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MUCH better than "Studio A", but feels squandered - 80%

DarthVenom, May 1st, 2004

This is, as of now, Bruce's last solo album. After this, he rejoined Iron Maiden to bring some wind back under their admittably-faltering wings. But that's beside the point. Here comes the review.

Production: Not excellent, but acceptable. Bruce sounds better than ever and very crisp, as does the Brazillian crowd (More on that later). The instruments, however, seem a bit muddy, as if this part of the mix was played around with on the last day before finishing mixing. It doesn't detract from the music much, unless you were looking for Alive In Athens-styled production.

Performance: The band, however, is in top form. This is, honestly, Bruce's best live vocal performance since the energy displayed on Live After Death. The band does f- up a few times regarding minor beats and the like, but it's overlookable. At times, the twin guitars seem to be slightly out of time with each other, but now I'm just nitpicking; I'll stop now. Song-by-song reviews:

Trumpets Of Jericho: Opening with - you guessed it- an Air Raid Siren, this song is faithful to the studio version, with little live changes aside from the aformentioned muddy instrumentals. Still, worth a listen if you're a fan of the song (I only listen to it once in a while, really)

King In Crimson: Again, if you've heard the album version, then you've basically heard this one as well. Bruce delivers a blistering performance, as usual with him.

Chemical Wedding: Well, again, this doesn't deriviate much from the studio version. The chorus, backed up by the audience and guitarist as well, just plain rocks, though.

Gates Of Urizen: The fourth song in a row from their then-recent Chemical Wedding album...although this one is actually performed better than in the studio. Bruce always seems so much better on soft songs when they're played live....Dunno, I guess they don't give him as much of a chance to start jumping around like a madman and messing up his voice... (See: Rock In Rio DVD)

Killing Floor: Bruce is pretty creepy in the verses....but the chorus, the screamed chant of "SATAN!" just isn't as powerful without the multi-tracked vocals. Oh well, one would think that would be fairly obvious.

Book Of Thel: Hoo boy! Unleash the awesome power of South American rock fans! After around a minute elapses, the crowd's melodic screaming (Yes!) actually drowns out the main riff. Bruce blisters through this, while the band delivers the epic song's soaring riffs and great soloing. This live recording is also available on Bruce's Best Of album.

Tears Of The Dragon: Wow. After a hilarious monologue by Bruce (Did they ever shut the f-ing door, anyway?), we jump right into Tears Of The Dragon. Here come Brazil's would-be rockers again; This time, the crowd sings every single word in the song along with Bruce, and, well, it's completely beautiful; Especially in the chorus. Really shows you what this ballad is truly capable of, doesn't it?

Laughing In The Hiding Bush: The other SFMB track included on the Best Of. Bruce delivers this Balls To Picasso song with enthusiam and energy, something that seems to be very rampant throughout this concert. Worth a listen.

Accident Of Birth: Yay! Track nine, so it's about time the band went back to their best record (In my opinion, of course). The opening riff pulsates with so much energy than before, before Bruce's brooding vocals kick in. The chorus, part of which is backed by the audience (The Welcome Home....part), is just as good, if not better than, the studio rendition. Definitely worth your immediate attention.

The Tower: Seven out of ten songs from Chemical Wedding on here? Well, at least it's better than Rock In Rio's "meh" tracklisting. This one is....ok on this live album. It's played just fine, but the crowd-interaction intro is just way too long, and it does tend to get repetitive after awhile. If you have patience, which I need to learn, admittably...then this is solid. I usually skip it.

Darkside Of Aquarius: Yay, another Accident Of Birth track! Other than the crowd's humming along to the opening riff, which manages to sound extremely cool, this doesn't vary much from the studio version. The solo still rocks, as does the tense last verse.

Road To Hell: The album's swansong, a number that would seem perfect for ending concerts with its arena-like vibe. The crowd is great with this one, too. While Bruce seems to hesitate a bit on all three prechoruses, the rest of the song is pulled off just fine.

So that's it; What of the album, in total? Well, the performances are excellent, no doubting that, and the setlist is decent, if a little unbalanced. Just one complaint about the tracklist...It's TOO SHORT! Come on, twelve songs, 60% of which are from one album alone. I realize that's what they were promoting, but where's Back From The Edge? Tattooed Millionaire, etc.? I can understand with the second one, due to the darker mood achieved through the existing set songs, but Omega would have made a GREAT closer. Oh well... A must-have for fans of Bruce Dickinson and Iron Maiden, but may seem flawed to others.