It was that time of the year, folks, the annual Belsonic Festival 2022's lineup was a packed lineup, and who better to start it off than the return of godfathers of NWOBHM; Iron Maiden!
But before we get to the masters, we start with the young bucks from New York; Tempt. The lads brought their high octane level to the already crammed Ormeau Road field. With standout tracks like "Living Dangerous" and a roaring version of "We Will Rock You", their energy level helped live up to the Belfast crowd. Especially with lead singer Zach Allen's enormous vocal range and blue-sparkly jacket being the standout features of the show.
Up next were a band who are no strangers to this part of the world. Probably the rowdiest band on the planet; Airbourne! And they wasted no time keeping the party going with plenty of Beer, Rock, Beer Guitars and did I mention Beer?
No one gets the crowd more livened up than one of Aussie's finest, with a performance filled with plenty of crowd participation. Frontman Joel O'Keeffe paraded around the audience with his guitar and pleaded with the security to allow the Belfast faithful to go on each other's shoulders. And you guessed it; this was for more Beer!
The main support for the night was a band who have been regular support for Maiden in the past. But this is their first time in Belfast! And what a debut from the mighty Shinedown. The four-piece from Florida put on a show like no other and was finally happy to meet their Northern Irish fans.
Despite the gig being on a Monday, vocalist Brent Smith was pleased to see everyone. With bangers such as "Devil" and "Sound of Madness" nearly levelling the playing fields, it was the open notes to their hit "Second Chance" that many voices sang along. Let's not hope it's too long before the boys are back in town!
Having just headlined this year's Download Festival, Maiden were looking to keep the metal train rolling with their return to Northern Ireland. This may have been the second time Belfast were treated to the Legacy of the Beast tour, but this was a chance for anyone who didn't see the show the first time around. Albeit some changes to the set.
The band were quick to get the material from their latest album, "Senjutsu", out of the way for the start. This included one of the many appearances of the band's mascot Eddie, dressed head to toe in samurai gear. Scary!
Once the new stuff was out of the way, it was time for some classic Iron Maiden. With the likes "Blood Brothers," "Flight of Icarus", and "Fear of the Dark" being sung as loud as possible. Despite most of the band now being in their 60s, they proved they can still keep up with the already high-energy night. With Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris and Janick Gers running every square inch of the Belsonic stage.
Props and costumes from the original Legacy of the Beast tour were heavily used during their set. From the light-up cross during "Sign of the Cross" to the famous battle outfit during the "The Trooper." Eddie, of course, made another appearance here. Oh, and did I mention there was fire? Lots and lots of fire! I am sure many eyebrows were singed during the fast-paced "Number of the Beast".
Maiden saved the best for last! As Winston Churchill's famous 'we shall fight them on the beaches' speech played, it was time for take-off for the life-size Spitfire. The plane towered above the band on stage during "Aces High." initially, it was how the band opened the tour, but it was even better they saved their prized possession to the end.
Thanks to the pandemic, this show may have been a long wait, but the gods of heavy metal blessed the city of Belfast with a night to remember!