As thousands filed into the first of two Iron Maiden shows at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine this week, one old-school fan – who admitted to his buddy he hadn’t seen the band since the late ’80s – inquired: “I wonder if Bruce Dickinson can still sing like he used to?”
He got his answer quickly Thursday night, as the fearless frontman, sounding sharp as ever, stepped on stage and the band eased into the set a bit with “Moonchild,” the first track off its 1988 release “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.”
The British metal gods’ 34-date Maiden England North American tour, which continued Friday, is loosely based on its original outing behind that album. Numerous selections from the disc, including “Can I Play with Madness,” “The Evil That Men Do,” “The Clairvoyant” and the title track, were featured among a stellar set list of favorites.
Primarily sticking with songs from the ’80s, the band did dip into the early ’90s with “Fear of the Dark” and “Afraid to Shoot Strangers,” which Dickinson told the crowd they were playing “because we can, really, and we like it.” It was the only song of the night for which he gave any sort of introduction, noting that it was about a soldier – who might be a good or bad guy – and what goes through his head as he has to shoot at strangers. At the end of the day, the vocalist pointed out, he probably just wants to come out of it alive. Seems as fitting today as ever.
Dickinson didn’t offer many more asides other than a few humble words of thanks and his signature cry: “Scream for me, Irvine!” That request was filled numerous times as this loyal crowd, most of which donned old tour T-shirts – many of them older than the young fans on hand – gladly obliged to the singer’s plea for screams. They roared along to choruses, turning red in the face and thrusting fists high into the air.
Photo of Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris by Kelly A. Swift, for the Orange County Register.
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