IRON MAIDEN, QUEENSRYCHE, HALFORD
At Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, September 10
How many people attending the 1982 Iron Maiden/Judas Priest tour thought they’d be lucky enough to witness something almost as grand thundering its way through the Y2K?
Rob Halford, with 17 years as the voice of Priest under his spiked belt, is made of fooking metal. The world is only right when Halford is screaming. And scream he did; more accurately, he trilled like a banshee who’d had gravel for breakfast, and spoke like he’d had a lynx larynx implanted in his throat. Breaking into the title track of his new disc, Resurrection, Rob threw the inebriated-at-6:30 crowd a number of Priest chestnuts — “Breaking the Law,” “Stained Class,” “Hellion/Electric Eye” and the Unleashed in the East version of “Tyrant.” When Queensryche hit the stage, the serpentine hip-wiggling of vocalist Geoff Tate got each of the 10 females in attendance to swoon, as the band worked through numbers from Operation: Mindcrime and Empire as well as a Vegas version of “Queen of the Reich.”
Iron Maiden are not interested in revisiting their past, or yours, for that matter — they are strictly in the here and now. With the return of vocalist Bruce Dickinson and lead guitarist Adrian Smith, the band tore through “Wrathchild,” “Two Minutes to Midnight,” “The Trooper” and “The Number of the Beast,” as well as most of the recently released Brave New World, their best disc since Piece of Mind. Reunion tours are supposed to excise replacements, but guitarist Janick Gers has remained, if only for comedic relief; alongside Smith and Dave Murray, Gers danced like a Shetland pony crossed with Yngwie Malmsteem. Flashpots of many colors exploded like miniature atomic bombs, while the stage, made up like the apocalyptic World cover, allowed Dickinson to run amok and prove he’s the most colossal rock vocalist of all time, even emerging from a giant wicker man for “Iron Maiden,” the theme of the most epic band of this or any epoch. Irvine is still screaming for them.