Iron Maiden @ Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg (SWE)

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Date: 01st July, 2011
Venue: Ullevi Stadium
Ticket Price: €63
Promoter: Live Nation

It was sure a while ago since I had visited such a massive concert as it becomes at Ullevi Stadium. And of course an event like this sets its mark on the entire city, even in Gothenburg because in the entire city center was crawling with IRON MAIDEN shirts and the regular lunch guests at the restaurants around Avenyn looked really bothered eating their lunch while the metalheads started off on the weekend's first beers. Ullevi is a massive venue but the good thing is that they are used to handle crowds of this size so everything went very smooth at the entrance and inside the venue.

I think GRAVEYARD was a quite odd choice to open for IRON MAIDEN. It’s not that they’re not deserved to play there but their 70’s hippie styled Hard Rock really didn’t seem to fit. Ok, IRON MAIDEN have a strange selection of opening acts over the years and at least GRAVEYARD was really good. Their latest release “Hisingen Blues” has gotten extremely much positive criticism in Swedish media and I guess that has a lot to do with them being at this spot right now. I can’t say GRAVEYARD’s music is my absolute favorite but live it does work very well. They have a very nice groove and drive. But I’m not sure that the best thing to do on an occasion like that is to go out and just play. No song introductions apart from “Hisingen Blues”, no interaction with the crowd. Of course, a band should never abandon what they are doing but I think they could have gained a lot by just talking a little to the crowd. But in general GRAVEYARD did a very good gig. I think they’re more fun to watch on a small club than on an arena like Ullevi Stadium though.

I normally defend SABATON from taunts and other things; I think they have something in the music and they are fun to watch. And I think it is ridiculous to create a Facebook group stating it sucks to have SABATON opening for IRON MAIDEN. That actually happened when they were announced. I don’t get people, if you don’t like a band, why waste energy on them? Don’t listen to it and let they do their own thing. I’m not SABATON sure were ready for this through. Musically they went down really fine with the crowd and the sound was fair at least. The keyboard cut through really bad sometimes and the sound of it was 80’s disco, this is something I’ve never really realized before since all SABATON gigs has had a little more balanced and better sound than here.

SABATON’s bouncy Heavy Metal worked fine with the crowd though. It was really fascinating to hear the crowd sing to “Cliffs Of Gallipoli”, a lot of people knew the words to it. Songs like that SABATON do really good, mid tempo and quite Heavy tracks. Those sounded great. I don’t know if it was the sound that swamped the faster ones like “40:1” because that really didn’t sound good at all. But the response when Joakim Bróden thanked the crowd stating SABATON had a lot more fun than anybody else inside Ullevi, the reaction was huge. But then, when he started to sing “YMCA” and some other 80’s pop classic it just felt very silly. Yes, you should have fun on stage and even if Joakim said 30.000 people were singing “YMCA” was a huge exaggeration, all around me was booing and those were the same people who sang along to the other tracks. The concert died there and then for me, with all joking around it felt like some after ski band doing their best to make fun of the crowd rather than pay respect to the same. So, I can’t say I have the same view of SABATON anymore, I think they’ve done a lot better gigs than this one both when it comes to the musical side as well as their performance.

SABATON setlist:

01. “The March To War”
02. “Ghost Division”
03. “Uprising”
04. “White Death”
05. “Cliffs Of Gallipoli”
06. “40:1”
07. “The Price of a Mile”
08. “Coat Of Arms”
09. “Primo Victoria”
10. “Metal Medley”

Already entering the venue the studies of the light-rig and other stage props started. There are so many things and details to pay attention to on an IRON MAIDEN stage, it sure is easy to miss out on things. Everything about an IRON MAIDEN concert really is as exciting today as it was the first time I saw them back in 1988. The space craft influenced machinery in the back looked very cool but it’s not the best they’ve had. But no matter what there will be a lot of details to look out for. Eddie for example, when will he appear and in what shape? No matter what, when going to and IRON MAIDEN show you can be sure it will be spectacular. The biggest risk with the outdoor show is that weather or wind will ruin the show, never the band.

The air was charged with energy right from the start and the force that broke loose when the first few notes of the UFO-classic “Doctor Doctor” spewed from the speakers. It sure is a really cool experience when 55.000 people scream at the same time. Normally when it comes to events at the size of this they can be some family trips and there are always a lot of people standing by just. It didn’t feel like that this time. Of course, that happens too but the response from the crowd, both on the fields and the seats on the sides everyone was on.

The best thing with IRON MAIDEN is that they dare to challenge and now (again) they played a lot of new material. Even if the classics are amazing and are perfect live it is great to hear the newer material too. Sure, some will always complain but it seems, in general all real fans thinks this is what they shall do. The classics will always be there and some new will be born when they do as they are doing now. “Dance Of Death” for example; there was some great singing to that one. Some of the real classics tend to be a little predictable when performed, it’s certain Bruce Dickinson will appear in the military jacket and flag alongside the drums when playing “The Trooper” for example. Then I think it is more fun with the songs not as frequently played live. But then again, the “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” album is my favorite and I really want IRON MAIDEN to play something of off that one. “The Evil That Men Do” is a good choice I think. And then Eddie appears for the first time here too and the usual fight between him and Jannick Gers takes place before Eddie is equipped with a guitar and can jam along. There’s no doubt what song went down the best with the mere part of the crowd though. I can’t find words and expressions enough to describe the feeling when a whole venue in the size of Ullevi Stadium sings together. Scream is one thing, “Fear Of The Dark” has been the show-piece when it comes to crowd response for years and this time was no exception, the singing was super. The volume of the crowd was immense, absolutely fantastic. Eddie showed up the second time before the encores just snaking his fingers over the stage-props between the drums and peeps over the wall before he’s fully visible. Even if the computer created art used on the records nowadays can’t measure up the ones created by Derek Riggs this Eddie was really cool.

Also what struck me with IRON MAIDEN again is how damn vital they are. Steve Harris doesn’t seem to have aged a day since the mid 80’s and Bruce seems to have endless energy to take from. The guitar trio is well with them too. If to point out something it felt like Nicko McBrain wasn’t fully as strong and tight as he use to. But that’s a real minor thing to point out. The show was mighty and the set was superb. Songs I didn’t think of as strong prior to the show, “When The Wild Wind Blows” got so much better hearing it live. And songs that I love, “Coming Home”, also was boosted a lot. Magnificent guitar-parts in that one!

During the last few songs a photographer appeared on stage, not connected to the show. I’ve never seen anything like it and this could have gone either way, let him continue or chase him out head over heels. The fun thing that happened was that Bruce started to sing “The Clansman” vocal line exchanging the words to Oooh a Swedish photographer and the crowd followed. The concert was closed with “Hallowed Be They Name” and “Running Free”, two great songs of course and a great ending to the show before the familiar notes of “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” started to sound (and again everyone was singing). The two hours they played passed by so fast I had a hard time to believe the concert actually was that long. So again IRON MAIDEN proved they are the greatest Heavy Metal band in the world.

IRON MAIDEN setlist:

01. “Satellite 15... The Final Frontier”
02. “El Dorado”
03. “2 Minutes To Midnight”
04. “The Talisman”
05. “Coming Home”
06. “Dance Of Death”
07. “The Trooper”
08. “The Wicker Man”
09. “Blood Brothers”
10. “When the Wild Wind Blows”
11. “The Evil That Men Do”
12. “Fear Of The Dark”
13. “Iron Maiden”
14. “The Number Of The Beast”
15. “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
16. “Running Free”