It has been just over 6 and a half years - February 26th, 2016 to be exact - since Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers & Nicko McBrain - collectively known as 'Iron Maiden' - graced the stage in the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The last visit was during their 'Book of Souls Tour'. Fast forward to 2022 and you arrive'at their tour titled, 'Legacy of the Beast '22'.
Before the crowd would be entertained by arguably the "greatest metal band of all-time", the audience was treated to the opening act, Trivium. From the start of their performance and throughout the entire show, if you had a seat (as the floor was general admission, standing only), you would be able to see a small, yet respectable mosh pit during Trivium's set. After a few songs into their show, lead singer, Matt Heafy, states, "...we (the band) wouldn't be here without the legendary Iron Maiden" and appreciates being able to open for them. Midway through the set, as the audience had settled down a bit, Matt asked the crowd on the floor to get a pit going, and those on their feet obliged. During their final tune, 'The Shadow of the Abattoir', the arena is asked once again by vocalist Heafy, "...everyone in the seats, please stand on this last song, have a good time, and get ready for Iron Maiden!" Once again, the crowd complied with the request as Trivium closed their performance for the night.
Leading up to the almighty Iron Maiden's first note, you could feel the excitement grow immensely, even while in the concourse as spectators grabbed everything from items at the merch stands, food & beer from the multiple vendors throughout BOK Center. If you know Maiden at all, as soon as you hear 'Doctor Doctor' by UFO come across the PA system, you should be in your seats - or in the pit - as the band is about to kick-off their show. For those who have not been to an Iron Maiden show, this is something you will want to remember as you do not want to miss a single second of the spectacle you are about to witness.
As soon as UFO's tune comes to an end, the lights go down and Maiden tears right into the title-track from the newest album released September 3, 2021, 'Senjutsu'. The backdrop is fitting as it sets the scene for a trio of songs played in order as if you hit play on the album itself. We then got our first look at Samurai Eddie, towering over the band, wielding a sword, walking the stage and interacting with the band. At stage left, guitarist Janick Gers stabs at Eddie with the neck of his guitar, never missing a note.
Moving onto "Blood Brothers", lead singer Bruce Dickinson addresses the crowd, mentioning that there's "...so much (explicit) going on in the world, but tonight, everyone here can escape that together. In fact, there's many at the show tonight who aren't from Tulsa, they're from around the world." 'Sign of the Cross' followed shortly after, and if you were anywhere close to the stage, you could feel the heat from the entertaining flames shooting up into the air on the left and right of drummer Nicko McBrain. I see exactly why Nicko sits so low on the stage now.
From an all-time favorite album, 'Piece of Mind', the crowd is thrilled with 'Flight of Icarus' while Bruce is atop the stage prop wall toting a flamethrower in hand while not afraid to use it. Flying flames continued throughout the song while tunes changed. From massive banner changes hanging as the backdrops, Bruce running with a green lantern during 'Fear of the Dark', a swinging noose during 'Hallowed Be Thy Name', and if you watched closely, a crew hand would run out quickly to pull Nicko's bass drum head to fit the setting of the next "story".
The first of two encores started with a banner change - Trooper Eddie carrying an English battle flag - hence a massive fan-favorite, 'The Trooper'. While Dickinson fought with Trooper Eddie throughout the stage, each swinging swords, Bruce - dressed in 1700's British battle attire, ends the battle against Eddie by firing a shot from across the stage using the pole attached to the American flag. What a battle it was to witness. 'Run To The Hills' closes out the first encore, while Bruce runs across the wall, dodging fire bursts, seemingly outrunning them by mere milliseconds, eventually making it to the plunger labeled "TNT". In true TNT fashion, the plunger is pushed into the box and fireworks explode above the stage, leaving the crowd screaming for more. In the words of Mr. Dickinson, "Scream for me Tulsa!"
Here we are. Encore number two - the final bow. An infamous Churchill's speech begins to play with video on the two screens surrounding the stage, the crowd knows what is coming. Chuchill's speech comes to a close, the lights start going in sync with the song, and then, BOOM! 'Aces High' goes into full force with a full-scale Spitfire plane soaring above the band. The plane maneuvers up, down, left, right - seemingly to be in flight right in front of your eyes. Mesmerizing may be the best way to describe it. The only other stage prop used that may have been larger than the plane may have been the absolute gigantic 'Devil Eddie' used during their self-titled song, 'Iron Maiden'. I actually expected to see this used during 'Number of the Beast', but the scene was absolutely fitting during N.O.T.B. with a hellish backdrop displaying Eddie-like creatures seemingly drowning in a lake of fire, while a gargoyle sitting stage right of Nicko continuously burns a flame throughout the tune.
Last, but certainly not least, between founding member and bassist Steve Harris' pounding bass playing, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith's blistering guitar skills, Janick Gers somehow never missing a note while being so animated, and Nicko McBrain's astonishing drum skills, every spectator in attendance was left in absolute awe.
For those who have seen an Iron Maiden live show, you know what it is like to experience a production of this magnitude. For those who have yet to catch an Iron Maiden show, what are you waiting for? Has it been the same each time? Absolutely not. Different setlists, different props, different experiences on each occasion. The only question I have is, "Are you ready to 'Up the Irons'?!"