Iron Maiden, as a collective band have always seemed to perfectly embody the phrase "larger than life". Even from their modest beginnings in Leyton, East London, the band managed to pull together an impressive live performance, relying on shocking stage antics as much as their flawless recreations of studio material. As the band's popularity grew, so did their penchant for elaborate stage shows, incorporating impressive bursts of pyrotechnics, colossal Eddie figurines and meticulously crafted stages the band did everything in their power to make one of their concerts into more of a transcendental experience, than your everyday live show. Whether it be the actual music, or the theatrics that accompany them, Iron Maiden concerts have always been top draw within metal, consistently pulling in thousands of eager fans per concert. Come 2001, following the release of the excellent Brave New World
, the first studio album in 10 years to feature the band's classic line-up, it's not surprising in the least to think a whopping 250,000 punters would turn up for that years Rock In Rio, ready to support one of the world's finest bands. Perhaps it was just luck, or maybe even a wee bit of foresight that lead Maiden to record this event for the live album simply entitled Rock In Rio
, which as it turned out to be, is one best live albums ever to be released.
While on record, Maiden's brand of classic metal is nearly infallible, the live arena is really where the band peaks and thrives. That is the way it is, has been, and always will be; even in old age, the band plays with more heart and energy then most groups a quarter of their age. Of course, it's this youthful exuberance that prompts the crowd for absolute madness, that at times, can aid the quality of a concert as seen many times on Rock In Rio
. Particularly Brave New World
based songs, such as "The Wicker Man" and "Blood Brothers" benefit greatly from the backdrop of 250,000 people screaming wildly, giving the songs a certain level of depth that is strangely absent from their studio counterparts. Aside from acting as a conductor of fan madness, Bruce Dickinson, Rock In Rio
is yet another example of why the "air raid siren" is one of the best frontmen in music history. His performance is literally flawless, hitting every note perfectly, from the ending wail of old time favorite "Wrathchild" to the elongated opening cry in the classic "Hallowed By Thy Name". Urging fan participation to the fullest, he'll often call for the aid of the audience, such as in "Fear of the Dark", giving the fans a feeling of self importance that could likely last them a lifetime.
Making his triumphant return along with Bruce in 1999, Adrian Smith's re-addition to the guitars is welcome for many reasons; in the studio, he has always proven to be a key songwriter and live, he's adds a level of thickness in the sound that has been absent from the very beginning, due to Maiden solely being a two guitar band in the past. Together with the lovable Dave Murray and excitable Janick Jers, the trio not only immaculately replicate many of the bands classic songs, but also add various little improvisations for additional flavors. During the solo section of "The Trooper", Adrian and Janick simultaneously perform the beginning solo, working off the others playing and each giving it their own individual stamp. Murray even brilliantly extends the solo from Powerslaves
"Two Minutes To Midnight[/i], adding brief few moments of appreciated shred. Never quitting the "in your face" approach he has always been known for, Steve Harris's distinct bass technique has the instrument acting as more of a lead instrument than rhythm. Attacking with an unrelenting precision, the quick fingered bassist lays down some serious bottom end such as on tracks like "Number of the Best" or "Sign of the Cross". Keeping everything in time, the curiously named Nicko Mcbrain, isn't without his own tricks, adding an beat every now and then as well as improvising transitions that at times, sound better then the ones presented on the records.
If you're a metal fan, seeing Iron Maiden is an absolute essential. They are the pinnacle of heavy metal performers, with none acting as rivals. From the time they were young lads, to now as seasoned veterans, this six piece has never let the fans down, always performing to their utmost ability, with their utmost determination. Rock In Rio
is literally what it sounds like for a quarter million people having their dreams realized, an experience that should be enjoyed by everyone who is smart enough to pick up this record.