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Universal Amphitheater, 08/02/98

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Although Blaze Bayley and IRON MAIDEN did not enjoy the type of nearly unanimous approval that Ripper Owens and JUDAS PRIEST received when they appeared here recently, the majority of the audience at the Universal Amphitheater this evening were very pleased to see IRON MAIDEN - in any form - on stage again.

IRON MAIDEN with Bayley at the microphone is not IRON MAIDEN with Bruce Dickinson fronting the band. The band as a whole sounds different - Bayley isn't a bad vocalist but can't fill Dickinson's shoes. Fortunately, the band knows this and filled their show with 90% material from their two latest CMC CDs ("The X Factor" and the newest CD, "Virtual XI"), giving the fans a taste of what IRON MAIDEN 1990s-style sounds like.

Sure, they played the old favorites and the crowd (for the most part) seemed to get into these the most. Songs like "Heaven Can Wait" and "Two Minutes to Midnight" were performed with a raging power that pulled the audience onto the stage. But the new songs were surprisingly well-recieved, too, especially considering the sheer volume of them. And it was here that the band truly shined - reveling, perhaps, in the fact that they are a band re-born.

Not everyone was pleased. Sadly, a line of people began exiting the theater almost from the moment IRON MAIDEN went on, some of those screaming "Blaze Bayley sucks!" and the like. Fortunately, those people were in the minority and are wrong - IRON MAIDEN is a new band now and still one of the tightest live bands around. It may not be the same band since Bruce Dickinson went on to start a solo career, but it's still a great band nonetheless.

RONNIE JAMES DIO, however, stole the show that night. Despite a power outage that stole the finale to his hit, "The Last In Line," Ronnie and his band ripped through an evening of classic Dio and Black Sabbath material. As always, Dio played with a power and a stylish class that has been his trademark since the early days. Only low point: Despite cries of "Play 'Man on the Silver Mountain!' from the audience, that Rainbow-era song was not performed. Dio is touring in support of his terrific live CD, "Inferno: Last in Live" on Mayhem Records.

TRIBE OF GYPSIES was up first but didn't sound heavy enough so I went and got a beer.

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Copyright 1998 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.