Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 07/15/2017)

On a pleasant summer day in the city of Toronto, over 18,000 metalheads had a beautiful time screaming, singing, jumping up and down, raising their horns and “climbing like a monkey” to the flammable music by the unparalleled Iron Maiden.

OPENING ACT: Ghost

As opposed to last year’s Iron Maiden concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, when it was freaking cold and a snow blizzard covered the city and made driving a true nightmare, this Saturday the weather couldn’t be more perfect, with a temperature close to 30 degrees in a sunny day, resulting in another memorable night for all Maidenmaniacs that attended the concert at the always amazing Budweiser Stage (which used to be called Molson Canadian Amphitheatre). You could see in the eyes of the fans that everyone was in a great mood, probably because they spent the whole day getting ready for the concert, drinking beer, enjoying a nice BBQ or simply listening to Iron Maiden while getting tanned by the nice afternoon sun. And besides, everyone would have the whole Sunday to recover before returning to work on Monday (unless you were also seeing Metallica on Sunday, but that’s a different story).

It was around 7:30pm when the opening act hit the stage, Heavy Metal blue-eyed boys GHOST, who for some reason are deeply loved by most musicians, but not as much by fans of metal music. Even Metallica’s James Hetfield himself was at the venue watching the performance by Papa Emeritus III (also known as Tobias Forge) and his nameless ghouls. Anyway, this was my second time seeing Ghost, once again opening for Iron Maiden as in 2014 in the Czech Republic, and this time was way better than the first, I must admit. Papa Emeritus III was more dynamic on stage, more communicative and less “stuck” to the pope gimmick. A considerable amount of fans that were at the venue enjoyed their performance, singing together with the band songs like Ritual, Year Zero and Absolution, and as their performance wasn’t too long I guess not even the most diehard fan of Iron Maiden got bored with Ghost.

Setlist
Masked Ball (Jocelyn Pook song)
Square Hammer
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Ritual
Cirice
Year Zero
Absolution
Mummy Dust
Monstrance Clock

Band members
Papa Emeritus III (Tobias Forge) – vocals
Nameless Ghouls – all instrumentalists:

  • Fire – lead guitarist
  • Ether – rhythm guitarist
  • Water – bassist
  • Wind – keyboardist
  • Earth – drummer

IRON MAIDEN

Finally, after over one year (and another cold winter), it was time for Toronto to scream one more time for the one and only IRON MAIDEN, this time during their The Book Of Souls World Tour 2017, the second leg of their majestic tour promoting their 2015 masterpiece The Book Of Souls. The setlist was pretty much the same as last time, except for Tears of a Clown being replaced with The Great Unknown, and the saddest change of all time, Hallowed Be Thy Name being replaced with Wrathchild due to a legal dispute with retired rock band manager Barry McKay, who is taking Steve Harris and Dave Murray to court over the song. Barry claims Hallowed Be Thy Name reproduces major parts of a song titled “Lying in my Shadow”, written by musician Brian Quinn (under the name Brian Ingham), and because of that Iron Maiden couldn’t play one of their most beautiful and powerful classics during their 2017 tour.

That didn’t stop Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris & Co. to kick ass one more time on stage for the delight of over 18,000 metalheads at the Budweiser Stage, blasting as usual a well-balanced mix of old school songs and newer compositions. Fans were already pumped up during the classic “Doctor Doctor” intro, exploding into sheer ecstasy when Bruce appeared at the top of the band’s Mayan-inspired stage to ignite their “ritual” with the initial spoken words of their new classic If Eternity Should Fail. After that it was an avalanche of hits played to perfection with Bruce interacting with the crowd all the time, while Steve was unstoppable with his galloping bass and Janick seemed as if he was high on something so electric his performance was. And I guess I don’t need to say how awesome Adrian, Dave and Nicko were with their instruments, right? There was only one minor issue with Bruceç mic, which kept failing a little once in a while, but nothing that could harm such sensational concert.

In my humble opinion, the best sequence of the night started with the classic Children of the Damned, where Bruce gave his already traditional speech about most of the fans not being born when the song was written and, for the ones born in 83 or 84, they might be the true “children of the damned”, conceived when the song was written in 82 (as Bruce mentioned, your parents had sex at least once in their lives!). After such stylish composition, the band invited all of us to fly with them and “fight” the Red Baron in the high-octane Death or Glory, with Bruce and his monkey mask enticing us to “climb like a monkey”, a fun move he started last year that became sort of mandatory every time they play this song. And the stunning sequel went on with the 13-minute hymn The Red and the Black, with all fans jumping up and down and singing the “Oh-oh oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh oh-oh-oh!” parts along with Bruce, followed by one of my top Maiden songs of all time, The Trooper, where guess what? It was time to burst our lungs again screaming the song’s famous “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!” together with the band. And closing their killer sequel, the imposing Powerslave, which almost made me blind with its initial flames as I was quite close to the stage.

