REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Rock In Rio (2002)

Part 29 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – Rock In Rio (CD/DVD 2002)

With Bruce coming back and all, you just knew Maiden had to do a live album.  It would have been a great disservice not to do one.

Almost everyone and their pet Schnauzers will agree that Live After Death is the greatest live Maiden album of all time.  Some might even argue it’s the greatest live metal album of all time.  I would gladly invite any of those people over for perogies and conversation.

Where we start to differ is, what is the second best live Maiden album?

This is just LeBrain’s opinion, but I say it’s Rock In Rio.

I do remember carrying this in store when it was released in March 2002.  I also remember some customers saying, “Yeah, I’m not buying this one.  I don’t know any of these songs!”

Maybe they’d been living under a rock and missed the awesome Brave New World CD?  Whatever the case may be, I’m not the type that likes to buy the same live album over and over again.  Give me tracks that have never been released in live versions before.  Let me hear the new stuff, when it’s good enough to be on a live album.  And having enough good new stuff was not a problem for Maiden after Brave New World.

Maiden bravely started with an opening salvo of fresh music:  the first three songs from Brave New World:  “The Wicker Man”, “Ghost of the Navigator”, and the title track itself.  And the Brazilians went nuts.  Singing along at the top of their lungs, they clearly didn’t have the problem of not knowing the songs like my customers did!

Then, wisely, Maiden dug way back and pulled “Wrathchild” and Adrian’s classic “2 Minutes To Midnight” out of the hat.  And it sure is great finally hearing the old stuff played by the Three Amigos.  The three guitar lineup works so well, that I definitely never want Maiden to go back to two.

Another newbie is up next, “Blood Brothers”.  Once again, the crowd goes crazy singing along.  It must have been an incredibly loud night.

“Sign of the Cross” is the one I had been waiting for.  Anybody who felt that all the Blaze Bayley material would have been about 150 times better with Bruce singing will be happy campers.  “Sign of the Cross” is a brilliant song that finally reached it full potential with Bruce at the mic.   There is simply no comparison.

“The Mercenary” from Brave New World, and “The Trooper” provide a much needed fast-paced adrenaline boost after spending 10 minutes on the epic “Sign of the Cross”.   Bruce begins “The Trooper” with a stanza from Tennyson’s poem, but once he starts singing the crowd follows every word!  It’s hard to imagine how you could have even heard the band if you were in that crowd that night.

A couple more songs of recent vintage kick off disc 2.  “Dream of Mirrors” is one I personally could have done without, as its 10 minute length could have been taken up by two shorter songs.  But the crowd doesn’t seem to mind, clapping and screaming along with Bruce’s nightmare.  And then, “The Clansman”.  Once again, if anybody felt that the song never came to life with Blaze singing, then listen up.  This is a song that was built for performing live.

“Freedom!”  And once again, Rio goes wild.

And that’s it for the new stuff.  It’s nothing but back to back hits on the home stretch:  “The Evil That Men Do”, “Fear of the Dark”, “Iron Maiden”, “Number”, “Hallowed”, “Sanctuary”, and of course “Run to the Hills”.

Production by Kevin Shirley is crisp, clear, with great separation of the three guitars in the stereo field.  Absolutely no complaints.  And if that’s not good enough for ya, you can get the whole thing on a nice (5.1 surround) DVD package too.  The DVD in fact has some cool behind the scenes footage of all six Maiden members killing time.  Adrian likes to fish, for example.  It’s a chance to get to know all six members as people.

The single was “Run to the Hills” (again — third time this song was chosen as a single!) but I’m not going to bother discussing the B-sides too much.  While they are great, great vintage live recordings from 1982 with Clive Burr on drums, all of them were issued later on the massive Eddie’s Archive box set, as part of a live disc (and that happens to be our next stop anyway).  Check out the photos below for the tracklists.  “Total Eclipse”!  I like the painting of Bruce as Eddie.

“Scream for me Brazil!”  And scream they did.  And unless you’re stuck in the 1980’s like many of my old customers, you will too.

4.75/5 stars


    1. I would agree. The audience is just nuts. We all know Steve loves a crazy audience on a live album, and this one certainly qualifies. I prefer this kind of live album to the kind taken from multiple gigs, like Flight 666.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I don’t know about there second best live album….I guess I’m so jaded over Live After Death and with them putting out so many live albums I kinda got lost on the whole concept of live albums with Maiden.
    NOW having said I do like En Vivo oops getting ahead,but yeah I bought the DVD of this show and its classic but I dunno about including the Blaze stuff being on it,I know it’s a part of history but I’m being picky or prickly!
    But the Brave New World stuff is cool to hear live….


    1. Yes indeed Deke but that’s OK. I think we can all agree that the most recent era of Maiden has had many, many highlights. Whether you prefer The Final Frontier (which is great) or A Matter of Life and Death (also great!) you have friends here.


  2. Right. Bruce has returned. Maiden has their energy back. We have a strong new record, so let’s make a live album! Brilliant plan!

    Ya know, I was writing this up song by song as it played, like I do all the albums as we go through this Maiden series. I found myself writing “this fucking rocked!” for every song. So, here’s one to cover the whole album, OK kids?

    This fucking rocked!

    Every piston firing on full, the band in full flight. Total cohesive unit, and total metal mayhem. I was impressed that they played so many tracks off the new record (and they sounded like the classics, they completely belonged).

    Absolutely glorious. I don’t know if it’s better that Live After Death (I’d have to go back and play that one again, after this), but it’s gotta rank high in Maiden lore as a stellar live performance.

    Whatever rating system you use, full marks for this one.


    A couple of days later:

    I went and found the whole show on the youtubes. Even better to WATCH it! Hot damn.


  3. It’s hilarious that the second best Maiden live album is harder to decide than the best. For me it comes down to Rio, Donington or Hammersmith, but damned if I can work it out


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