Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden teased longtime fans of the enduring heavy metal band at the Sprint Center on Tuesday. Noting that “we have a bit of history,” he joked that many in the audience of about 8,500 probably suffer from “survivor’s guilt.”
Iron Maiden, the preeminent British heavy metal band of the ’80s, is touring in support of its sixteenth studio album “Book of Souls.” Dickinson explained that rather than consisting of “songs about sex, drugs and r ock ’n’ roll,” “Book of Souls” is a concept album about the mysterious collapse of the Mayan civilization.
Much like a reboot of a superhero movie franchise like Spider-Man, Iron Maiden’s Book of Souls World Tour is a grandiose revision of familiar crowd-pleasing elements. The tiered stage set that resembled Mayan ruins provided the sextet plenty of room to frolic like schoolchildren at recess.
Dickinson, 58, the youngest member of the band, leapt about like Harrison Ford in an “Indiana Jones” movie. Janick Gers, one of Iron Maiden’s three guitarists, chewed up the scenery as if he were auditioning for a leading role in a remake of the heavy metal spoof “Spinal Tap.”
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A 15-foot version of the band’s ghoulish mascot Eddie suffered a series of indignities at the hands (and feet) of the band. Gers scampered between Eddie’s legs before kicking him in the groin. Dickinson ripped out Eddie’s beating heart and extinguished the organ in a steaming cauldron.
The sinister capers upped the ante on the antics of the opening act Ghost. Even when summoning Satan on “Year Zero,” the Swedish heavy metal band was more silly than sinister.
A costume change that transformed front man Papa Emeritus from a perverse papal figure into a dandy in formal wear made it clear that Ghost employs sacrilege for laughs.
Papa Emeritus noted that “it’s a little bit hot in here.” At Iron Maiden’s request, conditions in the arena were balmy. The temperature was raised further by the blasts of flames that accompanied Iron Maiden songs like “Number of the Beast.”
If intended to assist Dickinson’s strenuous vocals, the gambit paid off. He unleashed a powerful scream on “Speed of Light” and sounded as fit as he looked as he waved a tattered Union Jack flag on “The Trooper.”
The age-defying effort showed that while they no longer resemble barbarians at the gate, the members of Iron Maiden have become stalwart defenders of the old guard of heavy metal.
Iron Maiden set list
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; The Number of the Beast; Blood Brothers; Wasted Years