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Review: Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper

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It was, for a few moments at least, a real wraith of God thunderstorm. Big booming thunder, big crackling lightening, and sideways rain entertained those of us gathered for the Alice Cooper / Iron Maiden show last Thursday at Klipsch Music Center. The crowd cheered on the storm, but after a while, the Indiana natives, conditioned by months of state fair collapse coverage, began to look a bit nervous, and seemed to be looking at exactly what would fall upon them in the event of catastrophic structural failure. Eventually the dark clouds went away and Alice Cooper kicked off a set that made death and gore not so threatening.

Ol' Alice is getting better, creepier and more evil looking the older he gets, and his abbreviated set still managed to rock socks off. Orianthi, the bad-ass Traci Lords look-a-like who was Wacko Jacko's guitarist when This Is It was being pulled together, made her presence known. Not only does she add a healthy dose of sex appeal to the show, but she also pushes the rest of the journeymen in Cooper's band to a different level of performance. "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Feed My Frankenstein" sparkled and crackled with energy. Even "Poison" was rocking. I'm already looking forward to seeing how Orianthi does with a full set. Hopefully we'll get a Halloween show this year.

Only Iron Maiden has the sheer balls to blast out UFO's sublime metal anthem "Doctor, Doctor" as their intro music. By the time the band walked on and sidled into a monstrous "Moonchild" the place was a living breathing Maiden nation ready to rape and pillage Hamilton County. Bassist Steve Harris has more talent in his little toe then most bands do, easily tying together the face-melting three-pronged guitar attack that Dave Murray, Janick Gers and Adrian Smith assaulted the crowd with.

But the king of this show was Bruce Dickinson who out-sang, out-performed and out-swaggered any other vocalist out there. David Lee Roth is maybe the only one who can maybe fly close to this fire. "Two Minutes to Midnight", "The Trooper" and especially "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" were perfect, spot on performances. Dickinson and co. gave an effortless, searing performance that most bands can only fantasize of doing.

The only thing that was a bit weird was that everywhere I looked I saw dudes totally losing their minds, and screaming the words to each other. It 's like how at a Rush show, it's all air-drumming except here it's air-singing, and it's for real. You haven't lived until you've seen two bros scream "The napalm screams of human flames / Of a prime time Belsen feast ... yeah! / As the reasons for the carnage cut their meat and lick the gravy / We oil the jaws of the war machine and feed it with our babies." at each other with beer tears in their eyes and not look gay.

Funnest show of the year by far.