In 2006 Iron Maiden went on tour with a show that was completely different from any other of their career, a performance of A Matter Of Life And Death in its glorious entirety.
When the classic era Iron Maiden line-up reunited in 1999, plus Janick Gers, many seemed to think that 1980s nostalgia would be Maiden’s focus for the rest of their career. And indeed, the summers of 1999 and 2003 brought tours that dug into the past for rarely heard gems that Maiden had not been able to perform with previous singer Blaze Bayley.
This culminated in 2005 with the first of Maiden’s trilogy of 1980s History tours. Taking the DVD release The Early Days as their starting point, the band played a set consisting exclusively of material from their first four studio albums in 1980-83.
But there was much more to the reunited Iron Maiden. They released new albums in 2000 and 2003, Brave New World and Dance Of Death, and the third record followed after the Early Days tour: 2006’s A Matter Of Life And Death.
In late 2006 Maiden toured North America, Japan and Europe. They reacted dynamically to their recent History outing by playing their new album in its entirety. The first 75 minutes of the show was A Matter Of Life And Death performed from beginning to end, ten epic songs most of which would never be performed again once the tour was over.
Much to the fans’ dismay, this very special show in Maiden history has never been preserved in the pantheon of Iron Maiden concert films. This is a bitter loss, since it’s the only time Maiden have performed an entire album in concert. (Yes, they performed all of the Iron Maiden songs in concert in 1980, but you know what we’re getting at…)
There were plans for releasing the 2007 Donington performance, but by that point half of the new songs where gone in favor of older material. The really hardcore and unrelenting A Matter Of Life And Death set is however captured in this bootleg video of a show in Milano, Italy on 2 December 2006. It’s intercut from multiple video sources and the audio is decent enough to give a good sense of what an incredible performance Maiden are putting on:
These Colours Don’t Run
Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
The Longest Day
Out Of The Shadows
The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
For The Greater Good Of God
Lord Of Light
Fear Of The Dark
2 Minutes To Midnight
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
How about that? This effort proved beyond any doubt Iron Maiden’s dedication to being much more than a nostalgia band. The Early Days tour had, controversially for some but completely logically, left Fear Of The Dark out of the set, for what would be the first and last time. The 2006 tour would leave out staples like The Trooper, and even The Number Of The Beast, the latter also for the first and last time.
Another great recording from the tour is this audio-only radio broadcast from Stockholm, Sweden. Check it out!
For many fans the 2005-2008 period would come to be seen as the pinnacle of Maiden’s double-edged creativity. At the center is a new album, which some already consider a classic, being performed in its entirety. At each end is a History tour that digs deep into the catalog – first the Early Days salvo, and then the humongous Somewhere Back In Time tour that pretty much recreated the Powerslave show.
Something for everyone then.