Review Summary: Iceberg!!!!! Revisited...
Call me sad, but I currently have flights booked and eight tickets for shows on the European leg of the Maiden England 2013 tour. I saw the show when it came to my city and being first to the barrier was nothing short of amazing. But considering one of the shows in particular I have a ticket to- Donington in particular- is an extra special occasion as it's a 25th anniversary show, it'd be a sin to miss it. The 1988 show at Donington Park in Derbyshire, UK was a massive event- the band played to a sold crowd of an estimated 100, 000. Of course, there was a tragedy early in the afternoon- two kids died from an incident in the crowd, and that shook the people up. Yet even still, the sheer response from the crowd was a big event for Maiden, as Maiden they'd headline that park four more times. And it was all thanks to the support tour for Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
, aptly titled Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour.
The tour was the band's biggest in a long time- since the World Slavery Tour that ran for 11 months and 193 shows, the band's tours became more bombastic and theatrical. This tour would represent the iceberg artwork that decked Seventh Son
, meant to look like a frozen lake with icebergs and a mountain in the background. Of course, it's no secret that Bruce Dickinson was critical of the post Powerslave
tour sets and even Steve Harris was critical of the STOAST set:
"We thought the Seventh Son stage show just got a bit out of hand. I mean, the actual Eddie and the backdrops I thought looked amazing, but the giant icebergs and stuff were a bit naff, I think [...]
In addition, the road crew hated the icebergs and all the white that covered the stage, as they were nigh-impossible to keep clean. Yet even these stated facts didn't stop the band from going on to document the 1988 tour. On November 27th and 28th, the band played two massive, sold out shows to the Birmingham NEC, which were filmed and recorded for a DVD/CD release. Whereas Rod Smallwood had complete control over Live After Death
, Steve had control over Maiden England
- his aim was to depict the show through the eyes of the crowd. And boy, does it work well here. There's very few drum kit shots or from the stage shots- the 90% of the show can be seen from the barrier, the balconies, the stands, etc. It's very effective, and at times has a bit of a bootleg vibe, as if it was pieced together from a number of camcorders- this was all Steve's idea, and it worked brilliantly here.
The band's performance is on fire here, as they usually are. Bruce had the flu and it's very obvious in his singing, but he still puts on a hell of a show. He still runs and jumps about, messes with the crowd and even plays with a Sooty puppet at one point in a Welsh accent! The key performer on this package is Dave Murray- I've always been biased as his more classical style of guitar was what drew me to Maiden's guitar playing in article, but here, he's must insane. His solos, particularly "The Prisoner" are just killer. He also runs and jumps about the stage, just like Janick too! Nicko is playful as he always is, and Steve is just bundles of energy personified. This may not be the best performance of theirs, but it's proof that the band has what it takes to never disappoint.
The band storm through a 110 minute set that begins with "Moonchild"- a burst of pyro goes off and the band are in full-on mode. The usual theatricality is there- tons of pyro (gerbs, fireballs, even an Eddie's head on fire), and lighting that sets moods that range from ominous to mystical. There's the usual two eddies- the first makes an appearance during "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" that looks like a scribe, and the second being the usual big Eddie in the style of the SSOASS artwork.
Special attention must be drawn to the added encores- in the original release, they weren't featured as of people already had the songs, but here they're back and in full form. The encore begins with "Run to the Hills", which takes care of itself as it always does. Next is "Running Free", which is always fierce and fiery, and the band does the usual "slowing things down near the end and letting the audience sing along" thing they usually do. Last up is "Sanctuary", and let's just say, this easily justifies the purchase of the DVD. It's as fast and fierce and fiery as it usually is, but one particular part that raises hairs and sends chills is when the lights flash red and blue (emulating police lights) and has the crowd mock the police sirens. Just goes to show you his true showmanship!
AS FOR THE REST OF THE DVD...
The 5.1 DTS track is the reason to buy the DVD. Mixed by Kevin Shirley, it sums up why I always prefer DTS tracks to Dolby and the sound is just loud, grand and epic. Excellent use of the back speakers with tons of dynamics you can practically breathe in- it'd be a crime not to watch it with the DTS track. As for the special features, the 40 minute documentary does pale compared to the 60 minute one on Live After Death
and the 90 minute one on The History of Iron Maiden Part 1: The Early Days
. But it's nonetheless entertaining and covers the synth era in 40 minutes- but the most compelling part is when it ends on a chilling cliffhanger where Adrian says bluntly into the camera, "I wasn't happy with it at all... and then a year later, I wasn't in the band". Bring on the Donington Live 92
DVD! The 12 Wasted Years
documentary is featured, which is fun to watch, and the promo videos for the hits from both Somewhere in Time
and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
albums, which you most likely already have on Visions of the Bast
In closing, Maiden England '88
is the perfect way to revisit a beloved era for all Maiden fans, and for a number of reasons too. For one, the complete show is available for the first time ever, and it also is just nice to have the show on DVD, PERIOD. Yeah, it does kind of suck there's no blu-ray release, but considering it was shot on video, chances are it wouldn't translate. Either way, this is money well spent! For old fans, it'll be a lovely trip down memory lane, and for the new fans, it's the perfect way to open the door to an era that's considered to be a staggeringly interesting one by even the outsiders.
Now, the only thing left I have to say?
UP THE IRONS!!!!