IRON MAIDEN are one of the greatest live bands you will ever see and/or hear…Period. End of Story. This matter is not open for discussion. What we CAN talk about today is something else this band does exceedingly well, and that is follow up a monster tour with the ultimate souvenir, the live album. Even now at age 44 I still get giddy and excited at the prospect of one of my favorite bands documenting their live show for the fans to keep forever. And let’s face it, these guys do it better than most, if not all of their peers. From masterpiece Live After Death to my all-time favorite Rock In Rio, IRON MAIDEN always nails it. And now, in the year of Our Lord 2017 the band drops The Book of Souls: Live Chapter (out now, BMG) on our heads!!
I was very fortunate to catch this tour at both historic Madison Square Garden and Philly’s Wells Fargo Center and came away both times with almost no voice and sore arms and neck from raising the horns and headbanging all night. The guys are all up there in age, but once those house lights go down you’d never know it, especially with lead singer Bruce Dickinson. That’s one of the things that makes this recording so magical. You can FEEL the energy shooting out of these six men and it will knock you over like ten bowling pins. The one-two opening strike of new tunes “If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed of Light” sound just as good as the studio versions, and fit perfectly alongside the vintage classics like “Wrathchild.”
And speaking of classics, on this recording we are treated to blistering renditions of “Children of the Damned” and “Powerslave,” both of which sound fantastic. Not that they didn’t on previous live efforts, but on this disc there’s this extra “OOOMPH!” that really kicks you in the chest. Having said that, I will now go on record and say that these renditions of “The Trooper” and “Fear of the Dark” (Mini-Amps’ jam!) are now my absolute favorite ones. The way everyone clicks on all cylinders, I close my eyes and I’m right back there in the arena. Fucking awesome! And once again, the band does a phenomenal job on “The Book of Souls”, “The Red and the Black, and “The Great Unknown”, turning these into instant classics before our very ears.
A particularly rousing version of “Iron Maiden” is another album highlight to go alongside the triple threat ending of “The Number of the Beast”, “Blood Brothers”, and closer “Wasted Years,” once again showing the world exactly how the big boys do it. 15 songs, culled from 15 performances in arenas and stadiums all over the world in Australia, South Africa, England, Ireland, El Salvador, Poland, Japan, Germany, and more. This is only a small representation of the 117 shows the band did on this tour, but it’s a perfect one if you ask me. You didn’t, but it’s my site so I’m gonna tell you anyway.
All in all Bruce Dickinson, guitarists Janick Gers, Adrian Smith, and Dave Murray, drummer Nicko McBrain, and bassist/anchor Steve Harris did a wonderful job with The Book of Souls: Live Chapter, giving us fans yet another shining jewel in our live albums collection. This is one that won’t be leaving my player for awhile, folks. And if you pick it up today, I guarantee you’ll feel the same way. And in the words of band manager Rod Smallwood’s liner notes: “See you all on the road again next time round…we’re not done yet! Not by a long way!” Damn right they’re not. I’m looking forward to the next run, and this record will quench my thirst till then. UP THE IRONS!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM