Last year heavy metal pioneers Iron Maiden set out on the most ambitious tour not only of their career, but the entire history of touring. Challenging every facet of the production, performing 23 shows in 45 days over 50,000 miles in 11 countries on four continents, and that was only the first leg of the tour. Maiden took to the sky in their custom Boeing 757, “Ed Force One,” which was also piloted by their singer, Bruce Dickinson. In addition to the band and their families, a crew of 70, and 12 tons of stage equipment they also brought along Canadian filmmaker’s Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn (Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey) to document the event. The result is the new film Iron Maiden: Flight 666, which was released by Universal Music Enterprises on two disc DVD and Blu-Ray June 9th, 2009. A two disc CD of just the concert was also released.
Recorded during their historic “Somewhere Back in Time Tour,” which had the band performing songs only from their 1980-1989 catalog, the film presents a good balance between the show both on stage and backstage. Beginning at the start of the first show in Mumbai, India the film quickly backtracks to the previous forty-eight hours with the loading of the plane in England. Bruce Dickinson sums up that the goal of this tour, and motivation for “Ed Force One,” was to be able to play all the locations that are often too expensive and out of the way for a typical tour schedule. The film is peppered with individual interviews of each band member giving reflective insights on the tour, as well as creating intimate portraits of their dynamic personalities. Throughout the course of the film you get a sense of how ordinary they really are in their day to day lives off stage: playing tennis, golf, sight seeing, spending time with their families.
The highlight of this film is seeing the worldwide impact that Maiden has had on their fans over the last thirty years. Unlike most bands with Maiden’s lifespan their fans seem to get younger and younger as new generations discover their music. From parents sharing the band with their children, to a priest in San Paulo, Brazil who has over 160 Iron Maiden tattoos, to teens living in a militaristic police state they are able to transcend cultures in a way even Christ couldn’t do. Their status as living legends is not overlooked among their contemporaries either. At the Forum in Los Angles the backstage footage showcases a cavalcade of metal personalities including Ronnie James Dio, Scott Ian, Kerry King, and Lars Ulrich among others. The bulk of the tour (and film) is spent in Central and South America where the excitement is unrelenting. As stated in the beginning of the documentary, with little radio or mainstream media support they have managed to conquer the world, selling over 70 million albums and playing some of the largest concerts in music history.
As a bonus to go along with the film the second disc is the entire concert from this tour’s set, with each song performed at a different location. Most of these are featured throughout the film in varying capacities, but here each performance is presented in full. It is quite reminiscent of the “Live after Death” concert from ‘85 and makes a nice companion to the earlier film. Not only because this tour is a throwback to that one and shares a similar set list, but it shows that despite that passage of twenty-five years they still have all the energy, enthusiasm, and appreciation for their fans who have made their career last that long.
The film really paints a humbling picture of this band in a positive way. Unlike most metal documentaries that thrive on controversy and hardships this one is really just a lot of fun. Even the fact that Dickinson is flying the freaking plane speaks volumes about his character and commitment to Maiden’s fans. That he would do all that and go out on stage every night to perform – you know Hetfield isn’t driving Metallica to their gigs, and forget about Ozzy getting behind the wheel of anything and making it show up in tact. It is very reassuring to see that even after all of their years that Maiden still has the integrity of a band with nothing to lose. The DVD comes packaged as a small hardcover book and includes 24 pages of pictures and journal entries from the tour by singer and pilot Bruce Dickinson.
Iron Maiden is Bruce Dickinson (Vocals), Steve Harris (Bass), Adrian Smith (Lead/Rhythm Guitar), Dave Murray (Lead/Rhythm Guitar), Janick Gers (Lead/Rhythm Guitar), & Nicko McBrain (Drums).
- “Churchill’s Speech”
- “Aces High”
- “2 Minutes To Midnight”
- “The Trooper”
- “Wasted Years”
- “The Number Of The Beast”
- “Can I Play With Madness”
- “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
- “Heaven Can Wait”
- “Run To The Hills”
- “Fear Of The Dark”
- “Iron Maiden”
- “The Clairvoyant”
- “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
Be sure to check out Peter O’Brien’s thrash metal documentary “Riphouse 151: Could’ve Been’s & Wanna Be’s” which is currently on the festival circuit.