The newer songs like The Great Unknown and the epic The Book of Souls (where Eddie had his heart “ripped out” by Bruce) kept their momentum going, making everyone even more excited for their final batch of unparalleled classics such as Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast (with the stage fires making us literally burn), and Wasted Years. However, it was their 2000 creation Blood Brothers that really stole the show, with all fans signing its heartening lyrics together with the band, after Bruce’s inspiring intro where he spoke about how diverse and welcoming the city of Toronto is, and how there shouldn’t be no differences among us all, as we’re all blood brothers. What a brilliant performance of such amazing tune, I have to say! One of the best I’ve seen live together with the one from Rock In Rio III in 2001. As Bruce said close to the end of the show, Iron Maiden are far from being done, and they’ll return to Toronto with more of their unmatched metal music in a not-so-distant future. Needless to say, all 18,000 fans at the concert Saturday are more than eager for that without a shadow of a doubt. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hot and sunny day like this Saturday or if it’s in the middle of a cold winter, we all know that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all.

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Wrathchild
Children of the Damned
Death or Glory
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
The Great Unknown
The Book of Souls
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, 04/03/2016)

Not even a bitterly cold and snowy night in Toronto could stop Iron Maiden from writing another beautiful and epic chapter in The Book Of Souls.

OPENING ACT: The Raven Age

iron maiden_the book of souls world tour 2016Here we go again, another blistering cold night in Toronto when it was supposed to be already warming up, with around 15cm of snow out of nowhere just to make the beginning of this spring even weirder than the warmest winter in history. However, when you have the best Heavy Metal band in the entire world playing live in the city, who truly cares about some harmless snowflakes? My only concern was if we were going to have the same sound issues from the concert Friday night in Montreal also here in Toronto, but fortunately the sound quality at the Air Canada Centre was a billion times better than at the Bell Centre, making the whole night even more memorable.

After facing over 30 minutes out in the cold in a never-ending line where there was even an Elvis with an Eddie mask from Powerslave (would that make him the “Presleyslave” or the “Elvis High”?), I got back to the place where I belong in concerts, the floor section (and not those uncomfortable seats from Bell Centre). I might be wrong, but the floor section was quite empty for a sold out concert, even during Iron Maiden. If that’s for safety reasons, no problem, but I think they could have added at least a thousand extra tickets for that area. Anyway, my comments about the opening act, British Melodic Metal THE RAVEN AGE, are exactly the same from Friday night, which means if you read my review for Montreal you can apply each and every word to Toronto as well.

Setlist
Uprising
Promised Land
The Death March
Eye Among the Blind
The Merciful One
Salem’s Fate
Angel in Disgrace

Band members
Michael Burrough – vocals
Dan Wright – guitar
George Harris – guitar
Matt Cox – bass
Jai Patel – drums

IRON MAIDEN

IMG_1236While some bands look and sound the exact same every single night, there’s something about IRON MAIDEN that makes each of their live performances unique even if they do not change anything in their setlist during the entire tour, as it’s happening during the amazing The Book Of Souls World Tour 2016. We all know which songs they’re going to play, and some people even complain about the band’s predictability, but when the concert starts Bruce, Steve and Co. manage to be different, to sound different and to always offer something new to their fans. Maybe that’s the main reason why they’re who they’re today, right?

Thanks to the almighty Eddie, there were no problems with the sound! Quite the contrary, each instrument was loud and clear, especially the pounding drums by the one and only Mr. Nicko McBrain and the rumbling bass guitar by the band’s mastermind Mr. Steve Harris, who made the epic tune The Book of Souls sound more powerful than ever. By the way, what an amazing reaction the fans had to all new songs from The Book Of Souls, especially the opening song If Eternity Should Fail and what was once again the highlight of the show for me, The Red and the Back. Of course fans went crazy when they played classics such as The Trooper, Powerslave (with Bruce wearing the same “luchador” mask from the past couple of shows due to Wrestlemania weekend), Hallowed Be Thy Name (with everyone at the ACC beautifully singing it together with the band), The Number of the Beast and Wasted Years, but it’s nice to see Iron Maiden are not trapped in the past and are still releasing awesome music for our total delight.

