Metal gods Iron Maiden swing back with a fresh chapter of ferociousness

Iron Maiden Photos by Jeff Elbel

Iron Maiden’s “The Book Of Souls” World Tour made an encore visit to the Chicago area, stopping on Thursday at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre after last year’s United Center performance. The legendary British heavy metal band played a ferocious two-hour set, featuring fan favorites like “Children Of The Damned” and “Wrathchild” alongside many songs including the epic “The Red and the Black” from their acclaimed 2015 release “The Book Of Souls.”

“Chicago, you are still the best of fans,” said Dickinson as “Wasted Years” concluded. “We will see you again!”

“I don’t want to get political,” said Bruce Dickinson when introducing the recent album’s title cut. He did, just a little bit, and with a worthy message of unity. “The world outside is going to hell in a handcart, with politicians trying to blow the world up every five minutes,” he said. However, in the venue from the front row to the back of the lawn, Dickinson was heartened to see people of all ages and backgrounds united by a love of music. “I’m not big on dividing people up,” he said. “People who come to see Iron Maiden are Iron Maiden people.” Songs including early single “Iron Maiden” and “Blood Brothers” (from “Brave New World”) became rallying cries.

Iron MaidenThe band’s gruesome mascot Eddie was omnipresent in backdrop images spanning the band’s 42-year career. He loomed over the stage’s Mayan temple design as a giant inflatable head at the end of the main set. Eddie appeared in the flesh at one point to terrorize the band with a hatchet, only to be defeated by Dickinson – who ripped out his heart and tossed it into the frenzied crowd of discriminating metalheads.

Unprompted, the crowd sang with a massive roar to the beginning of “Fear Of The Dark,” joining Dickinson’s lupine, operatic howl. “Let’s have a bit of a sing, shall we,” said Dickinson when the part came back around.

Guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith traded bluesy solos and fretboard-splintering runs during “Powerslave,” as Dickinson prowled the stage in a luchador mask. Janick Gers did high kicks and whipped his guitar recklessly throughout the evening, and played his solo during “The Trooper” blindfolded by Dickinson’s tattered Union Jack flag. All three guitarists frequently met at center-stage for pealing unison riffs.

Bassist and founding member Steve Harris galloped and thundered throughout the show, spraying nimble notes into the crowd as if his bass were a machine gun. Drummer Nicko McBrain drove the band’s intricate changes with both power and finesse. Dickinson was in strong voice throughout, with a spine-tingling scream during songs like “The Number Of The Beast” that handily matched Roger Daltrey’s famed shouts for The Who.

“Chicago, you are still the best of fans,” said Dickinson as “Wasted Years” concluded. “We will see you again!”

Click here for more Iron Maiden photos from the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre.

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Upcoming concert highlights at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre include Def Leppard with Poison and Tesla (Jun. 24); Rammstein (Jun. 27); Train (Jun. 30); Styx and REO Speedwagon with Don Felder (Jul 1); Boston and Joan Jett &The Blackhearts (Jul. 7); Sam Hunt (Jul. 8); Vans Warped Tour (Jul. 22); Paul McCartney (Jul. 25-26); Dierks Bentley (Jul. 28) and Incubus with Jimmy Eat World (Jul. 29). For additional details, visit