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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Iron Maiden

En Vivo!

Review by Scott Prinzing

Every Iron Maiden tour has a small core of songs that seem to be set in stone.  But with so many classic songs and so many strong albums, Maiden is able to endure on tour by giving the faithful a vastly different set every year.  They took a bold move a few years back by debuting the entire A Matter of Live and Death album on tour.  It received mixed reviews, but for the hard core fans who have seen them every tour, it must have been a real treat.  This live album is from the tour in support of Final Frontier, so it featured half a dozen songs from it. 

With about a dozen live offerings on the market (depending on how one tallies them), some may wonder if the world really needs another live album from Iron Maiden.  Well, this album made the Top 20 in eleven countries and Top 5 in Germany and Greece.  The DVD from the show went to Number One in ten countries (with seven more in the Top Five)!  So, I’m going to say, “Yes, the more the merrier.”  One thing that makes this a great live album is that there are enough minor flaws that it doesn’t appear to have any studio overdubs.  There’s nothing worse than hearing a lead vocalist sing his or her own backing vocals (give a closer listen to classic live albums by Thin Lizzy and UFO).

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Satellite 15
The show starts off with no introduction, just the lengthy instrumental section of this song counterpointed by a typical South American soccer chant of sorts. Being the first track from the latest album, it’s a natural choice for a show opener, despite being the most un-Maiden sounding cut they’ve included on an album.
The Final Frontier
Following the song order from the studio album, this song is a powerhouse with a singalong chorus that the crowd chimes in with enthusiastically.
El Dorado
Starting a show with the two singles from their latest album isn’t the way most bands might arrange their set, but Maiden have proven that they can do anything and their fans will accept it wholeheartedly.  Well, except for perhaps in the America and UK, which can get a bit finicky.  Each of Maiden’s three guitarists get a solo turn here.
2 Minutes to Midnight
Next comes a thunderous rendering of one of Maiden’s biggest hits.  The crowd can be heard singing along rapturously not only during the choruses, but during many of the verses as well.  Dickinson also gets them chanting during the solos, and of course, screaming for him, Chile!
The Talisman
Bringing the tone down a bit with another track from Final Frontier, this song kicks into gear after about two and a half minutes.  This number includes all the classic Maiden elements, but doesn’t quite rise to classic status despite its almost nine minute running time.
Coming Home
Next follows another new song that probably won’t become part of the sacred Maiden canon, but the crowd doesn’t seem to mind one bit.  The instrumental section is actually the highpoint here:  trademark intricate riffing, distinct solos by Murray and Smith, and probably a cool light display.
Dance of Death
Opening with the ominous quote from the album of the same name, the crowd provides a Greek chorus to accompany a simple melody.  Tracking at over nine minutes, it’s no surprise that it takes about one-third of the way through before things really start rocking, but once again, the crowd never seems to tire, taking any opportunity to sing along where American audiences might be looking to go buy a beer.
The Trooper
One of the most exciting metal songs of all time, “The Trooper” never disappoints.  Here, the Chilean Chanters provide a wall of sound, giving Harris and Smith a break from singing their parts.
The Wicker Man
While this song gave Maiden a Grammy nomination, it doesn’t hold up very well following “The Trooper.”  It marked the return of the classic Maiden line-up, plus Gers.  The crowd keeps singing the melody after the song ends, so maybe it will endure longer in South America than in the states.
Blood Brothers
Another track from the reunion album, Brave New World, follows.  This one has a much more recognizable riff and chorus.  Murray’s solo is so fluid and delivered with such great tone here.
When the Wild Wind Blows
They return to the album they’re touring for another epic Harris piece (at over ten minutes this time).  Is there anything that this crowd won’t turn into a chant?  It must be such a rush to perform before such adoring fans.
The Evil That Men Do
The harmony guitars that begin this song with its theme are just so absolutely Maiden.  It’s hard to remember that this album was once considered the new, more commercial Maiden, with more harmonies and guitar synths.  Now, its original setlist from the Maiden England film is being toured as the sacred Maiden canon.  This was the band firing in overdrive on all cylinders over two decades later.
Fear of the Dark
It sounds like this crowd was waiting all night for this song, as they come in right on time after only the four-count of McBrain’s high hat.  A live recording of song with Blaze Bailey on vocals was included in the Best of the Beast career retrospective back before Dickinson and Smith rejoined; a testament to its solid standing in Maiden’s live set.  (Hey!  Where’s “Heaven Can Wait” this time around?)
Iron Maiden
Bringing the evening to a climax is the perennial Maiden song that has been played at undoubtedly every show this legendary band has ever played.  Who can argue with, “Iron Maiden’s gonna get you / Wherever you are?”  Maybe someday, there will be a live album from Maiden that has a hologram of Eddie that marauds on top of the stereo to complete the effect.
The Number of the Beast
It’s always fun to hear the crowd recite the intro for this along with the recording.  This song is every bit as exciting and urgent as it was when it was recorded three decades ago.  So what if Dickinson’s opening scream isn’t quite what it was back then?  The galloping bass and frantic drum pattern carries the song as always.  “I now possess your bodies / Make Santiago burn!”
Hallowed Be Thy Name
How much more epic?  The answer is, “None more epic.”  So much heavy metal deals with life and death issues, and this one is a classic example.  Of course, there is also lots of god versus the devil, good and evil, war and peace, as well; and Maiden covers all those bases.  And what would a Maiden concert be without, “Scream for me Santiago!”?
Running Free
How many bands with a career spanning more than three decades can close the show with its very first single and bring the house down?  This version is about three times as long as the original, with extra solos and lots of crowd participation.  It’s a fine way to end a great live album.
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