Iron Maiden - July 14, 2010 - First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
By: David E. Gehlke
A very smug Iron Maiden, thinking "No More Lies" would go over better than "Flight of Icarus"...
Gotta love people that get trashed on a Wednesday night concert. Don't they have to go work the next day? One has to wonder how many "sick" days were filed the day after. And to the drunken dude who was yelling for Maiden to play "Aces High”: you’re outta luck. It just wasn't happening tonight.
The pairing of Iron Maiden and Dream Theater in 2010 is more logical than ever: DT is a progressive metal band, while Maiden, Brave New World and beyond thinks they're a progressive metal band. Both have an entirely devoted cult following, which probably lent to the well-attended show at the First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown, which is technically the Pittsburgh market. For comparison's sake, this turnout dwarfed that of the Judas Priest/Heaven and Hell show two years prior, and that was on a Saturday.
Limited to only six songs, Dream Theater played what drummer Mike Portnoy deemed to this scribe as "our metal set, tailored for the Maiden crowd." And sure enough, it was, with "As I Am" from 2003's Train of Thought kicking off the set. DT in the live arena isn't as much as a visual spectacle as it is an aural one, with the band stationed in their respective positions throughout much of their set. Singer James LaBrie - when he actually has lines to sing - can often be found hamming it up for the crowd, even trading vocal duties with Portnoy on "Constant Motion." "Home" from the band's unbeatable Metropolis: Scenes of a Memory Part II proved to be the set highlight, as guitarist John Petrucci let loose with his renowned 6-string precision and keyboardist Jordan Rudess matching him note-for-note. As expected, "Pull Me Under" ended DT's lean and mean set. When the band stays on the metal side of the fence, there is no one better. They'd be best advised to stay there going forward.
When Maiden's setlist leaked, you could hear the groans and moans across the country. Leaning heavily on material from Brave New World, Dance of Death, and A Matter of Life and Death, Maiden has taken a calculated risk in leaving their old-time fanbase in the dark. Then again, the band did tour the globe over two years playing material just from their first seven albums, which is probably why the song selections weren't that big of a surprise to the well-informed.
Predictably, "The Wicker Man" was Maiden's set opener, with the rather repetitive "Your time will come!" chorus ringing throughout the calm summer air. "The Ghost of the Navigator" was next, with the ultra-cool Adrian Smith leading the way, followed up by "Wrathchild." Not a bad first three songs...then Maiden decided to get cute with their song choices and in effect, lost the crowd.
New single "El Dorado" is a total throwaway, regardless of how much hemming and hawing Dickinson (who definitely was nursing a cold) did about it. "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Bregg" has its merits, but it led into a string of songs that all start slow and never gain momentum, and that includes "Dance of Death" (the song), one of the few keepers off the album bearing its name. Why the band chose "No More Lies" over "Rainmaker" is beyond comprehension; "These Colors Don't Run" is another woebegone plodder, and "Bloodbrothers" (dedicated to Ronnie James Dio) and "Brave New World” just had no push to them. The crowd was clearly not into any of these songs, with Dickinson holding out the mic to little, if any response. No one paid $40-plus to see Maiden play these songs, unfortunately. And it’s not like the band’s new material is porous – some of it is strong.
The usual closing run of “Iron Maiden,” “Number of the Beast” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” partially rectified the situation, but these slower songs with the prolonged intros have no business being played in succession like they were. Let us not dispute Maiden’s standing or influence in metal. They’re probably the biggest thing going at the moment, even if tonight (for a lot of concert-goers) was a pretentious mess...