Iron Maiden At Talking Stick Resort Arena

June 28, 2017
7:30 pm
Phoenix, AZ
Iron Maiden At Talking Stick Resort Arena
Iron Maiden At Talking Stick Resort Arena

Known for such powerful hits as “Two Minutes to Midnight” and “The Trooper,” Iron Maiden are one of heavy metal’s most influential bands. They’re also one of metal’s most enduring and distinctive acts, thanks to their melodic guitars, ambitious songwriting, powerhouse vocalist Bruce Dickinson, and iconic mascot Eddie. One of the first groups to be classified as “British metal,” Iron Maiden helped set the rock scene for the ’80s and inspired generations of subsequent bands, including Metallica, Dream Theater, Slipknot, In Flames, and Avenged Sevenfold. Despite a lack of radio airplay or mainstream media support, early allegations of Satanism, and a revolving lineup, they have remained consistently popular throughout their career.

Iron Maiden were formed in 1975 in Leyton, East London by bassist Steve Harris, formerly of the band Smiler. The group’s lineup was volatile during its early years, but eventually settled on drummer Doug Sampson, guitarist Dave Murray, and vocalist Paul Di’Anno in 1978. Late that year, this incarnation of the band recorded a four-song demo and circulated it to club owners and others involved in the London scene, including the group’s soon-to-be manager Ron Smallwood. The demo’s popularity led Iron Maiden to self-release it as 1979’s The Soundhouse Tapes EP, which soon sold out its 5,000-copy run. After scoring a deal with EMI, the band enlisted a second guitarist, Dennis Stratton. Late in 1979, Sampson departed due to health issues and former Samson drummer Clive Burr took his place behind the kit. The band’s self-titled debut arrived in 1980; though it was recorded in a hurry, it was nonetheless a U.K. hit due to the single “Running Free.” Its 1981 follow-up, Killers, had a harder approach thanks in part to producer Martin Birch — with whom the group worked until his 1992 retirement — and also saw the replacement of Stratton with Murray‘s childhood friend Adrian Smith.

Due to substance abuse issues, Di’Anno was dismissed from Iron Maiden after the Killer World Tour in 1981. His replacement was Bruce Dickinson, another former Samson member who joined that September and made his recorded debut with the band on 1982’s groundbreaking The Number of the Beast. Boasting songs such as the title track and “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” it became known as one of the all-time great rock albums. Though it was the band’s first chart-topping album in the U.K. and was a Top Ten seller in several other countries, Christian activists and conservative politicians in America claimed the band was Satanic (which Iron Maiden denied). Nevertheless, The Number of the Beast‘s success made Iron Maiden international superstars, and despite the replacement of Burr with former Trust drummer Nicko McBrain, they changed very little of their style on 1983’s Piece of Mind. The band undertook two major tours before recording 1984’s Powerslave, which would go on to be another cult hit and featured the 13-minute epic “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which was inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s poem. The product of Powerslave‘s 11-month tour was 1985’s Live After Death, a double-live album featuring their biggest hit singles.

Now established as a powerful and unique metal band, Iron Maiden experimented on their long-awaited 1986 album, Somewhere in Time, incorporating synthesized bass and guitar and futuristic themes. They continued to expand their sound and subject matter with 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Another concept album featuring the singles “The Evil That Men Do” and “The Clairvoyant,” as well as the band’s first use of keyboards, it was Maiden‘s most critically acclaimed album since The Number of the Beast. After that album’s release, Smith and Dickinson worked on their own projects: Smith‘s album with his band ASAP arrived in 1989, while Dickinson‘s solo album, Tattooed Millionaire, appeared the following year.

When Iron Maiden reconvened to work on a new album, Smith left over creative differences; ex-Gillan guitarist Janick Gers, who played on Tattooed Millionaire, joined the fold for 1990’s No Prayer for the Dying. A return to the band’s stripped-down sound of the early ’80s, it gave Iron Maiden their first number one U.K. single with “Bring Your Daughter…To the Slaughter.” At the end of the band’s 1991 tour, Dickinson expressed his desire to leave and work on his own music. However, he recorded another album, 1992’s Fear of the Dark, and toured with the band, ultimately leaving in 1993. That year, two live albums were released: A Real Live One, which focused on their contemporaneous hit singles, and A Real Dead One, which featured Maiden‘s classic songs.

Iron Maiden took some time off after Dickinson‘s departure, returning with 1995’s The X Factor, which featured new singer and ex-Wolfsbane member Blaze Bayley. While the record didn’t perform as well commercially as some of its predecessors, it was still a success in England. Its follow-up, 1998’s Virtual XI, was one of the band’s lowest-selling albums; in addition, Bayley was having issues with his voice, and he left Iron Maiden early in 1999. Soon after, Dickinson and Smith returned to the group, who released the ambitious, Kevin Shirley-produced Brave New World the following year.

