Album Review: Iron Maiden – Nights Of The Dead: Legacy Of The Beast Live In Mexico
Iron Maiden have a thing for live albums. Officially, there are now 16 official live documents of ’Arry’s Ammers available, 13 of them full albums. One of them, Live After Death, rates among the band’s finest work, capturing their imperious power at the height of their ‘80s dominance. Others, like Maiden Japan and The BBC Archives collection, act as something of a history lesson from the Paul Di’Anno-fronted early era of the band.
Largely and most importantly, though, Maiden live albums have become specific postcards of specific events. Live at Donington celebrated their triumphant return to headline that hallowed stage for the second time. Rock In Rio was the triumphant hanging of a hat on the band’s millennial rejuvenation as Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned to the fold. More recently, it’s become part of their touring thing, like getting the shirt. Death On The Road captured the thrust of the Dance Of Death tour from Germany, En Vivo! saw them in Chile on the Final Frontier jaunt, followed up by The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter from that album’s stunning trek. In this, Maiden not only give fans the chance to own a bit of these shows (events in themselves), but they also flex their unwavering confidence in what they are doing right now.
This does not, however, mean they are above looking over their shoulders. But rather than making doing so a safe bet, an easy way, Maiden turn tours like Somewhere Back On Tour into genuine spectacles in their own right. Such was the case for 2018/19’s Legacy Of The Beast Tour. There was a Spitfire. There were songs unheard onstage for decades. There was Bruce Dickinson having the time of his life with two flamethrowers as he belted out Where Eagles Dare for the first time in over 25 years. And here, live in Mexico City, there are tens of thousands of mad-for-it Mexicans going audibly batshit for every single second. But no matter where you caught the tour, which leg, or who you were with, this is a brilliant preserved memory that something special happened.
The setlist is a real zinger. You almost want to skip past the standards like Aces High and The Trooper and get stuck into lesser-heard stuff like Flight Of Icarus (not played since the early ‘90s), while the (relatively) new (but not that new) tracks like For The Greater Good Of God and The Wicker Man are towering here. And special mention must go to the inclusion of Blaze Bayley-era cuts Sign Of The Cross and The Clansman, two oft overlooked tracks (the latter of which is actually one of the band’s best songs) that are absolutely unimpeachable, exploding with theatrics and electricity.
And therein lies the magic of the Maiden live experience: focusing on the old or the new, they often deliver you something you didn’t know you wanted so much. Captured here with so much thrust, for those that were there this is a memento of a truly incredible tour, in which the band managed to turn nostalgia into something that could still be daring and thrown with a curve. This is how Maiden have maintained for as long as they have, and what makes this, like its predecessors, more than a bit of product in downtime, but a document of why they are, still, one of the finest bands on Earth.
For Fans Of: Judas Priest, Trivium, Metallica
Nights Of The Dead: Legacy Of The Beast Live In Mexico is out November 20 via Parlophone Records
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