Bruce Is Back
Iron Maiden at Massey Hall in Toronto, Ontario on July 20, 1999
by:
Several questions surrounded Iron Maiden's "It's Not a Reunion Tour", including how they would fare with three guitar players live, and Maiden would try to answer as they played a seventeen-song hit-packed set.

The nearly sold-out confines of the 2100 seat Massey Hall provided a cosy, if not cramped, setting for Maiden, with rabid fans howling the band's name during the introduction, a promotional display of their latest outlet _Ed Hunter_, a video game with similarities to "Doom" and Eddie as the main character. The tour Maiden came to town with was in support of the game, as well as the twenty greatest hits of Iron Maiden, as voted by the fans via Internet.

Running from the get-go with opener "Aces High", Bruce Dickinson and company had their afterburners going full bore, careening and posing onstage while backdrops of Eddie, depicting him in several different settings, hanged ominously in the background.

In all, eleven of Iron Maiden's studio albums were represented (yes, including _X-Factor_ and _Virtual XI_), except for _No Prayer For the Dying_. Other tunes from their classic _Powerslave_ record included the title track and "2 Minutes to Midnight", superb choices, yet other magnificent opuses, like _Somewhere in Time_ and _Fear of the Dark_, were sorely underrepresented with only one song from each ("Wasted Years" and "Fear of the Dark", respectively).

As for three guitar players, well, they'll have to come back and hit Toronto again, as sadly Adrian Smith had to cancel out because his father passed away, so it was a five-piece as usual. In fact, it was the exact line-up of the band when Dickinson left six years ago, with founder/bassist Steve Harris, founder/guitarist Dave Murray, guitarist Jannick Gers and drummer Nicko McBrain waving the Maiden flag.

Highlights of the night included "Wrathchild" and two songs from the Blaze Bailey era, namely "Man on the Edge" and "The Clansman". For the latter, Dickinson provided a humorous intro with a poke at our American cousins and how some reportedly perceived the song was about the Ku Klux Klan, as opposed to its true point of inspiration, being William Wallace and the independent Scottish movement.

Both songs were at the tender mercies of the Air Raid Siren and how he would approach them from his point of view. Dickinson did not disappoint, lending a little more power to the vocals than Bailey did and using his antics to get the crowd to sing along. Surprisingly, a fair number knew the words, remarkable because many of the faithful fans have avoided the last two records because of the band's most prominent singer's absence.

For the encore, the audience feasted on a troika of songs from the bands most well known release, _The Number of the Beast_. "Hallowed Be thy Name", "Run to the Hills" and the title track had the audience pumping their devil horns in the air as they head banged along.

In the final analysis, it appears Maiden haven't suffered from the re-shuffling of the line-up, playing a loud and enjoyable show as always. This show wasn't as spectacular as their _Somewhere in Time_ and _Seventh Son of a Seventh Son_ days, but solid and entertaining nonetheless.

(article submitted 12/8/1999)


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