The 16 least-played Iron Maiden songs

Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson
(Image credit: Theo Wargo\/WireImage)

Like any Iron Maiden fan worth their salt, we immediately started crafting our ultimate setlist when we learned of next year’s UK arena tour. With 16 albums to choose from, which classics would you drop – shudder – to make way for new material?

According to, they’ve performed Iron Maiden 2131 times. It got us thinking, which tracks have been overlooked and under-loved? We needed to know. Like our recent look at Metallica’s live rarities, there are rules when it comes to compiling a list of their least-played songs. The entries must appear on studio albums. EP tracks and cover versions don’t count. So, in all their glory, here are the 16 songs (there would have been 10, but there are several ties) which have made a fleeting appearance in the Maiden setlist, according to…

– 10. Different World (2006)

Let’s start with A Matter of Life and Death’s second single, which has been played just 60 times. Opening every night of that record’s 60-date tour (which ended at London’s Brixton Academy on June 24, 2007) Different World has been locked in the vault ever since – why? It has all the hallmarks of a Maiden classic.

– 10. For the Greater Good of God (2006)

Also trotting in with 60 plays on the very same tour, For the Greater Good of God’s nine-and-a-half minute length may be the reason it was shelved. This slowburner, composed solely by Steve Harris, showcases the bassist’s craft and lyrical spite at its best. Even the eagle soundbite is warranted.

9. Paschendale (2003)

Detailing the Battle of Passchendaele, in which over 200,000 soldiers died in three months, this is a prime example of Maiden’s ability to tackle historical events. This lengthy, multi-layered beast made its debut at Főnix Csarnok, Debrecen, Hungary on October 19, 2003 and enjoyed a brief resurgence on The Final Frontier’s American leg in 2010, but hasn’t been aired since.

8. Total Eclipse (1982)

Originally serving as Run to the Hills’ B-side, Total Eclipse has since appeared on remastered editions of The Number of the Beast – and rightly so. Harris even admitted the record would’ve benefitted if Gangland was replaced with Total Eclipse. The track in question made its debut at the Queensway Hall in Dunstable on February 25, 1982.

7. Rainmaker (2003)

Dance of Death’s second single was only performed on that record’s tour – it’s now been a (quite unfair) 12 years since Rainmaker’s onomatopoeic opening riff pitter-pattered into the live arena. If anything, Rainmaker is a reminder that Maiden use all three guitarists to maximum effect.

6. Journeyman (2003)

Iron Maiden’s first and only full-on foray into the world of acoustic performances, Journeyman draws a curtain on Dance of Death. Like most of the record’s tracks, it’s not been aired since the Death on the Road tour; an electric version of Journeyman appears on the No More Lies EP if Maiden-minus-amps makes you uneasy. Like Paschendale, this song made its debut in Hungary in 2003. It was last played at Japan’s Saitama Super Arena the following February.

– 5. Still Life (1983)

Tying with five A Matter of Life and Death songs at 44 plays, Piece Of Mind’s Still Life made a whistle-stop return to the setlist in 1988. We’re gutted that this Dave Murray co-write hasn’t made it onto the setlist in 28 years, but its swansong was during Maiden’s five-night London residency in December 1988: three Hammersmith dates, two Wembley Arena shows.

– 5. Lord of Light (2006)

A Matter of Life and Death’s penultimate assault hasn’t been repeated live since the record’s tour. It made its debut at the New England Dodge Music Center, Hartford in Connecticut on October 4, 2006 and was retired after their London Earl’s Court show in the December of that year. Two days before Christmas, too. Harsh.

– 5. The Pilgrim (2006)

Originally considered as A Matter of Life and Death’s title track, The Pilgrim is a punchy summation of the album’s analysis of war and religion. Like Lord Of Light, The Pilgrim was aired throughout their 2006 dates.

– 5. The Legacy (2006)

The Legacy was yet another contender for A Matter of Life and Death’s title; that’s one we can get behind. The song’s near-10-minute running time is a grandiose, moving piece of art that utilises nearly everything Maiden have at their disposal: sweeping keyboards, dizzying solos, prog wizardry, bass-led brilliance and that ungodly, inimitable gallop.

– 5. The Longest Day (2006)

“How long on this longest day, ‘til we finally make it through?” This song’s refrain probably ran through the minds of casual fans as Maiden performed A Matter of Life and Death in full on their 2006 tour. The Longest Day does possess what is arguably the record’s catchiest riff towards its climax, though.

– 5. Out of the Shadows (2006)

A bemusing ballad, Out of the Shadows is Maiden righting the wrong that was Wasting Love from Fear of The Dark. Sure, they nailed it here and its mid-tempo plod sits more comfortably within the sprawling context of A Matter of Life and Death, but as a live proposition? Questionable. Again, the band’s 2006 Hartford and London shows bookend the song’s tenure in the setlist.

4. The Fallen Angel (2000)

Only played a measly nine times – including Maiden’s two-night stint at the diminutive Shepherd’s Bush Empire in January 2001 – The Fallen Angel serves as Brave New World’s shortest track, clocking in at four minutes and delivering sing-alongs in spades.

3. Don’t Look to the Eyes of a Stranger (1998)

Within Virtual XI’s mire, this Harris-penned, eight-minute darling is heavy on keyboards and riffs in a way Maiden shied away from following Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. It’s been played five times, never with Dickinson; Blaze Bayley did a decent job on the original, so let’s give Brucey a go. The song made its debut at a secret show under the name The Angel & The Gamblers at The Oval Rock House in Norwich on April 22, 1998.

2. Out of the Silent Planet (2000)

This first appeared on the setlist on January 6, 2001 at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire and was performed just three more times. Why? To be fair, it closed each show, because what could follow one of Brave New World’s innumerable highlights?

1. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1986)

Imagine having a song this perfect and only playing it once in 30 years. Once. A crowd at Hala Pionir, Belgrade witnessed history on September 10, 1986. Those lucky so-and-sos. Run on and on and back into the setlist. Please.

Iron Maiden begin their European Book Of Souls tour in April 2017.

Alec Chillingworth

Alec is a longtime contributor with first-class BA Honours in English with Creative Writing, and has worked for Metal Hammer since 2014. Over the years, he's written for Noisey, Stereoboard, uDiscoverMusic, and the good ship Hammer, interviewing major bands like Slipknot, Rammstein, and Tenacious D (plus some black metal bands your cool uncle might know). He's read Ulysses thrice, and it got worse each time.