Mecca Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA December 19, 1984
Disc 1 (69:53) Aces High, 2 Minutes To Midnight, The Trooper, Revelations, Flight Of Icarus, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, Powerslave, Guitar Solo, The Number Of The Beat, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden
Disc 2 (70:40) Member Introductions, Run To The Hills, Running Free, Sanctuary. Bonus Tracks; Espace Ballard, Paris, France October 29, 1984; Churchill’s Speech, Aces High, 2 Minutes To Midnight, The Trooper, Revelations, Powerslave, The Number Of The Beast, 22 Acacia Avenue, Iron Maiden Run To The Hills
Iron Maiden’s tour to support the Powerslave record is one of legend and also one of the most beloved tours the band would ever perform, it catapulted them into the arenas across the world is some would argue the pinnacle of their success in America. There are of course many audience recordings from this tour, perhaps the best of the American leg is featured here in this new release from the new label Zodiac.
The audience recording is excellent, recorded very close to the stage with little crowd noise to interfere with the recording. There is some phasing of the sound from time to time as if the person recording was moving around but is very clear well balanced and extremely detailed, certainly one to turn up loud. The Churchill intro and the first minute or so of Aces High is not present, the recording picks up as Bruce is singing “Jump in the Cockpit start up the engine”. Certainly one of the best opening combinations in all heavy metal, Aces High live is brilliant in its construction, the music matches the lyric in a cohesive way typical of Steve Harris’ compositions. A quick introduction leads the band right into part two and 2 Minutes To Midnight as Bruce demands to “see your hands in the air”, the music almost sound sluggish as if the war machine was starting its carnivorous march of destruction. Bruce is a master front man, he quickly engages the audience and they help with the songs chorus.
Bruce’s gives a proper introduction and states this is the second time Maiden has been in Milwaukee, fans know this to be true as the first time they played the city was in 1981 on their first American tour in support of the Killers record and the concert was a part of the famous Summerfest. That show also circulates on silver titles as it is a very good FM broadcast, find it and you will not be disappointed. The Trooper is the next song to be played and does not disappoint, Bruce again illicitness the audiences help with the ooooohhhoo parts to great effect and the song gets a huge ovation at its conclusion, fans close to the stage start and “Eddie…Eddie” chant that is great to hear.
Bruce gives a very nice introduction about religion and the flack that the band took over the Number Of The Beast record and the whole devil worship nonsense, the crowd is actually very respectful. Revelations is one of the early Bruce classics and said is based upon a hyme he sang in school as a youth, musically it is nice and heavy, based upon the crowds interaction with the band you can easily visualize Bruce getting the crowd to time a loud YEAH at the right time. The band is of course in excellent shape, extremely tight and like a well oiled machine, the synergy between the member cannot be broken and the addition the previous year of drummer Nicko McBrain put the final piece of the classic line up in place. The trio of songs from Piece Of Mind concludes with Flight of Icarus, Steve’s bass playing is very clear and he really drives this song. Short and simple this song is always welcome to my ears.
Bruce talks about quick radio hits and how Maiden does not do that kind of stuff and gives a short overview of the epic story that is to come, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. The band rip into the song, a very progressive one at that, and instantly they go into the signature time changes with precision and it is monolithic sounding to say the least. It is not just the time changes but the music progression as if the song was written to accent the lyrics that makes it so cohesive. You can hear the turmoil during the fast riffing part just before the slow spoken word interlude.It amazes me that the audience are so subdued during the quiet slow section, as if they are transfixed on the music and band as they should be.
Again it is Steve that seems to lead the charge as his bass is mixed perfectly with the rest of the band but definitely in the foreground. The guitarists seem to take over from there and guide the ship, first Adrian then Dave and finally the both of them simply just riff it to perfection and one can hear Bruce working it as the crowd is once again cheering as he visually instructs them, simply put musical perfection. The song is linked non stop with the title track from the Powerslave record via a haunting laugh, as if one is drunk with ….power. There is a brief cut in the song at the 6:04 point in the song, presumably for a tape flip, and the cut is very smooth and only a very small amount of music is lost. The song ends with the wizard taking command in the form of a Dave Murray guitar solo, it is very ethereal sounding as if the notes are floating around the arena until he goes into the Star Spangled Banner ala Hendrix with the help or should I say intrusion of Nicko as he is trying to add something.
