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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... 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.