Released: 2012, EMI
May is Maiden Mania Month for us at http://www.metal-rules.com.
This month we are going to review lots of Iron Maiden related material. Two books, two CD’s and a Maiden DVD, all of it mostly related to the last two world tours: the Somewhere Back In Time World Tour (2008-2009) and the Final Frontier World Tour (2010-2011). Lastly, we have the formal results from The Iron Maiden Tournament run by Erik on our Metal Forum. Thanks to Erik for running this fun poll and series of threads. Feel free to enjoy all of these reviews in this mini-series.
There has been some minor discussion among Iron Maiden fans about the actual number of Live albums the band has released. Do EP’s count? Do box-sets and special editions count? What about the confusing schism of A REAL LIVE ONE and A REAL DEAD ONE issued separately in some nations and as a double set in other territories? My theory (for what it is worth) is that, if it is a formal release (ie. a fan could go purchase it in a store for example) it counts as a release. Following this logic EN VIVO is Iron Maiden’s 12th live release. I know there is a some grumbling every time Maiden puts out another live album, but the band, like a few other veteran bands has fallen into the pattern of Album. Live Album. Album. Live Album. It’s been only three years since the last Double Live Iron Maiden album and that’s ‘the average’ the band has maintained over it’s 32+ year career. Critics and cynics say there are too many Iron Maiden live albums but the band is on par with other veteran bands of the same age, in terms of number of live albums released. In the spirit of Metal I’d rather have more than less.
As compared to the tracklist of FLIGHT 666 (which I grumbled about in a review this month) this is a refreshing change of pace. Half of this album is newer material, post 2000 or so, more specifically the last four albums. Surprisingly nothing from A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH made the set-list but that is OK because the played that album in it’s entirety on that tour cycle. I’m glad a band who, at times, can run dangerously close to getting bogged down in nostalgia can still pull one (live album) out that shows they are fresh, vibrant and relevant in today’s Metal scene. The band is mentally and physically in a good space right now and it shows in the energetic yet sophisticated performances. The sound is crystal clear, Harris’ bass jumps out at you, as do Nicko’s drums.
The presentation is very attractive and the 20+ page booklet has the lyrics, notes and the usual high-flying stage shots and expansive crowd shots. The album cover photo is a reversal of ROCK IN RIO. Instead of looking at the stage (with Eddie looming in the sky) EN VIVO has a shot looking out at the crowd (with Eddie looming in the sky). The crowd is loud and proud and I enjoyed listening to the Chileans as well, they cheer differently down there, soccer chants, always singing…it’s pretty intense as compared to the crowd on DEATH ON THE ROAD. In my mind ROCK IN RIO and EN VIVO are twin-sisters, both giant shows from South America.
Returning to my opening comments about the quantity of Iron Maiden Live albums, is EN VIVO really necessary? The last four Double Live albums (ROCK IN RIO, DEATH ON THE ROAD, FLIGHT 666 and EN VIVO) are almost identical in terms of sonic quality and presentation so those points become almost irrelevant. You know you will always get a high quality album from Camp Maiden. When deciding how necessary this album is, ultimately, it comes down to the track-listing and what are your favourite songs. For die-hard fans, of course EN VIVO is necessary. For casual fans I’d say it’s a good buy as well because the higher percentage of newer songs that have not appeared on a live album before, as compared to FLIGHT 666 which had no songs that have not appeared on a live album before. But what can I say? I’m a die-hard. I bought EN VIVO on opening day.