Tales From The Stage – John Mellencamp

Going back now to 2016, and yeah it’s still weird that it was now seven years ago. The occasion was John Mellencamp in concert. I had never seen him live before so I jumped on the chance when he booked a local show.

The show was at the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts on the campus of Missouri State University. Sure it’s a mouthful to say but it’s a great place to see a show. It is a theater type of building with balconies that look basically right over the stage, meaning there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. I was up in one of the first few rows of the first balcony and had a great view of the stage, even from up a bit in the air.

Opening the show was Carlene Carter, the first-born daughter of June Carter and a performer since the mid ’70’s. She had been collaborating with Mellencamp and this would continue into the next year when they released a joint album. Carlene played a set that featured some old Carter Family standards like Will The Circle Be Unbroken as well as her hits from the early ’90’s, including Every Little Thing. She was very engaging and put on a really nice show. I wish I had more to say about it but this was seven years ago and also not a single person uploaded a setlist of hers from any stop on this tour so I’m a bit hosed on that. Had I known that I would have kept track of it that night but I’m not bright enough to do that.

Between sets Carlene was reportedly giving free hugs in the main lobby by the merch stands. I missed out on that because there was a beer vendor just off to the side of my section. Them’s the breaks, I guess.

Here is a bit of very good footage of Carlene from the same year in North Carolina.

After the break, John Mellencamp came out with his band, or at least the first iteration of it. For these shows John was splitting things into two mini-sets – one with more country-oriented instruments such as fiddle, and the second with the standard rock package.

Mellencamp opened with two songs from his most recent album, 2014’s Plain Spoken. Lawless Times and Troubled Man were the cuts. I wasn’t overly familiar with them but they were good songs to kick the show off with. He then went into two old classics, Minutes To Memories and Small Town.

John filled the time between songs with some banter, telling short stories about stuff his kids were up to and things like that. The set would run through several songs from different eras – hits like Human Wheels and Check It Out as well as other cuts from albums more recent.

The oldest album Mellencamp went back to for a song was 1982’s American Fool. He made sure to let the crowd know that he personally didn’t want to do the song but he knew everyone would riot if he didn’t, and then went into Jack And Diane. It is one of his bigger hits but also does get a fair bit of flack. John has not been shy about not liking the song but hey, you gotta play your hits. The crowd was into it so I guess that’s the important part.

The first part of the set rounded out with two collaborations with Carlene Carter – Indigo Sky and My Soul’s Got Wings. Both of these would appear on their joint album the following year. Then some instrumental parts led to a brief set change to set up the rock half of the show.

And when I say rock, I mean rock. Mellencamp and company came out to absolutely shred. The guitars were distorted and turned up to 11 and the band pounded out the hits. Rain On The Scarecrow led the way, with other hits like Paper In Fire, Authority Song and Crublim’ Down following. The set would close on Pink Houses and then Cherry Bomb.

That would wrap up the night. I was very glad to have finally seen Mellencamp live as he had been one of about a million artists I’ve missed over the years. It’s far easier to see someone when they play local as opposed to dealing the hustle and cost of travel to a major city, and this show was literally a few miles from my house. It was off into the night for me, with one more artist checked off my bucket list.

This video is not good at all but the sound is ok and it’s from the very show I was at.

Behind The Curtain – The Case of Backing Tracks in Modern Music

The issue of backing tracks live has become a hot-button one among musicians and music news recently. It’s an argument that has been playing out over the past few years especially and a new take on the matter pops up almost every day. While there are a billion pieces about it floating around, the most recent one involves a comprehensive and level-headed take from Jeff Scott Soto, who provided his thoughts via a Cameo request. His words are transcribed in this Blabbermouth.net article.

Backing tracks are absolutely nothing new in music. It is fairly common for an act to bring part of their set on tape or hard drive and play it through the PA. It’s most commonly used for the types of instruments that rock and pop bands don’t haul around with them – strings, complex synthesizer parts and the various electronic sounds found in various styles of music. If a band comes out to an intro they did on a record that wasn’t a typical guitar/bass/drum tune, it is most likely a backing track.

