Pinnacle Bank Arena puts on many concerts every year since 2013, spanning either rap, pop, country, or rock. July 9, 2017 was a first for them: their first heavy metal concert. Who none other than Iron Maiden marked this feat. Many die-hard Maiden fans around the world made the trek to Lincoln. Iron Maiden haven’t played in Nebraska in almost thirty years, Lincoln for almost 34 years, so this was a long time coming for them.
Ghost from Sweden opened lit the fire for the the epic night. Led by lead singer Papa Emeritus III and his Nameless Ghouls, they brought the audience to church, with a stained glass backdrop with satanic images and with Papa wearing a mitre, resembling a satanic pope. They opened up with the song that has been getting a some considerable amount of radio play, “Square Hammer”. Papa was the perfect frontman, showing charisma and courtesy. I also love the stage presence of the Nameless Ghouls. They were really into performing live and having such a good time. One of the highlights was when they performed “Mummy Dust” the keyboard player got out a keytar and started ripping on it. You really don’t see that happen at metal shows that much, but I thought it was really cool. And lastly, they performed their final song, “Monstrance Clock” dedicating it to the “female orgasm”, so there you have that. Overall, great set by Ghost, as opening to a crowd of Iron Maiden fans is one of the hardest things to do in metal, and they just nailed it.
Finally, it was Iron Maiden’s turn to hit the stage. They showed a little video before they played of a CGI Eddie, the band’s mascot, exploring an underground Mayan civilization. Then, Bruce Dickinson, singer, sang the intro to “If Eternity Should Fail”, the first song off their latest album, The Book of Souls, a capella. Their stage setup was kind of reminiscent of the former Nickelodeon game show from the 90s called, Legends of the Hidden Temple, with the Mayan influence prominent, even Bruce during the set joked about how their set will be returned back to the shop and that some other band, like Metallica, may use it. Then they kicked right into the song, a great opener for their set. Majority of their set was older material, but they also played six new songs, which is quite a bit for a tour, especially for a band like Iron Maiden, who have an extensive catalog. But that didn’t stop the Maiden die-hards from headbanging, raising their horns, and singing along. Bruce Dickinson is one of the greatest frontmen of all time, having so much energy at the ripe age of 58. The man was all over the place, jumping, kicking around like he was still in his twenties. Also, the man knows how to work a mic stand, twirling and doing tricks like he was heavy metal Elvis. And his voice never deteriorated, always consistent with swagger and gravitas like a true professional musician. Every musician on that stage was world-class. The guitar trio of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers melted faces for days. Bassist Steve Harris plucked the strings like no other. And Nicko McBrain, drummer, killed it with the drum fills and constant beat. Highlights of the set was Bruce wearing a chimpanzee mask and tossing bananas into the crowd during “Death or Glory” because there’s a lyric in the song that goes “climb like a monkey”, that gave the crowd a chuckle. During the middle of “The Red and the Black”, Bruce borrowed a lightsaber from the crowd and fought Janick with it, and as a big Star Wars fan that I am, that really made my night. And, of course, it wouldn’t be an Iron Maiden show without an appearance from Eddie, so during the middle of “Book of Souls”, out comes Eddie, hobbling around onstage, with Bruce messing around with him and, eventually, ripping his heart out from him. They finished their set with one of their biggest hits, “Wasted Years”, a great end to an amazing night. Iron Maiden put on of the greatest live shows I have ever seen. Very theatrical from start to finish. The production was phenomenal, from the lights to the pyro to the stage antics, it was a sight to see. They even sounded amazing. Everyone had a great time. Pinnacle Bank Arena did a great job for bringing them back to Nebraska after being absent for so long. I really hope more shows, with big production and big names like this come back to not just Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, but venues like the CenturyLink Center and Baxter Arena in Omaha. This was near sellout show and gave full potential to the future of more arena heavy metal and hard rock shows in Nebraska.
All photos are © 2017 Robert Chadwick Photography.