The Iron Maidens –
The Chance Theater, Poughkeepsie, New York 18th June 2018
Set List: Aces High/2 Minutes to Midnight/22 Acacia Avenue/Still Life/The Number of The Beast/Phantom of The Opera/Alexander The Great/Murders in the Rue Morgue/Wasted Years/The Trooper/Revelations/The Evil That Men Do/Fear of the Dark/Iron Maiden.
The classification of tribute band is tossed around quite often; yet the image conjured up by music fans has turned favorable in recent years. For a while groups of musicians who did not create original music rarely graduated from small club status. Yet the popularity of tribute bands has always been a factor among those craving a night of hearing familiar favorites or for those who are awaiting their favorite rock or pop stars to tour, could enjoy the next best thing.
When I first began frequenting the music club scene, even before my friends and I were legally old enough to do so, tribute bands were among the groups we followed. Physical Graffiti, Equinox and Crystal Ship to name a few. With the recent resurge in popularity of tribute bands and touring bands often scouting the players, the bar has been raised. One major difference in today’s tribute bands of those of yesteryear is the ladies are giving the gentlemen a run for their money.
For years all-female bands were known for flouncing around in mini skirts and playing sappy pop. While there is nothing wrong with that, those that craved substance flocked to the male dominated rock acts. Thankfully this has changed.
There are impressive all female, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin and Guns and Roses tribute acts with music that is extremely challenging for any musician. Then there are The Iron Maidens who chose to take on one of the most technically complex bands in music history. The ladies have managed to master this quite well.
I make no bones about being a lifelong Iron Maiden fan I snuck in to see them at L’Amour when I was a teenager. That resulted in my being grounded for two weeks when my mother found the photos we took with the band. Instead of sleeping over a friend’s house, we instead spent our evening with a bunch of long haired, beer drinking British guys. The situation was compounded when I tried to explain them away as friends from school. No dice.
Fast forward many years and Iron Maiden still reigns as one of my favorite bands and having had the chance to cover one of their shows and meet most of the gents, I am a tough cookie to impress when it comes to those that tackle Iron Maiden’s music.
Impressed I was. I first saw The Iron Maidens in Los Angeles. I had heard a good deal about them from musician friends and rumor had it that several members of Iron Maiden had also been impressed with the ladies. I decided to see what the fuss was all about. Having seen them perform several times, the show at The Chance was the first time I experienced a performance on the east coast. The fervor was equally intense on this opposite shore.
The Maidens are serious about their art but still have a tongue in cheek approach to the fact that they are of the female persuasion with their 'Eddie' or 'Edwina' backdrop looking every bit kick ass even with a string of pearls. The band took the stage in a similar fashion to their mentors’ method and that would be to UFO’s 'Doctor Doctor' a tradition Iron Maiden still utilizes.
Opening with “Aces High” and almost as a premonition Iron Maiden has added that song as their current opening number. From the initial chords it was apparent that The Iron Maidens are fiercely talented.
The guitar prowess of Nikki Stringfield and Courtney Cox rival that of any guitar slinger including the gentlemen who perform these songs nightly. Wanda Ortiz is an incredible bassist with a strong smooth bass tone. If I close my eyes, at times I would swear that was Steve Harris up there. Linda McDonald keeps the beat behind the band and if anyone thinks taking on Clive Burr or Nicko McBain is easy has no concept of musicianship.
That leaves Kirsten Rosenberg handling vocals. A vocalist can make or break a band. A vocalist who fronts a tribute band has even a more difficult job as they have to fill shoes well enough to impress hardcore fans of both their band and their namesake, Kirsten can handle Bruce Dickinson and Paul Di’Anno. She is comfortable on stage and is aware of what the fans expect from her.
The rest of the event read like a perfect Iron Maiden show with each song performed flawlessly by The Iron Maidens '2 Minutes to Midnight', 'The Number of The Beast', and 'Murders In The Rue Morgue' to name a few. The set list persisted with songs that enthralled the crowd and had them screaming lyrics word for word back at the band.
While the music is the most important attribute, Iron Maiden are also known for their larger than life stage set. This was not lost on The Iron Maidens as they incorporated as much of the resemblance as possible. They had their own version of Eddie who made an occasional appearance throughout the set.
Of course, there was also the elaborate 'The Trooper' with Steve Harris’s signature bass gallop, perfectly performed by Ortiz, and McDonald decked out in British regalia complete with not only a Union Jack but an American flag. All that was missing was Janick Gers to chase around the stage.
I don’t like to keep bringing up the fact that these are female musicians, when they are simply stellar musicians. However, growing up with serious female musicians being few, I am still in awe when I find those that not only broke the mould but also the glass ceiling. The Iron Maidens are heavily in demand both on the US and International circuit.
They are revelled but hardcore Iron Maiden fans and honored by most well-known musicians in the industry.My only complaint is that I don’t know when I will be able to see this band grace the stage again, but I will certainly try to change that.
By Dawn Belotti