Iron Maiden Lead Heavy Metal Masterclass With Epic Performance at Moda Center in Portland, OR (SHOW REVIEW)

In this world of digital streaming and media that moves so fast it’s fleeting, it’s hard to imagine any band – let alone a guitar-slinging rock band – rising to the level of an arena act and staying there for over forty years. Iron Maiden are one of the last truly epic arena bands to roam the earth, touring relentlessly for decades and in the process building one of the most hardcore fanbases ever. With these facts in mind, it makes sense that the legendary heavy metal band’s current tour is called The Legacy of the Beast, as they are most definitely a legacy act at this point in time. On Friday, September 6th, Iron Maiden descended on Portland, Oregon’s Moda Center for a sold out show.

This being the band’s first show in the Rose City in thirty years, there was an electrifying energy walking into the Moda Center on Friday. When the lights went down and a montage of grainy war footage played to a speech from Winston Churchill, along with enough explosion and gunfire sounds to trigger a PTSD episode, the band made their appearance with the frenetic shredder “Aces High.” With its aviation references, the song was enhanced with the appearance of a massive World War II era fighter jet above the stage.With no new album to promote, the set would dwell on some of the band’s best and most beloved songs, with several making appearances after being absent from setlists for years. The stage set and pacing of the show was basically split into three acts, with scenery, prop changes, and song selection all coming together. “Where Eagles Dare” was heavy and sinister, with Janick Gers laying down some serious guitar acrobatics, and the thrashy “2 Minutes to Midnight” was a wild roller coaster ride of time changes. Dickinson would introduce the newer tune (relatively speaking) “The Clansman” by describing it as the real Braveheart story and humorously reminding the audience that clansman was spelled “with a c.” The sprawling tune featured a funky, psychedelic surf guitar lick before morphing into a thundering wall of rock. Longtime favorite “The Trooper” showcased the shredding guitar harmonies and swapping of massive, lightning fast solos from Gers, Adrian Smith, and Dave Murray, all while Dickinson used a giant bloody sword to fight off a hulking trooper Eddie.

Act two found the stage transforming into a cathedral of stained glass and ominous chandeliers. Dickinson would take on the role of mad priest to sing the epic Piece of Mind ballad “Revelations”, a song that would also feature a barrage of guitar harmonies and solos with some of the finest playing of the night. Another ballad, “For the Greater Good of God”, would follow with a slow vocal introduction that would blow up into towering riffs and brutally heavy drumming from the always classy Nicko McBrain. Steve Harris would tap into his inner Angus Young during the melodic anthem “The Wicker Man” as he hopped and ran back and forth across the stage dropping bass bombs.

With the stage now in its third act – turning into a hellish and fiery dystopia – it was time to bust out the pyrotechnics. No Iron Maiden show would be complete without a healthy serving of fire, and this was no exception as Bruce donned a literal flame thrower during the chugging and vicious “Flight of Icarus”. Even while spouting flames into the air, Dickinson’s voice sounded as sharp and polished as ever before. It was during this completely and gloriously over the top antic that one was reminded of the fact that every single member of the band is over the age of sixty. In terms of energy, endurance, and showmanship, the band proved that they cannot be stopped, and it’s hard to imagine a rock band decades younger putting on such a physically and theatrically demanding show as this. The brooding and gothic ballad “Fear of the Dark” found the front man swinging an eerie green lantern while growling out his vocals in a demonic tone that was matched with dagger-like power chords before the band let loose into an onslaught of guitar and drum madness. One of the band’s most classic songs, “The Number of the Beast”, featured some of Dickinson’s best screaming of the night as he had the crowd shout the chorus of “666, the number of the beast.”

After obliterating the sold out crowd with a glorious bombardment of guitars, drums and screaming vocals, the members of Maiden returned to the stage to take it one step further with three of their biggest songs of all time. The catchy yet poignant “Evil That Men Do” took on extra significance given our current political climate while the guitarists fired off triumphant riffs. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” was possibly the highlight of the night with its slow building tale of a prisoner sentenced to death that eventually leads into some of the most iconic heavy metal guitar playing of all time. Even at nearly two hours of non-stop activity, the members of Maiden were still firing on all cylinders as they hit the finish line with colonial-era horror story of “Run to the Hills”, a song that still feels as potent and searing today as it did when it dropped in 1982. It was here that the band would bid Portland goodnight, thus concluding a truly high caliber performance that only further solidified their status as not just a legacy act, but heavy metal gods.

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