Iron Maiden remained reinvigorated throughout the 2000s, touring and recording almost as consistently as they did in the ’80s. They reunited with Shirley for 2003’s critically acclaimed Dance of Death, which was inspired by battles ranging from the conquering of a 13th century Cathar stronghold (“Montségur”) to a notable World War I campaign (“Paschendale”). The Rainmaker EP, as well as the live DVDs History of Iron Maiden, Pt. 1: The Early Days and Raising Hell, followed in 2004. Sanctuary put out the two-disc The Essential Iron Maiden in 2005 to coincide with their gig co-headlining an Ozzfest tour with Black Sabbath, which the band left due to a series of confrontations with Ozzy‘s wife/manager, Sharon. Another live set, Death on the Road, appeared in September of 2005, shortly before Iron Maiden returned to the studio to work on their 14th album. The results were 2006’s A Matter of Life and Death, the band’s first album to enter the Top Ten of the Billboard 200. Three years later, Iron Maiden released the soundtrack for the film Flight 666, a documentary/concert film recorded in 16 different cities during Maiden‘s first leg of their 2008 Somewhere Back in Time World Tour, which saw the band traveling in a customized Boeing 747 (called Ed Force One) flown by Dickinson, who is also a licensed pilot.

|Iron Maiden worked with Shirley once again on 2010’s The Final Frontier, which reached the top of the charts in 28 countries and earned the band a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the single “El Dorado.” It was followed in 2012 by En Vivo!, a live video/album filmed at Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile in April 2011. In 2013, the band began work on its 16th studio album, with plans to release it in 2015. Though the album was completed, the discovery of cancerous tumors on Dickinson‘s tongue and neck in late 2014 slowed things down. He underwent rigorous chemotherapy.

He was declared cancer free in May of 2015. Iron Maiden put the finishing touches on the album and issued the video pre-release single “Speed of Light” in August. The 92-minute, double-length album Book of Souls followed in September.

A band rife with contradictions, Sweden’s Ghost (known as Ghost B.C. in the United States) preach extreme satanic viewpoints over surprisingly accessible heavy metal cum pop-driven hard rock. The bandmembers maintain a strict vow of anonymity, both on record and on-stage; they obscure themselves under monks’ cowls, except for their lead singer, known only as Papa Emeritus (there have been three, each supposedly younger than the last and denoted by a successive Roman numeral, though it’s the same singer). His appearance, synonymous with the band’s image, is instantly recognizable with skull-faced makeup, cardinal robes, miter and thurible; his image is that of an anti-Pope.

Formed in 2008 in Linköping, Ghost began playing underground shows and sharpening their sound. Given their occult ritual-styled performances, their popularity with metal fans in their home country flourished. In 2010, they issued a three-track demo, followed by the single “Elizabeth,” and both quickly sold out. Their debut album, Opus Eponymous, on Rise Above Ltd., defied expectations with a surprisingly welcoming melodic sound, weaving together ’60s psychedelia, ’70s doom, and ’80s New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and their reputation spread. They took to the road, touring internationally. They were forced to take the Ghost B.C. moniker in the U.S. because another band had laid claim to the name. Though it was a tad confusing, it didn’t hurt their reputation for wildly theatrical performances, and their identities remained cloaked in mystery.

After a wait of over two years, Ghost issued the single “Secular Haze,” followed by their sophomore album, Infestissumam, in January 2013, and the band debuted Papa Emeritus II. Infestissumam caused plenty of controversy during the recording process. Begun in Nashville, its satanic themes caused it to be boycotted by virtually every backing chorus — an important aspect of the album. These vocals had to be recorded in Hollywood. The critical and fan acclaim was nearly universal; the release increased their profile across the globe and won them many fans who didn’t necessarily claim heavy metal as a favorite style. The album debuted on some charts at number one. Later in the year, they released a covers EP, If You Have Ghost, produced by Dave Grohl.

A festival tour followed in 2014, including appearances at Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Rock on the Range. The band reentered the studio late that year. In May of 2015 it was announced that Papa Emeritus II had been fired and was succeeded by his younger brother (by three months), Papa Emeritus III, adding to the band’s schtick. A new single, “Cirice,” was issued in May of 2015, followed in August by their third album, Meliora, on Loma Vista Recordings. It was produced by pop heavy-hitter Klas Åhlund (Katy Perry, Usher, Kesha, Madonna) and mixed by Andy Wallace. The following year saw the arrival of a new covers (and one original) EP, Popestar, followed by a lengthy tour of the same name. After a long legal battle, they won the right to their name without the suffix.

Just how long Ghost‘s musicians will manage to keep their identities a secret even as their notoriety grows remains to be seen. A fan search of the Swedish Performing Rights Society’s website revealed that Tobias Forge, formerly of Repugnant, has songwriting credits under the pseudonym “A Ghoul Writer.”

 

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