While there isn’t a full live album from Maiden’s Di’Anno era, there’s plenty of live stuff out there. This one was initially released as a VHS in 1980, but I now own it as part of the Early Days DVD. And of all the small Di’Anno live packages, this one is probably my favorite. Of course, the visual part of that is a big help, but the audio can easily stand on its own as a small little ‘greatest hits’, so to speak, of the Di’Anno era.
So into the show, and we begin things with the classic one-two combo of “The Ides of March” and “Wratchild”. Never gets old, and the band are on fire (as they tend to be). Di’Anno’s voice is in excellent shape, and the production is clear, though with a little tape hiss in the background. The picture quality is good for 1980 and the visual show is, of course, top notch.
Song number three is “Killers”, another song from their then upcoming second album of the same name. And if you’ll allow me a brief sojourn, I will now clear up the mystery regarding the lyrics to “Killers”. Paul Di’Anno stated that he wrote the lyrics to the song five minutes before the gig. I find this unlikely however, especially as I don’t think they would have included such a song in the setlist on a filming night. My detective work has also found that the version of “Killers” found on BBC Archives (recorded at Reading Festival 1980, almost four months to the day before the Rainbow gig) has the same lyrics. It leads me to believe that Di’Anno misremembered which gig he wrote the lyrics before. But back to the song itself, it’s a killer version and I like both versions of the lyrics. Variety is the spice of life, they say.
And from here on out the rest is classics from the debut (though the whole album could arguably be called classic). The first one is “Remember Tomorrow”. I might have preferred a little more inspired choice (especially since we got “Remember Tomorrow” on Maiden Japan as well) but it’s very hard to argue with this performance. Makes a nice diversion from all the constant aggression.
Then it’s “Transylvania”. I always loved this one. It’s a solid four minutes of uptempo guitar heaven. Always happy to see the Maiden instrumentals make it onto live stuff. A blistering rendition of “Phantom of the Opera” follows, and then it’s, of course, “Iron Maiden” to close out the set. The boys haven’t lost any of their energy and this version made it into third place when the song got its song of the week. My favorite part though has to be when one of the guitarists (probably Adrian) play the wrong bit for a second or two as the song returns from riffing after the bridge to the verses.
While it’s not the whole show (and I would definitely LOVE to get the whole show one day) it is still a really enjoyable, albeit condensed, showcase of Maiden-with Di’Anno’s power. Of all the thirty-minute live VHS’s out there, this one is easily the best.
The verdict- 5/5 stars