Reviewing this DVD is going to be hard, for the simple reason that how do you fairly review the first DVD by a band that, in terms of talent at least, quite seriously be considered to be the best in the world?
But fortunately, this DVD has enough flaws to constitute a fair review without just going on about how good Maiden are (although there will be plenty of that as well). The DVD, recorded in Rio before a crowd of 250,000 and lasting 2 hours, is every bit as explosive as you'd expect. Opening with the operatic 'arthurs farewell', you can literally feel the energy of the crowd as the lights shine on Nicko (drums), before Adrian (guitar) strides on and begins to blast the intro riff to set opener 'the wicker man'.
The sound quality, although not perfect, is still excellent, you can place each and every note as it is played. Although this is a review of the DVD, a word must be spared for the amazing quality of the show itself. Maiden are, as always, on top form since the return of Adiran and Bruce (vocals) after their prolonged absence, and it shows. Maiden have never been about fancy, emotional sets (how different from bands trying to be 'dramatic' and looking stupid) they just go for pure rock-your-socks-off metal, no themes (beyond maybe a picture at the back) just the most powerful metal this side of titanium alloy. Blistering solos have always been Maidens trademark, and with the return of Adrian, it just gets better.
But enough praise (for now), this DVD is by no means perfect. The editing was all 'in-house', done by Steve (bass and band leader) and it is, at times, excellent but equally, at times it is shoddy. The shots naturally focus on Bruce, but all the musicians are represented and there is no notable bias (in fact Steve often seems to delibrately keep the camera off himself) even Nicko the sticksman gets a good amount of camera time, something that most DVDs seem to be missing. The editing is often a bit over-the-top when it comes to shot changing. Most notably this is in the opening track, where the cameras change almost every second in places. Another good example is in the track 'Wrathchild', the post chorus camera changes are synched with the drums which really makes your head spin. This is the DVD's major criticism, but also, the sound editing sometimes plays up and the volume levels waver, which tends to ruin the experience somewhat. The feeling is that if Steve had left the editing to a proffessional, the experience would be more enjoyable.
That said, there are massive amounts of enjoyable moments in this DVD. As said before, the music itself is superb, blasting out a wealth of new material from the top class 'Brave new world' (Blood Brothers-most emotional solo ever?) as well as old favorites from years gone by. But of special note is the closing performance of 'run to the hills' which was performed impromptu and unrehearsed after not being played by the band for years, and it was every bit as energetic as the sets opener-testimony to the power and strength of a band who can play 2 hours without flagging (also look for Bruce's reference to Hamlet during the closing chorus). The songs are littered with moments both great and funny, and yes, Eddie is there, stumbling onstage during 'the evil that men do' to get in a fight with Janick (guitar). Every member of the band adds something to the show, from Nicko's constant face-pulling (and chuckle inspiring highland dancing during 'the clansman) to Adrian's effortless and constant cool as he stalks the stage. Bruce, of course, is his usual crowd pleasing self with his between-song comments and little sideliners ('shall we burn our little wicker virgins, how shall we have them, nice and crispy?' is a particular favorite of mine).
There are an infinite number of more things I can say, but I wont since I've said all that needs to be said and you'll either buy this or wont, hopefully, you will. Finally, a freind of mine saw this DVD and pointed out one final thing. 'all the sets are pretty much the same, isn't that a bit boring?'. But isn't this the joy of Maiden? No complications, no special track order, just metal, all the way through. The tracks can be played in fairly much any order and sound perfect, you can skip straight from 'the wicker man' through to 'run to the hills' and still feel the same energy, the same power that was there at the start. Buy this DVD, and you can watch it all the way through and marvel at some of the worlds best music. Or skip straight to your favorite song, and it works. The extras are interesting, but only a divertion from the main feature. Although my favorite moment of the whole package was the sight of Bruce standing in a hotel room, chair in hand, turn to the camera with a questioning eye and saying 'rock and roll?' before slamming the chair into a table and walking off.
Moments like this, not to mention the sight of Dave Murray (guitar) pulling of that classic solo from 'number of the beast', are enough to make you want to cheer at your TV.