Every Iron Maiden live album ranked from worst to best

Iron Maiden live albums

Iron Maiden have released a lot of live albums over the years. Fortunately, they happen to be one of the greatest live bands of all time, so no harm done. From rough ‘n’ ready snapshots of the band’s early days with Paul Di’Anno through to numerous epic, 90-minute extravaganzas with Bruce Dickinson upfront, there is a wealth of in-the-moment treasures to be explored. With a new live album, Nights Of The Dead, Legacy Of The Beast: Live In Mexico City, on the horizon, here are all of Maiden’s live albums, summed up for your convenience.

12. A Real Live One/A Real Dead One (1993)

A collection of classics old and recent captured during Maiden’s Fear Of The Dark and Real Live tours in 1992 and 1993, this two-part, 120-minute extravaganza is hugely entertaining by most band’s standards. Unfortunately, it hits the bottom of this list due to a slightly weak overall sound and the fact that, let’s face it, no one really needs a live version of From Here To Eternity.

11. Death On The Road (2005)

2003’s Dance Of Death was a great record, but it doesn’t quite match up to the four other studio albums Maiden have made since Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned to the fold. Recorded on the band’s subsequent world tour, Death On The Road is slightly less exciting than other 21st century Maiden live albums as a result. But only slightly. It’s also notable for a superb version of underrated Blaze-era gem Lord Of The Flies, with Bruce on fine form.

10. Live At Donington (1993)

Not the legendary Maiden headliner from Donington ’88, but the band’s second bill-topping triumph at Monsters Of Rock four years later, Live At Donington emerged as the band were negotiating Bruce Dickinson’s departure. It still rules, of course, but few diehard fans would vote for Be Quick Or Be Dead or Wasting Love as nailed-on crowd-pleasers at this point. Afraid To Shoot Strangers is still an underrated belter, mind you.

9. En Vivo! (2012)

One of the best sounding Maiden live albums, En Vivo! was caught on tape at Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile in April 2011. Audibly buoyed by the positive response to the previous year’s The Final Frontier album, ’Arry and the boys are in a thunderous mood throughout, particularly during a final, extended Running Free. Which is always a winner.

8. Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City (2020)

Iron Maiden documented their legendary, globe-spanning Legacy Of The Beast tour with this 2020 release. Recorded in September 2019 in front of a raucous Mexico City crowd, Nights Of The Dead is jam-packed with tracks covering Maiden’s storied career. It may not be their best live offering , but it’s thrilling to see tracks like The Clansman, Where Eagles Dare and Flight Of Icarus dusted off and performed with such aplomb. The band are on fire throughout, and Bruce rolls backs the years to deliver a memorable performance. 

7. Flight 666 (2009)

Taken from shows during the first leg of Maiden’s Somewhere Back In Time world tour early in 2008, Flight 666 (the live album) was necessarily overshadowed by Flight 666 (the movie). In reality, it’s a brilliant document of one of the band’s finest tours of this century. Just look at the set list: Aces High, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, Moonchild, Powerslave… No wonder the movie left us all snivelling into our t-shirts.

6. The Book Of Souls Live Chapter (2017)

Fiery, bombastic and heavier than they’ve sounded in decades, The Book Of Souls Live Chapter is a demonstration of Maiden’s life firepower. With one of their best ever albums recently unleashed, Bruce and the boys play like men possessed on this recent triumph. It’s hard to pick a highlight. A spine-tingling Children Of The Damned? Towering, box-fresh epic The Red And The Black? An explosive, closing Wasted Years? It’s okay, we can have all of them. 

5. Maiden England ’88 (1994)

Originally released on VHS in 1989 but eventually re-tooled as a live album in 1994, Maiden England depicts the band at the very peak of their popularity in the ‘80s. Recorded in Birmingham in November ’88, the full glory of the Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son era is on full display, with most of that album performed, alongside comparative rarities like The Prisoner and Die With Your Boots On. Maiden England is also notable for the intensity and speed of some of the performances. Blimey.

4. Beast Over Hammersmith (2002)

First released as part of the Eddie’s Archive box set in 2002, Beast Over Hammersmith was recorded in March, 1982, when Maiden were teetering on the brink of fame and fortune. Opening with an absurdly exciting Murders In The Rue Morgue, they tear through their greatest hits (at that point), with Bruce asserting himself as the band’s new frontman with almost comical gusto.

3. Rock In Rio (2002)

The last night of the Brave New World tour was, to put it mildly, a successful one for Iron Maiden. Playing before a crowd of roughly 250,000 people, Steve Harris and his tireless comrades have seldom sounded more heroic than they do here. From freshly-minted classics like The Wicker Man and Blood Brothers to Blaze-era epics The Clansman and Sign Of The Cross, everything crackles with energy and intensity, right up the ultimate sing-along of final encore Run To The Hills.

2. Maiden Japan (1981)

Maiden were unstoppable long before Bruce Dickinson joined the ranks, and Maiden Japan is some of the most convincing proof of that fact. Recorded in Nagoya, Japan, in May 1981, the official release was a four-track EP (five tracks in Japan, fact fans!) rather than a full-length, but it earns its place here by perfectly encapsulating the raw fury of the Paul Di’Anno era. We couldn’t possibly confirm that a bootleg version of the whole concert exists on the internet somewhere. But it might.

1. Live After Death (1985)

Released on October 14, 1985, Live After Death is, quite simply, the greatest heavy metal live album of all time. 98 minutes of irrefutable proof that Maiden had conquered the world, it is legendary for all kinds of reasons. Firstly, Maiden were a brutal, finely-honed machine when Live After Death was recorded (in both California and London), after many months of intensive touring. Secondly, Bruce Dickinson’s between-song banter is etched onto the walls of every Maiden fan’s brain, ensuring that we all know “what not to do when a bird shits on you”. Thirdly? Do we even need a thirdly? Live After Death is the sound of the greatest heavy metal band of all time, in the pomp of youth and hell-bent on even bigger and better things. It’s still stupidly exciting 35 years later.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.