Dance in Review

After a delay in touring due to singer Bruce Dickinson’s bout with cancer, Iron Maiden has finally returned to the Chicago area in tour of their 2015 release, The Book of Souls. Now, fully recovered, Dickinson and company performed in front of a packed crowd at Tinley Park’s Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre along with opening act Ghost.


The concert itself was a mixed bag. It was exceptional in the sense that Dickinson’s vocals were crisp, strong and delivered us to vintage Maiden-dom as only the signature sound of the collective band can possibly do. The 58-year-old Dickinson seemed in prime form vocally and even physically. Guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith were riffing as though it were 1985 and madman bassist Steve Harris plucked away at his instrument while channeling the energy of an eleven-year-old kid. Nicko McBrain was still Nicko McBrain, bashing the cans with complexity and power laying down the foundation for each song along with fellow rhythm-mate Harris. Yes, the band was on. So…what was the problem?


Two things.


Janick Gers (whom I have the utmost respect for his musical ability) doesn't really fit in with an Iron Maiden progressive metal live show – at all. Joining the band in 1990 to help finish No Prayer for the Dying after Smith’s brief departure over musical differences, Gers can no doubt play the part musically, but his stage presence makes us think that we may have entered a Poison concert by mistake. While energy-filled Dickinson and Murray run around the stage, it’s just that – running around the stage from end to end, Harris’ head thrashing about and Dickinson just being the cool front man we associate with a serious metal band like Iron Maiden. Gers side-to-side hair flinging, goofy high steps, kicks (reminiscent to the band Kix), guitar spins and cheesy dance moves would have been great – if Iron Maiden was a 1980’s hair band, but they’re not. They’re Iron Maiden. (Sorry Gers fans, I know he's talented but do they even need three guitar players?)


The other issue with The Book of Souls concert (at least the one in Tinley Park) was that the set list. Though The Book of Souls sold well and gave Iron Maiden their highest boost in some time, the band’s current set list was far too dependent on their latest studio release. With six of the fifteen songs coming from The Book of Souls album, fans who went in the hopes of hearing as many Maiden classics as possible were shorted. Left to the wayside were greats such as “Two Minutes to Midnight”, “Aces High”, “Run to the Hills”, “Flight of Icarus”, “Heaven Can Wait”, “Running Free”, “Can I Play with Madness”, “The Wicker Man”, “Flash of the Blade” and so many more. Now, naturally a band that has spanned for five decades that has produced so many amazing songs cannot be expected to cram every hit into a two-hour set, but playing just two or three songs from The Book of Souls would allow for a few more greats that Iron Maiden loyals would certainly appreciate jamming along with.


So that was the disappointing. Now for the good.


As stated prior, musically Iron Maiden was on top of their game. As expected (and always hoped for), the band’s mascot Eddie made a couple appearances, one as he walked across the stage dwarfing over Murray, Smith and Harris while Gers ran between his legs eluding the creature’s grasp until Dickinson fought and defeated the beast parading his severed heart high into the air for the crowd to see, meeting his victory with bloodthirsty cheers. Later an even larger Eddie peered from behind the drums as the band went into “Iron Maiden”.


Iron Maiden classics were sprinkled in throughout the set as Dickinson donned a British coat from the Revolutionary war while waving the flag of his homeland during “The Trooper”. The singer also surveyed the crowd to see how many fans were born after 1982, the year “Children of the Damned” was released, nearly half the hands in attendance being raised as the band went into the song.


Dickinson also made a heartfelt tribute to late actor Adam West, who he called a childhood hero and an inspiration.


Iron Maiden finished strong with a three-encore power play starting off with “The Number of the Beast” before going into “Blood Brothers” and delivering the knockout blow with “Wasted Years”.


Make no mistake. Iron Maiden still rocks and can deliver a fully entertaining arena show infused with enough metal to satisfy the most hard core of fans. Hopefully, the band’s set will have more songs that truly define Iron Maiden as most know their next time around. And there will be a next time around, as Dickinson altered the lyrics in “Number of the Beast” to “We will return (Chicago)!”.


Iron Maiden set list at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park June 15th 2017


If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Wrathchild
Children of the Damned
Death or Glory
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
The Great Unknown
The Book of Souls
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden
Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years

 

Published in In Concert

Alice in Chains took the stage as the final act of what had already been a full day of rock and roll fun at the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival at the World Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. Kicking it off with the command driven, “Them Bones”, Jerry Cantrell and company put on a show worthy to celebrate former frontman, Layne Staley’s, birthday. Powering their way through what was just a thirteen song set, the band was still able to touch on most of their albums playing songs “Again”, “Would?”, “We Die Young”, “Check My Brain” and “Hollow” from their latest release The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, before capping the night off with an inspired version of “Rooster”.  

This is now the second album tour with the band for singer William Duvall and he couldn’t have had better control of each song performed. Though he may not make fans forget about Layne Staley – not that he would even want to do that – he is sure making a name for himself and has successfully transitioned himself into the shoes of what many thought would be impossible to replace. Duval’s command was impressive and his vocal prowess even more so.

Gloomy and trippy, Alice in Chains, flawlessly drifted from one song into the next aided by a stellar light show and dreamy projected images. With so many bands in the Uproar lineup, their time on the stage was limited. That said, I will look forward to their return to tour the new album to see and hear a more complete set.

Jane’s Addiction also made a noteworthy performance where iconic musical legends Perry Ferrall and Dave Navarro looked to be in prime form. Navarro made his blazing guitar playing look effortless and Ferrall weird antics surrounded his strong and unique vocals. “I love freebase. I love my band. I love the ocean. I love Chicago,” said Ferrall between songs. Ok, so his mid-song banter wasn’t the coolest, but their set was. Songs in their set included “Mountain Song”, “Been Caught Stealing”, “Underground”, and “Ocean Size”. It has been over twenty years since Jane’s Addiction had played at the World Amphitheatre – the site of the very first Lollapalooza, which they headlined.

janesaddiction 02

Alice and Chains were notably that largest acts in the Uproar Festival but it was a full day of loud, rock music starting at 3pm. The talent list was not short as one band impressed after another. The band lineup included Mindset Evolution, Beware of Darkness, Charming Liars, The Dead Daisies, The Chuck Shaffer Picture Show, New Politics, Middle Class Rut, Danko Jones, Walking Papers (featuring Duff McKagen), Circa Survive and Coheed and Cambria.

Bottom Line – The Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival rocked from beginning to end. If you like music on the heavier side that doesn’t lack in quality, there is no reason not to attend such a fun and musically awesome event. I am already looking forward to next year’s lineup.     

For more information on the Rockstar Uproar Fest, visit  http://www.rockstaruproar.com/

Published in In Concert

 

 

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