"Who's gonna help me see Eddie tonight?" a guy outside Iron Maiden's Sunday Madison Square Garden show asked, holding up a finger in a plaintive echo of the Deadhead-style plea for "one miracle," i.e., a lone ticket. This dude spoke not of the band's singer, who also happens to be the pilot of their jet — that would be Bruce, last name Dickinson. The fan was referring to Edward the Head, the near-faceless wraith who has served as Maiden's mascot lo these 30-plus years. The arena-packing, Bud-guzzling audience — almost exclusively in black T-shirts — was here for the full Iron Maiden experience, songs to logo, and they got it. And they were more pumped by the warm-up music than most indie fans are by their favorite bands.
When Dickinson and company took the stage, they were accompanied by an orgy of flash pots, flamethrowers, black lights, smoke machines, and fireworks timed to the music. And that's to say nothing of the props, which included a kneeling, eight-foot-tall animatronic devil, Egyptian jackals with red glowing eyes, the aforementioned Eddie in a golden sarcophagus, a ten-foot-tall walking puppet with laser gun, and a massive, perhaps 40-foot-tall mummy that waved its arms and shot sparks out of its eyes. Even awesomer was the band's ecstatic, operatic, galloping metal, which proved such a force that it sucked up all the power in the Garden, killing the sound for something like fifteen minutes. (This, ironically, was most of the way through "Powerslave.") Almost instantly, the band was passing a soccer ball around stage. Eddie, one felt, was very much there in spirit. —Mishka Shubaly