The Iron Maidens @ The Forge, Joliet (US)

THE IRON MAIDENS / JUDAS RISING / HEAVEN AND HELL / LADY EVIL

Date: 16th August, 2019
Venue: The Forge
Ticket: $15.00/18 (€13/16)
Promoter: The Forge


There are two aspects in shows with cover/tribute bands because; a. they can be really fun because everyone enjoys a collection of classics and, b. they can be tricky especially if the original band featured/features iconic performers. The former depends of how good the cover band is and how relevant is to the headliner and the latter, is something that is impossible to overcome and depends on one’s perspective (I will explain this). With THE IRON MAIDENS in the headlining position, having a billing full of cover bands made sense and being on a Friday it was a guarantee to have fun.

‘Ready to have fun’ was the mood inside The Forge that looked fuller than I was expecting for a billing featuring tribute bands. This meant one thing; THE IRON MAIDENS have a great reputation for putting killer shows and I was soon to confirm this. LADY EVIL were already on stage and if their moniker does not ring any bells, then you have missed a huge part of your listening Metal journey… Anyways, the female-fronted band was delivering “Fairies Were Boots” getting everyone warmed up. Of course, being female-fronted meant an interesting spin in Ozzy’s vocals. To my mind, trying to mimic an iconic voice is a recipe for failure unless of course, the singer is equally good (although, in that case this is a misuse of a great voice). LADY EVIL delivered the BLACK SABBATH songs in the best way for the audience to start having fun on a Friday night. Aside from doing all the hits and popular songs it is always welcomed to spice things up by choosing an underdog… Although, in the case of SABBATH it can be tough to find Ozzy-sung songs that are not that well-known (maybe from the last two, just before the Dio era). LADY EVIL, did “Every Day Comes And Goes” before getting back on the goldies-list. The setlist ended with the kind of obvious duo of “Paranoid” and “War Pigs” with the latter, getting quite a loud singing-along meaning that LADY EVIL had succeeded in warming the audience up.

LADY EVIL

Lady Evil @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lady Evil @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lady Evil @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lady Evil @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lady Evil @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Having another BLACK SABBATH tribute next, seemed like an odd choice even though the focus of HEAVEN AND HELL was on the Dio days (well, not exclusively). “Neon Knights” kicked off the set fifteen minutes after 8pm and to my ears it highlighted point “b” I made in the introduction; it is extremely difficult (close to being impossible) to perform such a historical song originally delivered by one of the best voices in the Metal. On the other hand, enjoying this depends on one’s expectations from a tribute band. If you are looking for a close to the original version you will get disappointed especially when the original performance belongs to Dio whose shadow is heavier that the entire Doom scene. However, if you want to listen to some classics in concert at a loud volume you will have fun especially if the band onstage is doing a great job. And that’s exactly what these guys did with “Holy Diver” and “N.I.B.” (as I said not Dio exclusive) because the older than usual audience was having fun and, in fact, joined in by singing along during “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Heaven And Hell” (love the bass work on this one). After 40 minutes and with “Mob Rules”, HEAVEN AND HELL said their goodnights in front of a bigger in number audience.

HEAVEN AND HELL

01. “Neon Knights”
02. “Holy Diver”
03. “N.I.B.”
04. “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll”
05.  “Heaven And Hell”
06.  “Mod Rules”

HEAVEN AND HELL

Heaven And Helll @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Heaven And Helll @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Heaven And Helll @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Heaven And Helll @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Heaven And Helll @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Heaven And Helll @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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One step before the headliners, it was time to shift gears into JUDAS PRIEST with JUDAS RISING. This would not be my first time seeing these guys live and therefore, I was already aware of how things would go down for the next 40 minutes or so. Neven Trifunovich and Briant Daniel assumed positions at the center of the stage and entered the PRIEST realm with “Electric Eye”. I like how Joe Martina tries to mimic Rob’s early days look (kind of the “British Steel” era) making the overall performance more entertaining. I believe a tribute band can be an opportunity to have fun without messing up the originals and this is exactly what JUDAS RISING are doing and it was fun to watch Joe doing the “robot-march” during “Metal Gods”. On the other hand, I wish the setlist had some less popular songs but how can I support this argument when everyone enjoyed “Breaking The Law”? “Diamonds And Rust” (the “Sin After Sin” version) followed passing the baton to Scott Davidson and the trademark drum intro of “Painkiller”.

I have to tip my hat to Joe for trying to deliver the impossible pitch in one of the hardest songs to sing in Metal; “Victim Of Changes” is extremely challenging, so kudos for making such a great effort. Apparently the band had room for one more and so, the set ended with “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)”. This meant that JUDAS RISING just did two covers of two covers…funny huh?