The issue of backing tracks doesn’t really gain any traction when talking about that sort of use – it’s practical and no one really cares. It’s when the backing track is assisting the delivery of one of the primary instruments – guitar, bass or vocals – that musicians and fans have issues. And vocals is the big one that has caused a great deal of the back and forth in recent music headlines.

(NOTE – drums would not really have backing tracks, instead they can use “triggers” to mimic other sounds or even repeat sounds and give the appearance the drummer is playing faster than they really are. A different sort of topic.)

There are numerous names out there either outright found to be using backing tracks or very much suspected. Kiss are probably the biggest name as far as relevance to this site – Gene Simmons has ranted about backing track use in the past, yet it’s pretty evident that Paul Stanley has a track going as they wind down this iteration of their final tour. People in the Kiss camp have talked in a lot of circles about the track use, but it is there.

In other cases, musicians have freely admitted the use of backing tracks. Both Shinedown and Motley Crue members have openly stated they use backing tracks and provide various justifications for them – mainly to fill out the sound or to replicate a studio piece that can’t practically be handled live. WASP mainman Blackie Lawless has said he uses tracks to copy the layered vocals he does in studio. Other performers, like Charlie Benante of Anthrax and Marty Friedman, have spoken in favor of backing track use without explicitly mentioning that they use such tracks.

But there is a lot of buzz against the use of backing tracks. Many feel it robs the audience of an authentic performance, which is a valid argument when a track is used to cover a vocalist’s deficiencies. Piping in choir vocals for parts of one track when it’s impractical to tote a live choir around on tour is one thing, but covering for wear and tear is another. There’s an easy way for me to get a studio-worthy performance from an artist – look them up on Spotify, or put on the record or CD. I don’t see the need to spend a premium on tickets to watch that live.

I won’t personally claim to be all that off-put by these revelations about backing tracks. I’m not a purist or idealist by any means and I think that arguments over authenticity can go too far and into very unrealistic territory. But I also do see the point when it comes to buying what are pretty expensive tickets anymore just so some legacy act can piddle through their set when they aren’t actually capable of doing it. I don’t know how I’m going to retire, I don’t think I need to worry about padding Jon Bon Jovi’s 401k.

And yeah, it does have to suck for those singers that get up there and can’t hang anymore. A few rare gems like Klaus Meine and Rob Halford can keep at it, but by and large a person’s vocals fall off when they get older. And sometimes the fall-off is pretty brutal.

The issue of backing tracks doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon – rather, it gets brought up nearly every day as it clearly drives engagement and clicks. People will make their own choices on it, but it would seem the show is going on whether or not a fair part of that show is on a computer in the back. At the end of it all, the machine of the music industry will keep churning along, and the outrage vented over backing tracks will somehow become money in someone else’s pocket.

Guns N Roses – Unplayed Songs Live

Awhile back I had a look at the songs that Iron Maiden have not played live. It was a fair run through a decent portion of their catalog and kind of a fun exercise to guess what might actually see the light of day on stage versus what almost certainly will never get played. The idea for it came from a Loudwire article, and the site has struck again with the “songs never played live” series. This time the subject is Guns N’ Roses, as the title of this post probably hinted at.

Now this will be a radically different post – GnR only have four songs never played live. I was a bit shocked by that information. While the band were relatively inactive for a long time and do only have what qualifies as four full-length studio releases plus some originals on an EP, four is a very surprising and low number. It means they have run through the vast majority of their catalog in a live setting.

It’s not surprising that all of Appetite For Destruction has been played live, they probably took care of that in the late ’80’s as their star was burning super hot. The GnR Lies EP also has a few original tracks and all have been played live at least a few times, including the mega-controversial song One In A Million. And if we fast forward to 2008’s Axl-led spectacle Chinese Democracy, we will find that those too have all been played live. As a note, this doesn’t count cover songs, so that one thing they released in the mid-90’s before they split isn’t on here.

