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Iron Maiden's weakest live record - 60%

kluseba, July 17th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1998, 2CD, EMI (Remastered, Enhanced)

The release of Iron Maiden's Live at Donington is quite questionable for several reasons. First of all, two other live records, entitled A Real Live One and A Real Dead One, had already been released in the same year. This release feels like the band or its label was simply attempting to milk ist cash cow.

Secondly, these two previous live records included many songs that are also included on the set list played at Donington. This release doesn't include any rare tracks or other surprises.

Thirdly, the album was only released in limited quantities as if the band knew it wasn't going to equal its previous live records. The whole release strategy seems unconvincing as if the band itself didn't value it enough.

Fourthly, the poor cover artwork recalls bootlegs and indicates that this is a quite cheap release. This could be acceptable for an ordinary heavy metal band but for an iconic heavy metal band like Iron Maiden with its unique mascot Eddie, it just doesn't feel right at all.

Fifthly, the performance of the band is underwhelming by its own elevated standards. It's obvious that the band was about to break apart as charismatic lead singer Bruce Dickinson would leave the band about a year after this concert was recorded. Even though his interactions with the crowd are solid, his singing performance sounds slightly lackluster and his speeches are often overlong and pointless. The sound of the concert is an issue as well. The guitars sound too thin for a heavy metal release. The drums sound somewhat dry and thin even though they are performed accurately. The bass guitar sounds best here but is too domineering in the production if compared to the other instruments.

Numerous tracks sound powerless such as "The Number of the Beast" that is lacking the gloomy grit of the original studio version, the horrible aqualung performance of "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" that would be performed much better by Blaze Bayley a few years later and the surprisingly uninspired rendition of the anthemic "Fear of the Dark".

However, there are also a few positives about what might be Iron Maiden's weakest live record ever. First and foremost, one should purchase the remastered version because it has a much more beautiful cover artwork as well as an extensive booklet and a multimedia section with four video clips from the concert, photo galleries, a short biography and a few internet links.

Secondly, the set list includes at least one track from every single studio album released up to the point when this record saw the light of day. Therefore, this album could serve as some sort of greatest hits compilation and would be an apropriate introduction to new fans if it were only performed better.

Thirdly, a few tracks are actually performed rather well. The fan interactions during "From Here to Eternity", "Bring Your Daughter... ...to the Slaughter" and "Heaven Can Wait" are quite enjoyable for instance, These often overlooked live songs should be performed lagain by the band these days.

In the end, Iron Maiden's Live at Donington is passable but only just. It's by far the band's weakest live album to date. I would only recommend it to avid collectors and faithful fans. If you still want to pick up this average release, make sure to buy the remastered version at least that offers a nice artwork, an extensive booklet and a few extras in the multimedia section.

A real dead live o...oh, just stick 'em up! - 57%

autothrall, February 25th, 2010

Because two live albums were not enough for 1993, Iron Maiden also decided to release a 2CD set covering their performance from the 1992 Monsters of Rock festival, recorded in August at Donington. Granted, the nearly 2 hour set captured here is more substantial than either A Real Live One or A Real Dead One, and since Fear of the Dark had been the most recent studio offering, we escape the imminent nightmare of the next few albums. But Live at Donington suffers for another reason...the sound is just not that great. And the vocals seem a little strained, even as early as the first track I feel like Dickinson is about to lose his voice.

I don't know if he smoked a few packs that day, or if he was recovering from a bad cold or perhaps the onset of bronchitis, but Bruce seems a little off during certain parts of "Be Quick or Be Dead", which opens the first disc. It might also be that he seems a little softer in the mix than some of the band's other live albums. I wouldn't call it a deal breaker, as it's not a terrible performance, but that and the rather sterile feel to the guitars and excess plunkiness of the bass have me leaning towards the studio version. Luckily there are far better sounding tracks on this recording.

I'll admit, the selection of songs here is pretty well spread across the band's discography up to this point. Fear of the Dark is given a healthy representation with "Afraid to Shoot Strangers", "From Here to Eternity", "Wasting Love", "Fear of the Dark", and the aforementioned "Be Quick or Be Dead", all on the first disc. Of these, none sound truly fresh or invigoration on Live at Donington due to the lackluster sound, but I'd go with "Fear of the Dark" from this lot. No Prayer for the Dying gets two tracks in the set: "Tailgunner" and "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter", and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is in good hands with "The Evil That Men Do", "The Clairvoyant" and "Can I Play With Madness?" Again, they all sound a little sterile, but at least the crowd interaction for "Bring Your Daughter..." brightens up the recording, if a little.

This is yet another live recording where the band's best album Somewhere in Time is mis-represented, with only "Heaven Can Wait" on the track list. I really don't get it...surely the band could not have been burnt out by this point on all the majesty of that masterpiece. Was it some kind of conspiracy between the band and an ignorant fanbase whose letters and rash opinions helped determine the set list? Hogwash! Powerslave and Piece of Mind are also snubbed here with one track each: "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "The Trooper". The Number of the Beast is given much more lavish attention, with the title track, "Run to the Hills" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name", and the Di'anno years provide "Iron Maiden", "Sanctuary", and "Running Free", all of which are pretty obvious selections. Most of this is confined to the 2nd disc, and the stronger pieces here were "Wasting Years", "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "Running Free" for the good crowd service.

The biggest issue with Live at Donington is of course the fact that it feels redundant after two other live albums being released just months before. But it also really pales in comparison to the band's hallmark Live After Death (after which no subpar live offering should have been issue unless it was a cheap grab for more money). The track list, while thorough enough to include something from all of their albums to this point, also feels a little redundant. Had there been a few unexpected surprises among the selections, it might have offset the rather bleak tones off the mixer, but I'd imagine the band feels the need to rifle out the hits for all the casual fans that want them, and the rest of us can just dust off that 1985 LP and ignore this.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com