JUDAS RISING setlist:

01. “Electric Eye”
02. “Metal Gods”
03. “Breaking The Law”
04. “Diamonds And Rust”
05. “Victim Of Changes”
06. “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)”

JUDAS RISING

Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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THE IRON MAIDENS have been around since 2001 and may as well be, one of the few (if not the only one) well-established tribute bands in Metal. The concept of having a female-band being tribute to a male band is by definition unique. It would have been the same if it was the other way around and the point I am trying to make, is that no one can make a direct comparison with the original lineup giving this a most interesting twist. Another thing unique with THE IRON MAIDENS is the accompanying artwork that has been adjusted accordingly giving a great look to the stage.

Just before the set, The Forge looked packed and it is no wonder that THE IRON MAIDENS have been coming back to Joliet almost in a yearly basis. They are a guarantee to enjoy some MAIDEN classics and especially songs that have never gotten the chance to be played live. In fact, that has most important aspect on their success and the way they have being choosing the setlists. Right on schedule, the lights went out and the five piece tribute band entered the stage with “Invaders” and since this was my first time seeing THE IRON MAIDENS, I immediately I understood what the hype is all about. Not only, these ladies deliver the MAIDEN goods with sharpshooter precision but have the onstage confidence to do so. On top of this, they seem to enjoy performing live as much as we love listening all those MAIDEN songs that some of them remind us of our childhood (ok, this does apply to those who are past their 40s). Damn, “Die With Your Boots On” and “22 Acacia Avenue” sounded absolutely amazing. Matching Bruce’s vocals especially from his early days in MAIDEN (you know, his “air-siren” days) is impossible but beyond a shadow of a doubt, Kirsten  Rosenberg does a magnificent work. Although, her hair-style was closer to Bruce’s looks from the “Powerslave” days (not blonde-like though). Speaking of looks, it was not rocket science to understand what was coming when Kirsten added the red jacket on her outfit. Yeah, “The Trooper” kicked in and the sing-along got even louder. The guitar duo of Courtney Cox and Nikki Stringfield did equally great although, Courtney was almost hidden on stage left with minimum lighting (it was hard to get a good shot of her).

Watching the energy of the band and the audience was most entertaining and at the same time, felt a little bit nostalgic. IRON MAIDEN have become larger than life to the point that they have lost their interest in producing new albums and in all honesty, I have not enjoyed the last couple studio albums at all. It is a hard pill to realize that bands of that caliber end up being performers of their own music leaving on the past the being-creative side. Anyway, what I am saying will not resonate to the younger ears and I totally respect this, along with the fact that they still have the chance to enjoy IRON MAIDEN in concert. And to keep being controversial for a little bit more, I will say also that it would have been awesome to touch the Blaze era too along with the Di’anno one. Sure, this is not an “apples to apples” comparison but it would complete the tribute side of THE IRON MAIDENS.

After the amazing performance with “Only The Good Die Young” it was time to get the best treat of the night; without saying something, the guitar intro granted a wish that I and my fellow metalheads have been making before and during every MAIDEN concert I have been in Greece. Each and every time, there were talks whether the Brits would grant us the wish to include “Alexander The Great” on the set. Well, this has never happened and I think the closest we got was when Bruce sung a cappella the chorus. Not this time, THE IRON MAIDENS made this happen and it sounded awesome. I may be wrong, but I think Kirsten mentioned this but I was way too excited to following what she was saying. If the set would have ended at that point I would have been equally happy but there was more on the menu with “Murders In The Rue Morgue” being dedicated to the old-school fans. And trust me, we were a lot from that bunch. It does not take lot of effort to realize how “The Number Of The Beast” went down and to follow it with “Phantom Of The Opera”? priceless. It would have been unfair not to mention Linda McDonald and Wanda Ortiz on the drums and bass, respectively, because keeping the MAIDEN galloping rhythm intact is not easy feat and especially to capture Steve Harris’s unique finger-bass playing… Again, it is no wonder that THE IRON MAIDENS are maybe one of the best tribute bands out there.

After a brief goodnight, the five-piece band returned by popular demand and the encore really felt like an encore… You see, sometimes doing an encore feels like part of the show, which it is, but when you hear that much shouting you realize that the audience indeed wants a couple more. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “Run To The Hills” were the bonus songs we got, and there was not a single face not smiling afterwards. So, mission accomplished by THE IRON MAIDENS who had just earned a fan who - by the way - is not into tribute bands.

THE IRON MAIDENS setlist:

01. “Invaders
02. “Die With Your Boots On”
03. “Wasted Years”
04. “Infinite Dreams”
05. “22 Acacia Avenue”
06. “The Trooper”
07. “The Ides Of March”
08. “Wrathchild”
09. “Only The Good Die Young”
10. “Alexander The Great”
11. “Murders In The Rue Morgue”
12. “The Number Of The Beast”
13. “Phantom Of The Opera”
14. “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
15. “Run To The Hills”

THE IRON MAIDENS

The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Iron Maidens @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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