Beast Over Manchester (Drifter Records DR002)
Apollo Theatre, Manchester, England – March 4, 1982
Disc 1 (52:27) Ides Of March Intro / Murders In The Rue Morgue, Wrathchild, Run To The Hills, Children Of The Damned, The Number Of The Beast, Another Life, Killers, 22 Acacia Avenue, Total Eclipse, Drum Solo, Transylvania, Guitar Solo
Disc 2 (43:22) The Prisoner, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Phantom Of The Opera, Iron Maiden, Sanctuary, Drifter, Running Free, Prowler
The second release from Drifter Records features a gig from early in the Beast On The Road world tour, in the Maiden stronghold of Manchester, England. With the Number Of The Beast record not yet released to the masses, Maiden had begun the tour the previous week, they would headline in England with a lot of new music being heard by the faithful for the first time. The recording featured on this release is a very good and consistent audience source. The vocals and guitars are heard clearly but the drums and bass do get lost in the mix as it is just a bit muddy. If anything it lacks upper frequencies but is really atmospheric, capturing the excitement of the concert well, I had no issues cranking this up for maximum enjoyment. This concert is getting its silver debut, and that is something worth getting excited about.
The pre recorded intro of The Ides Of March is not listed on the cover, the set list for this tour was standard, every once in a while they would play an extra encore. What you will find on this release is early and aggressive playing by the band, and some of the most brilliant vocals you will ever hear in the live setting from new singer Bruce Dickinson. The recording is not complete, there is a small cut during 22 Acacia Avenue, guess for a tape flip with about 30 seconds missing and Prowler is incomplete, fading at 40 seconds. Highlights of the concert? Yes, the whole show! Really interesting to hear Another Life sans drum solo, the solo now comes after the insanely heavy Total Eclipse (a song that gets a loud cheer as it was the b-side to the already released Run To The Hills single), Clive’s solo is captured nicely and is very enjoyable…more cowbell please. Transylvania is always a pleasure to here, one of the songs that would not be heard live for about a decade after this tour, of course the nimble fingers of Dave Murray and always entertaining, as a soloist he was unmatched during this time.
The one thing that has been consistent in Maiden’s live output is the playing of new material, a total of seven new songs are in the set and are well received, but damn if the band doesn’t sound possessed on the second disc as they hammer out classic after classic starting with Phantom of the Opera through to the last encore of Prowler. Honed to brutal precision from years of playing these songs, yet Bruce’s vocals are fresh and exciting, washing away Di’Anno’s memory easily, the crowd is totally into it, they cheep, clap, and sing along Drifter and Running Free, sadly Prowler is incomplete. Based upon the Maiden commentary site, they list the second disc as being 3 minutes longer and one can assume that an incomplete tape was used.
The packaging is nice, full color live shots from the tour with official looking graphics designed like the Beast On The Road tour program, The front cover opens up for more great live shots with a listing of the UK tour dates. The CD’s have pictures on them, numbered sticker…the whole lot. Nice release, there are not a lot of labels releasing old Maiden recordings on silver discs, and I have enjoyed the first two releases from Drifter Records and will continue to buy them and hopefully they will make sure they are supplying the most complete sources they can.