Newest Review: ... with the volume turned up to 11 this album sounds very good indeed. Bruce is clear, all 3 guitars have their own little space, Nicko thun... more
Maiden in Rio
Rock In Rio: Live - Iron Maiden
Member Name: Jarisleif
Rock In Rio: Live - Iron Maiden
Advantages: Live Iron Maiden
Disadvantages: A few little mistakes
"Rock in Rio" is a live album by British heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. It was released in 2002 on EMI Records and produced by Kevin Shirley. The concert took place in front of an estimated 250,000 people and the line-up for the band was Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Dave Murray (guitar), Adrian Smith (guitar), Janick Gers (guitar), Steve Harris (bass) and Nicko McBrain (drums).
A quarter of a million people witnessed Iron Maiden perform on 19th January, 2001, in Brazil, with support coming via way of Rob Halford, Sepultura and Queens of the Stone Age. That's a lot of people to entertain and win over, but it's a walk in the park as far as Iron Maiden goes because with Bruce Dickinson back at the helm on the vocals, you have a singer that can get an audience just where he wants them, no matter how many people are in attendance. This was Maiden's 5th live album in total. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The introduction is just under two minutes in length and features the work of Jerry Goldsmith, "Arthur's Farewell", which was written for the "First Knight" soundtrack. It is an arrangement of choirists and orchestra working in unison and it works really well as the first thing the audience hears before Iron Maiden takes to the stage.
Right from the start of "The Wicker Man" it's clear that Iron Maiden have a winning formula once more with Dickinson back in the band and the three guitar line-up. I really like the opening riff and Bruce's vocals sound as good as they've ever done, stamping out the doubts that he was done as a singer. For those that don't know, his vocal performance on the "Fear of the Dark" album was a little raspy on some songs and his successor, Blaze Bayley, just couldn't cut the mustard with Iron Maiden. I thought he was a great singer for Wolfsbane, but Maiden is a different animal altogether. The bellowing of "Your time will come" in the chorus proves the doubters wrong, but it's not all about Bruce. Steve Harris' bass clunks away as dominant as ever and Nicko on the drums is a wondrous sound. Bruce Dickinson said "This song is called "The Wicker Man" because there's one line in the song which mentions The Wicker Man as in the 1970s film of the same name. And the song is, I think, the best single Maiden have had out in ages. It's a really rocking song. I was just thinking about when I stand up in front of thousands of people singing, just thinking about the buzz I get out of it; I'm thinking about the buzz I used to get when I was a kid and I used to go to rock festivals you really felt you belonged to something bigger than yourself on that one day. You also felt in some ways that you could change something; you could change the world a little bit that day because you're all in that field. And that's what's the song's about, hence the chorus, "Your time will come". You suddenly feel you are a part of everything.
"Ghost of the Navigator" begins with a marvellous intro that's melodic and timely with a few parts to it that leads into the main part of the song. Firstly, that riff is incredible, but I've heard it before on a W.A.S.P. record, although it escapes me at the moment of which one it was, I know it's on their 1992 album, "The Crimson Idol". That doesn't stop it from being really good, though, because Iron Maiden could take something from Boyzone and still make it sound like perfection. The only problem I have with the song is Bruce's wails before the chorus - they just don't really fit - and I think it would have been more atmospheric without them there. Bruce Dickinson noted "I wrote the song with Janick and he came up with this riff, and I just got this thing in my head of Vikings smashing through the seas, big boats and pioneers. Then I thought about navigation. So being a vaguely arty bloke on occasions it struck me as a metaphor for life. So suddenly I had a plot for the song. It was a great big epic sea-faring journey and the journey was life and the navigator was us as we were writing it. Steve said, "That's a really cool middle bit, and we can have this bit in it too" and I really liked it. I don't know if he was on the same wavelength as me but it sounds to me like a big storm because I've already got the navigator lashed to the helm as not to be tempted by the sirens on the rocks trying to distract him. Trying not to be distracted by all the ghosts of his subconscious, the ghosts of his failed aspirations, and also his own fears, that it may all be pointless when he gets there and he does it because he must. That's the only answer he can give."
