To say that I love Iron Maiden would be an understatement. Besides the usual fan stuff (like owning their records and seeing them live several times), when I was younger I pulled some strings to attend a couple of their press conferences, and eventually managed (through incessant begging, and by charging nothing) to even “work” for them as their interpreter during one of their stops in their 2008 tour. The fact that this was followed by a dinner with the band (they always insisted on dining with the local staff) remains one of my fondest memories. Discussing history, literature, and psychology while sitting next to Bruce Dickinson, and across from Dave Murray and Nicko McBrain, followed by all of us doing an impression of a stupid Monty Python bit, is my very own version of Alice Cooper’s scene from Wayne’s World.
As their interpreter, I even befriended their bodyguard so that he’d let me get on stage (together with other fans) to sing “Heaven can Wait”. You can actually catch a few glimpses of me if you watch Death on the Road or Flight 666 (though, in the latter case, Sam Dunn got his countries mixed up). I’m not mentioning this to brag, or to suggest anybody in the band cares or knows about me; I’m sure that what was a memorable moment for me was just another day at the office for everyone else. It’s just to make it clear that I really do care about this band, so that if you’re also a fan of Iron Maiden you’ll keep that in mind when you read the rest of this review.
The Legacy of the Beast tour (which is scheduled to finish in 2021, assuming COVID doesn’t get in the way) is a massive journey taking Iron Maiden all over the world. Unlike previous tours, which were built around some sort of release (or their anniversaries) this one is based around Iron Maiden‘s Legacy of the Beast videogame, a 2016 freemium mobile game featuring Eddie, and which they’ve used as way to sell a whole bunch of new merchandise. While it’s indeed bizarre to base the tour around a game that has never been very popular to begin with, at least it gave the band an excuse to do a massive “greatest hits” show, even showcasing songs that don’t usually get played live, like some from the Blaze Bayley era. True, a greatest-hits show isn’t that strange for Iron Maiden (so were the Maiden England tour of 2012, and the Somewhere Back in Time of 2008, for that matter) but this one had an even higher production value, with their biggest stage show yet..
As far as the setlist goes, Night of the Dead is pretty much the stuff of dreams for an Iron Maiden fan. Besides the mandatory songs like “Aces High,” “Run to the Hills,” “The Trooper”, “Iron Maiden”, or “The Number of the Beast,” they also performed “The Clansman”, “The Sign of the Cross”, “Where Eagles Dare”, “For the Greater Good of God” (all of which they hadn’t played live in about 15 years), and “Flight of Icarus” (not played live since the mid-80s), which also gives fans an opportunity to revisit these heavy metal classics. It’s an excellent choice of songs, even though, except for “Iron Maiden” tracks from the Di’Anno years were not included, but at 1 hour and 40 minutes, it really does seem like there simply wasn’t enough time to add more.
While all of this sounds great, the album does have a significant shortcoming: Bruce Dickinson‘s voice. It’s not that Bruce can’t sing anymore, or that he should leave the band, but rather that, unsurprisingly, as a 62 year-old throat cancer survivor who runs on stage the entire show, he is struggling to reach some of the higher notes (conversely, his Blaze-era songs sound better than ever, as they are easier on his voice). Many bands struggle with this difficulty once their singers age, and often opt to just change the key of the songs so that they fit better with these new limitations. For whatever reason, Iron Maiden do not seem to be doing this, and it leads to Bruce’s voice simply not working as intended in some cases (you can compare this new version of “Aces High” with their ’09 version in Flight 666 to get an idea of the differences).
Nights of the Dead: Legacy of the Beast Live in Mexico City is a good album for fans of Iron Maiden, because it gives us some of those jewels from their discography that we haven’t heard in a long time (which is why I bought the album to begin with). It might not be an ideal way to introduce someone to the band, however, since it doesn’t show them at their best. Iron Maiden concerts are an amazing experience, and you should absolutely catch them the next time that they play near you; regrettably, this album fails to capture that glory at a level that does the band justice.