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Manchester MEN Arena, 14 December 2006

The last leg of their world tour, and the band are showing no signs of flagging.

In fact over a couple of hours they demonstrate a remarkable energy, remaining animated throughout: not least Janick Gers who almost had his guitar eaten by a tank.

This tour is a showcase for their critically acclaimed album, 'A Matter Of Life and Death.' This is played in its entirety.

Iron Maiden

Some fans may have hankered for more of the band's older stuff but the truth is Maiden can easily sustain a whole concert of their latest album, simply because it contains no excess baggage.

From the opener, the new single 'Different World', through 'Greater Good of God' to 'Benjamin Breeg' the album's themes of war and religion spring to life against the bleak stage backdrops and paraphernalia.

And of course, Eddie shows up in military uniform towards the end.

The three guitar assault is as busy as ever, and always entertaining in the faster sections. Their discipline is to be commended but you can't help thinking that Messrs Harris, Smith and Gers could rock out a little more, freed from the constraints of the song structures. The solos, in particular, are engaging but economical.

Frontman Bruce Dickinson makes full use of the stage set and there's enough between-song banter to connect with the punters.

New album out of the way, there isn't much time to delve into back catalogue but we did get a masterful rendition of 'Fear Of The Dark' and 'Two Minutes To Midnight'.

And to tempt the capacity crowd further, Brucie suggests the band may be back 'in a field' in 2007 to play the songs they didn't have time for.

Considering Maiden have influenced a whole generation of metal bands, including Trivium who supported tonight, it is rather satisfying seeing them back on top form and the prospect of a festival gig in the future must have left the faithful with a spring in their step on the way home.

Review by David Randall

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