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16 rarely performed Iron Maiden songs we'd love to see live

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 2:53pm

By Scott Colothan and Julian Marszalek

Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson © Getty

From ‘Alexander The Great’ to ‘The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner’, here are 16 rarely and never performed Iron Maiden songs we’d love to see in their live glory.

Even the most of rabid and dedicated of Iron Maiden fans will concede that with a legendary career that’s spanned over 40 years, 16 studio albums and almost 200 songs, there will always be some noticeable gaps in the setlist.

The European leg of The Legacy of the Beast tour featured an array of Iron Maiden rarities including the first outing for ‘Flight of Icarus’ in 32 years and the first performances of ‘Where Eagles Dare’, ‘The Clansman’ and ‘Sign of the Cross’ since the early noughties.

Although such rare gems on the European trek sated fans’ appetites slightly, they also reminded us that there are many other seminal songs in Iron Maiden’s distinguished back catalogue that perhaps haven’t been given the love they deserve in the live arena.  

Ahead of the North American Legacy of the Beast Tour kicking off this summer, Planet Rock takes a look at 16 rarely and never performed Iron Maiden classics we’d love to see on the setlist.

1. Alexander The Great (1986)

When Nicko McBrain joins in the chorus of fans clamouring for the inclusion of this history of the ancient king of Macedonia in the band’s set, then it’s pretty obvious that something special is at play here. Epic in scope and breathtaking in its delivery, ‘Alexander The Great’ is one of those tracks that have come to define the very essence of Iron Maiden. And it still hasn’t been played live since its release 33 long years ago.
Last performed live: NEVER


2. New Frontier (2003)

The first and only song in Iron Maiden’s formidable back catalogue to have been co-written by Nicko McBrain, ‘New Frontier’ is a critique of human cloning with potent lines like “Create a beast, made a man without a soul / Is it worth the risk - a war of god and man?” and “New life in a day / Some new Frankenstein/ Damned for all time.” Alongside its lyrical potency, it’s also a damn fine tune too that would be monstrous in the live arena.
Last performed live: NEVER


3. The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (1986)

Only played live once, there’s a very real danger that ‘The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner’ will become better known for its reputation as one of the least performed songs from Iron Maiden’s back catalogue. And this would be something of a disservice, not least as it emanates from a particularly intriguing time of the band’s history. Granted, the 80s ill-served many bands but this is Iron Maiden we’re talking about here. This may be from an experimental period for the band, but the results have weathered the decades particularly well. It’s time for another lap, surely?
Last performed live: Belgrade Hala Pionir, Yugoslavia – 10th September 1986


4. Journeyman (2003)

The chances of Iron Maiden heading off to the countryside to embrace a hitherto unexplored pastoral side to their oeuvre remain mercifully slim, but there’s a case to be made in favour of the band's first-ever fully acoustic track ‘Journeyman’. Such is its unique place in Iron Maiden’s epic arsenal that it really does merit dusting off and being brought dragging and screaming into the sunlight before it forgets what fresh air tastes like. And it’s not as if it’s like David Brent pulling out an acoustic guitar during a training session.
Last performed live: Saitama Super Arena, Japan – 8th February 2004


5. The Fallen Angel (2000)

There’s much to celebrate when it comes to 2000’s Brave New World album: the return of not just frontman Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith, but also the first sighting of the six-man configuration of Iron Maiden. So with this in mind, Iron Maiden could give a little bit more love to ‘The Fallen Angel’, one of the band’s more succinct yet undeniably punchy numbers. Dropped mid-set, this could well be a superb, short, sharp shock.
Last performed live: Monsters of Rock Argentina, 13th January 2001


6. Judas Be My Guide (1992)

Like 'The Fallen Angel', 'Judas Be My Guide' may be incredibly short and succinct by Iron Maiden’s epic standards but it manages to tick all the boxes within its three-and-a-half sublime minutes. Despite being released 27 years ago, it’s never had a live outing – something that perpetually perplexes Iron Maiden aficionados.
Last performed live: NEVER


7. Don’t Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger (1998)

There’s a wrong tendency by many to brush aside Iron Maiden’s Blaze Bayley years but, in truth, there are plenty of gems on the two Blaze-fronted albums in nineties. ‘Don’t Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger’ – housed in 1998’s ‘Virtual XI’ album – is a case in point. Can you imagine the look on people’s faces when they realise what’s happening? Or how they’ll lose it when it properly kicks? And what it’ll sound like powered by Bruce Dickinson’s lungs à la ‘The Clansman’ and ‘Sign of the Cross’? It’ll be immense.
Last performed live: Athens Lycabettus Theatre, Greece - 4th September 1998


