Iron Maiden - Reading 2005

"Ten years ago they wouldn't have believed we'd be still going, and playing to more fucking people than ever!" Bruce Dickinson, August 2005.

It is fair to say that when Mr. Dickinson went solo in the mid nineties, the last place we would have expected to find Maiden a decade later was headlining one of Europe's premier music festivals. However with Bruce back on the front line, new material having been brought out in 2003, and with the promise of more in 2006, the UK's leading metal act are right in the thick of things once again.

Reading has pulled out some stunners in the past couple of years to round off the festival in style on the Sunday night, Metallica in 2003, Green Day in 2004 and another of the biggest bands on the planet for 2005 in the shape of The Maiden. This set was partly rock gig and partly a brief history of metal with particular reference to the work of Iron Maiden between the years of 1978 and 1983. Following the DVD reissues of the bands first four albums, 'Iron Maiden', 'Killers', 'Number of the Beast' and 'Peace of Mind'; this show was made up of tracks solely from those four records. The rumor is that many on show in this set won't be performed again, but we'll have to wait and see with that one. I find it hard to believe that tracks such as 'Number of the Beast' and 'Run to the Hills' will be laid to rest in the museum of rock.

As for the set itself, they opened with 'Murder in the Rue Morg' from 'Killers', 'Strange World' and 'Remember Tomorrow' from 'Iron Maiden' and the recent top ten reissue 'Trooper' from 'Peace of Mind'. During 'Trooper' not only did Bruce Dickinson do his traditional wave of the Union Jack, but also Steve Harris' son came on stage dressed up as a mini Eddie, the actual Eddie comes later.

About once every three or four songs, Dickinson would tell the crowd about things that would have been going on during the early years of Maiden, such as how he was asked to join the band in the very Berkshire field that they were performing in. Then there was the first time he saw Maiden play live supporting the band he was currently in, and was completely blown away by a track from their self titled debut called 'Phantom of the Opera', a track he believes is one of the best songs the band has ever written. During the songs he spent most of his time running round a raised gangway, which circled the stage.

The imagery side of a maiden show is as much an integral part of what they do, with backdrops often changing from one song to the next. 'Run to the Hills' for example, had the artwork that was designed for the re-release of the track, a picture of Eddie grabbing the devil by the throat and trying to kill him with an axe. Eddie's grand appearance on stage was towards the end around the time of 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'.

There is only a handful of artists that have come out of the UK that can be regarded as an institution, Iron Maiden are certainly in that select group. Whether the rumors of them moving on from the early years as far as live performances are concerned remains to be seen, however this part of their career, if you add 'Power Slave' to the list, is when they were at their most exciting, and it would be strange to see them live without any of it.