I’m getting excited, I’m off to see Iron Maiden at Liverpool Arena next Saturday night and I’m working  myself up to full match fitness by air guitaring my way through a side of Live After Death at a time.  It’s a comparative newcomer to my collection this* but I’ve listened to this album countless times in mates’ houses, smoker’s corner in school and once during a, quite frankly, rather frantic bout of love-making at university**.  It is simply the business.

I know, I know I make a big fuss about not being much of a fan of live albums but this is, I think, Iron Maiden at their best, doing what they do best – tearing an audience a new one.  Okay, okay to paraphrase Beck, I’m a hypocrite so why don’t you kill me?  so I can ‘live’ again (see what I did there?).

From the opening strains of ‘Aces High’ all the way to the dying yowls of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ Live After Death is an incredible live set, only missing ‘Prowler’, ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Flash of the Blade’ to be a complete set of all my real favourites^.  A good few of the versions here really do outstrip the studio versions too, just listen to this take on ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’ which is definitely the best thing Maiden have ever carved into wax for our delectation – you can feel the adrenalin, it’s less polished, you can hear all the moving parts – rather like hot-rodding a car by exposing the engine block so passers-by can marvel at all the chrome and pumping pistons.

I feel similarly about the live versions here of ‘Flight of Icarus’ and ‘Die With Your Boots On’, just slap them on and marvel at the sheer power and precision of one of the Big Beasts of Metal (BBOM) hitting their straps.  For all the muscle on display throughout the album, not least Bruce Dickinson’s larynx which must surely be made of tanned rhino hide, it is the intricacy  and melody that often surprises even when the songs are cranked up this loud and sped up a tad.   Just listen to the closing^^ ‘Phantom of the Opera’ where Murray and Smith’s complementary guitar parts weave around each other, or wheel overhead in perfect formation together.  Add in the bracingly lengthy versions of ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ with all their perfectly executed different sections and tempos and you just have to give praise to Jah for a top band being captured at the peak of their abilities.

And on that point, unlike so many live albums of dubious veracity Live After Death really does sound live and unadulterated.  The way Martin Birch tells it^* he was brought in to weave together the album from the different takes from different nights, to blend the crowd noise and to make it sound like a single organic entity, not to punch or pitch up the vocals, or to re-record guitar solos later – I believe him too, there’s too much snap and bite here for it to be otherwise; or at least that’s what these tired old ears o’mine hear.

The artwork here, as in all the Derek Riggs Maiden covers, is just totally inspired.  The level of detail and sense of power conveyed here is a spot-on match for the contents and I can never resist a good combo of blue and yellow together.  Just like the Powerslave cover my mates and I used to pore over the little details hidden away in the artwork for hours on end, my favourite bit then and now was the grave stone marked with ‘Thank You’; the Grateful Dead, geddit? I didn’t, I had to have it explained to me very slowly, twice.  Plus you get oodles of great live photos, showing what a brilliant spectacle the whole show was and a gazillion photos of the band having fun/playing their guts out in exotic locales, not to mention all the lyrics.  Just great value for money.

So there you have Iron Maiden at the peak of their powers recorded 32 years ago.  I’m not naïve enough to think that this is exactly what will hit me head-on Saturday night, with some added Janick Gers, I’m just really excited to chalk up a rare sighting of one of the BBOM I’d never managed to catch until now; Mrs 1537 having seen them three times as a teenager.  I have really high hopes for Saturday, despite my not really digging too much of their last LP*^ I want a spectacle, I want some energy and I want to feel that buzz you only get from being part of the crowd at a really good sweaty gig.  Iron Maiden’s gonna get you me!

759 Down.

*I can’t remember exactly how but that evil Mike Ladano bullied me into buying it (shakes fist in direction on Kitchener and its strange wino pee smell).

**1537 Health Warning: Be very careful if listening to Live After Death whilst bumping uglies with a paramour not to take your tempo from the music, I speak from experience here having come close to sustaining a nasty orthopaedic injury during ‘The Trooper’.  Warning ends.

^Metal Dave, an older very hard lad in my school was once heard bemoaning the fact that the band hadn’t included any of his favourite tracks from 1986’s Somewhere In Time on this 1985 album.  I’m still not stupid enough to snigger at that.

