Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg, Sweden – June 17, 2016
Disc 1 (60:48) Intro, If Eternity Should Fail, Speed Of Light, Children Of The Damned, Tears Of A Clown, The Red And The Black, The Trooper, Powerslave, Death Or Glory
Disc 2 (67:14) The Book Of Souls, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fear Of The Dark, Iron Maiden, The Number Of The Beast, Blood Brothers, Wasted Years.
I can honestly say that there has not been an Iron Maiden studio record I do not like, in the 36 years since their debut was released the little old band from London’s East Side has consistently put out quality product. I guess at this point in their career one would not expect such creativity to be cursing through their views, yet when they announced and released their 16th studio record, The Book Of Souls in 2015, fans of the iconic metal act knew their favorite band was still alive and kicking. This new release would be sort of a magnum opus, so to speak. It’s their first double studio record, containing also their longest single song to date, Empire of the Clouds and in my opinion, one of the most original and effective Eddie’s in some time, this time guised in the persona of a Mayan Warrior. The record would featuring writing from every member save for Nicko, for me the really good Maiden records have been when the writing is diverse as it makes the music, well diversed.
Most metal fans know the tour had to be delayed while singer Bruce Dickinson recovered from throat cancer, and true to form he not only kicks it but for anyone who saw the tour found that he has not missed a step. Having caught the Detroit stop of the American Leg was a bit surprised to see that the Palace of Auburn Hills was packed to the rafters. Now that the bulk of the tour is over, we can enjoy the bootlegs, the first one is brought to us by the folks at Albatross Records. Culled from the European trek, this new title features a near excellent audience recording. Clear and detailed with great ambience, the only thing that keeps this from getting full excellent rating would be the bass frequencies are quite boomy, largely due to the power of Nicko’s bass drum. There is virtually no real audience interference by the taper and he got a really nice pull, adjust the bass down just a notch and turn this up loud for maximum enjoyment.
The set list has been consistent throughout the 2016 dates (there are a handful of European and UK dates scheduled for spring 2017}, the recording starts with the last strains of UFO’s Doctor Doctor being blasted on the PA, the song has been the unofficial opening song and is a calling to fans the countdown has started. The intro was an excellent video of Ed Force One crashing in the jungles of the Yucatan Penninsula, the band hits the stage with If Eternity Should Fail, for me a curious opener yet it is its counterpart Speed Of Light that really gets the energy going. Full throttle metal with a typical Maiden gallop with soaring vocals from Bruce makes for an impressive opening salvo. The bill of Maiden and Opeth brings a large crowd and in his introductory speech acknowledges this fact. He does a cool intro for Children Of The Damned, all about legacy and procreation, always nice to see this classic back in the set list, its almost like Bruce wanted to say, “I want to let everyone know I kicked cancer’s ass”, he still has the power and command to hit the high notes and it’s a really heavy version. Death Or Glory is the first track on the second disc of The Book Of Souls, an excellent Dickinson and Adrian Smith composition, excellent riffing and catchy chorus, the song is very effective live, let’s not forget Adrian does the backing vocals. I have become a huge Adrian Smith fan, such great energy and song writing in him and a vital part of Maiden’s music.
The Book of Souls gets a nice introduction on the end of the first disc, the second starts with the semi acoustic intro that leads into a monster riff. Love the intricate playing on this song, they start riffing and it sounds a bit like Losfer Words, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner with that Powerslave vibe to it, very effective live and for me, the best of the new songs in this format.
Tears of a Clown is a homage to Robin Williams, when I first saw the title and knew its subject matter I was a bit wary but upon hearing it was knocked out, it is a full on fist in the air rocker in true Smith and Harris fashion. The Red And The Black follows hot on its heels, the sole Steve Harris only composition on then record, for me it harkens back to the X-Factor and Virtual XI records, somber bass intro and sing along chorus. The song is long, clocking in at 13 minutes plus, the song is a prog metallions dream with many time changes incorporated featuring great guitar playing from the three players. With the focus of the performance on the new material, the band play a couple mid set classics The Trooper and Powerslave, I was surprised to see the latter back in the set, Bruce delivers an excellent vocal on this one, and demands the audience to “Scream for Me….”, they oblige.
The band goes into a new age trilogy of terror, Hallowed Be Thy Name. The song is like a Maiden love fest, it is simply a live institution, you can hear the crowd chant in the background, and Bruce does his silent cheer routine and the audience delivers making for a celebration of all things Metal n Maiden. The “fest” continues with Fear Of The Dark, obviously the band love playing this song as it is in almost every tours set, and for good reason. The culmination of the set is, of course, Iron Maiden. The crowd is in a frenzy and are in horns in the air mode, they go bonkers when the massive Eddie ‘ead is raised and is a triumphant ending. There is not a long wait for the encores, a minute or so for all to collect their breath and The Number Of The Beast intro begins. For me a typical version of the classic. The other two encores show their love for their fans, Blood Brothers from the brilliant Brave New World record gives the band an audience to connect with word and music, it is well known Maiden loves their fans and this has become a sort of homage. The last song is Wasted Years, let’s face it many of the bands I listened to in my early years are getting up there in age, there is no time left for Wasted Years, lets go for it now is the message and a fitting way to end the concert.
The packaging is great, Mayan Eddie superimposed over a ravaged and burnt out European village makes for an original and nice cover. There are official pictures from The Book Of Souls and of the even poster as well. I like the pics on the CD, they look like the Eddie version of the Shroud Of Turin, and like the other Albatross discs I have, is limited to 300 copies.