Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Finland on July 18th 2008
Review & live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen
One of the most anticipated tours in 2008 simply has to be Iron Maiden´s "Somewhere Back in Time - World Tour 2008" due to the fact the band had chosen to perform songs off of their 9 first studio albums only (excluding their not-that-successful NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING album), bringing the biggest and most classic of the Maiden classics to their fans to be experienced and enjoyed. And who among us wouldn´t love to hear songs like "The Trooper", "The Number of the Beast", "Aces High", "Powerslave" - or just any other of Maiden´s strongest and most loved tracks off of the era of Iron Maiden that many consider - and for the right reasons even - THAT very best era of these fine British gentlemen: the first 7 albums of the mighty Iron Maiden.
Iron Maiden started this tour from Mumbai, India on February 1st 2008, and since then they have been playing for hundreds of thousands Maiden fans around the world - from India to Australia to Japan to USA, etc, making the fans crave for more, like it would be the first time for them to see their ultimate heroes. But ultimately, we cannot blame them for begging for more from them. With such an ideal Maiden setlist they have put together for this tour, it´s no wonder why some of us biggest, die-hard Maiden fans follow the band from one concert to another - spending our hard-earned savings just to see as many shows from these grandfathers of NWOBHM as it can only be possible financially.
I chose to witness Iron Maiden at Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland on July 18th simply due to my location in my current hometown. Over 43.000 tickets were sold out in advance for Maiden´s concert at Helsinki Olympic Stadium for months before the concert already, so therefore another concert was quickly arranged to Ratina Stadium in Tampere, Finland, for the next day (which also happened to be at least near-sold-out, if not completely sold-out?).
The active Maiden boom in Finland has always been something that even the members of Iron Maiden have always been wondering about for the last 2-3 tours when the Maiden troops have landed to Finland. The last time Eddie´s most favorite friends visited Finland was in November 2006. Every Maiden album released in Finland achieves high positions in the Finnish album charts. It´s actually been that way for years already. Such a small country, but so many Maiden fans coming from that beautiful, Nordic country… Kinda incredible, isn´t it?
Lauren Harris (like father - like daughter, he!) and her band and Avenged Sevenfold were the two privileged acts that got their slots on Maiden´s European leg of the tour. Unfortunately none of us press people had the chance to see them due to some arrangements that were done by the people from the Live Nation (Finland) organization. Not their fault to keep us away from seeing the support acts, but since the strict orders came straight from Maiden´s management, what can you really do in a situation like that?
Finally, when Churchill´s legendary speech started coming out from the monitors, the Maiden crowd raised such a noise storm that you could barely hear your own voice while being there in the photo pit, waiting rather anxiously for Steve, Bruce, Adrian, Dave, Nico and Janick to appear on the stage. Seeing the first instant reactions coming from the fanatic and nearly hysteric Maiden audience, it made cold shivers running down my spine. The noise level naturally became much stronger once this legendary British sextet finally walked on the massive stage: It was the time for the opening song of the set, “Aces High”. Without even observing the Maiden fans´ reactions when “Aces High” was played, it was clear since the very first moments of the concert why over 43.000 tickets were sold in less than one hour. Who could want to miss witnessing the no. 1 heavy metal band in the whole world once they have a tour going on? Not me, amongst all of those other over 43 thousand Maiden fans for whom that concert probably was their highlight of the year as far as concerts are concerned.
“2 Minutes to Midnight…” - and at this point the very supportive Maiden crowd seemed to be sold. Everyone was singing along to the chorus part with Bruce, and you could tell by the wide grin on Bruce´s face that he felt overwhelmingly happy and comfortable with the response that he was offered by the fans. Then came “Revelations” off the band´s PIECE OF MIND album, which inflamed the crowd even more. And then “The Trooper” that has become a mandatory part of every Maiden show - and a great Maiden feast has just started becoming the type of show that you see happening at Iron Maiden gigs only. In all honesty, the band´s whole charisma is beyond any words really. There´s this special aura that connects them to their fans so tightly that eventually one stops asking questions what´s that thing in Iron Maiden exactly which makes them so highly popular and loved amongst their fans. You only gotta come to see one of their shows – and your questions will have been answered, I guess.
After “The Trooper”, followed “Wasted Years”, which again, put the huge crowd singing along the song with Bruce. Another set of two classic Maiden numbers, “The Number of the Beast” and “Can I Play with Madness?” set the whole stadium on fire even more, like the first half wouldn´t have enough of that effect on people there. We do have the craziest and wildest Maiden fans here in Finland, not a single doubt about that.
“Rime of the Ancient Mariner” was absolutely one of the true highlights of that night´s Maiden show. All the epicness and pompousness in this particular song make you feel like a part of some adventure through the ancient times, when lonesome mariners ruled the seas all over the world - guided by the Gods, but cursed by nightmares of the seas. You do have the same kind of wild imagination as I have I assume, don´t you? Nonetheless, the song went down very well to the crowd, and an insane storm of applause and screams that were heard after the song had come to its end, the final approval of excitement was left on the faces of both parties involved in this specific triumph of British heavy metal.
And if that wasn´t enough, “Powerslave” definitely added more boiling water to the vast sea of thousands of Maiden fans at Helsinki Olympic Stadium. If there´s a heavy metal heaven existing somewhere, then at that night each of us surely experienced a fair glimpse of that.
The band played in an extraordinary relaxed way the songs off of their 9 first albums (the NO PRAYER… album excluded), and seemingly enjoyed the atmosphere that was born that particular night at the stadium between them and the fans. In “Fear of the Dark” the fans were interacting with Iron Maiden in probably the loudest and most engaging way during the band´s incredible set thus far. It´s no wonder why singing karaoke is also very popular amongst the Finnish people according to what both younger and older Maiden fans were capable of performing during the “Fear…” song at the Olympic Stadium of Helsinki.
The loyal Maiden fans got finally to see their favorite slaughter mascot Eddie when the title track of the band´s name, “Iron Maiden”, resounded from the speakers. A massive-sized Eddie sprang up from an ancient sarcophagus, right behind from Nico´s drum set. And just when some of us thought “that was it - the show´s over”, the band was preparing for encores. A set of three more Maiden songs - “Moonchild”, “Clairvoyant (Eddie appeared onstage for the second time; this time as some sort of a ´cyborg-Eddie´)” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” were catapulted in the air, one after another. Curtains down - and the show had come to its end, for time being though.
What a spectacle all in all! I for myself, could say Maiden´s concert on this tour, was surely one of those shows that you´ll undoubtedly remember for the rest of your whole lifetime. At least changes for that are relatively high even. The band, the songs, the spirit, the mood, the atmosphere overall - everything, they all made this quite an unforgettable experience for each of us attendees that got this splendid opportunity to witness these veterans of NWOBHM offering the very best of the beast at Helsinki Olympic Stadium in the end of July 2008. Thank you Maiden - thank you Eddie. You truly ruled our day at that special night, most definitely!
01. Intro - Churchill´s speech
02. Aces High
03. 2 Minutes to Midnight
05. The Trooper
06. Wasted Years
07. The Number of the Beast
08. Can I Play With Madness?
09. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
11. Heaven Can Wait
12. Run to the Hills
13. Fear of the Dark
14. Iron Maiden (mummy-Eddie)
16. Clairvoyant (cyborg-Eddie)
17. Hallowed Be Thy Name
More pictures taken from the Maiden show in Helsinki on July 18th 2008...