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Damn good - but perfect? - 85%

L_H, April 16th, 2005

Sorry, but I can't get myself to rating this album 90 or even higher, for a reason to be explained more clearly below.

This was Maiden's first live album, recorded at the end of the World Slavery tour, after having released five (all classic) studio albums. The setlist is damn good and in fact close to perfect, and also makes it stand out against the later live albums, as it contains a fair number of tracks not appearing on the those others: Aces High, Revelations, Flight of Icarus, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Powerslave, 22 Accacia Avenue, Children of the Damned, Die with your boots on and Phantom of the Opera. With the exception of Flight of Icarus (which is fair but overrated) and the final track, all these are in theory brilliant songs and reason enough for having the album. Another big bonus goes to the idea of the intro they had for their tour - Churchill's speech followed by Aces High must have been the ultimate way to start a show.

That is, if it weren't for one simple problem: Bruce must have totally neglected his warming up practices to get his voice set. There is no other explanation for the fact that his voice sounds utterly bad on the first three tracks of the album and only gets better from Revelations on (though that and the following track are still far from perfectly sung), whilst reaching a very fair sound on the following songs. However, his best performance by far on this album is on CD 2 - he sounds better than in the studio on those songs!!! All other playing was bloody well perfect from the start, by the way - especially the guitars and bass are on a very high standard. I still have to subtract a fair number of points for the poor vocals at the start of the album, though - especially on Aces High, as this is the only non-bootleg live version easily available.

The tracklist in and on itself is very good - all songs except Flight of Icarus and Phantom of the Opera are among the best that were available to Maiden at the time, and more than half the tracks are exclusive to this album. I do, however, have to criticise that the Killers album was almost entirely left out, except for the one track Wrathchild - the other albums were all honoured with 3-5 tracks each. Also, the excellent Where Eagles Dare is unfortunately notably absent. This, along with the noted lacking in Bruce's vocal performance, keeps me from rating this any higher - and frankly, both of the later major live albums (Live at Donington and Rock in Rio) are overall superior to this one.