By Tracy Brown
Artist: Iron Maiden
Date / Venue: Friday April 29th, 2016 - Horncastle Arena, Christchurch
So tonight is the Iron Maiden concert and great anticipation and excitement has already hit me! As I take my seat, the main thought playing through my mind was 'What a daunting task it must be to perform as the opening act for such an iconic band such as Iron Maiden!!!'
It maybe so, but The Raven Age pulls of the task with outright success.
It is clear to see they live up to the description of them on their website as 'Melodic Metal Band'. I allude to their website because the very words I came up during the concert to describe them were the same as what is on their website - however - I had never been to their website until AFTER I heard them tonight at the concert.
With haunting melodious intros and making good use of breakdowns and build ups with fabulous thunder strikes and attacks, they perform with great stage presence. Very engaging with the crowd and high energy with electric edginess that keeps the crowd roaring.
Michael Burrough, the lead vocalist has a powerful melodic voice, hitting his notes with purity and clarity that cuts through drums - Jai Patel, guitars - Dan Wright and George Harris, and bass - Matt Cox.
They finished with their new release Angel in Disgrace. I can't get enough of this band. I love their edginess, their melodious sounds and their high energy. The song launches in with gutsy guitars and drums. Hooks you into the song as soon as it starts.
These guys have a talent for creating the right tension appropriate for each song, vibrant and professional keeping crowds engaged and interacting regularly with them. Keep an eye on this band! They are most certainly on their way to holding their own in the world of great status! Will they be amongst the new greats who will eventually replace all the current iconic bands? I get the feeling that The Raven Age will take up this status with ease!!
Then it was time for the main event.
Iron Maiden cast a mind blowing spell on a crowd of over 6000 at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch on Friday night.
Launching their epic performance off with fantastic screen graphics depicting Ed Force One caught in Mayan jungle vines, struggling to escape. A giant fiery red hand reaches up from the dark depths to propel them into the sky and to embark on their journey of The Book of Souls. The crowd roars with excitement as we sense that we are about to go on a journey of wonder and excitement!
Awesome stage sets with ancient Mayan ruins which include fire pits and mystical smoke with back drops changing on almost every song. Bruce Dickinson, hot damn he looks super fit! One would never realise he has recently recovered from tongue cancer as he howls out his vocal lines over and above searing guitar streams and pounding thunderous drums on the first song 'Speed of Light'. They belt out a few great old classics along with a collection of songs from their new (double) album Book of Souls. Working and performing for the crowd and cameras which project on to giant screens on either side of the stage with super high energy mesmerising the crowd as he yells out "Scream for me Christchurch!!!" Gorgeous bass intros with Steve Harris, haunting melodies, with brutal attacks from guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers breaking in with absolute precise rhythms from drummer Nicko McBrain.
The entire band defy their age as they run all over the Mayan ruin set, leapingover speakers and jumping on the spot to the addictive rhythms while playing guitars. Yes there was sweating involved, and despite their age, they are agile, sassy and professional. Many young performers would have trouble keeping up with the pace these guys set!! It is clear to see they LOVE doing what they do - you can see it - you can hear it - you can feel it.
Bruce's catch call "Scream for me Christchurch" is yelled out frequently throughout the night and is met with an enthusiastic rabid crowd who throw themselves into hard out screaming and yelling in response.
Where did the night go?!!! Fantastic high energy has churned through the night and all of a sudden we are screaming for an encore which starts with 'Number of the Beast', getting a rapturous response!!!
They play in Auckland on Sunday night! Get yourselves along there and enjoy a brilliant show with fabulous lighting and sound. Great theatrics, including a 9 foot Eddie and a massive blow up horned beast with folded arms looking ominously or was it condescendinglydown upon the crowd - a great touch.