Let's get this straight from the start, I've been an Iron Maiden fan for a very long time, but this was the first chance I have ever had to see them live and boy, I wasn't disappointed!
The support act was an American group, Shinedown, who I have been a fan of for a long time as well and have seen live on numerous occasions before this gig. They haven't had the chance to play an arena in the UK much before now and the various venues I have seen them in have been small capacity in comparison.
They have always had a great stage presence when I have seen them, but I wasn't sure if they could pull it off in an arena, but I'm glad to say I was wrong on that.
Full of energy, Zack Myers (lead guitar) and Eric Bass (bass player) swapped sides of the stage with ease whilst building the crowd up for the main act playing songs from their catalogue of albums.
Brent Smith (singer) conversed with the audience to work them up into a frenzy for the latter, heavier numbers and even parted the crowd so that he could walk out into the middle of the arena floor getting everyone even more hyped than they already were.
All the songs played were on point and not one duff note was heard from any of the group. I really need to go and see these guys again live as the last time was a good 8 years ago.
I can say as well, that even with their success, it never did go to their heads as I have had the pleasure of meeting the entire band in the past, and they will always give time for their fans.
After a 45 minute set, they said their goodbyes to everyone and the roadies jumped on stage to get the set ready for Maiden.
As anyone who is a fan of Iron Maiden knows, their background set is always impressive, its all part of the act and this one didn't disappoint.
A little before 9 pm and the music started, 2 massive screens either side of the stage set a story of their iconic mascot Eddie and we all waited with baited breath with half an eye on the stage.
Bruce Dickinson at the back of the stage prayed over a smoking cauldron until the main beat kicked in and the pyrotechnics erupted. The crowd went mad!
We were all treated to a 2 hour set from the aging rockers and not once did the pace drop!
To say they are all close to pension age, I wish I had even half of their energy.
Nicko McBrain was somewhere behind his massive drum set-up, but cameras had been set up in place so that we could see his impressive mastery of the kit on the big screens.
Janick Gers didn't stop all night on guitar, running all over the stage, interacting with Eddie when his character walked out on stage running back and forth between his legs and throwing his guitar around his neck and up into the air. At one point he threw it down to the ground and played it with his foot!
Steve Harris was on form on bass as always, I stood and watched in amazement at the speed in which he played during the night with his West Ham sticker on his guitar as usual and the beloved colours on the strap.
Dave Murray was his usual self, nailing some impressive solos to the catalogue of music played as well as Adrian Smith.
And then there was Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer. Where does this man get his energy from, I don't know. He didn't stop running round all night, but not once did he find himself out of breath to hit all of the notes.
This was The Book of Souls tour, the first time in 7 years that these gods of Rock and Roll have officially toured the UK, their home country and normally they will play music from the album they are touring on, but not tonight. We were all treated to a mix of music from the latest album and some of the all time classics
The set was out of this world, and Eddie made various appearances to the crowd's delight, but the most impressive was the huge inflatable head that came up toward the end of the set towering above everything
I don't want to spoil anything for people who are still to see them on this tour, but you are in for a true treat. These guys always take it to the next level. It was full of laughs as well as the members messed about with each other on stage and acted like school boys, its part of the charm and love they have for each other.
For me, this gig is now one that I can check off my bucket list, I've wanted to see them for years but have never had the chance before now. I just hope that they keep going strong and don't leave it another 7 years before the next tour. Let's be honest, if they can fly the world in their own Boeing 747 piloted by Dickinson, they must be doing something right!
I cant give this a rating out of 10 because it was way over that mark, just trust me, Manchester Arena was sold out and not one single person walked away from that place disappointed at the end of the night.
Please note, all images are either my own from the night or from a friend who I have been given permission to use.