Yes, in order to pinpoint the unplayed songs we need to visit 1991 and the infamous Use Your Illusion double albums. It is these two discs that all four of today’s songs hail from. It’s honestly more shocking to me that they only didn’t play four of these songs.

Way back when I started this site I did a pretty in-depth dive into the UYI albums. That saga began on this post for anyone interested in a far deeper dive than what I’ll get into today.

This post is pretty quick and simple. Four songs, let’s see what they are and whether or not Guns N’ Roses should throw them in a setlist someday.

Don’t Damn Me

This is the lone unplayed cut from Use Your Illusion I. It’s not a song I’m all that into. It isn’t horrible but there’s nothing special about it, at least to me. It would be “fine” in a live setting but also the band has a billion other songs that are way better so this would be taking up space. I could see them playing it one day just to knock it off the list.

Get In The Ring

This, like the rest of the list, is from Use Your Illusion II. And this one surprises me. This is a massive, swear-filled diss track aimed at the music media who Axl and company despised at the height of their fame, which was roughly 1989-1991. I suppose opinion is divided on this song as opinion is on everything, but I and plenly of other people always really liked this one and I’m honestly a bit floored that they haven’t played it out.

And don’t be fooled by the live crowd chanting in the song – Axl had a June 1991 crowd specifically chant “Get In The Ring” in order to record it and use on the album. This wasn’t done live even though crowd noise is involved.

It wouldn’t shock me at all if the band decided to give this one a go. I could see them maybe not doing Axl’s rant that names off a bunch of journalists and maybe that was one reason why they didn’t play it. But I’d say this one really ought to get some stage time.

Shotgun Blues

Another bit of a surprise and for me a total badass song. I always liked this one and I think it’d work great live. I don’t know what gives here and this is one they need to get into a setlist ASAP.

My World

The final song on UYI II is a total pile and I feel the exact opposite about it as I do about Shotgun Blues. I’d be mad if I heard this shit live, that could be mitigated if they were doing it for the sole purpose of totally clearing their unplayed queue. The better move would be to drop it from the album so it doesn’t count on this list anymore.

Well, that’s about it. Honestly not a lot here and that’s totally fine, I was feeling kind of lazy anyway. I have a feeling that GnR are the type to actually track this kind of stuff and they might throw down on these just to say they’ve played all of their originals live. Or maybe not, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised. And since their ticket prices are well outside of my reach I don’t have to be worried about shelling out hundreds and being stuck hearing My World live.

Tales From The Stage – Kreator and Accept

Today I’m going back in the time machine to 2012. It seems odd to have to look so far back for what was just a recent year, but that’s what getting old and going through a series of crazy world events does, it puts a lot of distance to even the recent past.

2012 was kind of funny – it was the year the world was “supposed” to end, based on some idiot’s interpretation of the Mayan calendar. The calendar did not end, it just went to a new cycle. And, as we saw, the prediction was 8 years early.

Anyway, the point of this September evening was to convene to see two legends of German metal – Accept and Kreator. Accept were into their second album with “new” lead singer Mark Tornillo and Kreator were running a stable line-up and touring behind the 2012 album Phantom Antichrist.

This was quite a twin billing, both were bands I had never seen so this was a great way to get two off the bucket list at one time. The show was in Kansas City at a decent sized club called The Beaumont. I’d seen a few shows there but sadly the club closed at some point after this concert.

It’s also worth mentioning that this show was just two days after another trek to Arkansas for a concert. I’ll give that show, highlighted by St. Vitus, a post someday, but there were a lot more bands involved with that so I’ll save it for another time when I’m less lazy. It was a true “700 miles of metal” weekend.

So on to the night of German metal. The show was opened by Finnish death/doom outfit Swallow The Sun. I’m just gonna be real about it – I haven’t listened to Swallow The Sun much at all, couldn’t tell you if I like them or not, and I don’t remember a damn thing about their set that night. I’m guessing that I wasn’t moved given my lack of memory.

