The 8 songs Iron Maiden have played live the least

Bruce Dickinson onstage with Iron Maiden in 2014
(Image credit: Francesco Castaldo\Archivio Francesco Castaldo\Mondadori via Getty Images)

Iron Maiden have performed more than 2,000 live shows since they formed on Christmas Day 1975, and the band adore sprinkling their sets with surprises to keep things fresh. They’ve played albums in full, unearthed long-lost treasures and brought enough pyro to each concert to bankrupt a small nation. Yet, even by The Beast’s completist standards, there’s stuff they rarely perform and prefer to keep unplayed.

We’ve already listed all the tracks Maiden have never once done live. Now, these are the ones they have actually busted out, yet have only ever done so on one or two extremely isolated occasions, according to setlist database If you’ve ever caught one of these songs at a show, consider yourself extremely lucky, and the rest of us ridiculously jealous.

Metal Hammer line break

The Fallen Angel (Brave New World, 2000) – 7 times

This deep cut from Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith’s comeback album, Brave New World, is emblematic of the vigour the pair brought back to the band. The Fallen Angel flaunts a gallop and virtuosic intensity Maiden hadn’t shown in more than a decade, and joined their setlist on June 6, 2000. However, it was scrapped by the following February, a mere six shows later, potentially due to the demand it puts on Bruce’s pipes.

Burning Ambition (Running Free b-side, 1980) – 5 times

The b-side of Iron Maiden’s first single, Running Free, was written before Steve Harris started the band, when he was still in predecessors Smiler. It makes sense when you hear it, as the sub-three-minute romp has little to do with the grandeur and heaviness we now associate with The Beast. Burning Ambition debuted onstage at the legendary Cart & Horses, then got sentenced to the scrapheap following a gig at London’s Ruskin Arms in March 1979.

Invasion (Women In Uniform b-side, 1980) – 5 times

Another b-side, this time occupying the latter half of the Skyhooks cover Women In Uniform. Invasion epitomises the punk proclivities of early Maiden (despite Steve’s claimed distaste for the genre in later years), Paul Di’Anno snarling about vikings and longboats over barrelling chords. The song got five live airings in 1979, before the band reworked it into the Number Of The Beast opener Invaders: a track that has never once been performed at a concert.

Don’t Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger (Virtual XI, 1998) – 4 times

It’s rather surprising that it took us this long to reach a Blaze Bayley song. Maiden’s two albums with the Brummie frontman, The X Factor and Virtual XI, are controversial, with their songs rarely finding a spot in a show after Bruce’s return. However, Don’t Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger got scrapped while Blaze was still manning the mic, its time in the setlist limited to a single week in April 1998.

Out Of The Silent Planet (Brave New World, 2000) – 4 times

Like The Fallen Angel, Out Of The Silent Planet is a Brave New World-era gem that was given an unjustly short time in the sun. What makes this even more egregious, though, is that it got released as a single! Nonetheless, the track’s melodic metal thrashings and stadium-sized singalong have only been enjoyed by four audiences since 2000. It even functioned as Maiden’s setlist-closer every time, before losing that role to ol’ reliable, Run To The Hills.

Back In The Village (Powerslave, 1984) – 2 times

Back In The Village made it onto the first two setlists of the monumental 1984–85 World Slavery tour. Then, it got tossed aside and insultingly replaced not by a song, but by a meagre guitar solo! This means that only fans who were in Warsaw’s Hala Torwar and Łódź’s Hala Sportowa on August 9 and 10, 1984, got to see the spectacle of this Powerslave deep cut. The rest of the world is fiercely, fiercely jealous.

The Ides Of March (Killers, 1981) – 1 time

The Ides Of March and Wrathchild are the perfect one-two punch on Killers, plummeting from a majestic opener to a straightforward punk-metal anthem. The instrumental’s been heard at shows plenty of times, but only as a studio recording blasted out from a tape – that is, except for on one occasion. At the Ruskin Arms in October 1979, Maiden actually played Ides… themselves, which is a venture they haven’t mimicked in the 45 years since.

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (Somewhere In Time, 1986) – 1 time

This fan favourite from 1986’s Somewhere In Time was played at the very first show of the subsequent world tour, but never, ever again. A lucky gathering of fans in Belgrade (then the capital of Yugoslavia) bore witness as these six minutes of twirling riffs and heroic vocals blared out for the only time in Maiden history. Loneliness… was  ditched immediately afterwards, but Steve Harris has since declared he’d be keen to exhume this buried banger.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.