At the Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, June 16, 2017


Iron Maiden’s long awaited return to Minnesota for the Book Of Souls tour was a quick sell out.   Local fans haven’t had the opportunity see the band since their last tour stop in 2000 for the Brave New World Tour.  A crowd of over 14,000 at the Xcel Center in St. Paul had a serious case of Iron Maiden deficit disorder.  Unfortunately for the band, Ghost, they had the unenviable task of opening for the partisan crowd.  Ghost were not up to the challenge.  They plodded through a listless stage show punctuated with awkward crowd banter.  Handicapped by a lack of video projection, the bands’ costumes and masks were not clearly visible in the cavernous arena.  Compounding this problem, the choreographed movements between the large three step drum riser and the various individual riser boxes scattered about the stage were reminiscent of a group of cats maneuvering about a cat tree.  The lead singer’s repeated pleas for screaming from the crowd were uninspiring, but his orgasm pep talk ahead of their last song took the show to an even lower, darker place.  As a cover for doing very little on stage, the band compensated by repeatedly blasting the audience straight in the eyes with high-powered stage lighting.  Thus blinded, the dispirited audience was left to stumble up and down the arena stairs in search of solace from cold alcoholic beverages and to commiserate with fellow concert-goers on their suffering. Thankfully, Iron Maiden cranked up a recording of UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” prior to opening their set to fully exorcise the Ghost experience.

As the house lights lowered, the silhouette of Bruce Dickinson emerged. Backed by an Aztec pyramid, he stood behind a boiling cauldron flanked by burning flame pots on a riser spanning the width of the stage over the drum kit and across the speaker banks. The image of Dickinson on the two large video screens near the light rigging lit the powder keg of explosive crowd energy. The rest of the band ran onto the stage in the appreciative din launching their 15-song set with two from The Book Of Souls album, “If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed Of Light”.  As the initial excitement of the show wore off, it was clear the thick mix would not clear. Dickinson’s vocals were muddy and there was little distinction between the three guitars. Steve Harris’ bass was disturbingly buried and only audible when the rest of the band was silent!  The combined effect was a screaming jet engine blasting out a cacophony of mid-range tones.  Unfortunately, these problems persisted to lesser or greater degree throughout the show.  The best mixed songs of the night were “Fear Of The Dark” and “The Red & The Black”.   While the sound issues were irritating, the set selection was the biggest disappointment.

After opening with two songs from The Book Of Souls, the band played four more from the same album later in the set; these songs are not destined to be classics.  They followed a similar blueprint with the Brave New World tour; however, the quality was arguably better with “The Wicker Man” and “Blood Brothers” as stand out tracks.  Fans voiced a preference for the classics versus the self-indulgent picks from the new album. “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, “Run To The Hills”, “2 Minutes To Midnight”, “Sanctuary” and “Running Free” were all absent.

Sound quality and set list disappointments aside, the bands’ energetic performance and a stage show were a visual feast.   The light show and backdrops set the mood for each song. Dickinson’s wardrobe changes and Eddie’s presence punctuated the performance inciting crowd cheers.  Fortunately, Iron Maiden bookended the evening with a three-song encore featuring “The Number Of The Beast”, “Blood Brothers” and “Wasted Years”.


  • Zac Halter

    Zac was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. His interest in heavy music began in the 70s with his father’s Johnny Cash albums. After cousins introduced him to Steppenwolf, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, KISS, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, Johnny Cash didn’t stand a chance. The 80s were spent in full pursuit of everything Metal: searching for new music at record stores, listening to albums, studying the covers and sleeves, and attending concerts. In the 90s, he preferred Death Metal over Grunge and hosted the Death Metal Juggernaut on WUPX in Marquette, Michigan. It was advertised as the only prime time Death Metal radio show in the country.

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