The MAIDEN Years: 2018/19/20/21/22/ad infinitum (Rock in Rio and Nights of the Dead)

Firstly, another massive thanks to @Mosh for this thorough breakdown over the last few weeks. I've really enjoyed reading these perspectives.

It's the eve of a new Maiden album launch, so I wanted to jot down a few thoughts of my own before the final entry in this retrospective. Comedian Steve Coogan mentioned in his autobiography that he has a lifelong tradition of heading to the same park bench in his home town on December 31st at the end of each decade, to reflect on the ten years that have passed. Whilst intervals between Maiden albums aren't quite so far apart, it's fair to say that a significant period of time passes between each release, and that these gaps are getting longer. Who knows if we'll have another?

I cannot wait for Senjutsu, but one very minor hesitation I have towards the new album is that it cannot possibly mean as much to me as Book of Souls has done over the past six years. I love the album, and everything about its release and subsequent tour were very special; I'm not sure if I'll ever get the chance to be so 'involved' with a release again.

I remember reading the news about Bruce's illness in early 2015, and needing to go for a drink with a friend that I've been to see Maiden with so often to talk it over- we were both so shaken. It was such a relief to hear that he had not only recovered, but that there was an album in the bag and ready to be released. I still smile at that 40 second snippet of Speed of Light that was released as a teaser.

Coincidentally, and for the only time in my life, I was working in London on the day of the album's release, so spent the night before touring the city's East End whilst listening to the debut album. I sat in the Cart and Horses and reflected on my time as a fan of the band. Of course, the music I had waiting for me the next day was excellent, and I was also lucky enough to attend a lunch and Q&A with Nicko that weekend, and have a great photo with him. I was also able to attend shows on both legs of the tour (which I know is not much compared to some fans who visit multiple shows on every tour, but was fairly unique for me!) All in all, nothing but happy memories of this time in Maiden's career. The album still feels new to me, six years later, and I always enjoy delving into it and the subsequent live album.

I was in my mid-teens when I got into Maiden, around the time of the Run to the Hills UK single rerelease in early 2002. I'm now a married dad with two kids, approaching middle age. If you'd told me around the time of Dance of Death that I would have still been excitedly waiting for a new Maiden album 18 years later, I'd never have believed you! I'm so grateful to have been around for multiple album releases over the following two decades. I hope that everyone on this board enjoys the new album tomorrow, and that it provides many years of happy listening.
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Rock in Rio 2019/Nights of the Dead
Ok, I know this is cheating and possibly blasphemous, but I wanted to watch some of the stage show for this tour so I watched an hour of Rock in Rio and then listened to the last hour of Nights of the Dead, the performances are comparable enough and it’s the same tour so it doesn't really make that much of a difference.

When the Legacy of the Beast tour was announced in late 2017, it was met with surprisingly varied reactions even though it was a pretty predictable next step for the band. As much as fans may have wanted something else, Maiden always do nostalgia tours in between albums, that’s just the way it is. Personally, I had a wait and see reaction to the news. It could be a somewhat dull rehash of the Somewhere Back in Time tour, or, since they weren’t tethered to any theme beyond a video game, it could be an opportunity to bring in some real deep cuts from throughout the band’s history. I think I even said on this forum that this would either be the most exciting Maiden setlists in years, or one of the least interesting, not much in between. It was pretty exciting though that after years of history tours, we were getting a Maiden tour where you really didn’t know what to expect.

What we ended up getting was in fact the most exciting Maiden setlist in years. Imo it is the best setlist the band has played in the entire reunion era, beating out some really tough competition. Whatever invigorated to go all out on the TBOS tour carried over to Legacy of the Beast tour and hopefully will continue for many years to come. It was great to see Maiden do a truly career spanning setlist. Definitely heavy on the 80s but a surprising amount of 90s and 00s material too. It felt very well balanced in that regard. I was certain that we would never hear a Blaze era song live again. To get The Clansman and The Sign of the Cross in the same setlist again was a dream come true. I may have been the only one in the arena who recognized it, but For the Greater Good of God was another fantastic addition I didn’t really think the band would ever play again. The great thing about this tour was that it shattered a lot of preconceived notions I had about Maiden setlists. Lots of songs I was convinced they would never play again, all back in the set and among the most memorable moments.

The selection of songs from the 80s wasn’t too shabby either. You tend to expect Revelations on these nostalgia tours, but it’s always a highlight and just uncommon enough to still feel special. On this tour especially it was a standout moment, given its place in the set. On the other end of the spectrum, you’re always going to get The Trooper, but it’s always a ton of fun. This time around it was interesting to have an Eddie appearance during the song and fairly early in the set to boot. Where Eagles Dare was a major rarity that I was thrilled for and Aces High is always a great way to start the show.