Accept was up next and yes I absolutely remember their set. Roughly half the set comprised songs from the (then) two albums fronted by Tornillo – Blood Of The Nations and Stalingrad. While some Accept fans could not accept (…) the departure of classic vocalist Udo Dirkschneider and his replacement with Tornillo, I have been one to love this newer era of Accept. Hearing the new songs aired out live was a fantastic experience.

Accept were phenomenal on that night, cutting through both new stuff and the classic era songs like Restless And Wild and Metal Heart. The set ended with the band’s most famous songs, Fast As A Shark and Balls To The Wall. It was an electric set, Mark and the band were totally on point all night. It rang truer than the huge stacks of amps lined up across the stage, which were totally not real and a bit comical, but it’s all good.

There is no good footage of the specific tour I saw, so here’s an actual pro-shot video from a release they did awhile later.

Kreator were up next. This was my first (and to date only) time seeing the legendary German thrashers, who have been one of my favorites for a long time. Their 2000’s resurgence was spectacular and I was very happy to be finally seeing the group live.

There is one thing about Kreator and live shows – I’m not sure that if, in the course of their now 40 year history that they are allowed to soundcheck before gigs. That might be putting it a bit too harshly, but the band does have a reputation for not caring all that much what they sound like on stage. They have done live albums that sound fine, but in a random bar in Kansas City they might not give as much of a shit about their sound.

I will say that yeah, they were loud and not “dialed in,” but I could still make out their songs fine. It wasn’t the worst sounding live show I’ve heard. There was no dissecting the finer points of their sound but hey, this is a loud thrash band and you might as well roll with it.

Kreator had a set that was focused on their most recent album Phantom Antichrist. The album was a good one, one of several in a row for the group and so it was nice to hear some cuts from it. Beyond that they jumped around to several points of their long career, playing everything from 1986’s Pleasure To Kill to 2009’s Hordes Of Chaos. It was a lot of title tracks and a look at several parts of their catalog. A few songs were bundled into two-part medleys, including the classics Endless Pain and Flag Of Hate. I’m not normally a medley guy but this worked out fine.

One funny part was toward the end of their set. They played The Patriarch, which is the instrumental intro to Violent Revolution. It’s one of my favorite Kreator songs (and albums), so I jumped up front to headbang along and shout some lyrics back. I’m usually pretty subdued during shows but I wanted to jam out for a little bit.

Holy shit, the people up front acted like I was going insane or something. It’s like these people had never been to a metal show before. These people, directly up front, acted like I was punching babies or something. I don’t know what was wrong with them, but I went ahead and rocked out to the song just the same. I don’t know their deal, I saw Testament in Kansas City a few years prior and that crowd was absolutely electric, but these people were sticks in the mud.

Anyway, Kreator got done with their not optimally mixed but still pretty good set and the night was over. I made it to the hotel and back home the next day without being apprehended for a moment of energy and headbanging. It was nice to see Kreator, but Accept was the true toast of the evening.

Touring In The 2020’s

The past few years have been hard on everyone and every aspect of life, and that certainly includes music. It was impossible for bands to tour in 2020 and even in 2021 tours were on a much more limited basis, both in availability and capacity. 2022 saw touring come back in full force, though venue closures and other factors have altered the landscape.

And yes, ticket prices are more expensive now than they were before the pandemic. I don’t have a data-driven point to make here, but I’m pretty sure anyone who attended shows before 2020 and after 2020 can attest to the steep increase in ticket prices.

But today’s post doesn’t concern the fans’ side of the equation. It isn’t just more expensive to go see a show – it’s more expensive to put one on. And that has been throwing a wrench in the works of a lot of acts as they try to recover from the lost year of 2020.

A quick check of music news from any genre will find a now common headline – “Tour canceled due to logistical issues.” I recall that both Anthrax and Stryper called off European tours last year, citing the costs associated with gigging. And those are just two names common to my site – this has gone on across music as a whole, affecting absolutely everyone. While tours are still happening, it’s concerning to see veteran names like Anthrax and Stryper on a list of bands calling it off due to cost.

