Toronto finally got to experience the thundering return of British heavy metal icons, Iron Maiden this past week at Scotiabank Arena. The band chose to spread the joy around the area this time as well, with shows in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa nearly back to back. The production was the large, intense, theatrical spectacle that has kept Iron Maiden in the upper echelon of concert draws for nearly four decades. The fans had been waiting since 2020 for this Legacy Of The Beast Tour to land.
Out of the gate, the group wasted no time getting new material from their 2021 and latest album, Senjutsu, into the eager outstretched ear holes in the room. Nicko McBrain’s pounding wall of drums signalled the start of the title track, a sprawling 8:20 minute doom stroll through ancient Japanese war themes and imagery. Frontman Bruce Dickinson hit the ground running and let loose with his amazing signature wail that we all love to hear. At 64 years of age, Dickinson has made a career of growling out both low and high-register vocal parts, and can still get way, way up there, which prompted the crowd to roar their approval every single time. We even got a giant Samurai Eddie dressed in period garb and brandishing a sword lumbering around the stage, threatening the band during this first song. It wouldn’t be his only appearance this show.
They did the first three from that 82-minute double album in order, with “Stratego” and “The Writing On The Wall” rounding out the trio. Then headed back to the early ’80s for the first of three throughout the set from Piece Of Mind with “Revelations.” The mid-’90s Blaze Bayley years, where he took over the vocal duties for five years after Dickinson left the band, were represented with “Sign Of The Cross” from The X Factor and later in the set, “The Clansman” from Bayley’s second and last album with the group, Virtual XI.
The band brought all the stage production fun, and it was changed over almost every song. The level of transformation using projections, backdrops, practical stage elements and, of course, their trademark inflatables is part of what keeps an Iron Maiden show fresh and compelling for nearly two hours every night. From that Senjutsu look to an old cathedral complete with wooden chandeliers, Dickinson’s many costume changes, and others, the stage was always in flux with elements being moved in and out, inflatables raised and lowered, backdrops slid in and out, and, of course, the pyro; we can’t forget about the pyro! They love it and used it extensively.
There’s nothing in the rock world like a band with an onslaught of three guitars swirling around in it. And Iron Maiden brings them alive in a multi-layered sonic boom that makes their songs deep, powerful and interesting. Which is almost mandatory when their tracks are routinely over 6 minutes long. The live dynamic of all those strings and amps and fingers working together is amazing. Guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers were a force onstage. The original founding member of the band, bassist/songwriter Steve Harris, did his usual killer job of bringing that wall of guitar sound together along with McBrain’s machine gun speed and Swiss clock accuracy on drums. And the band truly moves around the stage with the agility and speed of a band many years younger. Their energy is ferocious and infectious.
Standouts for the show were “The Number Of The Beast,” “The Trooper,” with a giant British army red tunic Eddie onstage and sword fighting with Dickinson and Eddie getting fired at with a Canadian flag-laden musket by Dickinson. And the final encore of “Aces High” with their spectacular life-sized inflatable Spitfire fighter plane “flying” over the stage. If you bring a big show, the big crowds will follow, no matter how long the band has been kicking it on the road. Iron Maiden doesn’t show any signs of stopping.
Dutch symphonic metal group Within Temptation got the gathering crowd warmed up with vocalist Sharon den Adel giving a powerful performance during their eight-song set.
Iron Maiden’s Toronto Setlist:
The Writing on the Wall
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Run to the Hills