Review: Iron Maiden at Mt Smart Stadium

By Scott Kara

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Somewhere in the sky up above Mt Smart Stadium the Iron Maiden Gods were smiling devilishly. In fact, they were raining down great big belly laughs on the 18,000-strong crowd because apart from a few showers early on there was no sign of the day's atrocious weather. Not that it would have mattered because nothing was likely to dampen the spirits of this predominantly black t-shirt wearing army. This lot were devout, loyal, and diehard.

And what pay back they got.

The British heavy metal legends, who last visited here 16 long years ago, are all about theatre, drama, and, most importantly, flamboyant heavy metal. Be it singer Bruce Dickinson donning a feather mask for Powerslave or waving a ragged and torn Union Jack during the triumphant racket of The Trooper; to the giant robotic Maiden mascot Eddie who wandered on stage; to the flailing line up of guitarists lead by band founder and master bass player Steve Harris.

It's Harris who drives the band. Yes, the three guitar attack was key, and Dickinson was a bundle of kid-like energy as he bounded round the stage, straddling the feedback speakers, and leaping over them like a British Bruce Lee. But Harris, who writes most of the songs, was like a lead guitarist and pounding and driving rhythm section all in one.

Following a hilarious video on the big screen, which tracked Maiden's journey to Auckland via shows in Dubai and Bangalore, the show kicked off - as is custom - with Churchill's speech before launching into early 80s tracks Aces High and a thrillingly demented Wrathchild.

Elsewhere the almost two hour set had everything the baying fans ever wanted: an epic 13-minute Rime of the Ancient Marriner, which moved from trippy to rampant and back again, Run To the Hills ("If you don't know this one you shouldn't be here."), and 1984's Powerslave was a meaty offering with guitar solos galore.

The highlight though was the unhinged Hallowed Be Thy Name, off 1982's Number of the Beast, with the deliciously daunting line, "Cos at five o'clock they take me to the gallows pole...".

While every fan had their own personal favourite sing-a-long moments, the best all-in crowd sing song was the "Oooh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oooh," of The Trooper and, of course, you couldn't help but holler, "6, 6, 6, the number of the beast, sacrifice is going on tonight".

It sure as hell was.

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