Putting on a tour involves a lot of expenses, and those prices were huge in 2021, just like everywhere else. Fuel costs were a massive concern and possibly high enough to derail a tour all on their own. A band’s crew has to be paid, and there are less available crew after the pandemic, a lot of folks had to switch careers to get by. That leaves the remaining ones at a premium.

And just like for us at home, everything else was more expensive – food, basic consumables, what have you. All those expenses snowballed to a point that made bands throw in the towel on heading out to tour.

In the pandemic climate of counting every dollar, venues have added a brutal twist – some venues are now demanding a cut of bands’ merch sales. Not only does a band have to absorb the higher costs of touring, they also have to part with a cut of the one thing that actually brings them some decent money. And with the idea now out there, this insidious idea probably won’t go away.

It all becomes a grind perhaps too much to bear for a musical act. As we’ve all known for quite some time now, the way for an act to make money is through touring. Album sales haven’t been much in years and record label deals keep bands from the money anyway. Streaming famously pays squat to anyone but those who get billions of plays. Being on the road is where the money is, or at least was.

In some respects, the issues of high-cost touring may wind down some. Prices are on a general decline and the economic forecast is at least decent in that regard. Shifting employment trends may lead more people into the road crew, helping that shortage. And more money in consumer pockets is more opportunity for acts to tour in front of them.

2020 and the pandemic obviously hit the live music scene very hard, in fact halting it for awhile. And the return to touring has been full of obstacles, some insurmountable at times. Sure, ticket prices are higher and there entities to blame for that, we all know who they are. But the musicians can’t catch a break either, and being unable to earn money on the road threatens the very ecosystem of music. I don’t know if a doomsday scenario is imminent in this case, but the struggles of the touring musician at all levels of success are a cause for concern.

Tales From The Stage – Iron Maiden 2013

Today I’m gonna go somewhere back in time to what is now astonishingly nine years ago. I first saw Iron Maiden in 2000, now in 2022 I’ve seen them four times. The concert I detail today was my second time seeing them.

Maiden were touring a retro set this time around – it was based on the 1988 Maiden England tour. The set lists between 1988 and 2013 would differ a bit, I’ll get into that below. I was personally very excited for this one – while Maiden alternate between “legacy” sets and current material a fair bit, this tour was paying homage to my favorite era of the band.

The show was in what used to be called the Sprint Center in Kansas City. For those unaware of the “unique” geography of Middle America, Kansas City is partially in the state of Kansas but a lot of it is in Missouri, and arguably the most significant stuff. (The same is true for St. Louis – a lot of it is in Missouri but a part is in Illinois). And to continue with the unimportant trivia, the Sprint Center is now known as the T-Mobile Center because Sprint and T-Mobile merged a few years ago.

The show was on a Saturday and it’s also important to note that Maiden had not played in Missouri for 13 years at this point – exactly the last time I saw them. The Sprint Center is located near a fairly large entertainment district in KC and the place was electric hours before the show. We had a few adult beverages in the area with a legion of people in Maiden gear before heading into the arena.

One other minor note about the venue – I’ve seen Maiden twice now in this same arena and both times the place was top-notch at getting people into the venue in a timely fashion. This point will come in handy in the future when I get into the time I saw Maiden in a different city with a much less capable entry mechanism. But no such issues in KC.

Most any show has an opening act, and Iron Maiden brought a doozy for this tour – Megadeth were the support for this tour. It made for a stellar tour package but did raise an interesting question – what exactly were Megadeth going to play in an opening slot? They have more than enough material to air out a two hour headline set, so what did they go for in slot an hour or less?

They stuck to the hits, of course. All but one of their nine songs came from their classic run of albums from 1986 through 1992. The lone exception was Kingmaker, from their just-released Super Collider. The album is regarded as a flop in the Megadeth lexicon, though Kingmaker is cited as a highlight track. The song worked fine in their set and I wasn’t bothered by it. The classics played were fantastic and Megadeth was in fine form. Somewhat sadly, to date this still marks the only time I’ve seen them live.

