Iron Maiden: Live After Death is five hours of Maiden madness, from 1980s show footage, to candid tour bus antics, to present-day interviews with the band and crew.
The main concert footage represents a four-day stint at Long Beach Arena in Los Angeles, part of the World Slavery Tour. The shows were recorded on 35mm film. Though the footage has been technologically tinkered with and is now presented in much higher quality, it retains a retro feel that serves it well.
Iron Maiden puts on a hell of a show. There’s spandex, there’s huge hair, there’s plenty of pyrotechnics and smoke, and, of course, there’s Eddie. The band’s iconic mascot is reincarnated for the tour as a titanic mummy, looming over the band with a mouthful of rubber snakes. He is, as singer Bruce Dickinson fondly recalls in a present-day interview, “a masterpiece of kitsch.”
It is this appreciation for kitsch, and for balls-out, unabashed theatricality, that makes Dickinson and his band mates so entertaining to watch. Well, that and the fact that they totally rock. The DVD includes concert footage from LA, Rio de Janeiro, San Antonio and various cities in Poland, and no matter where they are playing, the band ends up dripping with sweat. They clearly enjoy the job, but it obviously requires a lot of work.
In the bonus feature History of Iron Maiden, Part 2, the band and crew members recall the World Slavery Tour and give their modern, ahem, mature takes on both the hard work involved and the inevitable shenanigans. One amusing account, corroborated by several interviewees and complimented by old footage, involves a mighty battle between fencing and karate.
Perhaps the most shocking thing is the intense work schedule the band kept during the early ‘80s: they spent 50 weeks out of the year rehearsing, recording or touring. After a two-week Christmas holiday, they returned to work. Of course, even during the work weeks they found time to peruse local pub scenes. And they spent time recording in the Bahamas, which probably beats a cubicle, any day.