Philadelphia 1987 Original Master (Zodiac 387)
Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA, USA – January 13, 1987
Disc 1 (65:43) 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, Guitar Solo, Heaven Can Wait, Phantom Of The Opera
Disc 2 (29:49) Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden, The Number Of The Beast, Run To The Hills, Running Free
Iron Maiden’s tour to promote the Somewhere In Time record was a step down compared to the massive World Slavery tour, dubbed Somewhere On Tour it featured a tour of the United Kingdom and Europe in late 1986 and North America and Japan in 1987. This new release from Zodiac features a recording of the bands sixth stop at the famed Spectrum in Philadelphia. I was excited to see this release as I had seen them just days earlier in Pittsburgh.
There has long been a very generated pro shot video of part of the Philly concert in circulation, video is washed out but the sound quality is excellent. For this release Zodiac utilizes a complete audience recording that recently surfaced. The recording was made by a Japanese fan who was living in the USA at the time and who recorded both Iron Maiden and opening act Yngwie Malmsteen, Zodiac has also released the Yngwie set as Philadelphia 1987 (Zodiac 388).
The Japanese fan had good recording equipment and managed to get a very nice near complete recording. It is clear and detailed with the instruments being perfectly balanced but the sound does fluctuate a bit from perfect to slightly muffled as he moved, or was moved around, this is a Metal show after all. The taper sounds like he was in the thick of things, there is a bit of audience noise but doesn’t interfere, it just adds to the atmosphere of being there.
Somewhere In Time was a visually stunning record cover based upon Sci Fi with the futuristic cyborg Eddie, all of which translated to the live presentation. Futuristic stage design and lighting were all the rage, and let’s not forget Bruce Dickinson’s light up jacket at the start of the show. The band used music from the Blade Runner movie as stage intro music that sets the mood and Maiden hit the stage with Caught Somewhere In Time as the opening number. The song is a perfect opener and like some of the best Maiden songs, has that galloping beat, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith establish blistering solos early on. What is nice is that each instrument is clearly defined and heard, so we can also enjoy Steve’s bass and Nicko’s incredible drumming.
2 Minutes To Midnight is the second song, the audience help out although it sounds like some spent their singing lesson money on beer. The song sounds very heavy and is definitely a crowd pleaser. Children Of The Damned is revived having made only a few sporadic appearances on the last tour, sounding incredible too and a punter near the taper sings along. This is the first tour to feature keyboards live, Steve’s bass tech Michael Kenny would be positioned off stage and he can be clearly heard on Stranger In A Strange Land adding some subtle synthesizer to best recreate the studio sound. The songs tempo is a bit faster, this is common for Iron Maiden to be a bit faster live.
Bruce gives a nice shout out to Philly and their support over the years and acknowledges the fact that the concert was sold out. Great version of Wasted Years follows, another great Adrian song that translates to the stage and by the judge of things is already a crowd favorite. Bruce begins to introduce the next song as “the longest song the band has done….you know what it is” and we settle in for the epic Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. Having missed the World Slavery Tour (sacrilege I know), this was my first taste of this song live. A headbangers feast, great riffs and time changes, Nicko’s drum patterns are superb and the band is definitely having a great night. The audience is restless during the middle ambient section…then the spell starts to break and it’s a full on explosion of Metal.
One of my favorite parts of these concerts is the guitar solo, loosely titled Walking On Air aka Walking On Glass is an ambient piece featuring both Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, in fact it dates to Adrian’s Entire Population Of Hackney project. The players are bathed in blue light and are joined by Michael Kenny for a wonderful piece that seems to mellow the crowd a bit, beautifully captured in this recording. Steve Harris’ brilliant composition Heaven Can Wait is the last of the new songs, a song about a near death experience it would be a live favorite for years to come.
The main set is rounded off by the Trilogy of Terror beginning with the excellent Phantom Of The Opera, Steve’s bass playing is clear in the mix and it’s great to listen to his playing on one of his earliest Prog pieces, great version for sure. Hallowed Be Thy Name sound almost ominous is this recording, the bass is overloading giving a drone like sound for the first minute. Classic Maiden perfectly sung by Bruce, this is his Tour de Force and the audience knows just what to do, thanks to the Live After Death VHS tape. Iron Maiden completes the trilogy, the audience love the huge Eddie ‘ead and hands that come crawling from the stage, for those who have not seen it, look up a video from this tour, just fantastic.
The encores are standard for the tour beginning with The Number Of The Beast, great part of the tape is someone scream “six hundred and sixty six and another is like “YEEEAAAHHHH”, this is a Metal show baby! You can hear the taper sing along with the chorus, universal language is music people. Obvious crowd favorite Run To The Hills follows, a double dose from the classic Number Of The Beast record, again our hero can be heard singing the chorus, one wonders who would sing on their own tape, the music just takes you over. Also it is faint and not loud so don’t be scared. The final song is Running Free and of course the audience gets one last chance to scream their heads off thanks to the standard sing along with Bruce section. The audience tape runs out at the 5:17 mark of the song and Zodiac uses the pro shot video audio to complete the last 1:33 of the song. The transition between sources is well done. “Thank you all Philly, fucking brilliant…even my Mum enjoyed it” are Bruce’s comments and he is right, an excellent concert.
The packaging is typical Zodiac, full color covering featuring official Somewhere In Time graphics and live shots from the tour. Picture discs and numbered sticker all housed in a slim line jewel case. Great new recording and always happy to add another Maiden show to the collection. This is a great title for the serious collector but the fluctuating sound may irritate the casual collector.