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To begin with this was my first contact with Iron Maiden, a bit before I got my hands on the Brave New World album when it came out and as a kid I don't think I could have had a better introduction to Iron Maiden at the time. This is still my favorite Bruce Dickinsson-era Maiden live VHS and it's just right in every way. The track list is just awesome. They even left out Run To The Hills, which I now think is a good desicion because we all know how overplayed it is. Good song yes but they have a lot more good tracks... Which shows.
A very important aspect of this release is that this is the last sign of 80s greatness of Iron Maiden before falling into complete mediocreness from No Prayer For The Dying to Virtual XI.
Starting off with Moonchild is the only right thing to do since this is from the Seventh Son era, and also this stage visuals is my favorite too with it's ice and stuff. The Evil That Men Do is one of the few overplayed classics that is really enjoyable, and The Prisoner is a great choice from the almost mediocre Number Of The Beast album.
Still Life is where this live show really starts to shine because if you compare this to the original version on the Piece Of Mind LP it's easy to tell which one is better... This one!!! The solo part sounds bad and boring on the LP but awesome on this version. Die With Your Boots On is even better, and Bruce seems to be in a very happy mood running around and yelling like a maniac.
The best on here might be Killers, it's not better or worse that the original version with Paul it's just as good in it's own way. The other half is not as exciting, but that doesn't mean it's bad or something because it's top notch. The only really spectacular moment on the other half would be Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, and especially the calm part and solo. It's almost too awesome to handle. The closing track is the weak part, and it's not the song itself but the lacking energy from Nickos side. He just isn't as energic as Clive Burr, because Clive puts so much energy in his playing it's almost redicolous. Nicko is far more technical, which suits for such songs, but to make a song like Iron Maiden or Prowler justice the speed has to be lighting fast.
The sound is great, it reminds a lot of the album that it's centered around and the camerawork is as great as it can get. There are some fun individuals in the adience to find too, a hairy troll headbanging like a maniac to The Number Of The Beast, a chick with a tape recorder and my personal favorite the Conan O'Brien lookalike who doesn't really seem to enjoy this show, more likely to vomit. And to end this shit I just have to mention Adrians extremely nerdy mullet.
Iron Maiden are simply one of the greatest live bands ever and Maiden England is the video document of yet another legendary performance.
Songs from every classic Iron Maiden album are brought to life in this show that was filmed on the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour. Wait. There's nothing on here from Powerslave. Why? It's a small gripe, though. The high-quality of this concert is such that your focus won't be elsewhere. Besides, just pop Live After Death into the VCR after you finish watching this and you should be happy.
The slower tracks on here translate beautifully into the live setting. Steve Harris and Dave Murray (gods!) are side by side at the beginning of "Still Life" and it's cool to watch the interplay of guitar and bass as you hear those brooding melodies pouring forth from your speakers. "Infinite Dreams" is a little more high energy here than on Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and this only adds to the passion conveyed in the music and the lyrics. Bruce Dickinson's performance here is one of the best on the video.
"Heaven Can Wait" is yet another great performance. The entire population of Birmingham, England even runs onto the stage to gather around Steve Harris and sing along to the "Oh-oh Oh" of the middle section. Well, actually it's the road crew, but it's still a great moment and one of the high points of the show. Hell, it's Iron Maiden. Every part of every show is a high point. Anyway, it sounds just as great as it does on Somewhere In Time. Plus, check out the guy in the audience who resembles Conan O'Brien. He looks like he's about to be sick all over the people in the front row!
"Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" is the keystone of this video. "Very difficult song we're gonna do next," Bruce Dickinson states as he introduces the track. If you think the song sounds amazing on CD, then you will be left speechless after witnessing this performance. From the majestic riff that begins the song, through the marching verse riffs, to the pregnant silence of the song's middle section up through... ahhh... that rapturous ending. Words fail me at this point. I watched in nothing less than humble reverence as Dave Murray, Steve Harris, Adrian Smith, and Nicko McBrain flawlessly executed one of the greatest sequences of riffs and progressions in all of music; metal or otherwise. These are the kinds of things I live to hear as a metal fan and if you're not familiar with this song then I implore you to stop reading this and go listen to it now. Go out and buy the album, order this video, or download the track if all else fails. You must hear it.
Bruce Dickinson's vocals at times are as perfect as they are on CD, but he does botch some things during this show. The worst is in "Die With Your Boots On" where he seems to be so out of breath that he lapses into a dramatic speaking voice instead of singing the lyrics. Also, he is way off pitch during the chorus; enough to make me cringe just a little. Alas, the air-raid siren is human after all, but a subpar performance from Dickinson is still better than the best performance from some other vocalists. Dave Murray smiles and all is right with the world!
The show ends with Dickinson making reference to Iron Maiden's "much-publicized year-off" that would come after this tour. In hindsight, this would prove to be a bad choice. That time off would see the departure of Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson's dispassion with singing for Iron Maiden would grow and manifest itself into a poor performance on No Prayer For the Dying and on the subsequent tour for that album. That makes this video even more endearing as it is one of the final stands of the classic Iron Maiden lineup. I get chills just writing that. Hey, I'm a shameless Iron Maiden fan. You understand.
Get this video and witness one of the greatest bands on the planet perform songs which continue to influence metal bands to this day.