It's well documented that I am a major Iron Maiden fan. It should come as no surprise that I saw the last two shows on the current tour, and got to the barrier in Houston. What's a little surprising, is that I didn't love it as much as you might expect.
The first night I was plain jetlagged and was three rows from the front ( i.e. no barrier to lean on ) so I held out for "Phantom of the Opera" then went to sit down, and then after I'd sat for a bit, I saw lightning and decided to bail. I was at the barrier the next day, right?
For Houston, I got on to the fan club and found someone to go to the barrier with me, but it seems they had a low number of entries, because the folks who had been looking for a spot had won themselves, that afternoon. That was fine as we were told we'd be escorted so we wouldn't have to run, but that turned out not to be true, and as I was at the front, I was in the group that got lost. Still got the barrier, but closer to the center than I wanted. (I try for guitarist Adrian Smith's side).
Coheed and Cambria were actually pretty good. I hated them the first night, but I think that's because I was on the right, the mix to the left and you could hear them better. The one thing is, they did "Heaven and Hell," which was great, but it made clear that nothing they write is close to "Heaven and Hell."
So, the show starts with a video of lots of icebergs. I guess they look like the Seventh Son album cover. The first song is "Moonchild," which does not work for me as an opener, but is an OK song. Next up was "Can I Play with Madness" and "The Prisoner." So far, so good. For me, "2 Minutes to Midnight," the next song, lost them momentum. It's a song they played on the last two tours at least (I didn't check further back), and I could have done without it. "Afraid to Shoot Strangers," on the other hand, was epic, a definite highlight. But then they did "The Trooper."
I think you're getting the idea here. I love Maiden and I love that they mix their set up so much, I just wish they'd mix it up more. Run to the hills was OK, but "Number of the Beast," "Fear of the Dark," even "Running Free" is not a good enough song to be played two tours in a row. I thought they were doing "Wrathchild?" How about "Children of the Damned" or "22 Acacia Avenue," or "Die With Your Boots On," or "Stranger In A Stranger Land?" Basically, the highlights were the songs like "Phantom" (and the crowd went nuts for that, both nights) and "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son" and the lowlights were the same old songs they do every time. A bit more adventure in the setlist would have been great. Long view - if they had not done Seventh Son songs on the Somewhere Back in Time tour, then this setlist would have been even better (and so would that tour).
For the first time, I am thinking that the tour two tours from now, I'll think about not going. The next tour will be on a new album and should be lots of new songs, and I'm always up for that. The band has alienated the mainstream with these "new album" tour cycles, and I know from experience, they play more shows in bigger venues on a "classics" tour, but if they are not scared to play to their hardcore fans, then why not do that all the time ? And where do they go next? Surely not a Fear of the Dark tour, as on this current tour they've played two of the best songs from it already. "Be Quick or Be Dead" is the only song from this album I could see them adding. They've done these cycles and I wonder if they are coming to a logical end for the band as a whole? Certainly if they do a tour off of Fear of the Dark and No Prayer for the Dying, there's no way they can do a Futureal tour after that.