Seventh Son Of Stockholm (Zodiac 022)
Isstadion, Stockholm, Sweden – September 30, 1988
Disc 1 (41:57) Moonchild, The Evil That Men Do, The Prisoner, Wrathchild, Infinite Dreams, The Trooper, Can I Play With Madness, Heaven Can Wait
Disc 2 (56:16) Wasted Years, The Clairvoyant, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, The Number Of The Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden, Run To The Hills, Running Free, Sanctuary
The folks at Zodiac have been releasing consistent Metal titles since their incarnation, for their second Iron Maiden title they have us going back in time to 1988 and the band’s Seventh Tour of a Seventh tour. A nice choice as Maiden is currently in the final stages of a retro tour featuring the stage performances from this era, the ice covered set was epic in every way. The recording from the Isstadion in Stockholm, Sweden is a very good audience source, clear and atmospheric with a perfect balance of music to audience. The recording slightly favors the upper frequencies and although the bottom end is represented it is just slightly boomy. The performance is excellent with the band riding on a high level of success and their Seventh Son record was massively popular in the UK and Europe.
The recording begins with the Seven deadly sins intro and the sound is muffled and during the first minute of “Moonchild” it clears significantly as if the taper was finding a good position for his equipment, the audience is excited to be seeing the band and give them a nice ovation as they take the stage. Bruce mutters something just prior to singing the first verse of the song, it is apparent by the end of the song as he admonishes a group down front for moshing. A month previous at the massive Donnington Festival, of which Maiden headlined to capacity crowd, 2 fans had been crushed earlier during a set by Guns n Roses. The cries of a newborn fill the air and we go into “The Evil That Men Do” and Bruce gives a formal introduction to the evenings festivities. The song is particularly aggressive and Bruce screams “Lord have mercy of your souls Sweden” as the band steamroll over the audience. The band goes old school with “The Prisoner” and a really strong version of “Wrathchild”, the crowd screaming the chorus of the song to great effect. What is nice about this tour is the band would change the set list slightly depending on what leg they were in, as evident towards the end of this tour when they recorded what was to become the Maiden England project (newly re mastered and currently available on DVD / CD). Thankfully the music from the new record remained in the set as it is extremely strong; case in point is “Infinite Dreams”. With its diverse time change and dream like lyrics it is simply perfect and contains everything I love about the band, with melodic twin guitars and fast and heavy riffs plus excellent drumming by Nicko who seems to punctuate at every twist and turn. The band carry the momentum by going almost non stop into “The Trooper” and the crowd follows directly in, true to form sing the opening lines and ooohhhh chorus of the beloved live favorite.
Bruce has to again the crowd behavior down in the front, the band do not want to see anybody hurt so Bruce tells them if to leave! “Can I Play With Madness” follows and is like a sing a long between band and audience, the song is one of the band’s most commercial efforts and summarizes the synergy that the band had during this period and why the Seventh Son record was so popular. The entire band was writing together and the feeling of camaraderie was at a maximum level, this live version is superb, the recording is so clear you can hear Michael Kenny’s keyboards adding some filler to the sound to help give it the full feeling. There is no slowing down now and the band plow into “Heaven Can Wait”, Bruce has to do little to get the audience; they are very loud during the middle parts where they sing the ohh, oohh part. Bruce tells then “I can’t hear your Stockholm” in obvious jest.
The second disc begins with “Wasted Years” and the incessant clapping of the audience who keep up the pace for the whole song; they are in heat and are giving off as much energy as the band who returns with a powerful performance. With Sweden being the homeland of the Norsemen “The Clairvoyant’s” chorus of “A time to live, a time to die, a time to meet your maker” seem to resonate within the audience and they seem to take pleasure in the song and its chorus, so much that Bruce asks them if they are having a good time, an answer to which he knows the answer. Bruce talks of the success of the new record and the addition of keyboards and he gives his opinion much to the delight of the crowd. The keyboards do play a role in the title track “Seventh Son”, the use of haunting sounds gives the song the feeling of an cinematic epic, of a land of extreme wilderness and one’s struggles to survive. Owing a certain nod to “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”, the songs do have certain similarities, excellent time changes and the incredible twin guitars of Smith and Harris who’s use of melody is sounds most lyrical. The audience cannot contain their energy and begin to clap loudly during the quiet center section, duly rewarded when the heavy section slams into them full force, with both guitars blazing in solo and ultimately grinding them to a pulp in superb fashion.
The trilogy of terror comes next, “The Number of the Beast” starts of the three song trifecta in superb fashion. The band play effortlessly and it seems to just flow out of them. Bruce complained early about not being of strong voice and you can really here it during this song, thankfully the band backs him. His lungs will be put to the test with the opening of “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, he musters up super human energy and nails the opening howl in superb fashion. He does get a much needed vocal rest as the band takes over and hammer out the song, it is like a perfectly tuned motor as they move through all the songs twists and turns and turn in a strong version of the concert staple. “Iron Maiden” lashes out at the audience as it should, primal fury in a most brutal fashion the song finishes the main set, but the audience still wants more.
The band are brought back for more, Bruce introduces the band as the ones “who do the damage” and interestingly Michael Kenny is introduced also! The audience is jazzed up to the max as the band break into “Run To The Hills”, Bruce gets the crowd to help him out and they do so in spades and are deafening while singing the chorus. The song has a chaotic ending that is really nice and “Running Free” follows non stop, there is a small cut during the very beginning for a tape flip but nothing but the drumming is lost. The song is played at a fast pace and the audience participation section has Bruce giving Sweden song props and then says they are having a loudest crowd contest between Stockholm and the next nights gig in Gothenburg. Bruce thanks the audience as they go directly into “Sanctuary”, all three songs played just non stop. Bruce does a different vocal at the first break as he sings “yeah” very quietly and then works the crowd over as only he can, Adrian plays that rips you at the throat and Dave answers with an equally intense one, for the last song in a two hour set it really delivers.
The packaging is excellent, full color inserts with Seventh Son graphics and live shots, all housed in a slim lined jewel case. This release has it all, the superb performance is reason enough alone to invest in this title, one that all Maiden fans should have in their collection. Highly recommended.