iron maiden torontoNow let’s talk about those special details that made last night unique, and I’m not talking about the cold and the snow. We all know how intelligent and skillful Mr. Bruce Dickinson is, and that was once again proved after the band performed the heavy and fast Death or Glory. Any other musician would have ignored the fact the song has a special importance to Toronto and to Canada, but Bruce made sure he spent the necessary time to explain the song is about Baron Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the “Red Baron”, who was shot down by Canadian air ace Captain Roy Brown in 1918, and that the seat of Red Baron’s triplane was donated by the dauntless Canadian pilot to a museum in Toronto. Bruce only forgot to mention the name of the museum, so if you’re interested in visiting it and seeing the airplane seat from the renowned Red Baron you need to go to the Royal Canadian Military Institute Museum (RCMI). As a side note, “Turns like a devil, climbs like a monkey!” (or something like that) were the Red Baron’s words about the Fokker Dr I, the most successful triplane in history. Guess where you can also find these words? And before I forget, poor Janick Gers, his guitar stopped working in the middle of the song and he had to spend about two minutes backstage trying to fix it. I’m not going to mention that most people didn’t even notice that “small” detail mainly because Dave Murray and Adrian Smith were on fire with their flawless riffs and solos, ans also because I like Janick’s performance (I think he IS important to what Iron Maiden are today), but if you also saw that you know what I’m talking about.

IMG_1225By the end of the show, while introducing the melodic Blood Brothers, Bruce spoke about the differences in terms of safety and quality of life found everywhere the band goes, comparing for example our always safe Canada to one of the most dangerous countries in the world, El Salvador, but also saying if there’s one thing that unites us all and helps us face any adversities in life is Heavy Metal, in special if you’re part of the MAIDEN FAMILY. On the train back to my small city, Oakville, an “old school” couple who also attended the concert sat in front of us and we instantly started chatting about Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica (the guy even fist pumped me full of joy when I said Metallica is the most overrated band on earth), sports, and several other topics. They even gave us a customized pair of hockey blade tapes from The Book Of Souls without even knowing us! That moment I realized how big, fun and unified the Maiden Family mentioned by Bruce is. And I’m happy to be part of it, so happy I didn’t even care I had to wipe a ton of snow from my car at the train station, at midnight, and under a frigid temperature of around -6oC. Actually, I was very relaxed while doing that, humming the “Oh-oh Oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh Oh-oh-oh!” from The Red and the Black and already thinking about when I’ll be able to watch Iron Maiden kicking some serious ass once again.

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Tears of a Clown
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
Death or Glory
The Book of Souls
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Blaze Bayley (Hard Rock Café, Toronto, ON, 10/17/2014)

The Messiah blessed his loyal fans with pure Heavy Metal at Indie Week Canada 2014 in Toronto.

OPENING ACTS: Laugh At The Fakes, The Blackcloud Syndicate, Spewgore and Phantom

blaze bayley torontoOn a very pleasant not-so-cold night in the heart of Toronto during Indie Week Canada, from October 15 to October 19, Hard Rock Café was invaded on October 17 by around 150 metalheads to support four amazing local bands, with the icing on the cake being an electrifying performance by the “Messiah” Blaze Bayley, as part of the festival’s Metal Showcase.

I can’t say I was expecting more or less people than that, probably a little more due to the presence of such a great musician as Blaze, but one thing that I loved about the festival was the sense of family among all bands and fans at the venue, including Blaze himself who spent a lot of time talking to fans, taking pictures and signing stuff, as well as being able to put some faces to names like Jon Asher, from Asher Media Relations. You will read more about this great guy from Montreal, his business and the bands he works with here at The Headbanging Moose for sure.

IMG_2993The first attraction to hit the stage was Rock/Metal band LAUGH AT THE FAKES, from Toronto, Ontario. Those guys play a nice mix of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, very old school but with a more polished sounding, and they surely entertained everyone already at Hard Rock Café before 9pm. Although it was impossible to get or memorize the setlists of any of the opening bands, I know Laugh At The Fakes played a pretty cool song called Killing Time, from their debut album Dethrone the Crown, which will  be released pretty soon and, of course, reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose.

Band members
Everett Mason – guitar, vocals
Kevin Daliri – guitar
Galen Weir – bass
Chris Avalos – drums

IMG_2997After some Rock N’ Roll and a short beer break, it was time for Thrash Metal/Hardcore band THE BLACKCLOUD SYNDICATE, also from Toronto, Ontario, to speed things up with their visceral music, with highlights to the wicked performance by lead singer Miko Zolefrapanidis. The guy was on fire, probably inspired by Blaze’s usual performance. In regards to the songs, I truly enjoyed a song named Protest the Riot and their cover version for Billy Idol’s classic Rebel Yell, both from their 2013 release called Rage in Common.

