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Iron Maiden returns to showcase “Senjutsu” and classic metal tracks

By Ed Condran

A rite of passage for young musicians serious enough to pursue a career in the soul crushing industry of rock is driving their van from town to town. However, Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson went next level. The intense singer, who is also a licensed commercial pilot, flew his Boeing 747 around the world with his band and gear in tow, for years.

However, the jet, which is amusingly dubbed “Ed Force One,” after the band’s iconic mascot, Eddie, will no longer be helmed by Dickinson. Dickinson, 64, is less than a year from forced retirement as a commercial pilot. However, nothing is stopping the leather lunged vocalist from continuing on with the legendary Iron Maiden.

The British band is incredibly influential and commercially successful. That’s quite an achievement considering Maiden never received much airplay. Iron Maiden, which will appear Friday at the Spokane Arena, has sold more than 100 million albums.

Metal and critical acclaim are often mutually exclusive, but scribes have raved about the ambitious Maiden throughout its career and for good reason. Dickinson sings about war, mythology and religion, while sprinkling in history and literature, over big riffs and melodic guitar runs.

Iron Maiden formed in 1975 but didn’t take off until Dickinson signed on in 1981. Such classics as “Run to the Hills,” “Two Minutes to Midnight” and “The Trooper” remain fan favorites. The latter is about a soldier battling in the Crimean war. Who else writes about such arcane subjects?

The list of recording artists who were influenced by Maiden is diverse and lengthy. Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, Slayer’s Kerry King, Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro, System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and Spokane’s own Myles Kennedy, who fronts Alter Bridge, are some of the recording artists who tip their cap to Maiden. None is a surprise. However, the late Kurt Cobain, Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Lady Gaga have also gushed about the impact Maiden had on their careers.

And then there is Iron Maiden’s live show, which features the beloved Eddie. The Maiden mascot, who was created in 1980, is a staple on Maiden album covers. Eddie is depicted as a Samurai from feudal Japan on the band’s latest, “Senjutsu.”

Maiden’s most recent project is loaded with ominous, intense tunes. Expect a few new songs to be sprinkled in with the classics when Iron Maiden returns to the Spokane Arena.

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