Iron Maiden’s 2019 tour, the Legacy of the Beast, now almost two months in progress, rolled into Los Angeles on Saturday, September 14th. The setting was the relatively new Banc of California Stadium on the U.S.C. campus, in the shadow of the iconic Coliseum. The venue, the home of the Los Angeles Football Club, presumably no stranger to soccer hooligans, is a fitting environment for the 22,000 or so metal mobsters who jammed the muggy soccer venue to worship at the altar of Eddie. Just a mere two years since their last visit to Southern California, it may as well have been two decades, based on the energy and excitement of the flock.
The evening’s opener, The Raven Age a quintet formed in the U.K. in 2009 is somewhat of a legacy, for the Legacy of the Beast tour. Founding member and guitarist, George Harris, is the son of Maiden’s Steve Harris. Whether or not that connection may have opened the door, The Raven Age kicked it wide and tore it off its hinges. At just about dusk, they hit the stage and immediately began to incite the one-third full arena. Their brand of melodic grungy metal was a great kickoff for the evening and really set the tone for what was to come. Harris’ counterpart, Tony Maue and he crisscross the stage playing to both sides of the crowd. Bassist Matt Cox also very active and entertaining, repeatedly ascends one of the platforms and pumps his fists to get the early arrivals charged up. Drummer Jai Patel thumps out a solid track for the train to steam down. Singer Matt James, the newest member, enthrall the audience with his swagger and charisma. All in all, The Raven Age delivers a satisfying and vigorous show to set the tone.
In between the opener and the headliner, was a set from Fozzy, which will be featured separately in the coming days, so stay tuned. [updated 9-23-19] Read Fozzy review HERE.
While the stage is being set for the much-anticipated headliners’ arrival, the crowd gets anxious. Unrest is setting in and the natives are getting restless. The arena needs a tension breaker. At just about 9:00 p.m., the P.A. comes alive with the sound of UFO’s Doctor Doctor. The sweaty mass of humanity in the General Admission area now has something on which to focus its attention and channel its pent-up energy. At the song’s conclusion, the lights dim and video screens begin to play scenes of World War II and the Battle of Britain, which is the subject of the opening number. The band churns out the opening to Aces High while still obscured by darkness. When the stage is illuminated, the band finds themselves playing under the canopy of a full-sized, Supermarine Spitfire. The plane turns and changes pitch all through the first number as vocalist Bruce Dickinson, sporting a RAF jacket and flight helmet captivates the ranks with his trademark posturing and hand gestures.
The stage darkens between each song, as a new backdrop is revealed, unique to each different number. When the stage lights come up again it is for Where Eagles Dare, based on a 1968 film of the same name and keeping with the WWII theme. In front of a backdrop depicting an iconic scene from the movie, where an alpine cable car is blown up, he appears wearing a white ski parka and fur hat, and delivers his vocals from high up at the back of the stage. The tour is aptly named the Legacy of the Beast as the show is celebrating their legacy of nearly 40 years of metal preeminence. The tribute to their history includes trademark Iron Maiden performance attributes. Bassist and founder Steve Harris’ one-footing the monitors and leaning into his rapid-fire fingering. The triple guitar attack of Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers, sliding musically right in behind each other as they take turns with lead sections. Not to be left out, the ever steady and rarely seen Nicko McBrain who just does his job behind his rather enormous drum kit.
Maiden runs through songs spanning their entire career, with huge fan favorites like The Trooper during which Eddie, their beloved ghoulish mascot appears in red coat uniform as he and Dickinson spar with sabers. Another classic Maiden hit, Flight of Icarus features Dickinson at the back of the stage again, this time with flame thrower nozzles on each arm as he accentuates his vocals with bursts of flame. The band finishes out the set with The Number of the Beast, the title track of their 1982 breakout record and their self-named anthem Iron Maiden.
A three number encore is initiated by The Evil That Men Do and Hallowed Be Thy Name. The climactic end of the show is their ode to the plight of the American Indians, Run to the Hills to which the choruses are sung by 20,000 some backing vocalists. The grand finale is capped off by flashes and sparkle pyrotechnics and a minute long curtain call. Iron Maiden’s final legacy may be that for a group of sexagenarians, they can still rock harder and perform more vigorously than bands half their age. There is no doubt that whatever any attendee paid for their ticket, they got their money’s worth.
CLICK HERE to view more IRON MAIDEN pics from the show.
CLICK HERE to view more THE RAVEN AGE pics from the show.