Iron Maiden experienced a Spinal Tap moment on Monday night when their Spitfire replica plane malfunctioned during their set-closing performance of “Aces High.”
The Powerslave opening track has been a fixture of Iron Maiden’s ongoing Legacy of the Beast World Tour, which began in 2018. The song — which previously opened the band’s set and now closes it — features a 90% scale replica of a Spitfire, the single-seat fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force during World War II.
Typically, the Spitfire “flies” (i.e. floats) above the band during “Aces High.” But during Tuesday’s performance at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., the plane appeared to get stuck on its way to the front of the stage. Fan-shot footage, which you can watch below, shows the wings failing to extend fully, and the plane hovering awkwardly near the back of the stage before crew members deflate it and hide it from view. Singer Bruce Dickinson can be seen glancing back at the Spitfire as it flails and flapping his arms during the guitar solo after it has retreated from the stage.
Iron Maiden is no stranger to stage prop mishaps. The band’s 1986 Somewhere on Tour trek featured a giant inflatable version of mascot Eddie dressed as the futuristic bounty hunter seen on the cover of that year’s Somewhere in Time. Eddie’s head was supposed to inflate underneath drummer Nicko McBrain, while Dickinson and bassist Steve Harris were supposed to be raised on platforms in the palms of Eddie’s hands at the sides of the stage. Unfortunately, the technology of the age was not quite advanced enough to match the band’s ambition every night.
“This was the ‘Great Inflatable’ tour,” Dickinson told Classic Rock in 2016. “Dave Lights was still doing our lighting stuff, and he was well into inflatables. He had a bit of an inflatable megalomania, in fact. He built inflatables that were so big they wouldn’t actually fit inside the sodding buildings! We had two big hydraulic hands, which would raise up – not Spinal Tap at all! – with big Eddie claw hands that would inflate.”
As for Eddie’s inflatable head, Dickinson recalled, “It was great except when the pressure started to go and it looked a bit like a saggy bin liner. Ha ha ha!”
The Legacy of the Beast World Tour concludes on Oct. 27 in Tampa. Iron Maiden is scheduled to embark on the Future Past Tour, which will highlight 2021’s Senjutsu along with Somewhere in Time, in June 2023.
Iron Maiden Live in Austin, Sept. 13, 2022
Iron Maiden brings the Legacy of the Beast Tour to Austin’s Moody Center on Sept. 13, 2022.