With the crowd ready to go, Iron Maiden took the stage. It was sheer joy after the day-long party outside the arena and Megadeth’s opening set. As mentioned before, the set was a retro offering. The set list closely mimicked the 1988 Maiden England tour list, with a few exceptions. We did not get Killers, Heaven Can Wait or Die With Your Boots On in 2013. Instead two songs from Fear Of The Dark were thrown in – Afraid To Shoot Strangers, and the ever-present title track. I would have personally rather had the old songs in but I wasn’t put off too bad by the decision.

Overall the set was fantastic and it was a trip through the highlights of Maiden’s career. The Maiden England set is a de facto greatest hits, omitting the reunion stuff but hitting on the band’s classic era when they were in top form. The set naturally included many of Maiden’s hit songs, including The Trooper and Number Of The Beast, alongside Wasted Years, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Run To The Hills and Aces High in the encore.

The real highlight of a Maiden England retrospective is the focus on stuff from Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, which was the current album when the original Maiden England tour was rolling along. The 2013 edition featured five songs from that album, including the opening salvo of Moonchild and Can I Play With Madness? Hearing the title track toward the end of the set was a massive highlight and the band went all out for that presentation. This is a set with no real valleys, but hearing Seventh Son live was the definite peak.

The Seventh Son… love was not over with the title track. Maiden brought The Evil That Men Do out in the encore and that was a massive highlight. I was just a hair too young to see the band live on the original tour when this first came out, but here was my chance all these years later to hear it in concert and it was spectacular. Hearing all of this stuff from way back when was a massive treat, I never expected this kind of a set with the way Maiden have leaned hard into the new material in the reunion era.

There were a few “hidden gems” in the set, in a manner of speaking. They were songs played on the original tour but the band saw fit to bring them back and play them in 2013. Most fans wouldn’t have bet on hearing these songs in the reunion era. The Phantom Of The Opera was played for the first time in a long time, and The Clairvoyant was part of the Seventh Son love fest.

But the true jewel of the evening was The Prisoner. This cut from The Number Of The Beast has been one of the more underrated gems of the Maiden lexicon and I was over the moon to get to hear it live. This was again another chance to live in an era I wasn’t originally able to participate in.

The September 2013 concert is a very special one in my memory. It was my second time seeing my favorite band live. A whole bunch of my friends from town made the trek too, I’ve honestly never been in such a huge place with so many familiar faces. The pre-party before the show was something to behold, with Maiden fans of all ages converging and celebrating this massive event. And while it’s hard to ignore the first time I saw them when I wonder what my favorite show of all time was, this one is certainly a contender. Can’t go wrong when your favorite band does a retrospective tour of their golden era. I always have been someone searching for his wasted year, but I did get to live one of my golden ones.

No easily found footage from the show I went to, but here’s some stuff from both bands that year.

Iron Maiden – The Songs Unplayed Live (Part Two)

Update 5/30/2023 – These posts are being updated to reflect new songs played live as part of The Future Past tour

Yesterday I ran through the first handful of albums of Iron Maiden’s career, and specifically discussed the songs they haven’t played live. The basis of this info comes from this recent Loudwire article. Today I’ll finish the exercise, picking up with the reunion era records.

Brave New World

2 songs unplayed – The Nomad and The Thin Line Between Love And Hate

Maiden did not mess around when Brave New World came out – they toured this album all over the place and made sure everyone heard most of it live. They played a bit over half of it when I saw them on the tour, and all told we’re left with only two unplayed tracks.

Way back when I first started this blog I did a post where I talked a bunch about a lot of my “firsts” with Iron Maiden, that post is here.

I like both of these songs, but I’m not betting on them getting played live in the future. I don’t think there’s any big push for them to get in a set list. Now I do think, of any album the band might choose to play live in its entirety, that Brave New World would be very high in consideration. It was a massive rush when Iron Maiden returned to glory and conquered a new decade, and the album still stands as a reunion era favorite. I don’t really think it will happen, but the possibility is there.

Brave New World was my Album of the Week pick back in June, have a gander at that here.

