Metal Fans In For A Double Dose Of Iron Maiden

North American tour under way, with another tour planned early next year.

A warning from Eddie: Catch heavy metal veterans Iron Maiden while there's still time.

Sure, the band will spend much of the next year crisscrossing North America, first on the Give Me Ed ... 'Til I'm Dead tour through August 30, then again in early 2004 to promote their 13th studio disc, Dance of Death. After that, though, Maiden's days of extensive road treks may well be over.

In the future, the band will still release albums, but Maiden plan to limit their touring to festivals and select stadiums.

"Over the years, we've toured for nine months on every album, and if you add that up it's a lot of time," guitarist Dave Murray said before the opening night of the band's U.S. tour. "Maybe it's time to sit back a bit. We're still gonna go out and have fun, we're just not gonna kill ourselves."

Maiden decided playing festivals would allow them to reach the most people in the least amount of time. "People [from all over] tend to gravitate to festivals and spend the weekend there," Murray said. "They make it an event. They camp out for this three-day event, and they get there a few days before and start partying. So by the time we go on, they're excited. The responses we've gotten in those situations are amazing."

The Give Me Ed ... 'Til I'm Dead tour with Dio and Motörhead began Monday night in Worcester, Massachusetts, and runs through August 30 in Marysville, California. The band's set consists almost exclusively of the band's singles.

"We're taking stuff from all the albums and putting a set together where the fans will know every song," Murray said. "It's for the old fans and for the new fans, and as soon as we go on and start playing it's like one big sing-along."

In the middle of the show, Maiden surprise the crowd by playing a song they've never performed on tour — "Wildest Dreams," the first single from Dance of Death, due in September. "We thought we'd just throw one of the new songs in the middle of the set as a little taster of what's to come and to keep everyone on their toes," Murray said.

Fans hungering to hear "The Trooper," "Aces High," "Number of the Beast" "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "Flight of Icarus" shouldn't wait until next year's tour.

"We'll be coming back with the new album and playing a lot of the new songs," Murray said. "We always try to live in the current. If we just kept doing tour after tour with all the old stuff, it would become redundant because it would mean we were just existing on our past. Maiden have always tried to push moving forward all the time."