Iron Maiden, Twickenham, London

Twickenham, London

"Scream for me, London!" demands Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson. The audience comply, with gusto. This is, after all, what they have been waiting for. After an almost wilful insistence on showcasing new material at the expense of crowd favourites, Maiden have finally decided to tour a greatest-hits package. That this coincides with their first ever stadium gig in the UK cannot be put down to chance. The mob has spoken.

The hits are all here: Aces High, Two Minutes to Midnight, The Trooper, Number of the Beast. Galloping metal anthems with soaring choruses that battle to outdo each other in terms of bombast and grandiosity. And just in case we missed how huge the songs are, they are accompanied by plumes of fire, explosions and some utterly ludicrous costumes from Dickinson - the pièce de résistance being a feathered mask that makes him look like a grumpy, if excitable, little owl.

It is undoubtedly slick and highly entertaining - but when dusk falls, the spectacle becomes spellbinding. The crowd loosen up under cover of darkness, and Run to the Hills is transformed into a terrace anthem. Thousands of arms punch the air while the chorus becomes an almighty roar reverberating around the stadium. Even the England rugby team on the verge of a World Cup win on home turf would do well to be greeted with an atmosphere so electric, so seductive.

"Scream for me, London!" implores Dickinson, coaxing yet another thundering response from the crowd.

In terms of rock theatre, Iron Maiden are untouchable. A sore throat in the morning seems a small price to pay.

Jamie Thomson

The GuardianTramp

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