By Enrico Spinelli

As you have understood by now I am a real passionate about Iron Maiden, which in the past led me in a short time to collect all the official production of the group (excluding just a couple of collections because the space in the house is what it is), a passion that even today makes me tremble with impatience at every outing. This is why I didn't hesitate to throw myself into this "otherwise official" box set, thanks to the price of 20 euros which, for 6 CDs, seemed to me anyway convenient. But let's go into the musical content, since the package is obviously spartan, a rigid digipack without booklet and with a blatant misprint in the tracklist printed on the back (not to mention that there are no indications about the concert locations, so I had to recover them a bit 'around and a little from the exclamations of Bruce Dickinson... and then they say that interaction with the public is useless).

I apologize in advance for the prolixity. And so...


We are faced with 4 live shows of more or less different periods;  None of these are complete and a couple of songs even close mid-performance, but the audio all in all remains at acceptable levels for most of the performances, experiencing some drop here and there (in some cases conspicuous), so it may be useful to keep the volume control close at hand. Net of this let's analyze the shows in question.

Cd 1 and cd 2: these represent the real "gem" (so to speak) of the box since they contain one of the few live shows of which we have no official testimonies. 1998, Virtual XI tour, then Blaze Bailey on vocals. It is one of the less cut shows and we would like to thank for the songs discarded because they belong to the Dickinsonian repertoire: it is no mystery, in fact, that the good Blaze is absolutely unable to sing those songs (Hallowed Be Thy Name in this sense is a real torment for the ears). Mind you, it is not the fault of our dear Blaze who for his part does all he can to personalize the performance and not mimic the bulky predecessor (it is almost tender when to announce 2 Minutes to Midnight, he shouts to the audience "What time is it? "- and luckily the piece fades in mid-performance because it is really terrible -), we are really talking about objective vocal limits. So what is it, or could it be the value of such a live show? Brace yourselves... the re-evaluation of Virtual XI! Well yes, although I do not despise some out of the group I do not hide that I have always struggled in approaching that work, and instead I must admit that the songs reproduced live (6 of 8, not a few) work very well, both classic Futureal and The Clansman as well as the darker Lighting Strike Twice, When two Worlds Collide and The Educated Fool (a real beauty). 3 you will be surprised to discover that even The Angel and the Gambler in the live venue acquires considerable points in favor. Little to say about the excerpts from The X Factor (Sign of the Cross, Man On The Edge and Lord of the Flies) which were already great in the studio. Let's say that if we want to see the glass half full, here we find something interesting (I know, it would be enough for Blaze to publish a live made only of songs from his Maidenian period, but in the meantime, I am satisfied).

Cd 3: let's take a step back and go to the Monsters of Rock in Reggio Emilia, 1992, one of Bruce Dickinson's last shows before the separation. 10 songs, half a lineup in short, with all the limitations that ours had at the time (it is well known how he was not very well with his voice). However, the quality of the performance both on the executive and auditory level is substantially good (not very far from the "Live in Donington").

Cd 4 and cd 5: leap forward and let's go to 2000, Brave New World tour in Eindhoven (although I think the last songs are from another date because it is not clear who the good Bruce is referring to in speaking). It had to be an outdoor and rather rainy date anyway since at a certain point the good Bruce says to the audience "look to the sky and fuck off the rain, and this is perhaps the basis of the many drops in volume (homogeneous) that will affect the audio of the whole show - among the least cut in the box (just The Wicker Man and 3 other songs) - but still good, well played and with Dickinson in excellent vocal form. In The number of the Beast, the beginning is disturbed by someone, because he starts to rant against the unfortunate person on duty instead of singing, and Iron Maiden is cut in half (but not particularly loving the piece so I won't lose any sleep). Not indispensable, "Rock in Rio" is certainly more exhaustive, but certainly indicative of the great state of grace of the group in one of the most renowned tours in recent history.

Cd 6: back to 1992 (!!!) For a show in Mexico, almost complete (4 songs missing), quite raw or in the sounds but still listenable, always as long as you are ready to turn up the volume when needed. For the rest, the same considerations made for disc 3 apply.

Summing up we are faced with 3 objectively superfluous live shows (there are better and more complete ones in the official circuit) and one good only for Blaze fans or for those who want to give themselves the opportunity to re-evaluate it; however, there are no major flaws in the audio and there are more than 300 minutes of music at a low price... The choice at this point is yours and based on how hungry you are for the Iron Maiden live, for all others, however, there is something to satisfy yourself in the official circuit.

Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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