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Iron Maiden - October 10th, 2006 - Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre

By: Adam Reider

If you haven’t already heard, allow us to be the bearer of bad news. Iron Maiden is playing its latest album, "A Matter Of Life And Death," in its entirety from start to finish. That’s right—you read correctly. Iron Maiden is playing more than 70 minutes of new material.

While this may have seemed like a good idea in band meetings prior to the tour, it has created quite a bit of backlash. Internet message boards contain fan comments like, “I wish I stayed home” or “Now I don’t feel bad about missing the show.” As the concert ended, you could hear people's reactions as they poured onto the street. “What the fuck was that?” one visibly irate fan asked. Why would a band with a career history that exceeds 25 years attempt such a thing?

Four songs into the show at Montreal's Bell Centre, the 13,000-strong crowd was stunned—then pissed—by the realization that the whole album was being played. A killer lighting rig, fantastic sound and a cool stage set could not keep the audience from drifting. By song six the people that had been on their feet yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs were now sitting with their heads in their hands. You could almost hear the sighs of boredom over the music.

At times the band looked at each other as if to say, “Are we really still going through with this?” Bruce Dickinson, however, made no apologies. In fact, after it finished more than an hour almost unknown material, Bruce Almighty, decked out in what looked like sweat pants, took a bow.

Whether it noticed the drooping crowd is debatable, but Maiden did seem aware of when it was physically lagging and picked up the pace accordingly. Dickinson would leap across the stage, Janick Gers would throw his guitar around, bassist Steve Harris struck his traditional foot-on-monitor stance.

Then something happened. Something incredible. The band onstage was suddenly replaced by the real Iron Maiden. It broke into "Fear Of The Dark," and the crowd lost its mind. People were jumping up and down again; fans woke from their deep slumber to see if they had been saved. The screams became deafening, and the energy was back. All of a sudden it was an Iron Maiden show. The song was followed by “Iron Maiden,” and by this time the crowd was losing its mind. The band returned for an encore with “Two Minutes To Midnight," "The Evil That Men Do" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name," and that was that. About 25 minutes of classic Maiden, and then lights out.

But when Maiden played that night, it played flawlessly, with every note crystal clear. Even though both band and audience looked bored, the musicianship was still there. Any other group who played a similar show would have seen its audience walk out halfway through. Even though we didn't need to hear all of "A Matter Of Life And Death," it's a lie to say the new stuff sucks. The record sales prove it: Iron Maiden reached No. 2 overall in Canada and No. 1 in Quebec, according to Dickinson, who proudly announced this tidbit.

Obviously when you buy an Iron Maiden ticket, you expect a particular kind of show. You can’t beat a giant tank rising from behind the stage. And how can you compete with a nine-foot tall Eddie being battled with by guitar solos? (All of which arrived in the show's last 20 minutes.) But you also expect to hear certain songs—how can you even begin to compare "The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg" with "Two Minutes To Midnight"?

We salute Eddie and the boys for trying something new, but they should have known better. Play the new album . . . play every damn song on the album . . . but don’t play it from start to finish one month after its release. Mix up the set list and throw in some classics. Or, at the very least, give a heads-up and move to a smaller venue. [END]

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