The numbers of the beast

Iron Maiden at Comcast Center, June 20, 2008
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  June 26, 2008

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Slideshow: Iron Maiden in Boston, June 20, 2008
I think it was right around when singer Bruce Dickinson made his third costume change of the evening — from the faux Egyptian-pharaoh get-up of “Powerslave” to the spooky undead tattered-black-cape wearer of “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” — that it occurred to me that the Iron Maiden franchise amounts to a Disney-esque purveyor of Imagineering: songs-as-theme-park-rides assimilating and pillaging literature and folklore with the “gee whiz” abandon of Walt & Co. You enter at WW2 Land with “Aces High,” where you guffaw at the triple-ax wizardry/approximation of a vintage dogfight, and after two hours of demons and Egyptians and dystopian futures and ancient priests and what-not, they bring out their Mickey Mouse–esque mascot, Eddie, who shoots fireworks from his eyes to the beat of a three-guitar salute. If this makes Maiden out to be kids’ stuff, that’s only because, in their process of distilling the awesome parts from the Black Sabbath/’70s hard-rock playbook, they tend to remove the more grown-up parts, like the bummer/bad vibes, the sexual menace, the heavy themes, and the dark tones. Iron Maiden are a fun-time franchise that aims to please.

But they haven’t pleased the last few times they’ve rolled through town, when they’ve been flogging new album tracks on an audience that would prefer to go on Space Mountain for the 10th time. Which is why on this tour — where they’re offering nothing more recent than 1992’s Fear of the Dark — they played to an ecstatically packed Great Woods (er, Tweeter Center — er, Comcast Center). The only unenthusiastically thrown devil horns were for Dickinson’s promise that the next time they come to the colonies, they’ll be promoting a new album. But tonight was complete orgiastic bliss for Maidenheads, as the band tore through a dream set list that approximated 1985’s double live high point Live After Death. As a million fingers air-guitared frantically, Maiden put on a fireballing motherfucker of a show that was surely enough to sell a metric ton or 12 of Eddie T-shirts and soccer scarves. “Scream for me, Massachusetts!” Indeed!

Related: Photos: Radiohead in Boston, Photos: Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction, The long good-byes, More more >
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