Alas, the end: Part 45, the final chapter of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!
In case you’re new to LeBrain’s blog, you may as well go back and start here. I have covered every album, every EP, every single, every rarity that I have had access to. I don’t know if a more comprehensive review of Maiden material can be found on the web. Enjoy.
It’s been a slice. Without further delay, here’s the final part. En Vivo!
IRON MAIDEN – En Vivo! (2012 CD, blu-ray, EMI)
Once again, Iron Maiden have followed a studio album with a live album. Unlike the last one, Flight 666, this time Maiden released a set representing the tour for their last studio platter, the excellent Final Frontier. For the first time, you will have a chance to own live versions of songs like “El Dorado” and “Coming Home”, mixed with a standard set of Maiden classics, recent and vintage.
The splendid set starts with a pre-recorded version of intro “Satellite 15”, which melds directly into “The Final Frontier”, an excellent Maiden rocker with a chorus built for the live experience. This version brings to the forefront Maiden’s melodic guitar goodness, along with Bruce’s powerful pipes. Adrian Smith rips the solo to absolute shreds, only to be followed by an energized Dave Murray. What a start. It’s an absolutely flawless start, and the Chilean crowd goes wild.
Just like the album, the band then seamlessly moves into “El Dorado”, which is superior here to its album version. More guitars, faster pace, more backing vocals, a more lively lead vocal…what more could you want? Even the most cynical fans, only there to hear “Run to the Hills”, would be blown away if they only opened their ears.
“2 Minutes To Midnight”, which was also available on the Flight 666 and Rock In Rio CD’s, is next. This one, I probably could have done without, after hearing it on two prior live albums, not to mention A Real Dead One and the immortal Live After Death! It is a great song, no doubt, and there’s nothing wrong with this version. But why not throw in something else, like “Icarus” maybe?
Then back to new material: a haunting “The Talisman” and the anthemic “Coming Home”. “Coming Home” in particular seems perfectly designed for the live concert environment. Both songs bring forth all the complexity and passion of The Final Frontier, with the crowd supplying ample backing vocals. Clearly, Chilean fans don’t mind new songs.
One of my personal favourites of more recent vintage is next: “Dance of Death”. I love Bruce’s Hamlet intro: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” The vocal is a tad more shaky than the version on Death on the Road, but once the song gets going, Bruce finds his footing. He has the crowd in the palm of his hands the whole way.
“The Trooper” only makes the ecstatic crowd that more crazy. Unlike “2 Minutes”, this is a song I never tire of. The solo just smokes, the Three Amigos blasting through. Then onto “The Wicker Man”, a song not heard on a live album since Rock In Rio, although some fans (like me!) are lucky enough to own a 2002 version on the Japanese “Rainmaker” single. “The Wicker Man” is a modern classic, a song that I believe belongs up there with “The Trooper”. Once again, Adrian performs a flawlessly melodic solo. One more track from the Brave New World album follows it, “Blood Brothers”. I was a bit surprised to see this slower one resurrected live, but like the other songs, this one was perfectly built for a live audience. Bruce wouldn’t even need to sing on the chorus, so loud is the audience.
The last of the newer songs is next, the amazing “When the Wild Wind Blows”. Not brief at 10 minutes, this is one of my favourite songs from The Final Frontier. The crowd is on board for every moment, every riff, every section, every emotional breath from Bruce’s mouth. Truthfully, if Maiden were not a band with over 30 years of classics in the back catalogue, this song would be considered a standard, never to be missed. But when you could easily play a 6 hour set of nothing but classics, it’s hard to squeeze them all in. All I can say is, I hope this song makes future tours, but at 10 minutes, don’t be surprised if it’s left out in favour of older classics.
And speaking of older classics, get ready for a whole slew of them: “The Evil That Men Do” (so much more powerful with three guitars!), “Fear of the Dark”, “Iron Maiden”, “The Number of the Beast”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, and “Running Free”. “Running Free” contains the usual band intros (Nicko being described as “the indescribable, the inevitable, the inimitable, the uneatable”), and the crowd goes wild once again.
And the listener is exhausted, after over 2 hours of regal metal classics performed by one of the best, if not the best, heavy metal band in history. The best? Well, I don’t want to open that debate. But after revisiting the entire catalogue these past few months, I’ve definitely gained a new respect for a band I already loved. The growth of this band, not always appreciated, has been steady with integrity. And the live experience is still one that tops bands less than half their age. En Vivo! proves this.
A blu-ray release provides the same concert experience with stunning visuals, plenty of space-age Eddies, and a manic Bruce running to-and-fro, while the rest of the band defy age. There’s also a great bonus feature: 88 minutes of documentary footage called “Behind the Beast”, chronicling the creation of the Iron Maiden live show.