There are times when, as far as the passing down of musical talent from one generation to the next, the apple doesn’t fall all that far from the tree – see Sean Lennon, Jeff Buckley and the Wainwright siblings for evidence of this. On certain special occasions, however, the apple falls so damn far that you’re amazed there was any fruit growing up there to begin with. Case in point: The Raven Age, who happen to be centred around guitarist George Harris – which, indeed, means he is the son of Iron Maiden’s sole remaining founding member, Steve Harris. What makes their tragic, dreary and paint-dry-boring set all the more confusing is how curious George should quite literally know better. He’s grown up in the footsteps of one of the biggest and most significant metal bands of all time, and yet his band sounds as though they believe the genre was founded by Bullet For My Valentine. While no-one is expecting a direct Maiden tribute here, it’s not that crazy of a request to hear something even remotely inspired. It’s a big world out there, boys, and daddy isn’t always going to be around to protect you. Welcome to the jungle.
Onto far bigger and far greater things – a 41-year history, a slew of instant-classic LPs and one of the most authoritative, distinctive sounds in the history of heavy music. As Iron Maiden tear into “If Eternity Should Fail”, the first track from last year’s The Book Of Souls, the fans are literally up in arms, throwing horns and fists at their heroes as they process out onto stage. This is the moment that some have been waiting nearly all day for, with some having travelled across the world to be here. That’s certainly something that one can’t lose sight of when discussing Iron Maiden – this is an adoring, devoted fanbase that are all in on the camaraderie that comes with being a Maiden fan. Watching them in action – screaming through “Blood Brothers”, woah-oh-oh’ing their way through “Fear Of The Dark” – is arguably worth the price of admission itself.
Lest we forget, of course, that there is concurrently a shitload happening on stage. Pocket rocket Bruce Dickinson belies every single one of his 57 years, pelting about the place with reckless abandon and not once missing a beat with his typically-grandiose and operatic flourishes. Ever the showman, he riles the crowd up with his flag-waving in “The Trooper” all the while certifiably nailing his high notes. Later on, in “The Book Of Souls”, he takes on a giant version of Eddie and steals the bastard’s heart before throwing it into the audience. Throw in Janick Gers’ quick-reflex guitar stunts and a giant inflatable devil for – what else – “The Number Of The Beast” and you’ve got yourself one heck of an entertaining live band. Whether you’re a lifer or a first timer, a Maiden gig feels like home. Scream for them, Sydney.