at Oslo Spektrum, Norway, June 28, 2005

For the fourth time in two years, on two different visits to Norway’s capital, the only band that is still going strong from the days of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM), Iron Maiden, sells out Spektrum, a 9000 seater ideally located in the heart of Oslo, not too far away from Charlotte The Harlot on 22 Acacia Avenue. 10 years back, the band fought their way into a 2000 capacity club, displaying how lost someone’s head can be after having committed one of the worst choices of front man/singer in Metal history… but with Bruce Dickinson back in the cockpit, the Iron Maiden machinery has gone from one success to the other, and has gotten bigger every year (although their last studio effort was nothing to rave about).

People simply like the word “reunion,” no matter how long ago a band disbanded or how the results have been in the meantime. Dickinson was gone for about six years, during which time the band managed to cut only two records, but whatever… as long as Iron Maiden’s on-going success and recruitment of the youngsters help the music genre loved by all Metalheadz – and it sure does – they’re welcome to come back and play bigger places for years to come.

Eddie started ripping up Oslo with “Murders In The Rue Morgue,” then went on with “Another Life,” “Prowler,” and “The Trooper” before Dickinson welcomed the crowd to a trip down Memory Lane, making clear what everybody knew; that this was a set with classics from the first four Iron Maiden records. Whether or not this was to promote the The Early Days DVD, or simply because this was their finest hour – like most bands in their early years – that remains unsaid (but will be seen in the coming years).

Bruce told the crowd about his special feelings for the next song, “Remember Tomorrow” – the song that got him the job as lead singer way back in 1982, and went on to prove exactly why he was the chosen one. That said, he struggled at times to hit the highest notes this evening, but no one from his church seemed to care, judging from the reaction.

Before “Remember Tomorrow,” Bruce asked the crowd to take two steps back, which worked for a ballad, but “Run To The Hills” saw the Oslo crowd going nuts again, jumping and singing along, while “Wrathchild” gave the headbangers their money’s worth. Steve Harris was all over the stage, indeed warming up for the next day’s soccer match, where the lads lost 1-8 to a team of former Norwegian soccer stars (and a few washed up rockers as well), while prime guitarists Smith and Murray got the job done. Well, Murray’s axe didn’t sound quite right to begin with, and the sound in Oslo Spektrum this night never got close to perfect, but Smith’s tight rhythm and professionalism was a forceful attack. The third one on stage with six strings, Janick Gers, acted like the clown he is, only heard when given a few solos, which worked musically. He’s a fine guitar player, just completely redundant on stage with Smith and Murray, and only irritates with his poses; leaning backwards with his guitar pointing to the stars, throwing it up in the air and around his neck – everyone has seen it all before. You may wonder why Iron Maiden once cancelled a show after he – eventually – fell down from stage when doing his rock star poses… even Metallica plays on without James on rhythm guitar! If you want to enjoy an Iron Maiden show, the trick is to find someone tall to stand behind, and make sure you don’t see Gers’ side of the stage – then duck when he comes over to Murray’s domain with his stupid knee-high walk.

Nicko McBrain was like a troll in a box, only sticking his head out if the crowd shouted “I’m Running Free” loud enough. His tam tams make him seem a wee-bit shy, as he can’t be seen behind them … though any fan who’s followed the band for a few years knows he loves the spotlight. On a side note, his drum clinic in Oslo some ten years ago proved that he’s a class-act gentleman when it comes to serving his fans, as well as being a stand-up comedian. Nicko didn’t care about the industry people or gear talk, but grabbed a few pints and signed autographs for fans for a few hours after a funny performance.

“Where Eagles Dare,” “Die With Your Boots On,” “Phantom Of The Opera,” and “The Number Of The Beast” – not much can compare to a run like that, and Eddie first showed during the latter, this time just overlooking the whole scenario while the numbers “666” were lit up on the backdrop. The next time the world’s most famous mascot appeared, it was with an open brain, giving the fans a taste of the Piece Of Mind cover during “Iron Maiden,” and finally, walking the stage when “Drifter” was encored.

Iron Maiden live 2005 is nothing new, really. Visually, it looks much like the last few tours, with only the setlist being way better. The backdrops are changed to fit the songs played, like always, and the stage is far from the great ones seen on the World Slavery Tour or Somewhere On Tour. Oh, and Mister Harris didn’t wear his West Ham football shirt, by the way, and that’s a radical change. If forced to roll dice to determine the score, it would show four eyes for this event, much due to the sound. “22 Acacia Avenue” was missed (although played two years ago), but you can’t have it all. Or can you, in a setting like this?


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