The ovation for Dave is short as it is interrupted by the spoken word introduction of The Number Of The Beast, a song you would guess that the crowd has been waiting for, there a some cheers in appreciation.
The song is the first in a revamped trilogy of terror, Bruce sings the opening lyrics with an evil sound in his voice that is very effective. The song seems to awaken the crowd and they cheery loudly at its conclusion and take this new found energy into the next song from the same record, the brilliant Hallowed Be Thy Name. No Maiden concert is complete without it, in my humble opinion, musically it is awesome and it is also a vehicle for Bruce to work the crowd and he does his magic. I love the live versions and when listening to the studio one it seems to be missing something towards the end without the crowd cheers as the band is playing the swirling music. The clapping continues as the band reaches the culmination of the set and the Iron Maiden, I wonder how many in the audience knew what they were in for at the mid song break as the huge Eddie appears high over the drum riser in dramatic fashion, the entire arena erupts at first sighting and is incredible to hear in this recording. At the songs end Bruce gives the classic line, “Give me ‘ead till I’m dead” and the main set ends, for the encore please switch discs.
A great introduction by Bruce for Nicko, a man who did not invent rock and roll but who was invented by it, a man that is so ugly….by the cd to hear the rest. Run To The Hills is the first encore, big hit single time and the crowd is on their feet, clapping and even singing the words ! The crowd is 100 percent into the show and are willing participants for Running Free. The song itself is always a welcome addition to the set, and early classic and vehicle for audience participation, Bruce engages a member of the crowd who is just standing there in hilarious fashion, he even has a lot to say about all the handsome men in the crowd on this eve, certainly one of the most entertaining version of this song. Bruce gives the crowd a big thanks and a big thanks to 93Q FM for supporting the band and the band say thank you with one last song, the early classic Sanctuary makes for a perfect closing number. A excellent concert in both performance and sound quality.
The filler on the second disc comes from the bands performance in Paris France on the same tour two months from the bands European leg of the tour. There are two know recordings from the gig, an good audience recording and an very good soundboard FM broadcast recording, the latter is featured here.
Clocking in at 49 minutes 9 seconds the entire circulating recording is here and begins with Churchill’s speech and the crowd going ape shit. The sound is very good and clear, the mix is perfect but obviously comes from a broadcast tape and not a pre fm master. Aces High features some really aggressive singing from Bruce, he sounds in complete control of his voice and growls the lyrics versus wailing. Adrian rips into his solo with aggression, a word that summarizes the entire bands playing. “Bon Sior Paris” is a quick intro before 2 Minutes keep the energy going but it is The Trooper that levels the audience as it a furious version here. .
As with Aces High Bruce seems to growl the lyrics to Powerslave, the more aggressive sound of the song really works, Adrian rips a great solo to boot. What was nice about the early European and UK leg of the tour is that the band included songs not played in other parts of the world, we have the great 22 Acacia Avenue on this recording. The Smith / Harris song was initially written by Adrian and performed by his pre Maiden group Urchin where Steve Harris first heard it. When Adrian was assimilated and the band were writing their first record of completely new material (The Number Of The Beast) he remembered the song and they re worked it into its final shape. You can here the Harris addition in the quick time change part between the main riff. Bruce spews the lyrics to Iron Maiden, and the whole gig seems to have a really aggressive sound and nature to it. Run To The Hills finishes of the recording in excellent fashion.
The packaging are full color inserts packaged in a slim lined jewel case, the graphics are excellent showing Egyptian hieroglyphics and of course a shot of the Eddie sarcophagus plus a couple live shots to boot and the CD’s have images of the Powerslave album cover on them. This is one of the shows Maiden collectors have been clambering about for some time, this release is much welcomed and an impressive release from this new label and hopefully more are to come.