Band members
Miko Zolefrapanidis – vocals
Giuseppe D’Angelo – guitar
Graham Scott Anthony – guitar
Shawn Davidson – bass
Glenn Novak – drums

IMG_3003And there was more violence to come with the third indie band of the night, Thrash Metal/Hardcore veterans SPEWGORE, from Brampton, Ontario. Led by vocalist Bill Brown, the band took the proverbial phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” seriously, as they were able to deliver an almost full setlist in a very limited amount of time. If you enjoy fast, short and brutal hardcore songs, go after the music by this Canadian band. They truly delivered a nonstop energetic concert at the festival.

Band members
Bill Brown – vocals
Steve Macpherson – guitars
Ken Gibson – bass
Mark Macpherson – drums

IMG_3004The last attraction before the Messiah was Heavy Metal band PHANTOM, from Toronto, Ontario, and let me tell you those guys make the expression “New Wave Of Canadian Heavy Metal” more real than ever! What an amazing band, with powerful songs such as their new single Blood & Iron being the perfect warm-up for Blaze Bayley. Kudos to D.D. Murley, Necro Hippie and J.J. Blade for keeping the fire of Heavy Metal burning, and for reminding us why the 80’s were the best decade in the history of music by far.

Band members
D.D. Murley – lead vocals and guitar
Necro Hippie – bass guitar
J.J. Blade – drums and backing vocals

BLAZE BAYLEY

IMG_3015Coincidence or not, when the clock hit two minutes to midnight, BLAZE BAYLEY began his flaming performance at Hard Rock Café, accompanied by the extremely competent Iron Maiden tribute band MAIDEN QUÉBEC, from Montreal, Quebec, who were by the way supporting Blaze in all of his Canadian dates.

Celebrating 20 years of the controversial, obscure and awesome album The X Factor, Blaze and Maiden Québec presented a very interesting mix of his first solo albums (when his band was called only BLAZE) and Iron Maiden songs. And it wasn’t a perfect mix, just an interesting one, because unfortunately there were absolutely no songs from his best solo albums, the masterpieces The Man Who Would Not Die and Promise and Terror, which I can understand based on the fact Blaze is a 100% solo artist now, relying on local bands to build his setlist wherever he goes. I know it might be hard for any band to learn too many “new” songs in a short period of time, and so adding songs Maiden Québec are used to play like Running Free, Whathchild and Wasted Years was the most viable solution for all musicians involved.

IMG_3024Anyway, despite those minor limitations, it was indeed a great performance by “the man who will not die”, with highlights to songs such as The Brave, Silicon Messiah and Kill and Destroy, together with his Maiden-years songs When Two Words Collide (which I saw live only once, during the Virtual XI World Tour in 1998), Lord of the Flies, the all-time classics Futureal and Man on the Edge, and the more-than-perfect The Clansman. How can a normal person not get all fired up with this epic song, especially after Blaze’s inspiring words about living our lives, about feeling the sense of true freedom? This song always makes me want to be Scottish, I just love it!

IMG_2998

The Messiah is among us!

But the most important detail of the whole concert was, of course, Blaze Bayley himself. There’s an expression in Brazilian Portuguese that summarizes the state of a person when he is fearless, brave, lionhearted, and 100% ready for war: we say that person has “sangue nos olhos”, or blood in his eyes in English (not in a surgical way, of course), and that’s exactly how I see Blaze Bayley every single time he’s on stage. He gives it all, no matter if he’s playing for 50 or 50,000 people, and he literally demands each and every motherfucker from the crowd to join him in an incredible metal music havoc. You cannot hide from Blaze, he will see you standing still and kindly ask you “Hey, you, motherfucker! Come on!”, it doesn’t matter if you worked for over eight hours, if you’re fuckin’ exhausted nor if it’s already 1:30am. And that’s how true independent Heavy Metal is done.

Setlist
1. Lord of the Flies
2. When Two Worlds Collide
3. The Brave
4. Ghost in the Machine
5. Silicon Messiah
6. Ten Seconds
7. The Clansman
8. Futureal
9. The Launch
10. Soundtrack of My Life
11. Kill and Destroy
12. Man on the Edge
13. Running Free
14. Wrathchild
15. Iron Maiden
16. Wasted Years

Band members
Blaze Bayley – vocals

Maiden Québec (Canadian tour support band)
Pat Lalonde – vocals
Steven Bergeron – lead guitars
Leandro Alves – lead guitars
Math Gagnon – bass
Jef Rastoldo – drums