Dance Of Death

5 songs unplayed


Gates Of Tomorrow

New Frontier

Face In The Sand

Age Of Innocence

We have another list full of songs and, for the most part, a fairly non-shocking collection. I think Montsegur is a cool song but I can understand it not being aired out live. Gates, Frontier and Innocence are all kind of second-tier songs, if not perhaps even lower. I know they have their fans and none of the songs bother me by any means, but man, they ain’t playing any of that.

But then we have the case of Face In The Sand. I will die on this hill – this is Iron Maiden’s most underrated song. It outshines even the excellent Judas Be My Guide, which I discussed yesterday. The quiet intro lifts into this slamming epic that condemns humanity of its own sins. I was shocked that it wasn’t included in the Dance Of Death tour cycle and sadly, it sits unplayed to this day. And it will never be played, I fear, unless I win a huge jackpot and hire Maiden to play my birthday party or something.

We can skip the 2006 A Matter Of Life And Death, as Maiden played the entire album live in its tour cycle. Sadly, no official live album came of it, and I guess the band learned that fan interest only goes so far – plenty of paying customers at shows weren’t all that into it. I think it’s cool they did it, and they still put a major emphasis on a new album when they tour it, but this one kind of bit them in the ass. But that’s not relevant here, so it’s on to 2010.

The Final Frontier

Five songs unplayed

Mother Of Mercy

The Alchemist

Isle Of Avalon


The Man Who Would Be King

We have half of an album here, an album that sits very under the radar in terms of Maiden records but gets some quiet accolades for a handful of tracks. And actually, a few of them are here. Isle Of Avalon is a bit of a Maiden departure where they seem to fully embrace some Rush influences and is a very excellent tune, but sadly it didn’t hit the stage. Starblind is another one that’s maybe just behind the album’s two big epics The Talisman and Where The Wild Wind Blows, but is very good in its own right. The others aren’t quite as good, though I’ll cop to personally being one of the apparent very few fans of Mother Of Mercy. I’m very, very alone in that regard. Very low odds of any of these seeing play in the future.

The Book Of Souls

Four songs unplayed – Where The River Runs Deep, Shadows Of The Valley, The Man Of Sorrows and Empire Of The Clouds

These are all pretty logical omissions. I do like Where The River Runs Deep but it’s outshined by other songs. Shadows and Sorrows are very much secondary tracks from the album that a fair few consider to be bloated anyway. And Empire Of The Clouds is 18 freaking minutes long. So, of anything, it’ll probably be the one to get played sometime.


Seven songs unplayed – songs 4 through 10

Updated list as of 5/30/3023

Lost In A Lost World, Darkest Hour, The Parchment

To date, Iron Maiden have just now been touring after releasing Senjutsu and in fairness the band is completing a long-delayed tour so they put the first 3 songs on the set list and called it good.

The odds that more songs get live time later on are very good. Fan reception was especially solid for the last few tracks and while the album has a fair share of detractors, it seems to have favorable traction among the fanbase at large.

And the odds get even better when Bruce has outlined the group’s desire to play the album in its entirety. Perhaps having learned their lessons from the AMOLAD tour, Bruce said any Senjutsu full airing would be in small venues and for the true die-hards. If that happens, than the album’s entry in this list will be entirely obsolete.

Update May 2023 – The Future Past tour leaves this section nearly useless, I have put up a list of the now three songs unplayed from Senjutsu. Of the three remaining, I hope The Parchment gets stage time someday.

Senjutsu was one of the only times I’ve done a new release album as an Album of the Week and it was in the first month of my blog. In fact, the imminent arrival of the album was one of the reasons I got off my ass and started this blog in the first place. The original post is here.

That does it for the unplayed Iron Maiden live songs. My wishlist would include Alexander The Great, Judas Be My Guide, Face In The Sand and Hell On Earth.

Iron Maiden – The Songs Unplayed Live (Part One)

Notes as of 5/30/2023 – These posts are being updated to reflect newly played songs on the band’s Future Past tour.

