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Concert Reviews:
Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper combine for rockin' night at DTE

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- If you're going to headline over a home town hero like Alice Cooper in his home town, you better be able to bring it.

Fortunately, Iron Maiden proved up to the task on Wednesday night, July 18, the DTE Energy Music Theatre. The iconic British heavy metal outfit is no slouch in the performance department, of course, not after 37 years of playing a pulverizing, testosterone-laden but also intricate brand of rock with the kind of cocksure attitude and theatrical accents that gave Spinal Tap plenty of ammunition. On Wednesday, however, the sextet pulled it all off -- as it usually does -- with a genuineness and sincerity that made the two-hour set more than a headbanging caricature.

And, of course, it was big, explosive fun, from punky bursts such as "Wasted Years," "Can I Play With Madness" and "Aces High" to epics like "The Trooper," "Phantom of the Opera," "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" and "Fear of the Dark" that showcased the tricky triple-guitar interplay between primary soloist Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers.

Bruce Dickinson, meanwhile, again proved his metal mettle as a rabble-rousing frontman, striding around the two-tiered stage but also knowing when to duck out and let the instrumentalists carry the show.

And then, of course, there's Eddie, Maiden's macabre, ghoulish mascot who appeared in several forms during the night, including on the backdrops that changed with every song. A large-scale Eddie, dressed as a swashbuckler, jousted with the group members during "Run With the Hills," while a phantom-like figure that looked like Eddie's first cousin emerged from below the stage to play keyboards during "Seventh Son..." And during "Iron Maiden," another version of the monster emerged from the top ramp, holding a just-born baby Eddie in one hand and blowing fire out of the top of its head.

It certainly gave Cooper and company a run for their money, but the other Motor City Madman, who headlined at DTE last summer, certainly gave no quarter. Though his 50-minute set blew by in a disarmingly quick fashion, it was packed with theatrics, including his eight-armed "Black Widow" suit, a giant, dancing puppet during "Feed My Frankenstein," the impaling of a faux paparazzi during "Wicked Young Man" and, of course, the ritual guillotine beheading.

The short set was also heavy on hits as Cooper and his five-piece group ripped through the likes of "I'm Eighteen," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Billion Dollar Babies" and "Poison" before finishing with "School's Out," which morphed briefly into Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2." It was certainly a fine warm-up for Maiden, but the Cooper faithful at DTE, who know very well what his full show is like couldn't help but crave a little more.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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