REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Virtual Lights Strikes Over France (1998, bootleg CD)

IRON MAIDEN – Virtual Lights Strikes Over France (1998, bootleg CD)

This awkward title was a disc I was really looking forward to playing.  I snagged it in early 2000 at a record show in London, Ontario.  I remember wanting to look at the discs before I bought it, because cheap bootlegs on CD-R’s were becoming more common.  I wanted to make sure this was an actual factory pressed CD, not a CD-R, and the seller pretended she didn’t know what a CD-R was!

I like the Blaze-era Maiden albums and I was eager to have a live document of those years of some kind.  A quick glance at the back cover reveals this concert to be an excellent choice.  Not only do they play 7 of the 8 songs from Virtual XI, but there are three bonus tracks from 1996’s X Factour as well.  All in all, an excellent cross section of Blaze material, with a smattering of Bruce and Paul.

Upon first listen, however, I was horrified!  Blaze is shockingly tuneless!  The rumours of his voice being shot during the Virtual XI tour seem to be confirmed.  Judging by his recent solo output, his voice is much stronger today.  But in 1998, something was clearly very wrong.  He misses notes more often than he hits them on this one.  Neither Blaze nor Steve Harris have really elaborated on the why’s.

Gratefully, the 1996 recordings are much stronger.  Blaze’s voice here was album-quality strong.  These three tracks are truthfully the only thing on this disc that I can stand listening to.  The rest is just tunelessly bad.

1/5 stars




    1. I can’t wait to post my reviews of them. I think you and Heavy Metal Overload both feel roughly the same about them. I’m going to do the whole series of Maidens just like I did with Kiss.


  1. So funny, you guys bashing on a Maiden album. Sure, for Maiden it’s a lesser effort, but compared to contemporaries, you gotta know they still kick ass and take names over any of the pretenders to the throne. Up the irons!


    1. Well, I gotta be honest man. Something was clearly wrong with Blaze Bayley’s voice that night, because he seldom hits the right notes. It’s actually a painful listen. I remember listening to it the first time, and thinking, “I just wasted $60.” Then saying, “Maybe it’ll sound better in the car?” There’s no reason why it would, and it didn’t. I’ve listened to this once since then. It is truly awful and tiring to listen to him hitting sour notes again and again and again and even on his own material.


  2. After listening to the YouTube upload of this I’ve come to the conclusion that it is an excellent buy. Why? See below

    1- although it sounds like an audience recording the sound quality is well above the average bootleg quality

    2- excellent and large track list.

    3- whatever was wrong with Blaze’s voice it reduced his ability to try and hit high notes. Therefore instead of him trying (and failing to hit the high notes in Bruce songs, and then sounding horrible) he instead is forced to sing the songs in a lower tone, which although it may not suit them, is more pleasing to listen to compared to other shows

    4- I’m a die hard Maiden with Blaze fanatic

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well hey Harrison, I appreciate that. Your notes are well considered. I know my friend Aaron at KeepsMeAlive did not like Blaze. You should read his series too, he reviewed all the Maiden albums along with me.

      Personally I can’t get past the vocals on this album and I almost never play it, which is too bad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Live Blaze with Maiden is a very acquired taste. The bit that I don’t like is when he botched the lyrics.

        Hopelessly out of tune I’m used to hearing and can handle, but flubbed lyrics are very annoying


      1. Well, I’m not to sure. Have you seen Paul’s latest release, The Beast Arises? (It comes highly unrecommended)

        At least Gillan enunciates everything correctly (except for when he screams instead)


  3. Saw Maiden in ’98 on the Virtual XI tour and it wsa not great. Blaze and the band were doing their level-best to keep the well under-sold show going, but it was clear that things were not going as well as they hoped. Interesting times for Maiden back then.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Blaze was a good front man, but he was a good front man for a bunch of snotty little bastards like Wolfsbane. I saw Wolfsbane tear up gigs and Blaze would be on fire, but with Maiden, he just seemed a bit out of his depth. In some ways, it seemed easier for Bruce to take DiAnno’s place than it was for Blaze to take Bruce’s unfortunately. Expectation was probably just too high on Blaze.


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