Rock In Rio
Portrait / Columbia
There is nothing quite like live Iron Maiden, and Rock In Rio delivers it full force. Throughout high school, when I was “the guy” to borrow music from, the most popular of my cassettes (yes, cassettes) were always my Iron Maiden collection, and the most popular of my Maiden was always Live After Death. I never really could understand why, either. I loved Maiden: the screaming guitars, the powerful rhythms, and Bruce Dickinson’s unbelievable vocals highlighting complex lyrics set the standard for so many bands to come. But Live After Death was not a highlight, in my opinion: the sound was muddy, Bruce’s vocals sounded horrible, and the crowd was unintelligible when they were supposed to be singing along. If this is what a live Maiden show was like, I would stick to the studio version of their songs.
Then along came 1993, and the two separate live albums, A Real Live One and A Real Dead One, and all of those opinions changed. The production was much improved on these CDs: all of the instruments were crisp, Bruce sounded excellent (and sounded like he was having fun), and the crowd responses were handled perfectly. I would have to see them live now! Of course, Bruce Dickinson quit the band before they were released. Also released in 1993 was Live at Donnington, which I have not been able to review.
Fast forward to 2002. Bruce has returned to Iron Maiden, and they have played before 25,000 fans in Rio for this new double-live CD. The production is again top notch, and Maiden is in classic form. This is heavy metal at its finest. Nothing is watered down and nothing is held back. Everyone has fun here, fans and band alike. The band hit a few numbers from their recent studio album Brave New World, but the crowd came for the classics and they really come alive for numbers like “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “The Trooper.” According to their Web site, there was some confusion over whether or not they had to do overdubs in the studio in postproduction.
Each disc also features an Enhanced CD video, playable in any CD-ROM (PC or Mac). Disc one has a live performance of “Brave New World,” while Disc two has “A Day in the Life,” showing us behind-the scenes shots of the band in Rio before the show. These were taken from the upcoming Rock In Rio DVD/VHS release.
While I would love to give an unconditionally positive review for this set, there is a lot of repetition here. The band chose to give us a lot of the same songs we already heard live on their previous live albums. With such a full catalog to choose from, I would have loved to have heard at least one track from Somewhere In Time or No Prayer for the Dying, or any number of other songs we have never heard live.
That said, if you are a Maiden fanatic, you will already have Rock In Rio. If you are a Maiden fan who already has A Real Live/Dead One (now available as a two-disc set), then Rock In Rio might not be a must-buy. However, if you like Iron Maiden and do not already have one of their live albums, or if you want to know what metal was like before it got either watered down or transformed into something else, definitely go out and get a copy of Rock In Rio to get the closest experience to live without being there.