Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, England – May 10, 1983
Disc 1 (52:27) Intro, Where Eagles Dare, Wrathchild, The Trooper, Revelations, Flight Of Icarus, Die With Your Boots On, 22 Acacia Avenue, Number Of The Beast, Still Life
Disc 2 (63:10) To Tame A Land, Guitar-Drums Solo, Phantom Of The Opera, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden, Run To The Hills, Sanctuary, Drifter, Prowler
If there is one thing that gets the Metal fires burning in me, it is certainly Iron Maiden circa 1983 for many reasons. The album they released that year is the iconic Piece of Mind, my favorite album as it has it all, iconic songs, incredible musicianship, timeless lyrics and that cover! The tour in support dubbed “The World Piece Tour” would also be my first time seeing the band live, I can still remember the pulsating brain, the towering Eddie making his walkabout in his tattered straight jacket, and the three triangle moving lighting rig. Needless to say I was excited to see this new release from the Golden Eggs label announced and looked forward to its arrival.
Iron Maiden began the tour on home ground with an expansive English tour that would culminate with the 4 night stand at the beloved Hammersmith Odeon in London. The performance featured here comes from very early on, the seventh date of the tour the band played the Midlands of England town of Nottingham. The recording comes from Gig Addiction, an English taper who captured many Iron Maiden concerts in the 80’s. The audience source is very good to excellent, the venue was the intimate 2,500 capacity Royal Concert Hall. Gig found a sweet spot and his recording is very clear and detailed with a nice frequency range, great balance and loads of atmosphere. There is just a tad of audience noise near the taper but this is the aforementioned atmosphere, you feel you are in the throngs of the audience seeing Maiden, fists in the air, ‘ead banging with your mates.
The intro music is the theme music from the 1968 movie Where Eagles Dare, a movie that was certainly the inspiration for the song of the same name that was the album and concert opener. Bit of trivia, the movie starred Hammer Horror Icon Ingrid Pitt who was also in The Wicker Man, another movie that inspired a Maiden song. The opening three songs are among the most powerful ever, Where Eagles Dare has a majestic feel coupled with bombast courtesy of soaring riffs and massive fills from McBrain, very cinematic for lack of a better word. Wrathchild follows hot on its heels, heavy and aggressive blast from the not so distant past, the audience responds in spades! A quick good evening from Bruce and the band comes hard at you with The Trooper, what is surprising is that Piece Of Mind was not yet released so the audience is hearing most of these tracks for the first time, the cheer from the crowd lets the band know the music resonates with them. Bruce’s intro to Revelation is very short and simple, the song is played slow giving it a very heavy feel, much more preferable versus the next tour where they played it at a faster tempo. A superb version of the song, Bruce’s vocals are strong and the Murray and Smith’s solos are spot on, again the song gets a huge cheer from the audience.
Flight Of Icarus was the first single released about a month prior to this concert so this would be the only new song the audience is familiar with, curiously Bruce does very little talking and the band seem content to hit the audience with a full frontal assault. The band is very well rehearsed and storm through Die With Your Boots On without abandoned, it sounds note for note to the studio version. Bruce addresses all the new songs and much to the delight of the crowd introduces the continuing saga of Charlotte The Harlot by having the audience tell him her address, 22 Acacia Avenue. It is during this song that Bruce confirms the concert date with “Nottingham I Can’t Hear Ya!” The crowd is ecstatic and sing and clap along during the song, Nicko’s drumming in the middle “beat her, mistreat her” part is really good, he fills Clive Burr’s shoes superbly. More Number Of The Beast goodness follows with the title song, there is a vocal echo in the building, the audience sing the majority of the lyrics, even though the song is just a year old, it is already a Maiden Classic. A punter in the crowd has a whistle and Bruce seems mildly irritated with it, Bruce gives a nice introduction to Still Life summarizing it as a “Cheerful little song”.
Bruce gives a somewhat typical introduction to To Tame A Land referencing the songs subject matter being about the book Dune and the issues with the use of the name, of course the response is a nice “Boo”. The song is kind of the forgotten Epic, a deep classic in the highest order. The song starts quiet and slow before evolving into some heavy riffage while Bruce tells the story, then turns fast and furious as the band lock in for the guitar solo duel followed by more synchronized solos then the quiet ending seeming to float into a Dave Murray guitar solo. My memories of seeing his solo are clear, Black Strat, black spandex, blue and white stripped shirt, stage floor black and white checker board, and Dave just ripping it, doing the whole Hendrix dive bombs, playing with his teeth, Dave became my new favorite guitar player at the precise moment. I certainly have something in common with at least one person in Nottingham who is passionately screaming as well. Nicko gets his drum solo, after a stop start section getting the crowd into it, he proceeds to give a lesson in drumming so well there is no doubt to why Maiden wanted him so bad. The song leads directly into the Trilogy of Terror, Phantom Of The Opera is in the first spot, the songs tempo has slowed just a notch from previous years and is more effective for it, it allows for the dynamics of the chord changes and more punctuation from the vocals.
Hallowed Be Thy Name is a certified Iron Maiden concert classic, its placing in the set just prior to their signature tune certainly shows its importance. The quiet build up, the twists and turns, the instrumental section is its magic, you know exactly what is happening from the cheers of the crowd, the band and most certainly Bruce, work their magic on the audience. The beginning of Iron Maiden is cut due to a tape flip, not much is lost, Bruce’s intro and the first few notes. The crowd is overjoyed to see the venerable mascot, Bruce takes the opportunity to rip his head off and take his brain! A couple minutes of well deserved cheering brings the band back on stage, Bruce takes a minute to introduce the band to a well deserved round of applause. The encore section is deep, Run To The Hills leads the charge, Bruce tells the audience to sing the chorus and they respond in full force. He then jokes a bit about a previous gig at the Boat Club, that was actually back in 1979 but draws some moans from the audience…Sanctuary is played next and Drifter follows nonstop. Both tunes are classic Maiden live favorites, the latter features the classic “Yo Yo Yo” sing along portion, the audience is, of course, fully engaged. Bruce engages the whistler again and gives props to Grand Prix as an introduction for the last song, Prowler, this would only be played on the first European leg of the tour and dropped by the time the band played North America. The song retains that early enthusiasm from both the band and audience and a fitting end to a great concert.
The tri-fold sleeve is very cool, lobotomized Eddie holds a brain, Bruce and Steve flanking him in a graveyard under a full moon. The rest of the sleeve is filled with mostly live shots plus liner notes. Sure the venue is incorrectly labeled as Gaunmont Hall, but who cares, what matters is the music for sure. Great music, great mastering, great packaging…great title!