April 7, 2015

“Schenker is one of the very few artists that can genuinely steal the breath away from his fans. Every note of every solo was received with fixation and awe. When the instrument becomes the voice and an extension of the player, the witness becomes part of the process. Schenker is an animator of sound. And when he took the last few precious minutes of the show for his grand finale, like fireworks, he pulled all the stops; manipulating every string, every peg, every muscle, every which, and every way through his signature, unorthodox techniques, and the thrill was beyond words.”

The show was explosive. Seeing the master of the axe perform live was mind-blowing. Receiving personal thanks from Wayne Findlay and Robin McAuley was very touching.

Having my review quoted on his official Facebook page was just downright humbling:
(*Note: my Facebook is set to ‘pirate.’)

michaelschenkertempespiritonamissioncdTemple Of Rock be addin’ 11 fresh portraits
TOUR UPDATES! A very busy week.. hence the lack of updates. Here is the past week..
Day 4 & 5 were days off in Vegas. As we all know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas so these days will remain the unspoken.

Tour day 6: Show day In Vegas Vamp’d bar which included a special guest appearance from ROBIN MCAULEY. http://www.maximummetal.com/columns/road/col-road.asp… “Schenker is one of the very few artists that can genuinely steal the breath away from his fans. Every note of every solo was received with fixation and awe.”

Tour day 7: Livewire Concert Hall, Scottsdale…

 

We Are Motorhead and — Damn, Saxon Kicked Some Serious Ass, too…

MOTORHEAD / SAXON / CROBOT
HOUSE OF BLUES, LAS VEGAS – August 21, 2015

 

IMG_2681“Motorhead is a band. You know, that structure where more than one person plays an instrument at the same time as all the other people to organize noise at the same time. It’s not just Lemmy! Three members: Phil Campbell, Mickey Dee, and himself. He’s not “Burt” from Mary frickin’ Poppins steppin’ in time, doing the shuffle with cymbals between his knees. There are other people on stage with him. And though this band is only made of three, they sound like six. Because they’re loud? Yes. Because they’re loud and because they can play.”

http://maximummetal.com/columns/road/col-road.asp?page=138

I felt very honored and fortunate to catch this show — especially when I learned how ill Lemmy really was when he performed that night. Though he seemed a little lost at times, gazing out into the crowd as if he was looking for the witch he may have crushed with his house, he found his way home the instant he put his fingers on the fretboard.

As for Saxon…I ate some crow with a side of fries. Delicious.

11899806_10200741190127517_1623781480145679087_n“Nigel Glockler’s drum-slaught gave you CPR. The twin axe act of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt were so balanced and instinctual, flawless in blend and compliment, and the results were explosive. Quinn delivered solos with surgical madness in pristine chaos; beautiful, captivating, and bone-splitting. (The old bastard knows how to drive!) And Nibbs Carter, on the bass, had the most energy, but refreshingly didn’t play into those flashy, silly bass-trickery tricks that get very tiresome very quickly. He just played his ass off, like a true down-home rocker. And as for Biff Byford, one of the most beloved frontmen of his era and today, is a perfect cross between a gentleman and a mother’s nightmare. A majestic, towering presence of wit and mastery, he seduced and worked the audience with ease, and still hit every note with luscious tone and vibrato, as if he had sold his soul for a throat of chrome. Magnificent.”

Motorhead Official — Facebook
Motorhead — official site

Saxon Official — Facebook
Saxon — official site