Phantom Killer (Calm & Storm 040)
Koseinenkin Hall, Tokyo, Japan – May 21, 1981
Disc 1 (55:02) The Ides Of March, Wrathchild, Sanctuary, Twilight Zone, Remember Tomorrow, Another Life inc Drum Solo, Member Introduction, Genghis Khan, Killers, Innocent Exile, Purgatory, Murders In The Rue Morgue, Phantom Of The Opera, Iron Maiden
Disc 2 (27:00) Audience, Running Free, Transylvania, Guitar Solo, Drifter, Prowler
I had wondered how long it was going to be until we saw an Iron Maiden release by the folks at Calm & Storm, their releases showcasing the Miracle Man tape archives have been very solid efforts in terms of musical quality and packaging at an affordable price. Whoever MM is he seems to have great taste in music as all the releases so far have been right up my alley as far as musical taste is concerned. Very pleased I was when I saw that we would be getting two releases, the first covers Iron Maiden’s first show in the Land Of The Rising Sun and finds the band touring in support of the Killers record.
For years there was no recording to surface from the first gig, until back in 2008 Tarantura released Maiden Japan Vol. 1 (TCDM-1-1,2) taken from a very good Mr. Peach audience recording. This new recording is a very good audience source and made me rethink some of my previous reviews. The sound is similar to my other Calm & Storm releases and the source sounds somewhat distant but nice and clear with not a lot of audience interference. This recording, however, seems to favor Dave Murray’s guitar and it is difficult to hear Adrian Smith at times which leads me to believe he was close to the stage. The recording is very nice and captures the atmosphere nicely and is a great listen.
The recording starts with the intro music in the form of “The Ides Of March”, the audience reaction is instantaneous as they cheer and clap eagerly awaiting the band to take the stage. “Wrathchild” is the opener and the crowd clap in time as the music begins to overtake them. I consider the 1981 versions of “Wrathchild” to be definitive, the trading of solos between Dave and Adrian is perfection and the playing is aggressive. The pause is short, enough time for Paul to say hello and the band plow into “Sanctuary”, the older songs just flow from the band as they have been in the set list for so long, the crowd is loving every minute and clap along with the band. They get a short breather and Paul introduces the next song as their new single. “Twilight Zone” is a song about the love between the hideous figure of Eddie the ‘Ead and his love Charlotte, there must be some echo in the hall as it sounds as if the audience is singing along at times. Things are slowed down for a beautifully brutal “Remember Tomorrow”, the song is good on the first record but really comes alive during this tour. The addition of Adrian on guitar really raises the level of the playing up a notch, easily one of Paul Di’Anno’s finest moments with Maiden as he sings the slower parts wonderfully.
“Another Life” has been in the set list for over a year at this point but has just been released on the Killers LP, it is used as a vehicle for a drum solo. I love the beginning, Dave Murray plays a spectacular melodic solo, his fingers are incredibly fast but there is great quality there. Clive Burr had a fantastic touch to his playing and while not as precise as the man who would replace him, played with an almost loose feel that matches the energy of the older material. Paul takes a minute to introduce the band, calling Dave Murray “the Blonde Bomber”, a fitting title indeed. The first true instrumental of the night is next; “Genghis Khan” is like “Transylvania” part 2. The band’s playing is incredibly fast but very tight, probably my favorite instrumental of the band, it was played during this tour but sadly played sporadic since then. It has a nice transition as the band finish the piece with a fade out that leads perfectly into “Killers”. Adrain is barely in the mix and is interesting to here Dave’s parts of the song and makes more sense on how the two guitarists worked in unison to create the multi texture music of the song. Easily the second best thing Di’Anno did with the band, his lyric is one of pure fury and aggression, his vocal is much more effective than the Bruce sung versions. Again we have a stellar and in your face solo by Dave, since we cannot really hear Adrian he is the star tonight!
The Deep Purple inspired funkiness (never thought I would use that) of “Innocent Exile” is great. I had loved this song since I heard it firstly on the Maiden Japan EP. Great finger work by Steve Harris, it is his bass that really makes this song. A true new song comes in the form of “Purgatory”, the single gets the award for best single art ever, what with Eddie’s face rotting away to reveal Beelzebub and the song has such a great rolling riff one can see why it was originally called floating as that is what it feels like. Of course the speed is turned up a notch but does not lose anything with the faster translation. An old school trilogy of terror closes out the main set, one with much inspiration of early black and white horror movies beginning with “Murders In The Rue Morgue”. This is a song where the music and lyrics are used to perfection; you can almost feel like being chased and then having a moment to catch your breath before having to move again, not ever knowing why. The intro is so atmospheric and perfectly enhanced by the wonderful crowd clapping along. It is amazing to hear how the band could play so fast but be so tight. I recently saw an interview with Scott Ian and he talks of seeing Maiden in 1981 and being blown away by the musicianship, obviously the band had a major influence on the new wave of American speed metal (also know as NWOASM). A definite crowd and fan (me) favorite. Of course Iron Maiden finished the main set as it is always intended to be, In an old Metal Hammer magazine from the Blaze era Steve was interviewed and gave his assessment on the records to that point, he was also asked with three vocalist to choose from who did he think sang the bands signature song the best > his answer was of course Paul Di’Anno, who’s punky quality added something unique to the song. The crowd gives the band a huge ovation at its conclusion as Paul thanks them and the band leave the stage…
…and the crowd proceeds to chant “Maiden…Maiden” and clap loudly to bring the Beast back. They do not have to wait long as they return and as Clive begins the pounding bass drum Paul asks the crowd to “sing for me” and the band breaks into “Running Free”. This is an old school version without the sing along and like the one featured on Maiden Japan, actually works better. The band leaves the stage again and the chanting starts till they return, it will be worth the wait as the band play a blistering “Transylvania”, Steve does the introduction. This is a song Dave knows all too well and is a good listen as he takes the reins for this one, Adrian takes the first solo and Dave’s erases its memory and adds some nice small fills in towards the end. It leads into Dave’s solo; as usual he goes through storm style solo, first a flurry of notes with Hendrix inspired whammy bar fueled soaring sounds. His playing was much more adventurous in these early gigs before the far more complicated and structured material the band would eventually write in the coming years.
The crowd gets their sing along time in with “Drifter”, they know the song and give it a big cheer as Murray breaks into the opening chords of it. Paul is in good voice and lets out a great wail before introducing the final song for the night, the always welcome “Prowler”. Again you can hear the audience sing along with the music but it’s off in the distance and gives the song an almost big production sound and is a fitting end to a great concert.
The packaging is nice, full color inserts with good graphics and pictures from the tour to boot. The discs themselves have pictures on them, displaying one Paul Di’Anno and the same pic is used for both. The set even comes with a replica concert ticket, a nice release from Calm & Storm and is nice to have an unreleased recording from a great period in Maiden’s long and illustrious history.