REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Nights of the Dead – Legacy of the Beast – Live in Mexico City (2020)

IRON MAIDEN – Nights of the Dead – Legacy of the Beast – Live in Mexico City (2020 Parlophone)

I feel a bit like a jackass reviewing this, because so many people I know caught this tour, or at least one of the recent tours, and I’ve never seen Maiden live.  I only have these live albums to go by.  But what I like about Iron Maiden is that they take the time to document almost every single tour since the Bruce reunion era began.  (Only three tours did not receive a live album.)  The Legacy of the Beast tour was in support of a video game, and featured a sort of “legacy” setlist, heavy on the old classics with a small smattering of more recent material.  This prevents too much crossover with the prior live album, The Book of Souls – Live Chapter.

Without going track by track, I can tell you that Nights of the Dead was pieced together from three shows in Mexico City, much like Live After Death in Long Beach and Hammersmith.  Even so, Bruce’s voice only tends to get stronger as they go further down the setlist.  By “Hallowed” and “Run to the Hills”, it sounds like the man is just warming up!

The setlist is a delightful mix of hits, deeper cuts and the odd recent classic.  “Where Eagles Dare” from Piece of Mind whips the throng into immediate hysteria.  “Revelations” from the same LP has a certain contemplative gravity that it brings to any live album, and hearing it here is sheer nostalgic delight.  Two Blaze-era songs return to the set in “Sign of the Cross” and “Clansman”, both lengthy epics.  Enhanced by the three-guitar lineup and the Air Raid Siren, can we say these versions challenge the originals for supremacy?  Though it wasn’t written for Bruce, “Sign of the Cross” has more dynamics with him at the microphone — he adds a few high notes for embellishment.  Not to mention the depth that the third guitar adds to a song that was always a bit thin sounding.

Reunion era Maiden is cut back, leaving only “Wicker Man” and the always welcome “For the Greater Good of God”.  Both deserving songs.  Stuff like “Wicker Man” (and the earlier “Flight of Icarus”) really pump up the adrenaline levels by keeping it short, sharp and unshackled.

Then you have the stuff that you have to call “the hits”:  songs like “Aces High”, “2 Minutes to Midnight”, “Trooper”, “Beast”, “The Evil that Men Do”, “Iron Maiden”, “Fear of the Dark” and “Run to the Hills”.  These are the Maiden standards; a serving of essentials that everybody has connected with at some point in their life.  Some of them float in and out of setlists, and some always remain.

A word should always be said about the packaging and artwork of any Iron Maiden album.  The Mexican-themed Eddie can be found in a couple pieces of art inside and out.  Manager Rod Smallwood wrote the included liner notes, explaining that the live album came to be when the world came to a halt due to Covid-19.  Yay Covid?  Joking aside, Smallwood’s notes are always informative to read while rocking along to the CD.  There is even a mini 2021 tour poster (let’s hope!) included, with the Trooper version of Eddie surrounded by iconic imagery from prior Maiden artwork.  Icarus, the mushroom cloud from “2 Minutes to Midnight”, a crashed Spitfire…have a look.  Finally, a sticker sheet is an added bonus though most of us will be keeping the stickers intact, I reckon.

Perhaps it’s just giddy glee that there’s a new Maiden live album to cap off this year, but Nights of the Dead is so good that I wouldn’t change a thing.

5/5 stars

71 comments

  1. I think I said it best a couple streams back. Bruce may be old and he may not be hitting the notes of his youth, it’s still Iron Maiden and I lost myself in the songs regardless of Bruce’s age. This is an awesome disc with an awesome tracklist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw them on The Book of Snores tour when his voice was at its nadir because of the cancer and he still brought it. The band rocked the house, and I even enjoyed Ghost who opened, even though I’m not a big fan of their recorded output, they were fun in concert. And they’re one of the only bands that were smart enough to know they weren’t in fucking Kansas just because they were in Kansas City, so I’ll always respect them for that. Bruce Bruce unfortunately wasn’t aware of that fact. Much to my amusement, when he called us Kansas a guy a few rows in front of me screamed at the top of his lungs “YOU’RE IN MISSOURI!!!!”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. HAHAHA sounds a lot like the very first comment you ever left on this site!

        Here’s to many more cancer free years for Bruce. 2020 has been brutal and we need him to stay healthy.

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        1. People keep getting it wrong damn it! Even our President congratulated “The Great State of Kansas” when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in February. Even though they play in Missouri. So I guess English rock bands get a bit of a pass. Gotta make sure you guys don’t make the same geographical mistakes.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never seen Maiden live either. Them, Kiss and Priest are my three biggest wishlist items left. Though with aging members, covid and Kiss’ impending retirement I doubt I ever will.
    One summer when I was young, all my friends went to see maiden together but I had to work.

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        1. The problem is with covid and the rescheduled dates, the bands will have to do those gigs before they can schedule new gigs, which means we have to wait even longer for new gigs! Sorry, I’m such a downer.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes! But the answer is simple — because Gene and Paul discovered that Kiss are a “brand” that people will spend money on if there is a Starchild, a Demon, a Cat and a Spaceman. They decided that those are the images that people recognize and want on their hats and shirts. Were they right? Oh, probably. And they made a lot of money doing it.

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  3. Wait, you’ve never seen Maiden live?!?!? Suddenly I don’t feel ashamed for getting into them late. I’m looking at their rescheduled dates for next summer and they don’t have anything close to my home, my next hope is 2022, if I’m lucky! I don’t know how Maiden are at playing their deep cuts, but I like that they played “The Wicker Man” (not a deep cut, but it’s a kick ass song)!

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    1. Maiden are pretty bad when it comes to playing deep cuts. Some of that has to do with the slew of new material that gets played on an album’s tour. That is a good thing however, so it’s a complex issue.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. It really does. Pearl Jam are known for filling their sets with deep cuts and obscure covers while avoiding the big radio hits. It’s one reason why they have a couple hundred live albums roughly….

          Liked by 1 person

        1. Some did some didn’t. Charlie Pride — Covid. Job Prine – Covid. Nick Cordero – Covid. I’m sure we’d be looking at a new John Prine album in the new year if not for Covid.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I saw Maiden once during the Somewhere Back In Time Tour. This just came in for me on Saturday so I’ve only been able to give it on casual spin while working on the blog yesterday. Even so, it still stopped me in my tracks a few times.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never seen Maiden and don’t have any Maiden, but I did listen to this and thought it was really great. Maybe it is time to start down the hole. Of course, that will be after I start down the Judas Priest hole which will begin sometime after the first of the year.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Mine actually is too, but at the same time it isn’t really listening all the time…sometimes it is background noise to get me through work. Like now I’m listening to Ozzy’s Randy Rhodes Tribute but not at the same.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Gotcha. Totally not the same kind of listening — not listening for pleasure, it’s listening at work. I hope 2021 brings you more John time for listening!

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        3. Beware of burnout! That’s what happened to me. Had to stop writing reviews altogether. Took me over a year to start enjoying listening to music after that.

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