Saturday the 21st May 2016, a hungry Johannesburg crowd eagerly awaited their turn for Iron Maiden‘s The Book of Souls World Tour. This was the second and final show on South African soil, once again a stellar performance with top notch sound, dazzling lighting and superb, riveting visuals, played to a packed-out audience.
For out-of-city travelers arriving at the airport, ‘Ed Force One’ could be seen parked in the distance, having landed the night before. Walking along, numerous airport staff, upon seeing my Iron Maiden t-shirt, reported having seen them, one man explaining in detail how a huge crowd had fervently greeted the band as they entered the airport upon arrival.
At 4:30pm on this Saturday, the road to Carnival City resembled that of weekday peak hour traffic, growing in intensity in the hours that followed. Two extremely long queues, one leading to the general standing area and the other to Golden Circle, snaked around, more than doubling up. The sounds of Iron Maiden resonated through a parking area below, at the casino grounds entrance, tunes being played from a truck parked there. What a way to arrive in Jo’burg!
As the big orange full moon rose on this crisp night, so grew the lines of excited people; those masses pouring onto the festival lawns like a river into the sea, ultimately becoming a seething mass of bodies, in time for the long anticipated Iron Maiden. This was an open air event, along with a humongous, well run and rather pricey SAB beer tented bar, a tented food stall area and loads of mobile toilets, which were kept remarkably clean. A merchandise stall was located in each of the areas, also boasting long queues.
Barney Simon kicked off the night with the announcement of the first band to play, the relatively unknown Jasper Dan, hailing from the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg, who amidst much controversy, won the coveted opening slot in a ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition. To their credit, the Southern Rock outfit weren’t too bad for their genre and did have a small following giving full support. The band played some catchy tunes, as certain of the older Metalheads admitted, but the general consensus was that a local Metal band would have been the more fitting choice to open up the night for Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden. Nonetheless, the crowd gathered before the stage could be heard screaming and cheering.
The volume of this escalated as The Raven Age, the Heavy Metal band of guitarists George Harris and Dan Wright, performed next to a growing audience. It speaks volumes that Steve Harris gives his son’s band such credit as to have them tour around the world with Iron Maiden! The influence is clear, yet the sound unique and the large crowd showed plentiful appreciation; The Raven Age no doubt garnering an additional fan base.
By this time the Carnival City festival lawns were teeming with people from all over the country and beyond. It was expected that there would be +-18 000 people in attendance and it’s more like this: when Iron Maiden come to South Africa, one has to be there – at both shows if possible – and there was a contingency of people who did exactly this!
The full moon had risen centered above the stage, lending more mystical appeal to the already enchanting stage set-up. Iron Maiden were in high spirits, a clear indication that they’d been having a fantastic time in South Africa and that they were stoked to see a sea of people before them, all going mad for ‘Maiden’. Bruce Dickinson exposed his witty side, giving us a good dose of British humor and showing he’d picked up on a bit of South African humor too, giving the Cape Town vs Jo’burg population a crack in good jest. After posing the “surely there are more places for us to play in South Africa…?” question, shouts of “Durban! Durban!” could be heard. As mentioned in the Cape Town leg of the tour review, the same setlist is played throughout the world, comprising of about half new songs from their new The Book of Souls album and half of classic favourites such as ‘Powerslave’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Fear of the Dark’ and ‘Number of the Beast’. Eddie was out in force, launching an attack on Bruce who victoriously ripped his heart out, squeezing out all of its life blood and tossing it into the crowd. The audience participation was immense, singing, cheering, screaming, headbanging and getting a bit rough in the front in the scuffle for drum sticks and other paraphernalia thrown into the crowd by individual band members.
This was certainly a week to remember with truly cherished moments. Iron Maiden: we can’t wait to have you back here again!!
Huge thanks go out to Big Concerts and their crew for making this possible!
Up the Irons \m/
Authored by Linda Evermore
Image of Ed Force One at airport courtesy of Andries Steyn
Band photography by Linda Evermore
More images by Linda Evermore here