Released: 2002, Portrait/Columbia
ROCK IN RIO marks the fourth live album in the legendary history of Iron Maiden. Of those four, two are essential to the collection of every metalhead. LIVE AFTER DEATH (5/5) is one of them, ROCK IN RIO is the other. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from this album. I mean come on, four double live albums? Essentially, I bought RIR the day of it’s release because I’m a Maiden fan, and that’s what Maiden fans do. As it turns out, and with all due respect to Megadeth, RIR turned out to be the real “rude awakening”.
While A REAL LIVE DEAD ONE (3.5/5) and LIVE AT DONNINGTON (3.75/5) were adequate, they lacked the intangibles that make a live album worthy of the highest praise. If I had to put my finger on the things that make RIR great, it would be the that Dickinson and Smith have helped to rejuvenate the band, and that the performance took place before 250,000 maniacal Brazilian fans. And oh do those fans make their presence felt, as they can be heard singing along on almost every song. It’s enough to send shivers down your spine.
When I initially saw the tracklist, the six BRAVE NEW WORLD songs raised an eyebrow. Fear not, the BNW songs sound better live, Maiden being one of the few bands that can make a mediocre song like “Blood Brothers” sound better when it’s played live. As for the fact that less than half the songs covered are from the golden era of Maiden, well ... quite frankly we’ve heard enough of the older songs from the Maiden catalogue on the three previous live offerings. The exclusion of some of the older classics is a breath of fresh air. It’s also a special treat to hear Dickinson singing two of the Blaze-era songs.
I was not fortunate enough to catch Maiden on the BNW tour, so it was nice to hear what the three-guitar lineup sounds like. Though it’s hard to pick out on many of the songs, the triple axe lineup does give an extra layer of energetic buzz to the rhythm parts of some songs. The variations that Murray, Smith and Gers take on some of the well-known guitar solos is also very nice. Highlights of the album include performances of “Brave New World”, “2 Minutes to Midnight”, “The Clansman”,“The Evil That Men Do” and “The Number of the Beast”, which is punctuated by what sounds like fireworks exploding in the distance. I’ll have to wait until the DVD comes out to confirm the fireworks. If I had to name one song that steals the show though, it would be the absolutely stellar rendition of “Wrathchild”. Words would fail miserably to describe how amazing it sounds. Just go get the album and find out for yourself.
And, oh yeah, up the irons!
Official website: http://www.ironmaiden.com