So, originally I had bought tickets for Judas Priest and Sabaton. Those two touring together? Who could resist? The line was stacked and the energy would be phenomenal so I was completely on-board. Not to mention I’d never seen Priest live so it was a win-win for me! Then came Richie’s heart attack, and the delay. This led to line-up changes, potential replacements, and backlog. Sabaton had to bail due to other commitments, and Queensryche was never really my taste. I swapped out for the upcoming Maiden announcement, knowing Within Temptation would be on the bill as an opener, and Iron Maiden was, again, a band I’d never seen live but, wanted to, even if just a little bit. Forewarning, my photos are all from my phone so they’re not great but they’re here!

To say I was excited for Within Temptation would be a severe understatement. I hadn’t gotten to see the band since 2014-15 due to repeated schedule conflicts but, I wasn’t going to miss out this time around. Their set was to be short and sweet but, I was ready. I headed in to get relatively close to the front, and shockingly made it all the way up while many patrons waited in line for merch, food, beer, or all of it. Seeing the variety of fans’ age was awesome, from veteran metal-heads to the young introductory concert goers likely dragged along with parents. This was going to be an event for the memories for sure.

Within Temptation kicked off the evening with “The Reckoning,” and to say I knew each and every line of every song they’d play that night would be minimizing my anticipation. The crowd roared, much to my surprise, and I found many fans who had gotten to the front were either fans of WT or absolutely adored their sound. Sharon unveiled her standard golden crown and armour to serenade us into the night and I followed her every move.

We were also lucky to hear the duet she performed with Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish) all on her own. “Paradise (What About Us?)” was a shock to fans and absolutely adored with the throng of fans going absolutely insane for every word, myself included. We also got to hear the speedier track “In The Middle Of The Night” off The Unforgiving album, as well as the passionate “Stand My Ground” from an older stock of songs.

We also got to hear stunning new tracks like “Entertain You” and one of my favourites, “Supernova” that absolutely blew me away. After missing out on Sharon’s vocal performance for over 8 years, I was ready to cry to hear her voice was just as powerful as I remembered it to be. The newest track that dropped in July, “Don’t Pray For Me” was also performed much to our surprise and fans still held their intensity for every moment. “Raise Your Banner” erupted in Ukrainian support with Sharon waving their respective flag and fans raising fists in solidarity while the evening was completed with the classic “Mother Earth“. Sharon, known for her eccentric hand and arm motions, came out in full force with what fans knew and loved in Canada from her performance history, many moving alongside her with great enthusiasm.

The set was short, much too short for my liking but, upon seeing the fan support and encouragement, I sincerely hope they return to North America for a full-fledged tour soon.

With Within Temptation leaving the stage, however, that meant only one thing…


Iron Maiden came out with a roar, starting the night out with a round of new songs which allowed me to snag some photos before a friend and I had already agreed we’d move toward the back (for a better view) after a few songs. “Senjutsu,” fit the bill, with the Edo-era Japan backdrop ready to go. We were even graced by a Samurai Eddie, equipped with armour and katana, and wandering the stage looking for his next opponent. “Stratego” and “The Writing On The Wall” were also well-received by fans, many singing along and throwing in every ounce of energy along the rail.

We held on for “Revelations” but moved back before “Blood Brothers” commenced which had fans singing word for word and almost drowning out the band. Looking around, I could see the excitement of fans of all ages really taking in every bit that Maiden had to offer. From Bruce’s stage-wandering energy to Adrian’s guitar work, and every banner, flame, and spectacle they had to unleash.

But, it wasn’t until “Flight of Icarus” kicked off that fans really got the ‘wow’ as a giant Icarus figure backed the stage, and Bruce came out wielding a set of flame throwers that he happily showed off throughout the performance. At the end, Icarus dropping from the sky, having folded his wings in defeat, blew the minds of fans both on the floor and in the stands. But, that was only the beginning….

Fear of the Dark” commenced, with fans serenading the band with the tell-tale chanting many came to know and love. Bruce came out in plague doctor attire, waving his lantern and wandering the smoke-screened stage to amplify the energy of this well-loved track. Following up with “Hallowed Be Thy Name” was no less the spectacle either, debuting Bruce locked in a cage and a noose that dropped from the rafters above.

But, it wasn’t until “The Number of the Beast” that the crowd really went utterly ballistic. The stadium was shaking, erupting in cheers and chants from a crowd with fists and horns in the air, throwing down their heads to head-bang across the stands. The moment the Priest began his speech, you knew things were about to get crazy.

This energy continued through “Iron Maiden” and well into “The Trooper” as the well-loved classics fans had come to know from their own youth, now passed onto the next generation had everyone on their feet and singing along. Cheers, applause, and screams filled the air, and it was hard to deny the presence Maiden held the moment they walked on stage.

I took my leave before “Run To The Hills“, as much as I enjoy that song because I knew that downtown Hamilton’s traffic would be a mess as soon as the encore faded. They played on, encore after encore, until “Aces High” with the signature Spitfire making its appearance, which I had to miss out on to venture out of town much to my own disappointment.

From the Eddies, to the lights, to the backdrop, to the band’s energy, Maiden truly was an event for the ages. With ticket costs under $100 CAD per person, witnessing the Religious Event that is Iron Maiden live in concert is an absolute MUST for any Metal fan of any age.

Every bit of this concert had energy, with fans smiling, fathers holding their son’s hand in the air and making the signature horns, grandmothers head-banging, beer splashed in cheers, there was a unity amongst this crowd that I’d not seen at any other concert. The acoustics were perfect from every angle, close, or further back, with both instruments and vocals heard clearly without any bit of distortion whatsoever. The lights were spectacular, which is why I’d moved back, so I could really take in the stage, the lights, and the whole set-up.

Of course, I made my effort to grab some Within Temptation merch before my exit, and though tempted by Maiden merch, I withdrew. Much of it is available online through their shop if you missed out like I did. I was happy that I opted for this show over the rescheduled Priest show. The energy that Bruce, the band, and fans had was next level, leaving me smiling and in awe throughout the night. From the pyrotechnics to the stage props, I was more than impressed with the effort the band not only put into performing but, entertaining fans from every angle. Bruce never skipped a beat, moving from one end of the stage to the next, changing outfits, raising spirits, and creating a memorable experience many will hold in their hearts and minds for decades.

I encourage you, if you get the chance to witness Maiden live and in concert, to do so. It’s an experience on another level completely, and you may never get the chance to ever again.