Bruce Dickinson warned fans that Iron Maiden would be bringing Senjutsu to an arena near them when the metal legends resumed their Legacy of the Beast tour this year. “Everybody should know the first three tracks,” the singer said of the band’s thundering 2021 album. “And we’ll have a stage set to go with it. Once you’ve done that, you’re back to the kind of Legacy world at that point.”
The 15,000-plus fans at Austin’s Moody Center on Tuesday, the second night of the band’s current U.S. leg, apparently did their homework. The sold-out crowd roared with ecstasy as the band plowed through Senjutsu’s first three songs — the bellicose title track, the galloping “Stratego” and the swashbuckling “The Writing on the Wall” — echoing Dickinson’s soaring choruses back at him.
The English metallurgists then made good on their promise, breaking out Piece of Mind album cut “Revelations” as the Japanese minka set pieces gave way to a breathtaking chapel with various iterations of their beloved Eddie mascot appearing in the stained-glass windows. The rest of the band’s triumphant two-hour set proceeded similarly to its 2019 Legacy of the Beast dates, with a few tracks like “Where Eagles Dare” and “The Wicker Man” being dropped to make room for the opening Senjutsu volley.
Although the set list changes on this trek are minor, they emphasize one of Iron Maiden’s most admirable qualities: their willingness to give equal weight and credence to every chapter of their storied career. The grizzled sexagenarians (save for drummer Nicko McBrain, who turned 70 this year) could have easily coasted on their inimitable run of ’80s masterpieces, from 1982’s The Number of the Beast through 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Instead, they intermingled these classics with the aforementioned Senjutsu tracks, which they performed with vigor and fury, and they lent magisterial muscle to Blaze Bayley-era epics “Sign of the Cross” and “The Clansman.”
The audience lapped these songs up like pigs in slop, a testament to Maiden fans’ endless devotion. And while there was no matching the crowd’s rabid excitement upon hearing an epochal mid-’80s classic, the band performed every song with the power of prizefighters and the spectacle of Vegas showmen. Dickinson shot fire from a dual-wielding flamethrower during “Flight of Icarus,” fenced with a supersized Eddie during “The Trooper” and toyed with a noose as he led the audience in a climactic “Hallowed Be Thy Name” singalong. The near-deafening crowd even helped the singer regain his footing when he got off time during the intro to “Run to the Hills,” and they went pound-for-pound with him during the song’s heroic choruses.
When Dickinson wasn’t turning fans to putty with his full-throated screams, the rest of the band basked in their rapturous applause. Guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers traded fleet-fingered solos and teased out the songs’ hypnotic, almost tribal melodies, while McBrain and bassist Steve Harris trotted out their well-oiled machine-gun gallop in song after song, spurring the fans on the standing-room floor to jump until their ankles howled in protest.
As always, Iron Maiden primarily let the music do the talking on Tuesday, though Dickinson — who performed at Austin’s much-smaller Paramount Theatre in February as part of his spoken-word tour — briefly alluded to the escalating sociopolitical turmoil that’s torn the United States asunder in recent years. “If you’re part of the Iron Maiden family, we don’t give a fuck where you’re from … we’re all blood brothers!” the singer declared as the band tore into the choice cut from 2000’s Brave New World.
The proclamation might have sounded contrived coming from a lesser band, but Maiden’s crowd took it as a sincere and badly needed gesture of solidarity, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that’s isolated live music lovers and kept Maiden off the road for three years. “Tonight, that shit is done!” Dickinson announced with the same snarling defiance that turned Iron Maiden into metal royalty and has kept them there for more than 40 years.
Needless to say, whenever the frontman delivered his trademark exhortation — “Scream for me, Austin!” — Austin happily obliged.
Iron Maiden, 9/13/22, Moody Center, Austin
3. “The Writing on the Wall”
5. “Blood Brothers”
6. “Sign of the Cross”
7. “Flight of Icarus”
8. “Fear of the Dark”
9. “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
10. “The Number of the Beast”
11. “Iron Maiden”
12. “The Trooper”
13. “The Clansman”
14. “Run to the Hills”
15. “Aces High”
Iron Maiden Live in Austin, Sept. 13, 2022
Iron Maiden brings the Legacy of the Beast Tour to Austin’s Moody Center on Sept. 13, 2022.