Rock in Rio by Iron Maiden is one of my all time favourite live albums, a double disc helping of pure unchecked metal awesomeness. The classic Live After Death (1985) is often sighted as Maidens best live release, chronicling their epic World Slavery tour, and while there is no doubt that album rocks, for me Rock In Rio just pips it as my favourite live cut from the band.
The History Lesson:
Before I get into the music I just want to outline the magnitude of this show for those of you who only have a passing familiarity with Maiden. This was the first tour featuring what is considered the classic Maiden line up of; Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Nicko McBrain after Adrian left before 1990’s No Prayer For The Dying and Bruce’s departure after 1992’s Fear Of The Dark. This re-united classic line up where further bolstered by the continuing presence of the awesome and who I consider massively underrated, Janick Gers. The concert took place at the Rock In Rio festival in Brazil in 2001, and was watched by a live audience of 250,000 and an estimated 1 billion TV audience. Maiden have only ever played to a larger crowd once, at the same festival in 1985 which featured a crowd of 300,000. This set was also the last one of their Brave New World, world tour
Starting with the Jerry Goldsmith composed Arthur’s Farewell from the Sean Connery staring First Knight the band erupt with a blistering performance of The Wicker Man, the first track of that tours new album, 2000’s Brave New World. I’ve always been a big fan of The Wicker Man and it was a great song to reintroduce the line up and Adrian Smith got to show straight away that his chops hadn’t dulled with time letting rip with a classic guitar solo.
Album Highlight: Ghost Of The Navigator
Next up was another track of the new album, Ghost Of The Navigator. I love this version of the track and energy the band has. The scream of “I can’t fucking here you” from Bruce and the eruption of a glorious riff that for me has always felt Kashmir flavoured (don’t ask why) is just fantastic. Ghost Of The Navigator is a classic Maiden track for me, with some more awesome guitar work from Janick :)… that bend at the start of the solo is perfection!
On we go…
Continuing on the we get one more track off the new album and it’s the title track Brave New World, I’ve always found the intro lyrics to that song some of Maidens oddest with talk of dying Swans. Then it’s onto something from their Jurassic period with spirited performance of Wrathchild.
Album Highlight: 2 Minutes To Midnight
One of my favourite Maiden songs with that classic intro (played by Janick to start with), 2 Minutes to Midnight seethes with energy and some great crowd interaction during the choruses, this song demands to be listened to loud!
No rest for the wicked…
Next is another track off the new album dedicated to Maiden fans and metal fans in general, Blood Brothers. Starting with a melodic clean riff that is instantly hummable the song then opens out into a massive chorus that will never fail to get the crowd singing along. Not one of my favourites I’ll admit but it’s power as a live track can’t be denied. Next up is Sign Of The Cross, one of two tracks played from the much maligned Blaze Bailey period. I’m not a huge fan of the Blaze period and Futureal is for me Iron Maidens Ronnie. Sign Of The Cross isn’t a bad track though, sure it can feel a bit plodding in places but I think it works OK in the set. Truthfully I would of rather had Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner as the discs epic though! Mercenary follows up Sign Of The Cross, another new track and it holds up well.
Album Highlight: The Trooper
Another classic and staple of any Maiden set, the Trooper with that slippery sound legato riff and galloping rhythm that has become synonymous with Maiden. A metal classic and also now the namesake of an excellent beer. For me this version is all the better as we get to hear the triple guitar threat of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers let rip. Full of energy and with some excellent crowd participation The Trooper stands tall again.
The next installment will be of course a look back at disc two which is my favourite and features some awesome performances across the board and is much more classics focused than disc one, with only one track off Brave New World featuring.
Brave New World – Live at Rock In Rio (2001)