There are very few bands who can pull a crowd has loyal as the one Iron Maiden can and, as the heavy metal institution rolls into Yorkshire for the latest date on their “The Future Past” World Tour, the scene which greets the band at the First Direct Arena in Leeds is no different.
With flags from all nations draped over the crash barrier and a sea of Iron Maiden t-shirts stretching across the arena, the familiar sounds of “Doctor Doctor” ring out from the PA and whip this ten thousand+ strong crowd into a frenzy. A lengthy Bladerunner intro tape booms out from the stage as the band race from the wings and straight into opener “Caught Somewhere In Time” following it up with “Stranger In A Strange Land”, the latter seeing a brief appearance from Eddie.
For the next ninety-minutes the heavy metal stars treat their fans to a set primarily pulled together from recent material. Dropping three tracks from their “Senjutsu” album in quick succession, fans lap up “Writing On The Wall”, “Days of a Future Past” and “Time Machine” before heading back into their classics as “The Prisoner” gets more fans up and on their feet.
From the moment the band step onto the stage, there can be no denying that this is a band who are clearly still loving their time on stage. Whether it be Dickinson’s entertaining banter with the crowd before “Death of the Celts”, Steve Harris’ machine gun bass runs or Janick Gers running around with the energy of a man half his age, Iron Maiden in 2023 are having an absolute blast on stage.
Heading into the final third of the night, the band rattle through a rollicking “Can I Play With Madness” following it up with a huge singalong and a comical onstage battle between the frontman and their gun-toting figurehead Eddie during “Heaven Can Wait”. Of course it’s completely ludicrous watching the two battle it out on stage but it’s also an absolute tonne of fun.
Days after this gig, fans are probably still arguing about what is and isn’t including in the 2023 Iron Maiden set list. Sure there is no place in the 2023 set list for what fans would call essentials like “Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills”, however the old guard is still well represented in the form of “Fear of the Dark”, “Iron Maiden”, and “The Trooper”.
From day one Iron Maiden has always represented pure heavy metal and in 2023 it’s a formula they still stick to. Whether it’s the headbanging classics, the epic modern tracks or just the sight of another ridiculously over-the-top Eddie appearance, Iron Maiden are the kind of band who you feel could just keep going and going and going for many years to come.
Photo © Graham Finney Photography