In a year without competition from the Slayer, Iron Maiden convincingly won the case at Graspop: We didn’t see the band’s shirt run very often in the meadow. So the Brits were at Graspop for the 10th time, while Metal Meeting itself celebrated its 25th anniversary. Party, party!
And whether Iron Maiden brought a gift for Graspop’s anniversary edition. Their seventeenth album was released in 2021, Senjutsu† This was their first new act since 2015 and the band drew inspiration from Eastern history. This also included a new group design. Three pagodas had to create the right atmosphere for the songs from Senjutsubut most of all they made sure that drummer Nicko McBrain was completely hidden from view.
Singer Bruce Dickinson wasn’t the guy who let himself go. The 63-year-old had grown a man during lockdown and stumbled across the stage in shiny leather pants. He performed the three opening songs from the new album, with “Stratego” and “Writing on the Wall”, as well as the title track with bold strokes. Dickinson also took the opportunity to have a first fight with Eddie, the squad’s mascot, dressed as a giant samurai for the occasion.
After that, Senjutsu was replaced by The most powerful songs– Grab bag space for 3 songs of the number of the beast (1982) and Peace of mind (1983). The song “Revelations” from this last record gave the four guitarists on stage plenty of time to play solos, while Dickinson changed his appearance again.
At times, the show seemed like a contest between the singer and the group to see who could absorb the most costume changes. The pagoda was turned into a cathedral, the underworld and a dungeon respectively, and for the closing song “High Ace” the Spitfire also fell from the roof. It’s a big part of Maiden’s magic that each song takes on its own visual world, but the time that crept into constant switching also slowed the group down.
Fortunately, the band with “Flight of Icarus” opened the throttle halfway as if they were the proud owners of a perpetual power contract. The perfectly timed sunset gave the meadow’s “Fear of the Dark” the singing moment it had been craving, and the only bad thing we can say about “The Number of the Beast” is that we mentioned 6.66 is also the price of two pints were on site. “Tonight we are all part of the same family,” Dickinson said in a rare binding text talking about the pandemic. The most comfortable thing about this family celebration? Perhaps this hasn’t changed much compared to what it was three years ago.
Iron Maiden, seen on Grasspop on June 16. †
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