at Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium, July 13, 2023

IRON MAIDEN (Live at Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium, July 13, 2023)
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

Except for their appearance on the Hellfest mainstage this year, Iron Maiden had not planned to stop in France for their Future Past Tour. Yours truly was not discouraged by this and travelled to Antwerp for this special event.

Legacy of the Past

After the best-of tour of Legacy Of The Beast, The Future Past Tour took a different look at the discography of the veterans of the NWOBHM, with the tempting announcement that it would be the occasion to play songs that had never been played before… History nerds, you see where this is going!

The Legacy Of The Beast was organised around different settings representing different themes and eras of the band (war, spirituality/religion, hell). This previous tour was perhaps the most impressive show created by Iron Maiden, with props (a Spitfire, a giant Icarus, Eddie’s head) and decors: this Metal Cathedral with different versions of Eddie on the stained-glass windows was a marvel to behold! Keeping in mind that touring costs have increased since then, one could wonder what kind of shows was planned this time.

The Sportpaleis was bursting at the seams when the usual “Doctor Doctor” by UFO resounded in the arena. But then the soundtrack of Blade Runner by Vangelis served as this tour intro. As Dickinson, Harris & co jumped like devils out of a box, the lights revealed a grandiose setting with ramps and stairs draped in futuristic decorations creating a cyberpunk atmosphere with a redesigned Somewhere In Time artwork in the background.

At least near the pit, the sound was impeccable which is sometimes difficult to achieve in the bigger venues not designed for music. Dickinson’s stage outfit was probably a mix and match inspired by his favourite time travel stories. Over the decades Dickinson’s stage outfits have wrongly become a subject of mocking. But he wears that with so much confidence that it had become part of a real Maiden show, so much so that any alternatives would seem pretty boring.


Eddie made his first quick appearance at the end of “Stranger In A Strange Land” in his cyberpunk cowboy bounty hunter outfit. Somewhere In Time is an album that can really withstand the test of…well…time.

Speaking of time, the band went back to the present with extracts from their latest studio release Senjutsu. “Writings On The Wall” was one of the few duplicates since their last show in France. Then followed “Days Of Future Past” which gave the title of the tour. While Senjutsu was not the most accomplished release of Iron Maiden, the new songs take a new dimension on stage and appear more solid. A pleasant surprise then for those who feared the set would lose some energy and dynamism with these more recent titles.

The volubile frontman launched into one of his convoluted speeches to introduce the next song, which frankly no one seemed to understand. English may be a universal language, but please Bruce slow down… To mislead the audience he dropped hints that could lead everyone to think it would be “Deja-Vu” – it would have been a nice surprise, but no, hopefully, next time. The clue was in fact hidden in the decor with the mileage counter from Dock’s DeLorean announcing the “Time Machine.” The trio of guitarists continue to thrill the audience during the timeless classic “The Prisoner.”


“Death Of The Celts” did not dampen the mood with its gorgeous hanging at the back of the stage. While many artists rely on electronics and screens, Iron Maiden always remains tasteful and deceptively simple with these paintings. Allied with flawless light effects, these tapestries reveal more depth than banal screens would and provide better visuals for storytelling.

While Dickinson jumped about the stage, never staying in one place for more than a fraction of a second, Steve Harris relentlessly paced the front of the stage and interacted a lot with the front row. In an arena like this, the configuration of the stage was surprisingly low and the artists barely overlooked the audience, putting them almost on an equal footing.

Scream For Me!

Perhaps there was no spitfire hanging from the ceiling this time, but Dickinson probably gave a call to Sabaton and kindly asked if he could borrow a massive cannon to fire at cyberpunk Eddie on “Heaven Can Wait.” The woah woahs are seriously underestimated!

For the maidenheads in the place that night who had managed to avoid spoilers about the setlist, they were in for a treat with the next song. “Alexander The Great” has always been a bravura piece and the fans have waited a very long time to hear it. Despite the passing of many years, all the members of the band passed the test with flying colours. The vocal lines were impeccable, the drums solid and the guitars perfect!

Dickinson stood alone on the upper ramp during “Fear Of The Dark” clad in rags and hunched over like a gargoyle. This was certainly when the crowd was the loudest, even more than when the inevitable “Scream For Me…” resounded before “Iron Maiden.” Dickinson changed into a more classic leather jacket for the end of the show and to fight against samurai Eddie who wanted to slit Janick Gers’ throat.

To allow a diverse setlist, many a classic (“Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “The Number Of The Beast,” “Run To The Hills”) had to be sacrificed but still, the three encores satisfied everybody.

Joakim Broden lent a good load of explosives along with the guns. Fire shot along the ramps during almost all “Hell On Earth.” “The Trooper” and “Wasted Years” brought the evening to a close. To the audience, the years Iron Maiden spent creating music, touring and reaching out to their fans all over the world were certainly not wasted.

Iron Maiden – Setlist

  1. Caught Somewhere In Time
  2. Stranger In A Strange Land
  3. The Writing On The Wall
  4. Days Of Future Past
  5. The Time Machine
  6. The Prisoner
  7. Death Of The Celts
  8. Can I Play With Madness
  9. Heaven Can Wait
  10. Alexander The Great
  11. Fear Of The Dark
  12. Iron Maiden
  13. Hell On Earth (encore)
  14. The Trooper (encore)
  15. Wasted Years (encore)


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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