DVD: Iron Maiden – Live After Death

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Label: Universal Music

Released: February 5, 2008

The fact that this DVD flat out rules is no surprise. Iron Maiden is one of metal’s most technical and most literate bands and, as if that’s not enough, they’re a blast live. Other than a few foggy Spinal Tap-esque moments during the epic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Maiden never comes across as self-indulgent. Their stage, with all its Egyptian props and its huge, animated Eddie, is quite a spectacle, yet it never (even in those few clichéed moments) overwhelms the music. Bruce Dickinson, already one of the genre’s top vocalists, is also an incredibly dynamic performer. He’s everywhere, never stopping. Nicko McBrain is more exciting live than on record and Dave Murray and Adrian Smith put all the technical skill they have in the studio on display. And all of them pale next to Steve Harris. He is not only metal’s best bassist, but one rock’s best as well and he does it without being flashy. Any questions about Harris’ skill are answered right here. In some shots, his fingers are moving too fast for the human eye. Literally. He’s just that good and like Dickinson, he’s wonderfully engaging on stage.

Unlike the superficial content of so many of their peers, Maiden has always been able to translate a good command of literature and history into great rock n roll. This is never more evident than in Dickinson’s gratuitous drug reference of the night. Any other band would just ask the crowd if they liked beer or pot, but Dickinson’s pot reference involved stories about Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Queen Victoria! Even when he’s being stupid, he’s smart.

It’s no surprise that this film has held up well over the last 23 years. Iron Maiden was so unique and so few bands have even come close to matching them that they’re still fresh today. And Live After Death is one of the great concert films of all time, catching a truly great band in their prime. Why, oh why didn’t I catch them live back then? The DVD isn’t a substitute for being there, but as consolation prizes go, it’s nothing short of awesome.

In addition to the original concert that was released on VHS in 1985, this DVD re-issue comes with a second disc which includes videos, stills, live footage and two short documentaries. As if disc 1 wasn’t enough, the bonus material isn’t just the regular third-rate add-ons. The footage from their trip to Poland is particularly interesting. It was a bold move by a bold band and those young Polish rock fans of 1985 probably have an appreciation for Maiden that none of us can even understand.

Rating: 10/10

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About bobvinyl

bobvinyl, writer and co-editor of No Song is an Island, founded its predecessor, Rock and Roll and Meandering Nonsense (whose archives are found here), in 2005 and served as editor and principal contributor until it went on hiatus in 2010. He has also been published in AMP and Loud Fast Rules! (in print) as well as Glide and FensePost on the web. He has been an avid record collector since he was seven years old and enjoys sharing his love of music from the common to the esoteric.

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