It’s Iron Maiden live. You know what you’re getting here. 15 songs from 12 countries recorded on last year’s massive world tour. Maiden are a British institution and a pillar of the rock and metal community. They could be forgiven for resting on their laurels. From the early days of opening for X-Ray Spex and The Adverts in the heyday of punk, right through to the point where The Book Of Souls hit number one in 24 countries, they have consistently ploughed their own furrow. The Londoners refuse to bend to outside influence, confounding the expectations of their fans and critics alike.
Some have noted the absence of long-time favourites like, ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ and ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ from the tracklisting of this release, but the plethora of live Maiden albums on the market renders such quibbling moot. The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter isn’t for entry-level fans. It isn’t a Best Of... It’s a document of where the band are now.
Latter-day Maiden are essentially a prog band; producing concept albums of surprisingly high quality. We’re spared a rendition of the 18 minute, ‘Empire of the Clouds’ on this record but the 92-minute double album, The Book Of Souls, is well represented here. We have six songs from their most recent record and a good helping of classic tracks too.
The inevitable ‘Fear Of The Dark’ has Buenos Aires singing the melodies even louder than the band, as is tradition. ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Powerslave’, Children Of The Damned’, and ‘The Trooper’ all get outings and, of course, there’s a massive cheer for the spoken word reading from the Book of Revelation that introduces, ‘The Number Of The Beast’ to the audience at Wacken Open Air Festival.
Bruce Dickinson isn’t hitting those high notes anymore but I think you can forgive that of a man who is recovering from throat cancer. This tour was delayed six months while he underwent treatment. Dickinson was always one of the more impressive rock vocalists in Anglophonic rock so we can be grateful not to robbed of his voice altogether. Even with a more narrow range, Dickinson still manages to swoop from the hushed tones of a confidante to long, quavering howls of theatrical anguish. His natural exuberance and charm remain undiminished.
The other five members are as tight and ebullient as you would expect from a unit that has remained relatively unchanged, by rock royalty standards, since the early ‘80s. Slight reservations about Dickinson’s vocal range aside, The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter is everything you would want, or expect, from Iron Maiden. It’s another strong addition to an already formidable catalogue.
The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter is available via iTunes.