Tracks: Satellite 15; The Final Frontier; El Dorado; 2 Minutes to Midnight; The Talisman; Coming Home; Dance of Death; The Trooper; The Wicker Man; Blood Brothers; When the Wild Wind Blows; The Evil That Men Do; Fear of the Dark; Iron Maiden; The Number of the Beast; Hallowed Be Thy Name; Running Free
Best track: El Dorado
Tracks to skip: When the Wild Wind Blows, Satellite 15
Welcome to Yet Another Iron Maiden Live Album, Part VIII! In this installment we find our heroes conquering Santiago, Chile on a perfect April evening in support of their excellent The Final Frontier album. Yes, this is Iron Maiden’s eighth live album, their latest one since 2009’s Flight 666 Soundtrack. I caught the early leg of the tour, before the album was released, and thus the only new song I heard was El Dorado. I like that they played five of the new songs on this tour even though more would always be welcome. This album starts off pretty cold with Satellite 15 used as an opening tape. I wish they would’ve actually attempted to play this song live as it’s a really cool song. But no, it’s just a tape…the entire thing, even Bruce’s vocal. The first “real” song of the night is The Final Frontier and it’s an excellent version. Right off the bat, you can tell that the band’s on fire and sounding great. I absolutely love the transition between The Final Frontier and El Dorado, a perfect segue. El Dorado is a scorcher and definitely the best song on the album. My first thought when hearing it for the first time was, “wow, this rocks balls!” So true.
2 Minutes is a good choice for third song, after the two new ones. I’m SO THANKFUL that they didn’t play Wrathchild at this gig. The show flows so much better without it. I love how they can play 2 Minutes to Midnight for probably the 10,000th time and yet there’s still so much passion in them on this. Nicko McBrain propels the band and he’s in top form. I love his enthusiasm. The intro to The Talisman comes across so much better than on the album. The whole song sounds really great and I love the classic Maiden sound on this track. Coming Home is another excellent song from the new album and my favorite parts were the Dave Murray & Adrian Smith solos. The audience first truly makes their presence known on Dance of Death. I enjoyed Bruce’s interesting spoken intro to the song. While I still don’t *love* the song and it’s entirely too wordy, the fast Celtic section in the middle works so great in a live setting. After hearing it here, and twice on the last tour, I’ll say that it’s slowly growing on me. While The Trooper is a great wake up after Dance of Death, Wicker Man just isn’t as powerful as I’ve heard it before. Maybe they’re getting tired at this point, who knows. It’s only an average version.
With Blood Brothers it really hit me that this album is edited to completely remove all interaction between Bruce Dickinson and the audience. Usually before Blood Brothers he talks to the audience a bit, but it’s all been excised for this album. I understand why it’s removed, because you really don’t need it, but it makes listening to the CD not flow as well as it should and I feel like something is missed – that connection with the audience. I miss the between-song banter on this whole album. The final new track of the night is up next, the super-long When the Wild Wind Blows. This song really doesn’t work too well live – it’s SO long and repetitive. There are several other epics from The Final Frontier that could’ve worked better live instead of this one. Just like Dance of Death, When the Wild Wind Blows is too wordy. Steve needs an editor. I was very unimpressed by this song live. After that, we get the standard end-of-show/encore hits. Fear of the Dark > Iron Maiden, no way!!!!! I’ve heard all of these songs a billion times it seems and while they’re all played really well, to me I just gloss over it all. I don’t need any more versions of Hallowed or Number of the Beast and I sure as hell couldn’t care less about hearing the song Iron Maiden live. I give the crowd more points for their massively loud singing in Running Free, but overall it’s standard. This second disc, starting with Blood Brothers, is such a downer compared to the first disc. I know I’m in a very small group that loves hearing the new songs and could easily do without all of the classics that I’ve heard so much before.
Maiden puts out a ton of live albums, but I can honestly forgive them because they’re damn good. Their energy is absolutely infectious, esp. on the first half of the set. There’s a reason the classics are so popular and the band always plays them well. There’s no denying how passionate they play Iron Maiden, even though it’s been the last song of the main set for every single show since probably 1979. That’s impressive to me, how they can play this song every night, but still seem like the WANT to play it. As for the sound of this live album, I think Kevin Shirley did a fine job. It feels like there’s a slight layer of “fog” and it’s not as crisp as it could be (see: Live After Death, naturally). That said, it sounds fine and only serious Maiden fans will notice that it’s not perfect. I don’t see myself popping in disc 2 that often, but I really do think that disc 1 will get a lot of play. El Dorado is phenomenal, as are most of the other new songs. I’m most excited for the DVD of this show, though, because watching Maiden is always better than simply listening.