Before Bruce Dickinson left Maiden for a solo career, he played with mixed feelings onstage and reassured himself and the band that he was still fully committed at the time. Maiden were a well-established band and their latest release was loosely aimed at attracting younger fans, and covering the deep-seated turbulence of the band with a positive musical emphasis.
To finish The Fear of the Dark Tour, they played at Castle Donnington and sold 68,500 tickets in advance. After the tragic deaths of two boys during Guns N' Roses set of Donnington '88, the capacity number had to be lowered, even though it was the mosh pit where the brutal deaths happened and remained the only capacitated area of the entire festival. After the more diverse metal bands of this year's Donnington performed their set, Maiden came on, and performed a set taken with pride, recorded, released and reviewed.
The trademark chants of "Maiden, Maiden" bring Donnington to life and opener Be Quick or be Dead
is played so eloquently, it could be mistaken for a studio version. Be Quick or be Dead
was from their last studio album at the time, Fear of the Dark
. At many points in this album, there's a strange feeling that the album of Live at Donnington
was a little over-produced and deceiving to the sound quality. Unlike Live after Death
, Bruce's voice stays on top form without any lapse in quality.
Bruce also has the crowd involved in a lot of the songs here, and performed the set with a minimal amount of that 'more talk, less play' ethic that many new bands tend to follow. In comparison to Rock in Rio
, it doesn't seem as exciting; for example, Fear of the Dark
is played with less intensity (although, I'd like to see any band play a better live version than Rock in Rio's
Another attribute I should point out is that Fear of the Dark
isn't Maiden's most successful album, but still sold well at the time. One reason being that it was released in 1992, when Nirvana were known as the world's biggest band in great contrast to 1982-1984. The second reason being Iron Maiden had gone for a different look in order to appeal to Generation X with varying results and a horde of annoyed fans. The set consists of both old fan favourites and diverse new material that will either have you skipping tracks or embracing the early 90's set list.
The crowd are as loud and passionate as ever when Iron Maiden
ends with the audience still crying out for moreï¿½ four more to be exact. After Nicko finishes the final song with a short drum solo, the band return with Hallowed be thy Name
and the crowd participation makes for a worthy competition for Maiden themselves. Then a particularly frenzied version of The Trooper
shows off Maiden's expressive live act.
Bruce spends the short moments between Sanctuary
and Running Free
presenting the band and thanking the crew. Before Running Free
ends, Bruce thanks the supporting acts and their incredible efforts, then has the crowd screaming "I'm running free yeah, I'm running free" loud enough to last until the next British tour. It all finishes with Bruce and Nicko thanking the audience over and over again before a minute of the fans final appreciations.
Before buying this album, you should at least listen to the Fear of the Dark
album since this set was the final show for the corresponding tour. Besides the perpetual thought of "was there more studio time than sound checks and encores?", this should be a definite addition for Tailgunner
: Be Quick or be Dead
, Iron Maiden