at Valhall, Oslo, Norway, November 21, 2006

Iron Maiden, back in Norway for the umpteenth time, but this year, the most significant difference was the show taking place in a bigger venue than before, Oslo’s Valhall, with a capacity fitted for around 12,000 Metalheads. The most significant difference, simply because Iron Maiden –- once known for bringing huge shows around the globe -– has used the same “change-of-backdrop”-based show now since No Prayer On The Road back in 1990.

Sure, with a bigger stage than before, the crowd was treated to a few gimmicks from the newest album cover as well as screens who showed close-ups, but the fact is, the lads –- except for Bruce Dickinson -– don’t look too bloody fine up close these days.

But, Iron Maiden fans are not like other fans. They seemed to accept the usual backdrops that are changed every now and then in the set without asking for more. Strangely enough, they even enjoyed dancer Gers’ fooling around the stage, making himself the biggest poser in Rock history. And, they also accepted -– at least the Norwegian fans seemed to –- that the band played their new album in its entirety, an album that is called Progressive because it has all the ideas for it mashed together, both good or bad, just for the sake of being Progressive.

Whether or not you liked this show clearly comes down to a question of if you like the latest album, A Matter Of Life And Death. Clearly, the crowd came to life for the second and much too short part of the show, when “Fear Of The Dark” was introduced. But, the retreat back to the dressing room was way too quick -– only “The Evil That Men Do,” “Iron Maiden,” “Two Minutes To Midnight,” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” remained.

Sure, most fans had picked up the news that the new record was to be performed from start to finish, and that could explain why they so politely could handle this without any negative incidents taking place. Like pointed out in a recent Queensrÿche article; a classic isn’t a classic at the time of its release, and Iron Maiden should have waited for the new album’s status to come to fruition a few years from now before they took this bold step. Then again, when you are in the position where people eat from your hands no matter what you do …

As you might understand by now, the wait for what people really wanted to hear can best be described as Hugh Hefner walking around his mansion with his beauties, not being able to find the glass of Viagra. A few new songs stood out as worthy of an Iron Maiden set, like “These Colors Don’t Run,” parts of “Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg,” and “For The Greater Good Of God,” but seriously, the whole album was too much. The only positive effect it had, simply because of its more complex nature, was that Janick Gers couldn’t dance around the stage and act like an idiot as usual, but had to focus more on his playing –- at least for the first and main part of the show.

The sound was overall great, and Iron Maiden’s machinery was working as smooth as always. The playing sounded tight as ever -– Smith and Murray do in fact define that word –- and ‘arry still treated the stage like it was a soccer field, though this year he had no soccer shirt on. Dickinson came across sounding a little strained, just like he did on the last few records, so no great surprise there. This year’s Eddie first appeared behind the drum riser in a tank, to fit the loose concept of the new record. If you’ve been around a while, you will remember that Kiss already had a tank on stage in 1982, for their Creatures Of The Night tour.

Being done with the most complex and so-called Progressive part of the show, and going back to the material that was written for two guitar players to perform; this enabled Janick Gers to perform like a complete jerk. He was galloping around like a horse, swinging his guitar behind his back, rubbing it against whatever was in sight, posing like he was a sex idol (!!!), and you don’t need to be very clever to understand that his poor guitar was turned down in the mix. It’s beyond all sense that Iron Maiden once cancelled a show when he finally fell off the stage a few years back. When Eddie came out on stage with a gun, Gers even used that one to mistreat his strings. How cool is this guy? Not much at all …

Iron Maiden just keeps getting bigger and bigger, despite their last studio offerings being far from what they delivered in the eighties. Still, when Iron Maiden returns to Norway, even Valhall will be too small to hold the band. That’s quite a contradiction, as well as the fact that even the tabloid press people, who did nothing but slay the band and call them Dinosaur Rock in the eighties and nineties, and complained that the band was no longer relevant -– now are rabid Iron Maiden fans, and roll the dice to a six no matter what –- they even complain about the fans not accepting the band’s progression and new style.

The only progression Iron Maiden did with A Matter Of Life And Death was, like mentioned, to put all ideas on the record, good or bad, without taking out the substandard ones -– and they forgot to master the disc, possibly so they can rerelease it later and have the same people go out and buy it again. Ok, that sounds like a digression and a bitter comment from someone who had to give up collecting all different formats of every single release, but this greed mentality does indeed exist within the band’s management and record label… and needs to be addressed.

Bruce Dickinson teased the crowd by asking if they should bring back a little piece of Egypt next time. Now that will be something to look forward to –- it will blow this show out of everyone’s memory bank.

And by the way, this review comes with text only simply because Metal Express Radio wasn’t worthy of a photo pass. It is, of course, better to serve the daily newspapers and mingle backstage with a brown nose, than give credit to people who have supported the band through the eighties and even in the nineties — when Iron Maiden was relegated to playing clubs — and helped put the band in the position it is now. Thank you!!!


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