Heavy metal music icons Iron Maiden stormed into Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday night, and they ignited the city's Bridgestone Arena with their Legacy of the Beast tour. Iron Maiden's career dates back to the mid-'70s, with the band debuting their first self-titled album in 1980. The band has been touring globally ever since, with their most recent Nashville date also being at Bridgestone back in 2017. Now, in 2019, the band returned and unleashed their raucous riffs on thousands of excited fans.
Before Iron Maiden took the stage, however, the crowd was treated to opening act The Raven Age, a metalcore band from the United Kingdom reminiscent of bands such as Killswitch Engage and Trivium. Pummeling through their set like a freight train of rhythm and melody, The Raven Age commanded the stage as well as the metal godfathers that would take the stage less than an hour later.
Oftentimes, warm-up bands playing with classic rock bands tend to only find fans in those closest to the stage. The Raven Age is not just some "warm-up band," though, as they command the stage like seasoned professionals. Their skills are so fine-tuned, you would never know they only put out their first project just five years ago.
During one one song, titled "Grave of the Fireflies" — which can be heard on their new album Conspiracy — vocalist Matt James had the Bridgestone crowd pull out their phones and light the arena with their flashlights. The massive space flooded with light comparable to a million lightening bugs, making the song title the self-fulfilling prophesy it was likely intended to be. The Raven Age, which features George Harris (the son of Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris) on guitar, ended their set with "Angel in Disgrace," a brash tune from their 2017 album Darkness Will Rise, and left the headbanging crowd excited for what was to come.
At around 9 p.m., a couple of army-color-clad gentlemen came out on stage to UFO's "Doctor Doctor," and prepared the stage for Iron Maiden's show by removing the black drapes that covered the walls and risers. This was followed by a sign the show was starting, black and white World War II footage playing to the sound of Winston Churchill's famous "Never Surrender" speech.
Finally the band — bassist Steve Harris; guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers; and vocalist Bruce Dickinson — came barreling onto the stage, while drummer Nicko McBrain held down the kit behind them mid-stage, and tore through a rousing rendition of "Aces High." This tune was accompanied by a large model plane hanging above the back of the stage, while Dickinson performed wearing a leather aviator hat.
Iron Maiden is not just some '80s metal band that plays the hits and leaves. They deliver a massive stage performance complete with set changes, and costume changes for Dickinson. Across the roughly two-hour concert, the singer donned various hats and multiple cloaks/capes.
Dickinson also proved what makes him such a consummate showman, which includes, but is not limited to: 1. His skill-full banter toward the crowd. At one point he joked about the band's 40+ years of playing music, quipping, "The United States started in 1776. We're f—ing older than that." 2. His playfulness with his bandmates. He bopped them all on the head with a plastic sword during a few tunes. 3. His ability to sell the more-than-a-dozen performances he delivers with each song.
During "The Trooper" — one of Iron Maiden's most iconic songs — Dickinson planted a British flag while the band's giant mascot Eddie toddled around stage in a red soldier outfit, clearly looking battle-worn.
Later, the set changed to a cathedral like appearance with stained glass images of Eddie and chandeliers, eventually rotating to a Hellscape during "Sign of the Cross," complete with a backdrop featuring an infernal Eddy surrounded by flames and nefarious characters in dark robes. For this tune, Dickinson performed in a one of the aforementioned black hooded cloaks.
This section of the show concluded with some fireworks above the stage, followed by the band moving into 1983's "Flight of Icarus," which was complimented with a giant hanging winged-Icarus at the back of the stage. Things really kicked into high gear here, as Dickinson donned a pair of flamethrowers for this tune, which were connected to a pack he wore on his back.
As the band made their way through their set list — which also included songs such as "The Wicker Man," "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "The Clansman" — the arena was packed with fans playing air guitar and air drums but letting their vocal cords belt out as loud as they could along with Dickinson.
Ending their main set, Iron Maiden blew the crowd away with a trio of classics: "Fear of the Dark," "Number of the Beast" and, lastly, the self-titled track "Iron Maiden." The power of the songs was only amplified by the enormous horned-Eddie bust that floated around behind the band as they smashed the crowd with an incredible faux-finale.
However, the band came back and crush three more encore songs: "The Evil That Men Do," "Hallowed Be Thy Name" (which Dickinson performed partially from behind some prison bars) and, for the grand-finale, "Run To The Hills." Closing out the show, Dickinson lowered the handle on a box of "TNT," igniting another fireworks display, this time partnered with confetti.0comments
As the band concluded their show, the crowd roared with such ferocity that the sound was disorienting to the senses, like a sea of madness. Iron Maiden had returned to Nashville, and they once again left it to a cacophony of deafening cheers, which serves as the most compelling evidence of their bestial legacy.
Photo Credit: PopCulture.com / John Connor Coulston