Ever since listening to the Live After Death upon release back in 1985, I believed that there would never be such an awesome live album. But since we moved from Metal's climax in the 80's to "Alternative Grunge" in the 90s, and even more to pop/idol senstations (and I use those terms loosely, mind you( of today in the 00's, I've given up hope that crowds are truly as interested in seeing the performer as much as the performer is interested in seeing the crowds.
That said, 30 years later, and finally picking up a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance (Which they couldn't pick up due to touring - you gotta love their dedication to fans when they're on the road!), they come back full force with an album that doesn't compromise, doesn't "explore new directions" like other bands have unsuccessfully done, and remains classic Maiden metal while delivering fresh new songs, topics and energy while delivering that familiar sound that some of us have enjoyed for years - and decades.
Having been blown away by the new material when Iron Maiden toured North America in 2010, I saw them in concert. They toured before the release of the album, so we heard the songs before Final Frontier hit the shelves. I truly wished I could have heard the songs first and THEN see the concert. It was a great concert, don't get me wrong, but it's nice to be familiar with the songs, especially when they make up a significant portion of the show. So after missing the Somewhere Back In Time Tour, and previewing the Final Frontier content prior to release, I was really looking forward to En Vivo. I was ready for every song they've written, and excited to hear them live - again!
The concerts in the States pale in comparison to some of the shows Iron Maiden plays around the world, and I'm really glad they showcased Santiago Chile, as the crowd is absolutely amazing, and hungry for really good European Metal. Since this isn't about the concert clips, and I"ll be reviewing the movie later, it will suffice for now that the music and audio is amazing, but hearing the audience like you can on this album gives you goose bumps. This kind of fandom doesn't happen in the States. But Chile was on fire for a night of metal, and if this album is an indication, they sound like they got everything they wanted.
The lineup really focuses on the material from Final Frontier -Coming Home, El Dorado, The Talisman- and peppers in a few classics -2 Minutes to Midnight, Running Free and others- while digging into some later "classics" like The Wicker Man, Blood Brothers and Fear of the Dark. The dividing of tracks makes sense, and represents Maiden thoroughly. The live performance of When the Wild Wind Blows, however, is probably the track worth considering. It's flawlessly executed, and ranks up there with Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Alexander The Great (Neither included on this disc, and I wish they'd record Alexander the Great live one of these days!), which I think are two of Maidens longest - and best - songs. Bruce is at his best vocally, and really sounds like every song is given 100%.
The mix I've got the CDs now (Vinyls on order for the real test!) is right, as the bass is represented, guitar solos aren't faded in (thank goodness, some live performances do that to avoid pop notes and feedback), Steve Harris pounds that bass like a spoiled child and Bruce shows the Mic respect, as no p-pops or Mic bumps are heard throught the entire performance. This is where professionals and rookies are separated and Iron Maiden has shown that they're consummate professionals.
You might say, Hey, you're a fan. You gave it 5 stars. You go to their concerts. Yes, that's correct. In fact, I'll even counter that with, "I have pit tickets for their show in the summer with my wife and teenager and I'm a member of the Fan Club". It's true. I'm a fan of a great show, new music, having Iron Maiden as old friends on my turntable, and I enjoy watching Maiden continue to evolve into the greatest rock act ever to grace a stage. Nobody today even comes close. They deliver a product unlike any other band from the album art, website, pictures, inserts, even the colored vinyl is a touch that shows that the fans are still important, and still gets benefits for buying their records. In a world where "less is more" and "Look at me, I'm sensitive and care for the environment as evidenced by my paper CD packaging and private jet world touring" types, which is a popular marketing strategy, it's nice to see some of the excesses of modern metal still delivered by the guys who do it best. That's worth paying extra for, assuming I had to. I didn't. This price is insane for what you get.
Up The Irons!