Greeted on arrival into the venue by the big wheel set against those imposing desert mountains - the logo synonymous with Coachella, Power Trip's sister festival - it was an awe-inspiring entrance.
The first thing that hit on arrival to the Power Trip site was the sheer scale of it. An event comparable in size to Download Festival with manicured lawns, the soft and lush grass was at odds with the scorching sun which beat down at a remorseless average temperature of 38c as the weekend kicked off.
With the arena split into a tiered system of; the pit, seated areas, and general admission, the level playing field of the polo club made finding a decent view difficult, especially for those at the back in the cheaper GA areas. Most however didn't seem to mind, and with big screens to view the action, the atmosphere was electric as the countdown to showtime began.
While some acts are making their comebacks, Iron Maiden were seeing out their final date of 2023 at the festival. Marking their only United States date of their hugely successful Future Past tour, after 36 shows - mainly across Europe - it's now as well-oiled as the cyborg Eddie that nonchalantly ambled onstage during 'Stranger in a Strange Land'.
Abuzz with his usual frenetic energy, Bruce Dickinson declared; "There's a lot of you! Welcome! It's not hot enough - let's get the place a little bit warmed up, shall we?" In a timely aping of his onstage banter just a few miles away in Long Beach Arena in 1984 (as made famous on 'Live After Death'), he continued; "I want you to cave in my fucking chest... Scream for me Indio!"
A euphoric 'Writing on the Wall' followed, and while this tour celebrates 'Somewhere in Time' - their biggest selling album in the US it was heartening to see fans enjoying the newer songs just as passionately as the older material.
Noting the multinational make up of the crowd, the singer stated; "we've got people here from all over the world, from Brazil, Ecuador, England, Wales, Ireland...", ahead of an epic 'Death of the Celts'. Referencing their date in Ireland earlier this year, Dickinson added; "we played to a load of them in Dublin, and they were lovely."
Seeing out the night with fan favourites 'The Trooper' and 'Wasted Years', even the hard to impress Dickinson seemed to be taken aback by the evening. "Indio, what a fucking night!", he exclaimed before teasing; "wherever you are from, tonight we are all one. We will see all of you again, I promise".
Where back in 1988 Guns n' Roses were the opening act for Iron Maiden on their 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son' jaunt, here they closed out the show. Of course this is a dual headliner evening, but on home territory, Axl, Duff, Slash and their fellow Gunners were clearly the right act to see out day one of Power Trip.
Opening with 'It's So Easy', before a welcome return of 'Bad Obsession' - added to the set in 2023 for the first time in three decades - the band were in fiery form in their Southern California back yard. With the "while you pair were out of the band" highlight of 'Chinese Democracy', followed by the "this is what we did while we were out" cover of Velvet Revolver's 'Slither' it was a real mixed opening set, and a treat for the diehards.
With a 'Pretty Tied Up' coming next - also dusted off this year after thirty years - some may have wondered if they'd hear any of the hits. However, taking in their traditional two and a half hour runtime, there was plenty of time for the big songs, and with 'Welcome to the Jungle', 'You Could Be Mine', and 'Estranged' all featuring in the first half, there was something for even the most casual of fans.
While Rose's performance has taken a battering from certain corners in recent years, he was in better form than he had been for quite some time. Looking leaner and fitter too, his voice was powerful in the lower register on the likes of 2021 single 'Absurd', and piercing on early days treat 'Reckless Life'.
In comical form, the singer introduced the band, jokingly leaving out one key member, saying; "that's it right? Let's see, Richard, Duff..." before wailing; "ON THE GUITAR... ON THE FUCKING GUITAR... Slash!"
Closing out with a celebratory 'Night Train' and 'Paradise City', the night ended in a huge fireworks show that wowed the weary crowd before exiting the venue.
Power Trip continues on Saturday 7th October. With Judas Priest strongly rumoured to be announcing new album 'Invincible Shield', and the live return of Brian Johnson to AC/DC, day two looks set to be just as historic.