Air Guitar Raid on Zurich
Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris and Nicko McBrain plus three unplugged guitars, a.k.a. Iron Maiden,
supported by Spiritual Beggars
at the Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland

by: Matthias Noll
What a change of vocalist can accomplish is simply amazing. From their descent into the small venues, Iron Maiden have returned to the big 4000 or 5000 seat arenas, at least in Europe.

The Spiritual Beggars, lead by the multi-talented Michael Amott, did fairly well in front of the 4000 Maiden fans. Even the fact that the keyboards made Amott hardly audible did not stop the people down the front from showing their appreciation by raising their fists and applauding enthusiastically after each song. The band looked a bit odd on the big stage, but they definitely managed to win many new fans with an enthusiastic, driving performance.

Maybe because I got too used to the multiple band line-ups, it was kind of weird to see the headliner so soon, after only one opening act. Introduced by a very dramatic classical intro, Maiden entered the stage, greeted by a sea of hands and ear-shattering noise from a crowd that went absolutely crazy and generated a hair-raising atmosphere that sparkled with electricity. Adrian Smith led the band into "The Wicker Man" and when Murray and Gers joined him (at least they started working their guitars) I couldn't help but laugh out loud, because the sound coming from the stage left the impression of a band making an attempt for the Guiness book of records in the category "the band with the least power per guitar". Picture this: three good guitarists on a big stage, running around, posing (Gers should think about giving lessons for air guitarists), banging their heads; and what you hear is drums, bass, vocals... A special thanks to Bruce Dickinson for telling the crowd that "Heavy Metal" is, among other things, about loud guitars -- what's Maiden, then, trance? Dickinson himself was in top form and it was mainly him who made the gig an enjoyable event. His vocal delivery in "Hallowed Be thy Name", "The Evil That Men Do", "Dream of Mirrors", "Sign of the Cross" and "Fear of the Dark" were simply amazing, and with the help of 4000 vocalists in the audience, he was weaving that hair-raising epic Maiden magic. However, I felt that the set list was a bit short of classic material. In addition to the songs I already mentioned, the band played "Wrathchild", "The Trooper", "Two Minutes to Midnight", "Number of the Beast", weak versions of "Iron Maiden" and "Sanctuary" (imagine these songs without powerful guitars), plus another four songs from _Brave New World_ -- but with so many albums you just can't do everything you should. Overall, I have to say that it really felt great to see the classic Iron Maiden back on the big stages, but please, bring the guitars with you next time around (and if that helps, leave Steve Harris at home).

(article submitted 12/8/2000)

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