Iron Maiden / Alice Cooper Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto ON July 13

Iron Maiden / Alice Cooper Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto ON July 13
It all began with the voice of Vincent Price. On cue, Alice Cooper and band appeared in black and blood (and, in the singer's case, extra spidery legs), kicking into "The Black Widow" from Cooper classic Welcome to My Nightmare.

Several minor costume changes accompanied a solid list of live Alice Cooper standards, including "I'm Eighteen," "Billion Dollar Babies" and "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (which Alice sang draped in a live snake). An Alice Cooper performance is never just a concert -- it's a theatrical experience, with a vast array of props that by now are old familiar friends.

Supported by a very pro hard rock band, the shock rock pioneer delivered all the usual horror, culminating in his own execution. Alice had no trouble claiming centre stage, sounding better than he has in years.

During the gap between bands, the 15,000-strong crowd could watch another heavy metal theatre take shape in icy blue and white, and as the sound system switched over to recognizable pre-Iron Maiden tracks, excitement and noise levels began to rise. The rumble erupted with the second sighting of drummer Nicko McBrain (earlier he sang a few lines with Alice Cooper), and burst into a roar as Iron Maiden launched into "Moonchild" with a whoosh of fire.

Mascot Eddie loomed large for several songs, even stalking around the stage as a giant General Custer during "Run to the Hills." The songs didn't get a whole lot newer than that, with the setlist running from debut Iron Maiden to 1992's Fear of the Dark. Frontman Bruce Dickinson kept the banter to a minimum, aside from his trademark "Scream for me…!" demands, but his sprints and leaps were nearly constant, only guitarist Janick Gers coming close in acrobatic terms.

The mix was a bit too loud, the vocals a little distorted, a few guitar lines buried, but Iron Maiden played with a ton of energy, camaraderie and exuberant class, proving they're still some of the best entertainers in the business.