Queens, NY (May 8, 2018) – Last week, the hard rock/metal venue Blackthorn 51 hosted the tribute band, the Iron Maidens. Billing themselves as the “world’s only female Iron Maiden tribute band,” the Iron Maidens have been on the forefront of the tribute band scene. Formed in Los Angeles in 2001, the Iron Maidens have risen as one of the premier all woman metal tribute bands in what has become a growing scene. Much press has been given on what motivates this popular trend among tribute bands. Is it a subversive attack on patriarchal stereotypes? Is it just a marketing gimmick? Does it just rock and we shouldn’t think too much of it? Whatever their motivation, the Iron Maidens seemed more dedicated to putting on a good show for the legions of Iron Maiden fans that flock to their concerts.
Currently, on a world tour that includes shows on the other side of the world in places like New Zealand and Australia, the Iron Maidens took a stop in the backwaters of NYC live music scene, Queens Boulevard where Blackthorn 51 is located. The venue seemed to be near capacity, which is about 400 people. Despite the much-needed shot of estrogen that all-woman metal tribute bands inject into the scene, there weren’t many female fans in attendance as would be expected. In fact, it even seemed like there were even more men than usual at a metal show if that can be believed.
Regardless, the crowd was pumped. From the very beginning, fans sang along when the Iron Maidens opened the show with “Aces High”. The Iron Maidens followed “Aces High” with “2 Minutes” and then “Still Life.” While they performed those songs competently, it wasn’t until crowd favorite “Trooper” was played that the crowd and band became truly united in energy levels. Singer Bruce Chickinson (Kirsten Rosenberg) displayed her theatrical side by donning the redcoat and waving the Union flag. That point onward, she channeled her inner Bruce Dickinson for the rest of the show. She not only tried to match Dickinson in vocal prowess, but she also adapted some of his stage movements.
By the time they followed up with “Fear of the Dark,” you begin to realize what a talented band the Iron Maidens are. While some tribute bands get away with a cute gimmick, the Iron Maidens strive to back it up with musicianship, which is only fitting when one is paying tribute to Iron Maiden, a band that dedicates themselves so much to fine-tuning their musical expertise. Guitarists Adriana Smith (Courtney Cox) and Davina Murphy (Nikki Springfield) stand out as gifted musicians. Drummer Nikki McBurrain (Linda McDonald) and Steph Harris (Wanda Ortiz) expertly kept the rhythm in check on songs like “Number of the Beast,” “Running Free,” and “The Evil That Men Do.”
In addition to musicianship, the Iron Maidens pay tribute to their idols by adopting their theatrics. Satan himself, makes an appearance on stage rocking out to “Number of the Beast.” Of course, any tribute to Iron Maiden wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by Eddie. Eddie appears during “Wasted Years” in his cyborg look, which happens to be my favorite version of the famed mascot. I must admit, I was expecting Eddie to be portrayed as a curvy woman to match the rest of the band. Perhaps it was for the better we didn’t get to see Eddie with big, gray, wrinkly tits.
Chickinson at one point asks the crowd to choose what song they would play next. The choice was “Alexander the Great,” which for some reason, Iron Maiden still have never played live and the band’s nearly 14-minute version of “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Maiden fans were once again denied hearing “Alexander the Great” live as the band performed the entire length of “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” It was unfortunate in that the rather long song did damper the energy of the audience for a short while.
After rousing renditions of “Children of the Damned” and Hallowed Be Thy Name,” Eddie reappeared at the end of the show during “Iron Maiden” in his more traditional metalhead form, alternating between throwing devil horns and middle fingers at the fans who were loving every second of it. Fans next to me were screaming and hollering so loud, I almost couldn’t hear the band themselves, no matter how loud they played. For the finisher, fans demanded an encore and were disappointed to not get one. When Chickinson spoke to the crowd about the best part of traveling around the world is meeting other fans of Iron Maiden, you can tell she means it. Far from being a group of opportunists who fell into a successful gimmick, the Irons Maidens are honest fans of the music and want nothing more than to share that with the audience.