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 (46 as of May 2023), 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.


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.


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.

Update 5/30/23 – Alexander The Great has now been played live, it is a part of the Future Past setlist, as fully expected

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.

Tales From The Stage – Crowbar and Spirit Adrift

Back on Tuesday, July 26th, I took in what was – uh, I guess it’s actually my first metal show since the pandemic. Probably since some time in 2019. Some kind of metalhead I am, right?

Anyway, so I drug my poser ass out to a show. There was no way to ignore this one – Louisiana sludge legends Crowbar were in town and they brought one of doom metal’s hottest current names with them, Spirit Adrift from Texas.

I was all about the show when it was announced, but then the realization set in – it’s a weekday show and I’m in my mid-40’s. It wouldn’t have phased me in my 20’s or even 30’s, but dammit I’m old and cranky and need my sleep. Yes, yes, I know that people older than I do the road warrior shit for shows to much further extremes than me going to a place that’s honestly 2 miles away from my house, but that didn’t stop that weariness and dread from setting in a few hours before the show.

But alas, I manned up and went to the show. Two local acts played – being unable to tell time, I missed the first one. The one I did catch was named Martyaloka, they are a newer act local to Springfield and this was my first exposure to them. They do a very noisy and nasty take on death metal with sludge-like riffs that were very much at home at a Crowbar show. I haven’t been in touch with the local metal scene since the pandemic hit and tore everything apart, I’ll have to keep an ear out for these guys in the future.

It was straight into Spirit Adrift after a quick line change. It does amaze me how quickly even small clubs execute their gear changes now – back in decades past it could take eons for gear to get swapped on stage, now it’s like a Formula One pit crew.

Anyway, Spirit Adrift are a band I’ve been jamming out to the past year or so and I was really excited to see their name on this tour. While plying their trade in doom, this isn’t the slow and downtrodden “everything sucks” kind of doom. Instead it’s a riff-filled journey that hits the right groove and translates very, very well to a live stage.

Spirit Adrift played a great set from songs pulled from their four studio albums and handful of EP’s. There was no “big hit” or anything like that, the group is very consistent and the set was killer from start to finish. The band got their set in despite time running a hair long, but we’re talking a matter of minutes, no Axl Rose drama here to delay anything for hours.

Below is a full set video from a SA performance earlier in the year. I haven’t found any suitable video from this specific tour.

After Spirit Adrift it was on to the main event. Crowbar are celebrating over three decades in existence and continue to pound eardrums with their heavy-as-hell sludge and doom. While never “famous,” Crowbar is known the world over as masters of the metal scene and they retain a solid fanbase after all these years plugging away from coast to coast.

To anyone’s knowledge, Crowbar had never played in Springfield before the show a few weeks back. Kirk Windstein had been through town as a member of Down, but this was the first time Crowbar had been booked here.

Crowbar ran through a career-spanning set, including stuff from their latest album, 2022’s Zero And Below. They are at that point where they have to make some choices, having 12 studio albums to construct a set from.

The band ran through tunes old and new in the death-dealing heat of southwest Missouri in late July. It was stupid hot, both inside and out. I had to duck out once or twice to catch some air but thankfully I remained upright for the set’s duration. Even Louisiana native Kirk Windstein commented on the heat, and it’s something he’s probably used to.

It was a great show from Crowbar and one that the crowd ate up. I’ve noted a lack of energy and movement from Missouri concert crowds over the decades, but the lot at the Crowbar show that night was into it and having a good time. It’s pretty easy stuff to get into when you can literally feel the riffs pounding through you.

Seeing Crowbar and Spirit Adrift was a great way to get back into the show scene, something sorely lacking from life since COVID changed all the rules two years back. (And no, despite being in a small room with a lot of people, I or no one I know fell ill to it or anything else). I might not have caught a ton of sleep that night, but hey, sacrifice is what life is all about. We don’t get a ton of shows our way these days, or at least stuff I’d like to see, so having this one was pretty awesome.

Here is a performance from Crowbar on the next night of the same tour.