I’ve been struggling to get time to draft reviews recently – work’s been really hectic the last few weeks – but when the latest Iron Maiden platter drops into your inbox you make the time!
Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City was recorded in September 2019 at the Palacio de los Deportes as part of the Legacy of the Beast tour. As such, it’s chock full of oldies (songs as well as band members!) which is no bad thing. The venue holds up to 26,000 and it bloody sounds like it on the recording, too, with a football-crowd like distant roar throughout.
With the opening of Churchill’s speech leading straight into “Aces High” there are immediate parallels with the classic Live After Death album which began in the same way. However, as soon as the guitars erupt you know it’s a different recording. The three axes are immediately apparent, largely down to the crystal clear production. The next major difference is in Bruce’s vocals which are obviously those of a man who’s aged… well, as much as I have since that Long Beach Arena date in 1985 (holy crap, that’s 35 years!). And his voice box has been punished more than mine through all the live shows in between as well as a well-known battle with the big C.
Despite being a little out of breath through the opening number, and let’s face it the guy’s probably running round like a squirrel on speed throughout it, those famous vocal cords seem to have settled down for “Where Eagles Dare” and the customary “Scream for me…!” cry. Of course, the crowd respond. This is a largely instrumental track and it gives the rest of the band a chance to shine right down to Steve Harris’s plunking which is clearly audible – an incredible feat for a live recording.
A point I always pick up on in live albums is the crowd noise. There’s no point in recording the band and not getting that atmospheric sound into the mix as well, and as stated earlier the 20+ thousand mad Mexicans are in fine voice. They feature in the chants and the between-song roars… but they sound a little distant. It does mean that the album has a slightly different sound to one recorded in a smaller venue, which makes sense, but you just get the feeling that they’re listening from the back of the arena at times rather than rammed up against the crash barrier. However, there’s no faulting the fact that they’re definitely there, something that’s often missing in live albums.
So the recording is good, and the band are (of course) on point. The setlist is primarily from the first few albums, as the tour was based on these, and for my money that’s a highlight. A couple of the tracks make a rare “recorded live” appearance (for example, “Where Eagles Dare” has only previously been on A Real Live One, and “The Clansman” has a single earlier appearance as well – also in the Americas – on Rock in Rio), while some of the others have been on several of Maiden’s numerous live releases. However, this is a snapshot of a tour and as such it does a good job.
The question that always remains is… is it worth having, especially with it featuring so many songs that have been out and about in various forms already? Well, if you value good production then it has that. The setlist is a great one, so that’s covered. And the fact that it’s a warts-and-all recording (not that there are many warts) of the band taken just last year, it is a nice waypoint in their career. For those who managed to see them on tour, it would be a nice memento and better than the video you took on your phone and realised when you got home was actually a bit shit. Then uploaded it to YouTube anyway.
It’s good. I enjoyed it. It’s not as good as Live After Death or Donington 1992, but they are frankly masterpieces. I’d not say it’s essential, but if you do have a spare few bob kicking around then it would be a worthwhile addition to the collection.
Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City is out on November 20th