Iron Maiden was one of the most influential metal bands of the late '70s and early '80s, helping set the scene for thrash and death metal with its driving rhythms and dark, often literary-derived themes.
Lately, the English quintet has been plagued by chronic personnel changes (most recently the departure of longtime singer Bruce Dickinson), and its adventurous spirit hasn't always resulted in musical success. But at the Universal Amphitheatre on Sunday, the veterans compensated for any shortcomings with unflagging energy.
Though new frontman Blaze Bayley (formerly of Wolfsbane) suffered from a distinct deficit of charisma that he attempted to mask with a demonic grimace, he belted out concrete vocals, and if some of the newer material seemed a bit lackluster, there were more than enough moments of classic metal glory ("Two Minutes to Midnight," "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "Number of the Beast," plus an appearance by Eddie, the group's ghoulish mascot, during "The Evil Men Do") to fire up the near-capacity audience.
The crowd was already revved from co-headliner Dio's dynamic opening set. Though Dio never had as much concept behind it as Iron Maiden, it packs a more commercial punch, and singer Ronnie James Dio (whose resume includes Black Sabbath and Rainbow) led the group through an hour of satisfying hard rock hits.