Documenting 117 live shows from ‘The Book Of Souls’ tour (2016-17) must have been an epic task but eventually 15 venues and dates were chosen for the sixteen songs that make up this live album including two from June 2016 at the Download Festival and one from the Newcastle show in May 2017.
The rest of the venues chosen are Dublin in Ireland; Wacken in Germany; Trieste in Italy; Tokyo in Japan; Sydney in Australia; Cape Town in South Africa; Buenos Aires in Argentina; Rio De Janeiro in Brazil; Fortaleza in Brazil; San Salvador in El Salvador; Wroclaw in Poland; and Montreal in Canada.
The set-list includes 6 songs from ‘The Book Of Souls’, with ‘The Great Unknown’ featured instead of ‘Tears Of A Clown’ which was dropped at some point during the tour.
The set-list is a source of endless debate amongst Maiden fans. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that six songs was probably one too many from ‘The Book Of Souls’, which was, as I have stated in my review of it, decidedly average.
‘Children Of The Damned’ and ‘Powerslave’ were good choices but the inclusion of ‘Blood Brothers’, particularly at the climax of the show, was a baffling decision bearing in mind the number of wonderful songs Maiden had to choose from. ‘Wrathchild’ has been played to death and should have been dropped for something else and ‘The Trooper’ could have been given a break as well; unfortunately it has become regarded as the quintessential Maiden song and its exclusion would have annoyed a lot of fans. Perhaps I’m just fed up of seeing the same choreography during it year after year.
The first thing that struck me about this release is that it didn’t include a DVD as I’d assumed it would. In fact, Maiden have given up on DVD’s it would seem, and given in to the inevitability of fans watching the concert on YouTube and not paying for it. Maiden have released the whole thing in a series of videos on their YouTube channel.
The second thing that struck me was how poorly recorded a lot of the songs are. Tony Newton and Steve Harris produced, engineered and mixed the performances, and Harris chose which dates to pick for each song. The way it was recorded is not the fault of Steve Harris. Perhaps they need to sort that out before handing it over to him, his production decisions have been less than impressive in the past (including on ‘The Book Of Souls). Kevin Shirley doesn’t seem to have been involved this time (some Maiden fans won’t miss him). On ‘Powerslave’, in particular, Nicko’s high-hat is overpowering at some points. Have a listen in your headphones and on your particular device or sound system, you may well disagree about how poorly recorded it is, there are too many variables to make a definitive decision about it.
Overall, I feel that this record is for fans who saw the shows and want to have it as a memento, or for completests. Everyone else would be forgiven for giving it a miss. It pains me to say it but, in my opinion, this is far from essential listening for Maiden fans.