Published Sep 01, 2005Thanks to some seriously bad traffic karma I arrived at my Molson Amphitheatre seat just in time to see Mastodon rock out for the final minutes of their high-octane set. But those few minutes, added to what I caught from outside the venue, convinced me of Mastodon's ability to storm a stage, a quality that made them worthy openers for the fire and professionalism of the near-immortal Iron Maiden. After a fairly short break and a recorded intro, Maiden emerged, delivering a few old classics before front-man Bruce Dickinson announced that oldies off the first four albums were all the crowd would get. Gems of the night included rare live performances of "Where Eagles Dare" and "Remember Tomorrow," more Paul Di'Anno numbers - "Murders in the Rue Morgue," "Sanctuary" and so on - and predictable goodies, including "Run to the Hills" and "Number of the Beast." A diverse audience responded with loud appreciation, most of its members (from small kids to white hairs) enthusiastically screaming, gesturing, head-banging, or singing along. In good shape for a band its age (well past the two-decade mark), Iron Maiden kept up a surprising amount of dancing and prancing while delivering a tight and well-seasoned musical performance. But none leapt as high or as often as the inhumanly energetic Dickinson, whose powerful lungs showed little sign of wear, even in the final songs. Mascot Eddie maintained a constant supportive presence, decorating a series of retrospective backdrops but making only a momentary on-stage appearance near the end of the night. And the end came too soon (especially for those who forked out big bucks to be near the front). A short set and one too-brief encore were enough to whet the appetite but not satisfy it, and Maiden's promise to return soon was the only consolation.