"Brave New World" begins with a slow acoustic riff that Bruce softly sings along to, accompanied by the bass which matches his melody. I can understand the need to bring in something complex to the song, but I'm torn between wanting it to be removed and wanting it to be a little heavier than it is. When the song finally gets going properly, it sounds really good leading up to the chorus which sounds wonderful. It's that build-up that gets you, though, and that's what's important about this song. Without those build-up verses it just couldn't work, and Dickinson's impressive singing of "A brave new world in a brave new world" would not hold the power that it does. This is a magnificent song that depicts the novel by Aldous Huxley as only Iron Maiden can. Bruce Dickinson noted: ""Dying swans twisted wings, beauty not needed here". I don't recall there being any dying swans in "Brave New World" the book, but I wanted an image that represented the tragedy and sadness of what "Brave New World" had done. Dying swans, twisted wings, you know, the agony, the death. "Brave New World" doesn't want to see that. It has no use for either the life or the death. All it has use for is the image because in the book, if you want excitement you go to the viddies; it's Aldous Huxley's premonition of virtual reality and I'm taking that and throwing it out there for discussion."
"Wrathchild" comes in with Steve Harris' notable chugging bass which leads to some great guitar playing with interesting notes. What I especially like about this song is the chorus. You get the feeling of a band that's having fun, and Adrian Smith has played a huge part in that. His guitar playing style is completely different to that of Dave Murray or Janick Gers, yet they complement each other really well. Di'Anno always sounded better on the more aggressive Maiden songs, and this is no different. Steve Harris says ""Wrathchild" was originally recorded on a compilation album called "Metal For Muthas" along with "Sanctuary". That was before we had a record contract. The version on this record is pretty different. A lot of people asked us why we didn't put it on the first album. By the time we did "Killers" we weren't happy with that version so we wanted to record it properly. The guitar frills around the vocals were from Adrian. Originally they weren't there but when Adrian joined the band he decided to put them in."
"2 Minutes to Midnight" dabbles into the realm of the Cold War, and the title is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, which once reached 11:58pm, the closest to global nuclear war it's ever reached. The main riff on this song is one of the best Maiden has come up with, and the lyrics are obviously quite dark and heavy. Dickinson's vocal range is tested to the limit in the chorus, but it's once again the sound of that bass which steals the show as Harris plays along effortlessly and appears to be really enjoying himself on-stage.
I really enjoy the intro on "Blood Brothers" with its winding, orchestral feel on the guitars and this is a song that has the crowd in the palm of Bruce Dickinson's hand, especially in the chorus. His passionate singing on this song completely blows me away and it really does sound incredible live. The soft riffs go well with the vocals, and Steve Harris' bass clanging away during the verses makes it even more of a good track. Of the song, Bruce Dickinson said "This is a little masterpiece that's Steve's song 100%. In singing it I can tell you what I think it's about. It's about Steve's relationship with his father who died; it's a very personal song so this song is about Steve and his father being blood brothers, like, forever the lines go. "Just for a second a glimpse of my father I see, and in a movement he beckons to me, and in a moment the memories are all that remain, and all the wounds are reopening again, we're blood brothers". So it's kind of bitter sweet and very loving and at the same time very melancholic. It's a lot of very, very mixed emotions and musically there are a few Celtic nods."
There aren't many tracks from the Blaze Bayley era that Bruce Dickinson will sing, but in "Sign of the Cross" we have a strong record that suits either vocalist. It is the longest song on the set list at just under 11 minutes in length, but a minute or so of that is taken up by an atmospheric introduction, during which the crowd are invited to clap in time. The song doesn't really get going until close to the three-minute mark, but when it does it's pretty impressive. The highlight of this track is most definitely the chorus, and Bruce delivers the goods in impressive style. It's a winner amongst tracks which have, for the most part, been part of Maiden's live set for some time.
"The Mercenary" brings us back to the fast heavy metal style of song that Iron Maiden was once known for, as opposed to the epic songs that they began doing. There's not much to it if I'm honest and I think it could be filler, although I'm sure some will disagree with me. It's weak in the lyrics and the guitar riffs sound like they've been conjured up on the day of the recording, but that's just my opinion. As legend would have it, this song was originally meant to be on the album's predecessor, "Virtual XI", and I can imagine that holding some truth. Bruce Dickinson noted "This is a good solid track not a huge amount to say except that they're mercenaries and they're generally a bad thing; they're generally cruel and heartless fiends who cynically kill people for money. A fairly conventional tuneful Maiden rocker comparable to a sort of "Die With Your Boots On" type thing."
