Iron Maiden’s Calgary Bloke Fest

On my way to the Saddledome I received a text from my Legalus-haired contributor James Wilt. “I’m not gonna take pics tonight” he said expressing his frustrations that Beirut wouldn’t allow him to take shots while they performed at Folk Fest.

A photo-less folk set was the exact opposite of what I was about to experience as N.W.O.B.H.M. titans Iron Maiden essentially brought a two-hour photo op to Calgary.

The Maiden England tour was a direct recreation of the band’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour so they were playing some deep cuts from all eras of their existence.

That’s not to say they didn’t play the hits for their legions of fans including “The Trooper” “The Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills.” I mean that’s just obvious.

Up in the Saddledome it was straight up hesher Christmas as dudes with mullets dragged their wives out to relive the glory days. Sitting right behind me in fact was an amazing dad with Nigel Tufnel’s helmet-shaped hair and a Mercyful Fate T-shirt who couldn’t help but air guitar along to all the classics.

But that’s the thing about Maiden: sure their music is packed to the brim with cheese — all guitar solos and operatic vocals — and their fan-base is equally hilarious basically confirming every metalhead stereotype. But there’s also something so undeniably awesome about everyone’s dedication to this lifestyle that transcends limiting concepts like era or trends. For better or worse (usually better) Maiden have kept writing the same song and playing the same show over and over again for decades and their fans have stayed there with them. Mock it all you want but these people refuse to stop givin’ ‘er.

Aside from Maiden’s triple guitar attack which was made that much better by Janick Gers hilarious acrobatics the best part of the show was all of the insane shit happening on the stage at all times. The stage perfectly recreated Seventh Son’s icy cool album cover while a giant curtain in the back swapped out a different airbrushed backdrop for each song.

But it wasn’t just the Econovan-worthy artwork winning over the fans. There were also animatronic monsters (not just limited to Eddie figures either) Eddie himself on stilts tons of fire and sparklers and oh yeah ACTUAL FIREWORKS.

For two full hours our desire for fire was satiated along with my A.D.D.-addled attention span. There were maybe 30 seconds in the middle of “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” where I got a little bored and looked at my phone but the other 119 and a half minutes were spent fist-pumping air guitaring and singing along with everyone else.