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RANT 4

The Setlist

Bæleron

Every long-time Iron Maiden fan knows that Iron Maiden is superb live in concert. In fact, they have always viewed themselves as being at their best when playing live, and this is well attested to by the many live recordings they have released over the course of their career. For this reason, Maiden fans tend to treasure the live recordings that are released, and eagerly anticipate hearing new songs played live for the first time. Many fans even collect bootlegs just to get those rare performances or hear live versions of songs for which live recordings were never officially released. It is a wonderful thing for a band to be "live" – it's the real thing with none of the rough edges smoothed over or dubbed away. It's something special, something magical, something that most Maiden fans have experienced at one point or another. It's the reason that we pay over-inflated ticket prices to see Maiden in concert, and snap up those singles with the live b-sides as soon as they are released. It's magic.

So with that in mind, I'd like to suggest a few ideas for Iron Maiden's setlist during future tours. It's not that I'm unhappy with the current and previous setlists, but there may be a few things that might make the shows even better. Firstly, there are several songs that over Maiden's career have become standard parts of every concert:

  • 'Sanctuary'
  • 'Running Free'
  • 'Iron Maiden'
  • 'Run To The Hills'
  • 'Heaven Can Wait'
  • These songs represent years of Iron Maiden tradition, and it would be difficult to find a Maiden fan who did not know all their lyrics by heart. The first three have been played since Maiden's earliest days in the late 70s, while 'Run To The Hills' was Maiden's first huge break-through single. They are songs with history and character and I'm not bashing them. But I think it's time for them to retire. We all know them and love them, but perhaps it's time for some new traditions.

    However, there are a few traditions that should remain. These are songs that still carry life and power – songs that we never tire of hearing. Here are a few such songs that come to mind (although I'm certainly not mentioning them all):

  • 'Phantom Of The Opera'
  • 'Wrathchild'
  • 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'
  • 'Children Of The Damned'
  • 'Number Of The Beast'
  • 'The Trooper'
  • '2 Minutes To Midnight'
  • 'Powerslave'
  • 'Fear Of The Dark'
  • I'm not saying that each of these songs should be played at every concert, but certainly most of them should be. It would be a hollow and empty feeling to depart from a concert without having heard any of them. Naturally the primary focus of a concert should be the material from the newest album, but it would be a mistake to neglect these old favourites from the past as well.

    Over the course of the last 2 decades, there have been many incredible Iron Maiden songs which have not received their fair amount of live play. Many of them have never been played live at all.

  • 'The Ides Of March'
  • 'Twilight Zone'
  • 'Invasion / Invaders'
  • 'Sun And Steel'
  • 'To Tame A Land'
  • 'The Duellists'
  • 'Deja Vu'
  • 'Alexander The Great'
  • 'Childhood's End'
  • 'Virus'
  • I think there are thousands of fans who would be incredibly excited to see these songs performed live, and would probably sell their souls to have official live recordings of them. Of course the band would have to re-learn these songs from scratch. But they are musicians – learning and performing songs is what they do best. If they just selected a couple of these songs for the next several tours, I'd be satisfied.

    And finally I think I'll say a few words about the audience participation part of each show. It seems that this part of the show has always been pretty much standard at rock concerts. I suppose the general idea is that interacting with the band makes the crowd more excited and energetic. However, I've never liked these interactive parts of the show. They always seemed to me like 5 minutes wasted, which might have been used to play 'To Tame A Land'. When I go to a Maiden concert, it is to see the band performing my favourite music. I generally don't scream or shout much – mainly I just stand quietly in awe and absorb the whole experience. Singing "yo yo yo!" is not what attracts me, since I can't sing and neither can 99% of the audience. I guess I'd just prefer to hear an extra song instead. Am I the only one who senses irony at the thought of an entire venue of people packed shoulder to shoulder like sardines and all shouting "I'm running free, yeah!"?

    I know my opinion on the audience participation thing is not going to be popular, and might even result in some entertaining flames. But hey, it would be wrong not to say what I really think.

    Bæleron
    11th January 1999

     

    DISCLAIMER:

      Despite everything I've just written, I'll actually be extremely happy if Iron Maiden does several more tours, regardless of what the setlists are. We've all heard the unfortunate rumours, which I'm not going to dignify by repeating. So while I don't believe rumours, I know that no band carries on forever. Sometimes I get a feeling that there might not be many more tours, but I really hope that's wrong. If the Rolling Stones can do it, so can Maiden.

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