^^the closer on Live After Death that is, but not the live set which finished with ‘Sanctuary’ on this tour.

^*in his excellent, be still my beating heart, sleevenotes.

*^it has its moments but overall I find it a bit overlong and clunky, especially that 74-minute one about the airship.

48 thoughts on “Let It R.I.P

  1. Looking forward to hearing about the show. If you say this live one is worth hearing, then I’ll check it out. It’s gotta be better than Judas Priest’s ‘Live In Japan’. More like ‘Live and then Re-Recorded In Japan’.

    1. I’m not a massive fan of live doubles, but this is properly ferocious. A lot of folk rave about Unleashed in the East – can’t hear it myself.

      1. Yes that’s the one. One of the first albums I bought for myself after I received a turntable when I was 13. “Green Manalishi” was pretty awesome, but that’s all I like to revisit from that.

        Live After Death seems legit.

    1. That’s a bit of a bummer. Maybe they could just play ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’ three more times for me instead?

      I’ve been very careful to avoid seeing any setlists for the tour on the net.

      1. Well, it ain’t like they don’t have more songs from which to choose… 😉

        When we saw this tour last year, it was the same set every night. I dunno about this time around. I’m thinking probably?

  2. Love the enthusiasm.
    Love the album.
    Love the post.
    Love the fact that both you and Deke will be seeing the band soon.
    Love the fact that you found a woman that saw Maiden 3 times as a teenager. Surely the only female member of the species that could match your awesomeness.

    1. I thank you, I thank you. I think in all fairness I should point out that Mrs 1537 also saw Europe twice and Bon Jovi once, very early on – so maybe that cancels it out?

      I’m rather excited now for Saturday. There will be much drinking of Trooper beforehand.

  3. This is brilliant. Haven’t heard the album, but this really is an exceptional post. One of my favourites of yours, actually. Enthusiasm galore!

    Also, I’m also a sucker for blue and yellow combo. Even goes as far as having a soft spot for Parma.

    Hope you enjoy the gig!

  4. Gotta love Maiden… well, I had to pretend to once, back in the day. I was going to do a comic about Eddie with Mr. Riggs until the Smallwoods put stop to such nonsense – they really didn’t get comics. Thanks to their ‘management’ there are no Maiden inspired movies in existence today, me thinks. Just think of that soundtrack album! Funnily enough, I now kinda get Maiden. They’ve power-guitared their way into my affections! I still love Derek’s artwork… and who knows, maybe I should give him a ring and see if the time’s right for that comic/movie/soundtrack album!

    1. They do batter you into submission – which is great. You’ve mentioned this to me before, what’s Derek like? he always seems like a really nice guy when I’ve seen him interviewed.

      I bet they’d be more amenable right now.

  5. Great post, great album! The only disappointment for me on this album and this was because I saw them on this tour was that while touring the US, before they played “Number of the Beast,” they explained to American audiences they were not Satan worshipers. That’s always amused me, enjoy the show!

    1. Were did you see them? my uncle, who has been into them almost from the very start, saw them a load of times on that tour and says it was the best he’s seen them play.

  6. Great post. Loved the lines about hearing the moving parts… spot on. Definitely one of the best live albums ever. I haven’t shagged to it though.

    I’ll be interested to read your take on the live show. Remember to climb like a monkey.

    1. Thanks HMO, it took me bloody ages to write this for some reason. I’ve enjoyed listening to nothing else for days now.

      I thought everyone had got it on to Live After Death. You weirdo.

      1. Agreed! I just noticed that the word “forward” (as in, Really looking forward to…) disappeared entirely. I really must stop using the phone app.

    1. I surely will. it’s always an interesting point though to ponder whether you are going to see an older band for what they are now, or what they were to you.

  7. meant to add…love this sentence..

    “^it has its moments but overall I find it a bit overlong and clunky, especially that 74-minute one about the airship.


      1. Last night, from Aaron. I really don’t see why that should stop them from playing it live though. It’s a pretty bizarre thing.

  8. Great read and review! I actually have this Live Album posted for this upcoming Friday as well…hahaha…
    I’m seeing them June 16th in the States….
    Hope you will post a review!

    1. Thanks Deke. I’ve kind of stopped doing live reviews for about a year now because I found I was trying to remember too much and not really living the gigs enough.

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