Parlophone [Release date 20.11.20]
Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister stated a few years ago that older bands with hit laden back catalogues were idiots to record new songs and play them live. His argument was that the fans just want to hear the big hitters and that the new songs only served as beer or loo breaks. Whilst this may be a broad statement, in some circumstances this may well be a sound philosophy.
Take for instance Maiden’s last recorded live outing ‘The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter’ which featured many songs from the Book Of Souls album. Like the studio version I found this album lacklustre with few highlights, suffice to say it didn’t get many plays in my household.
However, this new album will be getting many a listen as it contains a set list culled from all points of the band’s career with not a duff song in the set. This revelation though is more a comment on Maiden’s apparent lack of will to write short, sharp, killer tracks now which would grab an audience by the scruff of the neck. Not all songs have to be seven minute epics, Mr Harris please take note!
Anyway, enough of my and Jay Jay’s comments and on to the matter in hand. This album was recorded in Mexico City in Sept 2019 in the Palacio De Los Despotes over three nights with 20,000 crazed Mexicans in attendance at each show. The band sound like they were on a mission to rock Mexico to its very volcanic core and give the fans just what they wanted.
As Churchill’s Speech rings out around the arena and the Spitfire lowers from the lighting rig the band hit the stage and burst into ‘Aces High’ with all guns blazing. Bruce Dickinson may not be the ‘air raid siren’ of old but he his far from a spent force vocally as he leads the crowd from the front.
The band stay in full fighting mode with their best song ever, (the reviewer’s judgement is final on this one, no correspondence will be entered into!), ‘Where Eagles Dare’. Nicko McBrain’s drumming on this one is spot on and the song is as spectacular as ever.
‘Two Minutes To Midnight’ is up next and is followed by a Blaze Bailey era track in the shape of ‘The Clansman’. This song stirs the blood of every proud Scotsman and as I Iive almost in the shadow of the National Monument to William Wallace it has a special resonance, ‘Freedom’ indeed!
‘The Trooper’ and ‘Revelations’ gallop along underpinned by Steve Harris’s trademark bass playing whilst ‘For The Greater Good Of God’ slows the pace a notch to allow the crowd to catch their breath before the pace is upped once again with the sinister tale of ‘The Wicker Man’.
The epic ‘Sign Of The Cross’ shows off the triple guitar work of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers. The eighteen string attack is used to great effect and the track sounds very impressive. ‘Flight Of Icarus’ is followed by another fan favourite, ‘Fear Of The Dark’. With the Mexican crowd singing along to every word and chanting along where there are no words this is a real set highlight.
How to top that? With ‘Number Of The Beast’ of course, the huge cheer that greets the opening passage must have been deafening in the arena as all voices are raised as one. The traditional set closer of ‘Iron Maiden’ is as majestic as ever and the band take their well deserved bows. No Maiden show would be complete without a few encores though and the guys fire through ‘The Evil That Men Do’, ‘Hallowed Be They Name’ and ‘Run To The Hills’ to finish of a cracking set.
This is a great live album from Iron Maiden with a set list that has you singing along from start to finish. The Legacy Of The Beast from a band with one beast of a legacy! ****
Review by Dave Wilson
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 7 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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