8. Still Life (1983)

After fellow ‘Piece of Mind’ track ‘Flight of Icarus’ was performed live for the first time in 32 years in 2018, maybe ‘Still Life’ will be the next to follow suit? As well as being a live rarity, it’s one of just 20 songs written or co-written by Maiden’s second longest serving band member, Dave Murray. A typically epic early Iron Maiden track with searing solos and weighty lyrics about a man who sees demons in a pool of water. Whether Nicko McBrain’s backwards message at the start – an apparent swipe at critics who accused the band of Satanist tendencies – would be included remains to be seen.
Last performed live: London Hammersmith Odeon - 12th December 1988


9. Caught Somewhere In Time (1986)

Embracing the theme of “space and time” that permeates throughout much of Iron Maiden’s seminal 1986 masterpiece ‘Somewhere in Time’ – an album oft overlooked in the live arena - opening track ‘Caught Somewhere in Time’ hasn’t been performed by Iron Maiden in over three decades. Highly baffling as it’s a musical tour-de-force. 
Last performed live: Osaka Festival Hall, Japan – 21st May 1987


10. Stranger In A Strange Land (1986)

Sharing its name with Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 novel, Adrian Smith’s pertinent lyrics about an Arctic explorer who dies and is frozen in ice for a century were apparently inspired by a conversation he had with a real-life explorer who has discovered a dead body. Melodic and one of Iron Maiden’s most accessible tracks, Steve Harris’s muscular bass lines form the backbone of the track but it’s Adrian Smith that shines both through his lyricism and that transcendental solo. We’d give anything to belt out the refrain of “no brave new world!” at a Maiden gig once again.
Last performed live: New York Hammerstein Ballroom, 17th July 1999


11. Sea Of Madness (1986)

In our humble opinion ‘Sea of Madness’ could well be one of the most underrated Iron Maiden songs of all time. While the Adrian Smith penned ‘Wasted Years’ and ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ on ‘Somewhere In Time’ are rightfully regarded as seminal classics today, his other song, the towering ‘Sea of Madness’, doesn’t quite get the plaudits it deserves. Musically, Nicko McBrain and Bruce Dickinson sound at the top of their game, while the almost Shakespearean lyrics about a descent into psychosis are trademark eighties Maiden.
Last performed live: The Capital Centre, Maryland, USA – 8th January 1987


12. Back In The Village (1984)

Launching straight into a rapid-fire riff and centering on a pulsating one-minute instrumental segue, ‘Back in the Village’ is a relentless and glorious aural assault on the senses throughout its frenetic five minutes. A track almost custom built to consume vast stadia, it’s somewhat tragic then that it’s never been played live by Maiden. Just like ‘The Prisoner’ from a couple of years earlier, lyrically ‘Back in the Village’ nods towards cult sixties TV show The Prisoner and even has a number of aeronautical references thrown in from Bruce Dickinson for good measure.
Last performed live: NEVER


13. Total Eclipse (1982)

Released as a B-side to the chart-denting single ‘Run to the Hills’, Steve Harris has previously expressed his regret that ‘Total Eclipse’ didn’t make it onto ‘The Number of the Beast’, explaining: “If had been on the album instead of ‘Gangland’, it would have been far better.” It was duly included on the 1998 remaster of ‘The Number of the Beast’ but, apart from some plays in the early eighties, it hasn’t been given the love it definitely deserves live.
Last performed live: Dusseldorf Philipshalle, Germany – 30th April 1982


14. The Thin Line Between Love and Hate (2000)

Just like ‘The Fallen Angel’ earlier on this list, the phenomenal eight-and-a-half-minute ‘Brave New World’ closer is a pertinent reminder of how damn good it was to have Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith back in the Iron Maiden fold at the turn of the Millennium. A perfect vehicle for Bruce’s powerful pipes, the multi-layered track is urgent and deliciously heavy for its opening five minutes before taking its foot of the gas and transgressing into a stadium anthem. If it ever gets a live outing, the closing moments will truly be a lighters-in-the-air moment.
Last performed live: NEVER


15. Paschendale (2003)

Taking into account Iron Maiden’s fascination with history and their ability to turn it into musical gold, it comes as something of a surprise that ‘Paschendale’ – taken from 2003’s ‘Dance With Death’ – hasn’t made a recent appearance. Not least as it would’ve coincided with the 100th anniversary of The Battle Of Passchendale, where more than 200,000 soldiers were slaughtered over a period of three months. Not an easy topic, for sure, but then few bands possess Iron Maiden’s ability to do the story justice.
Last performed live: Auburn White River Amphitheatre, USA – 22nd June 2010


16. Different World (2006)

There’s an undeniable degree of amazement to be had when considering ‘Different World’’s seeming banishment into the setlist wilderness, not least when its position as a 21st classic is taken into account. Opening the critically-acclaimed and much-loved ‘A Matter Of Life And Death’, this straight-to-the-point nugget could well do with a spit n’ polish and re-introduction into Iron Maiden’s premier league.
Last performed live: London Carling Academy Brixton, 24th June 2007

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