"The Trooper" is probably one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs of their entire discography. I like everything about this song from the opening to the galloping guitars with a good dosage of brilliant vocals from Dickinson and wonderful solo playing by Smith & Murray. I especially like the way the two guitarists play the same main riff but with slightly different pitches. It's a song about the Crimean War between 1853-56 and Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade", published in 1854. Steve Harris said "The opening is meant to try and recreate the galloping horses in the charge of the light brigade. It's an atmospheric song." When Maiden plays this song live, Dickinson will don a British officer's uniform from that time period and wave the British flag on stage. That is something I really look forward to when I see the band in other countries.
Something inside me says that "Dream of Mirrors" was written with former vocalist Blaze Bayley in mind because of the structure at the beginning of the song. It's powerful, but there are a lot of words that fit into the opening verse and I'm not sure that works. It's the longest song on the album at over nine minutes long and I find it a little repetitive and bland, to be honest. It only gets going just over halfway through with the marvellous chorus that rocks your socks off and gets faster towards the bridge with Nicko playing some timely double bass on the drums. Bruce Dickinson said "It's a pretty lengthy song and the chorus is blinding! One of the best choruses I think Steve has ever written, and one of the best lyrics he's ever written too. "I only dream in black and white". I mean straight away, absolutely great! Who dreams in black and white? Wow, do I? Is that weird? "I only dream in black and white, I only dream because I'm alive, I only dream in black and white, to save me from myself!" I was like, "Oh man he's a tortured bloke, Steve is sometimes", and he does have these dreams and deja-vu things and out of body things going on for him."
"The Clansman" is another epic song which is around the nine minute mark. This is a beautifully arranged song which is some of Maiden's best work. It begins with a soft guitar melody and a softer bass line playing in the background before Bruce whispers the first three verses. If I was critical, he's a little too quiet and barely audible over the guitars. This song is everything Iron Maiden has to offer with excellent guitar riffs and some complex drumming by Nicko. As much as I like this version, I do think Bruce sings it so much better live. Steve Harris talks about the song: "This started as two separate ideas, then I put them together and it worked! It's got a Celtic flavour to the music which is why I wrote the lyrics about the Scottish clans. They were inspired also by the "Braveheart" and "Rob Roy" films."
"The Evil That Men Do" is an excellent song and one of the best, and it's pretty difficult to choose favourite amongst these fine specimens. There's a soft guitar intro before Nicko chimes the rest of the band into the song and classic Iron Maiden, packed full of riffs, wonderful bass tones, great drumming and, of course, the excellent vocals of Bruce Dickinson, who, it has to be said, has never sounded better. The song is about how the seventh son has now been conceived and the devil's daughter is very prominent in his life with her wishes and commands. The devil wants nothing more than for her to seduce him so that he will give his life to Satan but maybe his daughter is having second thoughts. Maybe she is not beyond saviour.
"Fear of the Dark" is probably in the top ten of my all-time favourite Iron Maiden songs - it really is that good. There are not many better feelings at a concert than watching the band play this song when it's an open-air gig and the sky is black. I've witnessed this a few times and it really doesn't get much better than that. This is the song that Dickinson gives it his all in his vocal capacity and it's a real shame that he didn't let go with all guns blazing for most of the others. Bruce Dickinson: "Steve, who wrote it, is really afraid of the dark. It's the story of a man who walks in a park at night and, as it's getting darker, he sees all sorts of worrying things. He becomes totally paranoid because his imagination is working overtime. It's a great track."
You can absolutely guarantee that every Iron Maiden concert will feature the song that gave the band their name. In the studio the song sounds a little watered on the guitar riffs but once you hear it live, it completely comes into its own. Eddie the Head usually makes an appearance in one form or another, too, and although it's difficult to name my favourite 10 Iron Maiden songs, I'm pretty sure this will be in there. Steve Harris said "As long as I can remember, we've closed our set with this song. It's quite simple; the bass line is fairly straightforward as is the drumming, but the guitar is over the top with harmony, and the bass is descending behind it. I think this makes it pretty special."
