Iron Maiden has been around and touring for nearly 50 years now. In all that time, they’ve been constantly touring. There’s only six years since 1976 where they have less than 14 shows in a year. So when you look at all that time, what songs do you think they’ve played the most?
There are some pretty easy ones to guess, but our friends at Setlist.fm have done all the hard work for us. When it comes to Iron Maiden, their top 10 most played songs are varied and come from all areas of their catalog. They have over 2400 shows on their page, so let’s dig deep to see what songs they’ve played the most live. If you’re interested in some in-depth reviews of every Iron Maiden album, check out Iron Maiden-A-Thon for reviews of all 16 Iron Maiden albums plus some surprises.
10. Running Free
It’s not a surprise that a song from the first Iron Maiden album, Iron Maiden would make the top 10. It’s a pretty wide margin from number 10 to number 11, “The Evil That Men Do”. Coming in at 1036 plays, this classic usually closes sets nowadays. But it’s been in the middle and beginning of sets before as well. Now Paul Di’Anno might be able to sing this one better because of the subject matter and all that, but nothing beats the Live After Death or Live At Donington versions of this song. It gets the crowd pumped, it lets them sing along, and it sends them home happy.
9. Fear of the Dark
By far the newest song in their top 10, this was an instant classic the moment they first played it live. Combining all the best things about Iron Maiden and even giving them a bit of a speed metal edge, “Fear of the Dark” is always a highlight when they play it live. Coming in at 1093 plays, I don’t think this one has left the setlist besides the Eddie Rips Up The World Tour, which was a celebration of the first four albums of Iron Maiden. It always is followed by “Iron Maiden” and signifies that the setlist is coming to a close before the encore. “Fear of the Dark” is a revelation in live music, and if you’ve never experienced it for yourself, I feel bad.
It’s either this or “Phantom of the Opera” that show just how talented Paul Di’Anno was as the lead singer of Iron Maiden. Coming in at 1223 plays, this one is usually apart of the set to pump the crowd back up. The fans of the first two albums can point to this one as being raw and heavy, and I can’t disagree with them. I normally think this song is a waste of a slot in a live show. It’s short, and Iron Maiden’s concert setlist slots are precious. Di’Anno also sings this song better than Bruce does, so for that reason, I think it doesn’t make the modern sets as often.
Another high energy song from their first record, “Sanctuary” is a great song to hear live. They haven’t played it live since 2014, but it’s been played 1274 times. This one pumps up the crowd and used to close shows like ‘Running Free”. Whether it’s Bruce or Paul Di’Anno singing it, this one is always a fun time.
6. 2 Minutes To Midnight
Coming off the Powerslave album, this is the only post Peace of Mind song left on the list. Clocking in at 1387 times played live, it’s a classic Iron Maiden song. Whether it’s Bruce Dickinson or Blaze Bayley singing this one, it’s sure to get the crowd going when they hear that opening riff. On their “classic” tours it’s usually paired with “Aces High”. On the normal tours, it’s used to get the crowd back to life.
5. Run To The Hills
It’s not a normal Iron Maiden show unless you get to hear one of their “biggest hits” in “Run to the Hills”. They used this one to close out the Legacy of the Beast Tour shows. It’s been a mainstay of Iron Maiden setlists since it’s release in 1982 on the Number of the Beast album. It just translates so well to a live performance with the galloping nature and the chorus that’s easy for anyone, even the most novice Iron Maiden fans to sing. It’s been played 1431 times so far.
4. The Trooper
Now for the ultimate in “get this crowd jumping and back to life” technology. All you need to hear is Bruce Dickinson scream “THE TROOOOOPERRRR” and start waving that Union Jack. It’s the closest to a mosh pit that you’ll ever get at an Iron Maiden concert. People do crazy shit when this song gets played. Seeing Bruce in the British officers uniform and dangling the flag all over the guitarists or Nicko’s drums is amazing. They’ve played this one 1565 times. It’s only been excluded on the A Matter Of Life And Death Tour in 2006, and on the Final Frontier Tour in 2010.
3. Hallowed Be Thy Name
Coming off the Number of the Beast album, and what could be considered the best Iron Maiden song ever, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” was derailed for a bit due to some unfortunate plagiarism accusations (they were unfounded and money grabs), it came back for the Legacy of the Beast Tour. This one has been played 1843 times and was either near the end of sets, or the closer for a lot of different shows throughout the years. It has theatrics on the Legacy of the Beast Tour with Bruce Dickinson and a swinging noose on stage. The song is a classic and one that you won’t forget long after they’ve finished the song.
2. Number of the Beast
The title track off their most famous and popular album, Number of the Beast, this track is one that Iron Maiden continually puts in their setlists. It has only left Iron Maiden concerts once, during the 2006 version of the A Matter of Life and Death Tour where they played that album in it’s entirety in addition to some Iron Maiden classics. It’s one that gets a crowd reaction at any point when they play it. You just have to hear the tape of the famous opening spoken word, “Woe to you oh Earth and sea….”. It’s been played 1941 times.
1. Iron Maiden
“SCREAM FOR ME LONG BEACH!”. Iron Maiden would not be Iron Maiden without the song “Iron Maiden” (did I mention that it’s on the Iron Maiden album). This one exclusively lives in the spot on the set just before the encore. Whether it’s Paul Di’Anno, Blaze Bayley, or Bruce Dickinson, this song is fantastic no matter who’s singing it. It’s one of the quintessential Iron Maiden songs that gives you all that you need from the band. Heavy riffs, sing-a-long choruses, and that famous stop-start break in the middle of the song. This one has been played a massive, 2262 times live.
As Bruce puts it, “Goodnight from Iron Maiden, Eddie,….and from the boys”.
What did you think of the list? Were there any surprises for you? If you want more Iron Maiden content, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.