Live Review: Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper, Live in Newark, New Jersey

Iron Maiden are a band who doesn’t usually enjoy looking backward…especially at their concerts. In fact, on many recent tours, they’ve made it a point to stay as current as possible. When they released their 14th album, A Matter of Life and Death, they played it from start to finish at every date of that tour. And they did it to packed houses. Incredibly, when they released that album’s follow-up, 2010’s The Final Frontier, they performed sets composed largely of songs they released over the past decade. And they still filled enormodomes like New York City’s Madison Square Garden with young and old fans alike.

To satiate fans who still want to hear the songs that consecrated the group’s status as one of the top heavy-metal bands in the 1980s, Iron Maiden began playing shows with set lists that reflected certain eras. In 2005, they staged the Eddie Rips Up the World Tour, named after their rotting zombie mascot, where they played tracks from their first four or so albums. Three years later, they built a set that recalled their classic World Slavery Tour, which supported their landmark 1984 album Powerslave and begat the classic metal live album, 1985’s Live After Death. For their current tour, they’re looking back at 1988, the year they released their more proggy Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album, and they’ve crafted a set list, which you can see below, that reflects what ended up on their 1989 VHS release Maiden England.

When they stopped through Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center on July 2, they were first faced with the formidable task of following another legend of hard rock and metal: Alice Cooper. And the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer pulled out all stops for the performance, much on par with something you’d expect of a headliner. Entering the stage via a podium, Cooper stretched out his arms (eight arms to be exact), released some sparklers and commenced singing “The Black Widow,” off his 1975 solo breakthrough, Welcome to My Nightmare. At age 64, Cooper still attempts highly theatrical stunts that someone half is age would. He lets a snake wrap its body around his neck, he dons a mad-scientist smock for “Feed My Frankenstein” (and later flips the switch to bring a giant Alice Cooperstein’s Monster to life), and, of course, there’s still the guillotine. After he feels his character has committed enough sins to be punished, including impaling a paparazzo, he allows executioners to strap him to the device and allow the blade to come crashing down on him. It’s a special effect that still impresses and doesn’t look as cheesy as it could be.

For his set list, he culled hits from his entire career (“I’m Eighteen,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “School’s Out”) as well as some of his more metal-leaning hits and deep cuts to impress the Maiden crowd (“Hey Stoopid,” “Poison” and some extra heavy cuts from 2000’s Brutal Planet). Between his set list and his charisma, Cooper proved to be an opening act that could rile the crowd like a headliner and the three-quarters capacity crowd seemed to eat it up. Maiden would have to pull off quite the show to impress the crowd after Cooper.

Luckily, the Irons had planned out a two-hour set that was equally theatrical. Following a video depicting frontman Bruce Dickinson singing amidst icy tundra, the group shot onto the stage amidst a flurry of mushroom clouds. Launching into “Moonchild,” the first song on Seventh Son, the group flung themselves around the stage in the same manner they did in the ’80s: Dickinson, wearing a long-tail suit jacket, shadowboxed on a raised set, the group’s three guitarists posed in various shapes, and bassist Steve Harris fired the headstock of his bass at the audience as if it were a gun. The only drawback was the sound was thin and uneven, a problem that would persist throughout the night. Nevertheless the group recited one hit after another (“Can I Play With Madness,” “The Prisoner,” “2 Minutes to Midnight,” and on and on).

Throughout the night, Dickinson made a number of jokes about the Fourth of July, just two days away, asking the crowd if it would like to see some fireworks. Then the band played one pyro-laden song after another. For “The Number of the Beast,” six(!) flash pots erupted for the canonical “666” chorus. Throughout the rest of the night, various displays of fireworks, from what looked like giant sparklers to sort-of tiki torches surrounding the various Eddie statues on the stage. And, in true Maiden fashion, that’s not all there was to the show. During “Run to the Hills,” a giant colonial-dressed Eddie came onstage and for “The Number of the Beast,” the band raised a giant devil. Dickinson was his usual jovial self, jumping around the stage and making quips. (“Anybody feeling wasted?” he asked before “Wasted Years.” When the frankly stunned audience didn’t reply how he wanted, he saved it by saying, “A whole audience of designated drivers—I love it.”)

But the evening’s showstopper was the epic song “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.” Dickinson, dressed in a blue-accented militaristic long coat, prowled the stage around a giant statue of Eddie. When he left for the solo breaks, an organist who looked like a medieval witch rose up and played with the band. By the end, fireworks erupted over the stage.

They closed the night with “Iron Maiden,” naturally, followed by an impressive trio of encores: “Aces High,” “The Evil That Men Do,” and the infectious “Running Free.” And while fans can always expect an energetic, acrobatic set from the English metal legends, it’s impressive that the group is able to put on a show that so perfectly recalled the things that made them special in the first place.

ALICE COOPER Set List

“The Black Widow”
“Brutal Planet”
“I’m Eighteen”
“No More Mr. Nice Guy”
“Hey Stoopid”
Orianthi Guitar Solo
“Billion Dollar Babies”
“Feed My Frankenstein”
“Poison”
“Wicked Young Man”
“Killer”
“I Love the Dead”
“School’s Out “

IRON MAIDEN Set List

“Moonchild”
“Can I Play With Madness”
“The Prisoner”
“2 Minutes to Midnight”
“Afraid to Shoot Strangers”
“The Trooper”
“The Number of the Beast”
“Phantom of the Opera”
“Run to the Hills”
“Wasted Years”
“Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”
“The Clairvoyant”
“Fear of the Dark”
“Iron Maiden”

Encore:
“Churchill’s Speech”
“Aces High”
“The Evil That Men Do”
“Running Free”

Photo by John McMurtrie

 

Alert to All Users of the Disqus commenting system: Because of a recent global security issue, the Disqus website recommends that all users change their Disqus passwords. Heres a URL about the issue: http://engineering.disqus.com/2014/04/10/heartbleed.html

 



  • Jordan

    I Was there Great Show!!! Honestly I didn’t know if Maiden Could Top Alice they were both neck and neck for a while but Maiden in the end Awesome show!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissa.sutherland2 Dale Sutherland

    I love Alice Cooper’s drummer’s drum kit.