"The Number of the Beast" begins with actor Barry Clayton reciting a verse from Revelations:
"Woe to you, oh earth and sea,
for the devil sends the beast with wrath
because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast
for it is a human number. Its number is six hundred and sixty six."
Steve Harris said "In America, a right-wing political pressure group accused the band of being Devil worshippers and of trying to pervert their kids. It was mad. They completely got the wrong end of the stick and they obviously hadn't read the lyrics. They just wanted to believe all that rubbish about us being Satanists." Musically, it's one of Iron Maiden's most famous songs and no concert the band puts on is without the song in the set list somewhere. Here's the strange thing, though. Don't let the song title fool you for one second because it's almost a happy-go-lucky number but with metal roots. The chorus is very pop-like and you can't help but sing along to it. Even close to the end of the song where Bruce sings, "I'm coming back. I will return. And I'll possess your body and I'll make you burn", you still get the feeling that it's a joyous song with no evil intent. Ask many fans what their favourite Iron Maiden song is, and a lot will tell you it's this one.
"Hallowed be Thy Name" is a monster of a track. Bruce's vocals are delivered with venom and ferocity here, especially when he holds the note for a good few seconds when singing the line "the sands of time for me are running low." This truly is a magnificent song, and one that I really enjoy listening to a lot. Some complexly played riffs are present but the song holds itself together well, building up from a slow and broody start through to a fast-paced ending. Steve Harris said "That's one of my favourite songs and still one we play live. We're trying to create a mood with the build-up of the song. The classical guitar-like opening was Dave building the mood, with bells in the background. It's about someone with only a few hours left to live. In concert the end part of this one takes off."
"Sanctuary" is an old Iron Maiden song that appeared on the US version of Maiden's eponymous debut album. The artwork for the single caused plenty of controversy with Derek Riggs drawing a depiction of band mascot, Eddie, crouched over what appears to be the body of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with a knife in one hand. The song is excellent with a great riff that gives you goosebumps when it's played live and it's become a track that's often played in rotation over the years. Bruce usually has the audience screaming at the tops of their lungs during the breakdown of the song.
"Run to the Hills" has one of the most memorable Iron Maiden drum beats to it, and also one of the most recognised main riffs. Steve Harris commented on the song "This song is about the American Indians. It's written from both sides of the picture. The first part is from the side of the Indians and the second part is from the side of the soldiers. I wanted to try and get the feeling of galloping horses. When you play this one, be careful not to let it run away with you." As Steve Harris says, you really do get the feeling of horses at full pelt across the fields in battle with the galloping strums on the guitar strings. This is very easily my all-time favourite Iron Maiden song, partly for the nostalgia of being a kid and buying the single and partly because it's a very good number. In fact, just thinking about the song reminds me of the old red record player I had, loading up vinyl on the holding arm to play next.
In summary, after having watched the DVD a good few times and listened to the CD countless times, this isn't Maiden at their best. It might well be very daunting to play in front of a quarter of a million people and I'm sure that the nerves were present for all members of the band, no matter how experienced they are. I've listened and watched Iron Maiden for a long time now and can always spot an error here and there, and there are one or two from the guitarists. That doesn't stop it from being a bad show, because nobody's perfect. The biggest crowd I've been in to see Maiden was 102,000 and the sound fluctuated about half way back, but 250,000 must be a nightmare. You probably can't see anything from about a quarter of the way back, and I'm not sure how far the sound would have travelled before distorting. Still, they can always say they were there. It's another good live double CD from Iron Maiden, but it's one I'd only recommend buying for the experience of that many people rather than the songs performed, which you can mostly hear on the band's other live albums.
2. The Wicker Man
3. Ghost of the Navigator
4. Brave New World
6. 2 Minutes to Midnight
7. Blood Brothers
8. Sign of the Cross
9. The Mercenary
10. The Trooper
1. Dream of Mirrors
2. The Clansman
3. The Evil That Men Do
4. Fear of the Dark
5. Iron Maiden
6. The Number of the Beast
7. Hallowed be Thy Name
9. Run to the Hills
My rating: 7/10
Summary: Not as polished as other Maiden live albums