Mecca Arena Milwaukee, WI, USA – March 8, 1987
Disc 1 (47:27) Intro: Theme From Blade Runner, Caught Somewhere In Time, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Children Of The Damned, Stranger In A Strange Land, Wasted Years, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
Disc 2 (40:36) Guitar Solo, Heaven Can Wait, Phantom Of The Opera, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden, Running Free
Iron Maiden’s tour of North America in support of the Somewhere In Time record was another extensive jaunt, beginning Jan 7 and finishing 4 months later on May 7, 1987. Dubbed Somewhere On Tour, this was the first time I would see the band on multiple dates on the same tour so needless to say it holds a special place in my heart. The tour was also well documented and many of the shows exist in audio format, a few also on video, and perhaps the best of the lot from North America was the bands gig in Milwaukee.
The recording from the Mecca Arena is near excellent, well balanced sound with the perfect mix of audience to music and featured a wide range of dynamics. Its only drawback is it is incomplete, there is a cut in Rime Of The Ancient Mariner at the 4:56 mark and the first two encores, The Number Of The Beast and Run To The Hills, are missing, but curiously the final song Running Free is present. There is a lesser second tape source that could have been utilized but it is a rare source so I am not surprised it was not used. Nonetheless this is a superb performance by the band and equally superb recording that surprisingly has not, to the best of my knowledge, been booted before.
The recording begins with distortion as the taper adjusts his levels and the tech instrumental of Blade Runner leads the listener through the realms of time and space before one is catapulted to the future with the band breaking into the opening of Somewhere In Time. This is a very visual moment for those who remember this tour, Bruce taking the stage with his pulsating jacket, needless to say the audience goes ape sh*t. The song leads directly into 2 Minutes To Midnight with Adrian’s riff heavy and amid the audience clapping. Children Of The Damned is a highlight for me, this tour would be the first time I heard it in the live setting, it lived up to my expectations, Bruce’s vocals are soaring and majestic.
Four songs from Somewhere In Time are in the set list, for me one of the most effective and one that in my opinion would be great to hear again is Stranger In A Strange Land. Simple rock with a killer beat thanks to one two punch of Nicko and Steve’s bass line, it seems to almost have a pop feel to it and is one of the more diverse songs on the album. A standard Wasted Years follows with Bruce introducing it as a road song but the last song of the first disc is perhaps the best if not certainly most epic. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner is one of Steve’s masterpieces, in the live setting it works perfectly. Bruce makes a tongue in cheek remark about sea men, make of it what you will and also addresses the somewhat persistent attacks on behalf of Christian fundamentalists. Bruce’s voice is in perfect shape as he narrates the Mariners tale and the audience is loud during the quiet interlude, thankfully Steve’s bass line saves them. The cut during the song is smooth and not jarring, the taper made a fast tape change and very little is lost.
The second disc begins with Dave and Adrian’s twin guitar solo Walking On Glass, more ambient than guitar God the solo is a perfect, futuristic sounding solo that compliments both players unique style. Bruce comes back as MC with “Well good evening there again small carbon based life forms of Milwaukee” and the band goes into Heaven Can Wait. But the real meat and potatoes of the second disc is the Trilogy of terror that begins with Phantom Of The Opera, Bruce demands the audience “Give it to me…give it to me…give it to me Milwaukee” as the band breaks into the fast riff. This is gothic horror at its best and the synchronicity between the musicians is unparalleled. Bruce gives a passionate yet frenzied vocal on Hallowed and Iron Maiden fast and violent as the band bludgeon the audience mercilessly. The fans begin the loud chant “Maiden…Maiden…Maiden” that leads to the tape cut. The only remaining encore, Running Free is a celebration between band and audience, with Bruce as master of ceremonies and brings a fitting conclusion to the night.
The packaging is excellent, official Somewhere In Time and logo graphics intertwined with live shots and is very pleasing visually. The discs have pictures on them, obviously someone got a UV printer for Christmas, and the obligatory numbered sticker is included, all housed in a slim line jewel case. An excellent release from Zodiac that is very much recommended.