• Iron Maiden - Maiden England '88 (2013) - Among the band's very best live records - 95% (28/05/14)

    Iron Maiden - Maiden England '88 (2013)

    For quite some time, I hesitated to buy the re-release of Iron Maiden’s “Maiden England” live set that had been recorded back in 1988 in support of the studio record “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” and was first released in 1989. I had several reasons to do so. First of all, I’m not at all a fan of rehashed old material. Instead of spending their time on re-releasing old material and play numerous concerts in the key of that old tour, I would like Iron Maiden to work on some decent new material. Their last studio output “The Final Frontier” was lukewarm and already released four years ago. Comparable bands like Loudness show how to release decent material each year or at least every second year while still playing energizing live shows all around the globe. Another reason for me to avoid buying “Maiden England ‘88” was that Iron Maiden had already released multiple more or less relevant live albums and that I have got several of them in my precious collection. Could that new live record really mess with “Live After Death”, “Rock In Rio” or “Flight 666” for example? The third reason that made me hesitate for a while is that this live record supports the “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” release. For many fans, this release is an all-time classic or even the best Iron Maiden record but that’s not my case. I always thought that its concept was pretentious and superficial and I still have my problems with the overlong title track “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” or filler material like “The Prophecy” or “Only The Good Die Young”. Finally, I saw this record for a good price and decided to give the two discs that also include three bonus tracks for the first time a shot.

    I must admit that I was completely blown away by the excellent live sound, the great and energizing instrumental performance and the unchained vocals by Bruce Dickinson. Even the crowd did a good job even though they still can’t mess with fans from Latin America. But you really hear that the band feels well to play in its home country and gives its very best. Apart of these positive impressions, the set list of this concert was simply unbeatable. Of course, it includes the usually and very well played classics like the punk driven anthem “Iron Maiden”, the atmospheric and dark “The Number of the Beast” or the emotionally driven epic “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. 

    The band also played a few rare classics that I like quite a lot. I must point out the passionate performance of the fast paced “The Prisoner” with the more epic, melodic and relaxing chorus which is one of my favourite songs from “The Number of the Beast”. The menacing and sinister “Killers” with its impressive bass guitar driven opening minute works even better live than on the original album. The atmospheric and transcendant “Still Life” which is my favourite song on “Piece of Mind” fits well to the calmer songs from “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”.

    To my very positive surprise the songs from “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” work a lot better on stage than in studio for me. Especially the diversified soft progressive metal milestone “Infinite Dreams” are absolutely essential in its organic live version. Even weaker songs in my opinion like the more sophisticated and conceptual “Moonchild” work better on here and this certain track really kicks off the concert on a positive note that mixes the much needed energy with thought out atmosphere. Iron Maiden simply deliver an outstanding powerhouse performance and it’s great that they have focused on a few more original songs which are rarely played live and decided to leave out classics like “The Trooper” for example.

    The three bonus tracks “Running Free”, “Sanctuary” and “Run to the Hills” are a lot less essential than the rest. Their production and especially the few moments of silence between these tracks in comparison to the fluid recording of the other fifteen songs don’t please me at all. On the other side, these bonus tracks are a nice gimmick for collectors who have bought the VHS version of this concert twenty-five years ago and want a little extra. That’s why we shouldn’t judge the band all too hard and see these three bonus songs as a little gift and nice attention.

    In the end, I finally did the right choice to purchase this double live record. The performance of the band is healthy, passionate and technically diversified. Especially the rarely played tracks make this release a true highlight. Of course, this record can’t beat “Live after Death” but it’s easily on the same level as “Rock in Rio” or “Flight 666” for example. That’s why not only collectors and die-hard fans should get this release but also occasional Iron Maiden fans. Up the Irons!

    Originally written for The Metal Observer

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