Slipping into the night. Hours pass, spent in an hours-long queue of pensive souls that meandered through the biting chill and evening darkness sweeping Carnival City’s Festival Lawns in Brakpan. Rows of devout metalheads; cut through the crisp May evening as far as the eye could see, all united for one purpose: to see legendary icons of metal, Iron Maiden, perform the Johannesburg leg of their much-anticipated South African leg of their Book of Souls World Tour.

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Although Iron Maiden has previously graced SA soil back in 1995, this was the first live performance in our country to feature the “authentic” band line-up of vocalist Bruce Dickinson at the helm (as the frontman as well as the chief pilot of the band’s own touring plane, the Ed Force One), making this tour especially significant to three generations of local fans. Founded in the UK in 1975, the average age represented by these NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) kings is around 59. And yet the dynamism and vigour of each musician was as –or even more- vibrantly electric as performers half their age (including the opening act, The Raven Age). Their performance of 1982 epic Hallowed Be Thy Name sent shivers down the spines of a +-9000-strong crowd, whose demographic rage could easily be said to range from 16 to 65. Legendary music for legendary audiences, indeed.

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Whilst the crowd devoured anthemic favourites like Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Trooper, Wasted Years, Powerslave, Number of the Beast and Fear of the Dark, new repertoire from the Book of Souls album, received an equally fanatical response from fans.

Inspired by the mysterious Mayan Civilization – and dramatically represented by beloved band mascot Eddie – the Book of Souls Jo’burg performance did not disappoint: from the stage production and pyrotechnics; to the dedicated performance of the band, Iron Maiden brought their signature theatrical opera-styled performance to three generations of South African fans. It was beautiful. I cried a little…but totally in a metal way. Heavy metal is an aging, and sadly dwindling scene in South Africa. But Iron Maiden’s invigorating performance, and hopefully more highly billed international acts, could just be what saves it….at the Speed of Light.

Get the Book of Souls album on iTunes here.

Listen to Speed of Light on Filtr ZA’s Metal AF playlist on Simfy.

Contributor: Larissa Fainberg

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