Has it really been 23 years since Iron Maiden's incredible World Slavery Tour conquered the planet? It seems like it was just yesterday when, as a junior in high school, I attended my first Iron Maiden concert during their Beast On The Road Tour of 1982. They opened for The Scorpions that night, and I remember not being overly impressed with their short opening set. That was mostly due to the excruciatingly loud and muddled sound mix, and the fact that I was not yet familiar with most of the band's material. That tour, however, would be the last time that Iron Maiden would ever have to serve as another band's opening act.
The following year's World Piece Tour was a completely different beast. On the heels of their successful Piece Of Mind album, Iron Maiden were now dominating the world as a polished headlining act. With new frontman Bruce Dickinson now having a whole tour under his belt, the band went for broke with the following year's World Slavery Tour. That tour, and the follow-up live album and video, Live After Death, are still considered to be some of the greatest heavy metal spectacles ever put on tape. Now that the original VHS video has finally gotten its due transfer to DVD, you can all judge for yourselves.
Live After Death captures performances from Iron Maiden's legendary four night stand at Long Beach Arena, California, during the band's massive 1984-1985 World Slavery Tour, which tallied 193 concerts worldwide. The tour featured a spectacular Egyptian-themed stage set that was based on their most recent Powerslave album. There are elements of their stage show that seem a bit cheesy by today's standards, but it was quite revolutionary for 1983. I could not imagine having to haul all of that gear around the globe, especially through all of those Eastern Bloc countries they conquered. Their tour manager must have been some kind of genius - or lunatic.
The concert begins with a recording of Winston Churchill's famous 1940 speech encouraging British resistance in the face of a potential Nazi invasion. This was the perfect prelude to the first song of the night, "Aces High", which tells the tale of a British RAF pilot fighting against the German Luftwaffe during the WWII Battle of Britain. I'll never forget the first time I put on my freshly minted Powerslave album back in 1984 and first heard that monstrous opening guitar riff for "2 Minutes To Midnight". It blew me away as much as it did these Long Beach concertgoers when they unleashed it here.