Iron Maiden – The Songs Unplayed Live (Part One)

Today and tomorrow I’m going to run through an interesting list. A few weeks back, Loudwire published a list of all the songs Iron Maiden have not played live. It’s an interesting look at what songs didn’t quite make the cut for a band who is a prolific touring act and I wanted to run through the list and offer some thoughts.

By my very quick and unofficial count (which may not be entirely accurate), Iron Maiden have a total of 175 studio tracks – 174 on albums and one non-album single that is included here. The various B-sides of singles are not included on this and don’t include a ton of legitimate original songs anyway. The total of unplayed songs live on the list is 51, so just a hair under a third of their output.

Maiden have aired every track from 2 of their 17 albums – the 1980 debut, which makes sense as they didn’t have a ton of songs then, and the 2006 record A Matter Of Life And Death, which was played in its entirety on tour. All other albums have at least one track that didn’t get time under the stage lights.

I’ll go through the list as it’s presented, album by album. I’ll leave off after the two Blaze albums today and pick up with the reunion era stuff tomorrow. It’ll likely make this post longer than the second one but it seems like a good place to split the proceedings.

The self-titled debut is not in consideration for this effort, so it’s off to 1981 to start the list.

Killers

One song unplayed – Prodigal Son

The only track from the second album not to see the light of day is Prodigal Son. It’s a logical exclusion from live sets, the song is very, very different from anything else the band have done. I do like the song but yeah, they’re never playing that one, no one would know what the hell was going on.

Since we’re talking about these, here is my post from awhile back when Killers was Album of the Week.

Number Of The Beast

Two songs unplayed – Invaders and Gangland

No real surprises here, neither song is considered terribly strong and I doubt too many people pine for a live airing of either. I don’t mind Invaders but it’s nothing to write home about, while Gangland is honestly kind of weak and a song the band even wishes they hadn’t put on the record. I don’t expect either tune to get the time of day on stage.

Piece Of Mind

Two songs unplayed – Quest For Fire and Sun And Steel

Nothing really shocking here, either. I do like Sun And Steel quite a bit but at this point I don’t ever expect it to be played live. Quest For Fire isn’t really anyone’s favorite track, I don’t personally mind it much but I’m sure it will remain on this list for all time.

Powerslave

Three songs unplayed – The Duellists, Flash Of The Blade and Back In The Village

Maiden truly made hay on the Powerslave album cycle and massive tour, but three of the album’s cuts haven’t been played out. The two sword-fighting songs and the the quasi-sequel to The Prisoner have been omitted from set lists. I wouldn’t mind hearing any of them live, especially Back In The Village, but I’m not really banking on it.

Powerslave was Album of the Week not all that long ago, here’s the post.

Somewhere In Time

Two songs unplayed – Deja Vu and Alexander The Great

Only two songs haven’t made the live cut from this well-regarded album. Deja Vu is a fine song but one I kinda doubt will ever see live play.

But we have a whole other story with Alexander The Great. The album’s closer is an awesome, epic track and this is probably the song that most fans would say they want to hear live. I can only speak from the anecdotal stuff I see in the wild but I think this is the holy grail of unplayed live cuts. I can’t speak as to whether or not it’ll ever make the cut but it’s the first one on the list that I hope does.

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Two songs unplayed – The Prophecy and Only The Good Die Young

I guess no real surprises here, The Prophecy is widely considered the weakest track from this beloved album. I do enjoy Only The Good Die Young but at this point there is little hope of it getting stage time.

No Prayer For The Dying

Three songs unplayed – Fates Warning, Run Silent Run Deep, Mother Russia

Now we’re into the 90’s era, often considered the band’s weakest. This album, which just had its 32nd anniversary on October 1, doesn’t contain the same epic quality of classic Maiden but is still pretty welcoming in its consistency.

And honestly, the three unplayed tracks are some of the better tunes on the record. I always enjoyed Fates Warning, and it’s possible the Run Silent Run Deep would be my number one selection of the album. Mother Russia is a bit different and I can see why they wouldn’t play it live, but it’s a tune I still enjoy. There is no prayer for any of these songs being on a future set list.

Fear Of The Dark

Seven (!) songs unplayed:

Fear Is The Key

Childhood’s End

The Fugitive

Chains Of Misery

The Apparition

Judas Be My Guide

Weekend Warrior

Now that is quite the list. Less than half of this album has gone unplayed in a live setting. A lot of that probably has to do with the turmoil in the band, which would see Bruce Dickinson leave the band just over a year after the album’s release. And only two songs from the album, the title track and Afraid To Shoot Strangers, have been played since the album’s tour cycle.

Looking at the list, I wouldn’t play most of these live either. Honestly there are some of the worst songs the band have recorded on the list. Weekend Warrior is almost celebrated for how bad it is, and The Apparition is never invited to any of my parties. I don’t necessarily mind The Fugitive but it’s not strong enough for a live set. The other songs are goofy thought perhaps inoffensive, I don’t know.

Well, there is one song on this list that is not at all like the others. Judas Be My Guide is an amazing tune, arguably the album’s best and considered by many to be the band’s most underrated song. (My personal pick for that will come up tomorrow, though Judas is an easy number 2). It is a damn shame that the song hasn’t been presented live and, while I don’t expect it, it is a short tune and could be easily accommodated.

The X Factor

Four songs unplayed – Judgment Of Heaven, Look For The Truth, 2 AM, The Unbeliever

We’re now to the Blaze Bayley era of Maiden, while loved by some it was widely considered a disaster for the group, who saw their fortunes sink in the late 1990’s. I have mixed feelings about it which I’ll save for later blog content.

I can’t say I really care if any of these songs were played out or not. Judgment Of Heaven is one I liked, the others kind of sounded a bit samey to me, one of my gripes about this album overall. Bruce has had no problem doing Blaze-era tunes but none of these will likely pass muster.

Virus – single

We now have the curious case of the only non-album, non B-side track Iron Maiden ever did. The song was a new offering for the band’s first greatest hits compilation and then got released as its own single.

And it was never played live, despite being one of the strongest cuts from the Blaze era. The song is different and does throw some people, but I absolutely love it. It, along with a few of the B-sides from The X Factor are honestly the best songs the group did in this time frame.

That said, I doubt Virus ever gets played live by Maiden. It is very much a Blaze Bayley song and I can’t picture Bruce tackling this one. This is one that absolutely should have been played when Blaze was still with the group.

Virtual XI

One song unplayed – Como Estais Amigos

I’ll finish up part one with the second and final Blaze album. Easy enough – only one song wasn’t played and it’s never getting played. Hell, I don’t even mind the song, but yeah, it won’t see stage time.

That wraps up part one of the songs Iron Maiden haven’t played live. I’ll be back tomorrow with part two and the tunes unplayed from the reunion era.

4 thoughts on “Iron Maiden – The Songs Unplayed Live (Part One)

  1. Pingback: Iron Maiden – The Songs Unplayed Live (Part Two) – The Crooked Wanderer

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