Iron Maiden finish three-year world tour, stage aerial dogfight at Sonisphere 2014

Metal veterans followed aerial dogfight organised by frontman Bruce Dickinson

Iron Maiden finish three-year world tour, stage aerial dogfight at Sonisphere 2014

Photo: Andy Ford

Iron Maiden headlined the second day of Sonisphere festival last night (July 5), finishing off an almost three-year-long world tour.

Frontman Bruce Dickinson - who had earlier in the day flown a 1917 Fokker triplane as part of a First World War memorial - and the rest of the band took to the stage around 8.50pm and began their nearly two-hour set with 'Moonchild' from 1988 album 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son'.

"You're a loud and rowdy and thirsty bunch aren't you?" said Dickinson a few songs into the set. "Tonight is the last night of a three-year tour, its all been building to this. If we don't get it right tonight then we never will."

In Photos - Metallica, Deftones, Iron Maiden And More Tear Up Sonisphere

He then explained how they were going to change the set from their appearance at "the other place", meaning Sonisphere rival Download, in 2013, and began 'Revelations'. Dickinson said the last time he'd performed the song was at a charity event for Canterbury Cathedral, where he was accompanied by Jethro Tull. "That was much more sedate, but tonight we're giving it the full bollocks," he said. "That's a technical term."

'The Trooper', 'Number Of The Beast' and 'Run To The Hills' appeared relatively early in the set, closing with 'Fear Of The Dark' and 'Iron Maiden'. After a short break, a short Winston Churchill speech played over images of World War II, before the band returned to play an encore of 'Aces High', 'The Evil That Men Do' and 'Sanctuary'. Dickinson also took time to thank the crew and team around the band as well as the fans for "making it real", adding: "But what's coming in the next few years is going to make it more real for you guys, believe me," perhaps hinting at a new album.

Earlier in the day, Anthrax, one of the three so-called 'Big Four' playing Sonisphere this weekend, performed their second set to one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. Finishing on 'Anti-Social', guitarist and longest-serving member Scott Ian implored the crowd to carry on "worshiping music", and promised to return with a new album next year.

"We're the only band to play every Sonisphere in the UK," he said from the stage. "This weekend we've played twice, and it has been awesome," referencing their smaller set on Friday where they played 1987 breakthrough album 'Among The Living' in full.

They were followed on the main stage by Frank Turner, who early on in his set won over the crowd by affirming his rock credentials. "This is an acoustic guitar, for those of you who've never seen one," he joked. "A lot of my friends were asking how I was going to manage at a rock and metal festival, but I knew I'd be fine; rock, metal and punk is where I come from. I might be playing an acoustic guitar, but believe me I'll die with a BC Rich Warlock in my hand," he added, referencing the iconic metal guitar used by Slayer's Kerry King among others.

After Turner's set, at 6pm, Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson flew in the World War I memorial he'd organised for the occasion. Flying a Fokker Dr1 triplane, he was joined by members of the Great War Display Team, who together staged an eight-plane dogfight above a wooded area next to the festival site. With commentary and machine-gun fire playing throughout the display, Dickinson appeared to come out on top, 'shooting down' two rivals before a final fly-by soundtracked by a live military brass band on stage.

The aerial event was followed by Deftones on the main stage who opened with, as they had done at Roskilde in Denmark the previous day, 'Diamond Eyes', the title track from their 2010 album. 'Tempest', 'Swerve City' and 'My Own Summer (Shove It)' and 'Around The Fur' also featured in their set.

Slayer were up next, and performed on the Saturn Stage to one of the largest crowds of the day, opening with 'Hell Awaits'. Frontman Tom Araya seemed overwhelmed by the crowd's response, thanking them for choosing to see the band.

Metallica are the third and final headliner tonight (July 6), where they'll be performing a 'By Request' setlist chosen by fans in an online poll. Gallows, Bo Ningen, The Bronx, Airbourne and Alice In Chains are also among the line-up for the day.

Iron Maiden played:

'Can I Play With Madness'
'The Prisoner'
'2 Minutes To Midnight'
'The Trooper'
'Number Of The Beast'
'Phantom Of The Opera'
'Run To The Hills'
'Wasted Years'
'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son'
'Fear Of The Dark'
'Iron Maiden'
'Aces High'
'The Evil That Men Do'

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