TVD Live Shots: Iron Maiden with Trivium at the Honda Center, 9/21

The first of two sold out Iron Maiden shows was nothing less than spectacular for the 10,000+ in attendance in Anaheim on Wednesday night.  It was if someone flipped a switch and miraculously transported fans within the Honda Center, well… Somewhere Back in Time.  This performance had everything one would expect at an Iron Maiden show—amazing pyro, a killer set list, unbridled energy (courtesy of Steve, Dave, Adrian, Bruce, Nicko, and Janick), and of course—EDDIE!  Combine that with the most rabid and insatiable metal fans on the planet, and this show had all the ingredients necessary for a powder keg of TNT to be detonated within the heart of Southern California. For many, it was Maiden’s best live performance in over a decade. For me, it was a dream come true.

For those that know me, it’s no surprise that Iron Maiden is one of my all-time favorite bands. I’ve been a fan since I was introduced to Piece of Mind back as a teenager in 1983, and there was no turning back from that point forward. That album changed my life, and my appreciation for what I consider true Heavy Metal. Many have asked me where my obsession with Iron Maiden actually came from. Maybe it was Steve Harris’s unmistakable baselines?  Maybe it was Bruce’s high-pitched screams? Maybe (just maybe) it was Maiden’s unmistakable imagery. While I’ll probably never be able to pinpoint it, I’m sure it was all of the above and so much more over lifetime of killer albums and amazing live shows with a band that I consider true rock royalty.

Kicking off the festivities on Wednesday night was none other than Trivium. Hailing from Orlando, this killer quartet has been kicking ass and taking names since 1999, and their opening set at Honda Center was no exception. As lights dimmed, Matt Heafy walked out center stage, threw up some “horns” to the thousands now in attendance, and immediately stuck out his trademark tongue as the band launched into “Silence in the Snow.”

Lighting was eerily moody throughout Trivium’s abbreviated 7-song set, but Heafy, along with Corey Beaulieu (guitars), Paolo Gregoletto (bass), and Alex Bent (drums) pulled from the pain and gifted the masses one incredible opening set.  My favorites from the evening included “The Heart From Your Hate” and “Strife,” while others gravitated toward “The Shadow of the Abattoir.”

Now on to the main attraction, Iron Maiden. During the 30 minutes or so it took to get the stage ready, I couldn’t help but gaze out over the crowd with a strange feeling of “Deja-Vu.” I initially chalked up that feeling as a result of seeing Maiden live 25+ times over a storied 40+ year career. However, after further consideration, the spinning head and churning stomach might have actually been nerves as this was my first time photographing Iron Maiden from the photo pit. Who would have ever guessed as a 13-year old kid (with a spiked wrist band and battle jacket of course) that I’d one day have the honor of shooting my childhood heroes. Not me, not in a million years, until it actually happened on Wednesday night.

As lights finally dimmed, the familiar tradition of UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” rang like church bells throughout the Honda Center as an amped up crowd began to lose their mind in anticipation of Maiden finally taking the stage. Fans along the rail were packed in like sardines, waiving flags and screaming at the top of their lungs as Bruce Dickinson and company appeared from the darkness and launched into three songs from 2021’s critically acclaimed Senjutsu including the title track, “Stratego,” and “The Writing on the Wall.”

My first reaction was intense as I soaked it all in front and center with thousands of rabid fans. I really dug these new songs and seeing them performed live was so cool. The fans really appreciated them too. But as all Maiden shows have proven over time, the band will at some point step on another pedal and off they go. “Revelation” was that pedal and Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Nicko McBrain, and Janick Gers never looked back. We were off to the races!

Over the next few hours, the capacity crowd was wowed with a setlist comprised of killer tracks that spanned Maiden’s 17-album discography. While every track on Wednesday was amazing, my favorites were “Flight of Icarus,” “Fear of the Dark,” and “The Clansman.” Not only were these songs sonically amazing, the stage and accompanying backdrops were unique and powerful. Examples included Bruce donning arm equipped flamethrowers as Icarus fell to earth during “Flight of Icarus,” and a killer Eddie backdrop seemingly recolored in blue and yellow to honor the Ukrainian people currently fighting for their survival during “The Clansman.” Wow.

And if that all wasn’t enough, fans were treated at the end of the show to not one, but two encores consisting of standards such as “The Trooper,” “Run to the Hills,” and “Aces High.” Not only did the lads from London execute these tracks brilliantly, they literally cranked them up to “11” prior to the final curtain call. The TNT was detonated (literally) as the show came to a crashing end with an energy and intensity that few (if any) bands can match to this day.  As lights flickered on, I wiped the sweat from my brow and reveled in what ended up being my 26th Iron Maiden show.  Additionally, being front and center shooting my favorite band for the very first time was truly a bucket list performance for the ages. This was a once in a lifetime show, and one I’ll never forget.

TRIVIUM

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