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Heavy metal lifers Iron Maiden soldier on with enthusiasm

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Iron Maiden lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson performs Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Photo: Steve Marcus

Three and a half stars

Iron Maiden February 28, Mandalay Bay Events Center.

At Iron Maiden’s Sunday-night show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, singer Bruce Dickinson made a brief reference to his treatment for tongue cancer last year, but he certainly didn’t act or sound like a man recovering from a serious illness. Dickinson’s famously soaring voice was in excellent shape, and he bounded around the stage continually over the course of the nearly two-hour show, only sounding winded a couple of times toward the end (most notably on the legendary heavy metal band’s lightning-fast self-titled song). The rest of the band, with its triple-guitar attack, sounded strong as well, and the sold-out crowd responded just as forcefully, although the set that was heavy on songs from last year’s The Book of Souls had a number of lulls.

Iron Maiden at Mandalay Bay

Some of the Souls songs (especially the catchy “Speed of Light” and “Death or Glory,” which inspired one of several audience sing-alongs) fit in well among classics like “Powerslave,” “The Trooper” and “Fear of the Dark,” but others hurt the show’s momentum. The 13-minute “The Red and the Black” was a major drag during its long instrumental passages, which even the dueling lead guitars couldn’t make interesting. And devoting so much of the set to new songs meant that a number of Maiden favorites were left out.

Still, it’s heartening for a band this far into its career to still be producing new music that excites both fans and critics (Souls made year-end best-of lists from mainstream outlets like Vice and The Guardian), and early in the show Dickinson pointedly said that Maiden wasn’t interested in becoming “the world’s biggest karaoke band.” In addition to the well-known songs, the concert was full of recognizable Maiden elements, including appearances from skeletal band mascot Eddie in both costumed (with a performer on stilts stalking the stage and mock-fighting Dickinson) and inflatable forms. Another inflatable figure, Satan himself, presided over “The Number of the Beast” during the three-song encore, and the show successfully walked the line between darkness and cheesiness, just as Maiden has been doing for the past four decades.

Setlist:

“If Eternity Should Fail”

“Speed of Light”

“Children of the Damned”

“Tears of a Clown”

“The Red and the Black”

“The Trooper”

“Powerslave”

“Death or Glory”

“The Book of Souls”

“Hallowed Be Thy Name”

“Fear of the Dark”

“Iron Maiden”

Encore:

“The Number of the Beast”

“Blood Brothers”

“Wasted Years”

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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