For who knows how long, the big centerpiece of the Maiden concert was one of the epics. Whether it was a big epic from the 80s they were bringing back, like Rime or Seventh Son, or one of the new epics such as The Book of Souls. This time around, it was one of the band’s most commercial singles: Flight of Icarus. Over the last couple decades, this lineup has done a great job at bringing back old favorites and revisiting most of their back catalog. Flight of Icarus was the one 80s classic that seemed unlikely to return due to the fact that the band couldn’t really agree on a tempo for it. This song rushed heavily in the 80s, despite being a mid tempo rocker on the album. Seeing it brought back at this stage seems to show that disagreements are handled more gracefully and everyone is more open to compromise. This song sounded awesome on LOTB and was a clear highlight.

Then of course you have the stage show, easily the most impressive visual feast that Maiden has put on. They really outdid themselves on the changing stages, the lighting, and the way it flows with the songs. Really cool. It even feels like they put effort into reinventing the encore section of the setlist a little bit, at least in terms of performance.

As for these live recordings, NOTD has received a lot of negative reviews and I can definitely understand why. It’s muddy sounding and not the best performance of the tour. I think it’s slightly better than the harsh criticisms suggest. For one thing I don’t think Bruce sounds that bad. He definitely sounds tired especially on the first few songs, but at the same time I don’t really expect him to hit those notes anymore. On the other hand, he sounds great on the stuff from the 90s and later. Even Flight of Icarus sounds good. The whole release seemed like a last minute thing due to the pandemic, I hope there’s still an official video in the works, but it seems like a near 0 possibility at this point.

It’s funny to talk about this live album while knowing the tour isn’t over yet. LOTB is really the perfect setlist, so it hurts to imagine them taking anything out but it seems like some changes are a sure thing. I think FTGGOG is definitely going to get swapped for Writing on the Wall. Stratego might get thrown in there, it’s short enough that they could just add it in without dropping a song, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Clansman or Sign of the Cross bite the bullet for it. Maybe even Where Eagles Dare. I don’t see any other Senjutsu songs being added though. Other than that, I could totally see them adding Phantom of the Opera, maybe in place of (again) Sign of the Cross or The Wicker Man. In general, I could see any of the 90s or later songs being dropped for more 80s stuff.

Alright folks, thanks for following along and I’ll see you after Senjutsu!
Very, very envious that you saw IM in Paris in '99. Still baffled as to why there was not even a London gig on the Ed Hunter tour. Despite Bruce's comments at the time about the UK not being a good place for metal, any show would likely have sold out.

They did not play the UK in 1999 for tax reasons (at least that is what I heard from somewhere close to the band).
NOTD is one of the few live albums I don't own a physical copy of (the others are ARLDO and some of the rarer stuff like BOH and MJ). I just find it unlistenable. It's not just the muddy sound and Bruce's knackered voice, it's mainly the awful, awful fake crowd noise which sounds like someone scraping their fingernails on a blackboard. Dreadful. I refuse to buy it. I'm much happier watching RiR on YouTube or just sat with my memories of seeing the show live in 2018.
Firstly, another massive thanks to @Mosh for this thorough breakdown over the last few weeks. I've really enjoyed reading these perspectives.

Looking ahead to seeing the band again in a couple of months, I cranked up Senjutsu in my car the other day, and was really reminded of when the album was first released. It seems odd for me to have had the album for so long and yet not seen any of the material performed live yet.

I mentioned earlier in this thread that Maiden releases have the tendency to remind me of specific times in my life, and Senjutsu has proven to be no different. Without wishing to wallow in my own personal circumstances, I was reminded that 'The Writing on the Wall' was debuted on the first anniversary of my dad's sudden death, and so it provided a jolt of optimism on an otherwise sombre and reflective day.

Likewise, I recall reading this very thread whilst in hospital, waiting for my youngest son to be born. Unfortunately, our little boy was back in hospital soon after with a severe illness aged just four weeks old, on the weekend of the album's release in September 2021. Due to COVID restrictions, my wife and I were only allowed to stay with him one person at a time, so we took turns to sit with him in the weeks that followed. I had the album on in the car, and listened to one disc at a time during the 40 minute drive to the hospital- despite not being a Maiden fan, my wife would then listen on the journey home after our swap. During our brief catch ups, she commented that she was enjoying this little ritual during what was a very difficult time. I'm happy to say that our wee boy is now a strapping young lad, full of energy, but the album always reminds me of some worrying moments in his early life.

Anyway, excuse the self indulgent reminiscences, but I mainly came back to ask if @Mosh was planning on adding his thoughts on Senjustu to this ancient thread? I really enjoyed all of the other posts.