22 Mar 2009 - Rod's Diary - Salute Sao Paulo!

As dictated Tuesday 17th March.

Quito may be the geographical middle of the world, but Sao Paulo is definitely the metal centre of the world. What a show!

We had a good lie-in the day after the Rio show as we were leaving for the short flight to Sao Paulo from Rio at about one to fly at two o'clock. Bruce has to allow a certain amount of time between going off stage and being allowed to fly the plane so by leaving a bit later it allowed him to fly the plane with all our media team on board. So we left at two for a very short flight which has us in Sao Paulo by three. Again, back into the vans with the escorts and stuff and off to the hotel. On the way there was a huge storm which held us up and definitely had quite an effect on the show

I went down to the gig fairly early, about 5.30, followed by the bus with all the EMI and media people in there - it was easiest for them to come with us cos the traffic is bad in Sao Paulo and we did have our escorts who made sure we were able to cut through the traffic a fair bit. I have to say the police outriders in Sao Paulo are superb - there's a whole movie to be made of that Sam and Scot! Just the way they managed to hold up traffic and zoom ahead on the bikes to clear a path through the worst traffic, it must have saved us a good hour, hour-and-a-half by having them with us, which is obviously quite vital when we're on our way to a show with the band members, we don't want to go on late every time!!

The gig was at Interlagos, the Formula One racing circuit which is renowned worldwide. It's where, towards the end of last year, although Fillipe Massa won the actual Grand Prix for Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton snatched the title of world champion in the closing seconds of the race - very exciting and if you haven't seen it it's worth checking out.

Around the circuit there were the longest queues I think I've ever seen - literally three or four miles of queue, often up to four or five people deep. I was very concerned - it was by now quite a bit past six o'clock, it was a slightly early show in Sao Paulo with Maiden going on stage at 8pm so the huge numbers expected would be able to get home. But little did they know. The doors were due to open very early and did so at, I think, 2pm because there's really only one entrance to the circuit and there are turnstiles. They reckoned (I found out later) that you can get 350 people per minute through, maximum. Now all would have been fine except in the mid-afternoon there was that massive downpour of rain. I mean, the crew said it was horizontal on the course, it really was extremely bad conditions. So most of the crowd would have delayed going to the circuit rather than be caught out in it, so that meant that everyone was starting late. Also we found out later that there were more thousands buying tickets on the door to swell the numbers past 60,000. When I got inside I went straight to the production office to check what was being done about this only to find Jason our production manager was on his way to the hospital. One of our guitar techs had been taken very ill and they would not treat him without a credit card which Jason was taking there -- fortunately our tech has recovered ok. To top that there was no Production Manager assistant as Zeb had gone to the hospital with the tech. As they say, and in this case literally, it never rains but it pours!! So I got the promoter's production manger in to ask him what was being done, what could be done to speed it up, as I was really concerned we wouldn't have all the fans in by the time the band went on stage. (We ended up using a different guitar tech we were able to find!!)

The rain had had a major impact on the show as well. The screens weren't functioning properly because although they're electronic the water had got in and left red blobs on the screens and some of our pyro was so wet it wouldn't work any more. Steve had quite a lot of bass problems with his rig later, I don't know if it was water-related but it's very unusual for him to have problems. His tech Mike Kenney has looked after him since '79 and is very much on top of the job so maybe it's just one of those things. Also Bruce's walkway on top of the ramps was absolutely soaked and quite slippy so we talked about that and taking it easy -- of course, Bruce finds it hard to take it easy so that ended with Bruce, towards the end of the set, falling over (not too heavily) when he slid along on top of the ramps.

Back to getting everyone in,  we discussed what we were going to do and we were insistant that we wouldn't go on stage until the fans got in, it just seemed completely inappropriate to leave people outside. And also it can be dangerous, if you've got thousands of people outside and the band fire up then are they going to try and rush in, going to try and run the barriers? Y'know, people get hurt that way so there really was no option, we had to wait until the kids got in so I was getting updates every 15 minutes. Lauren went on-time at 7 o'clock. Unfortunately we weren't able to put Shadowside (the support band) on, just because of the rain the whole day was delayed so much that there physically wasn't time to do anything. As it transpired, it would probably have been better to put them and Lauren on later from the word go, but there was no real sense (at that time) of how long it would take the crowd to get in. So we continued with the show as-was hoping there would be some improvement in the rate of access. As there wasn't much improvement due to the access, and more fans were apparently joining the queue. and it was getting past the  time we were due to go on and the crowd, something had to be done. At around 8pm the estimate was 20,000 fans still outside with massive queues still. . The kids were already pretty packed inside, but weren't getting restless - these fans are just wonderful people who are into the music and just know that we're making every effort, so there was no indication whatsoever of concern from the fans - but I thought it best by about 8.15 that something should be said to them anyway. So I wrote down something for Nico (the promoter's production guy) to say in Portugese. I decided to go on stage with him and stand behind him cos a lot of the fans here know me, and I thought if I was there then they'd understand that the band were here, there wasn't really a problem that couldn't be surmounted and we were doing our level best to get everyone inside and everything underway as soon as we could. On days like this as a manager you earn your keep!!

After Nico finished I wasn't quite sure, he seemed a bit shy about it, so I thought I should clarify the point - which I did! So I started by saying how Sao Paulo is centre of the metal world, which got a suitable response! I now know a little bit of what it's like for the band when they get the 'ole-ole-ole' as l got it for about a minute. Amazing feeling and actually quite embarrassing stood alone on stage in front of this! Felt very odd but this reaction was most welcome considering the circumstances.  I told them they had a lot of their friends and fellow metal fans, fellow Maiden fans outside and because of the conditions they hadn't been able to get them in in time. We were going to wait until everyone could get in so if they could just be patient with us and imagine if they were the guys outside they'd appreciate the same from them. The reaction was amazing and I was surprised as a large majority seemed to understand what I was saying (even in Yorkshire!) so certainly a lot of those kids spoke pretty good English. So after that we turned the music up a bit through the PA so they had something to listen to whilst they were waiting, but they were absolutely fantastic. No hint of anybody being impatient, anybody getting bad tempered... you have to wonder what would have happened in other parts of the world if a crowd were that rammed into the place (it was packed for hundreds of yards back) cos it's a long time to stand around. But there was absolutely no hint of even disappointment, it really was quite remarkable.

We were keeping the band regularly informed as they too were waiting around, again not ideal before such a huge show, but they are Troopers (sorry!!!) and can and have dealt with most things!

We called another check at 8.40 to see where we were. They reckoned, based on the gauge of 350/minute, we should have everyone in by nine o'clock. So if we started at 9, by the time Doctor Doctor had played (which as you know we always play as an intro in case the band are in the toilet so they know they have to get out of there quick!) and then the Transylvania intro with the initial introduction movie - it gives it about another seven or eight minutes so we were pretty sure it would be ok. We did check afterwards and there were very very few people not fully inside by the time we started all this. It's just remarkable that with so many people involved that sort of transition can happen so seamlessly, and we're very proud of our fans there - the ones inside for their patience waiting to let the guys in, and to the ones outside for being orderly and co-operative and not pushing in or freaking out, just having faith that we would wait for them and that faith, I'm glad to say, was justified.

The gig itself, I've already been through some of the problems, but with an audience like that how can you go wrong? It was just sensational. At one point I took a car with the promoter and we drove right round the track to the helipad which is way up behind the crowd, maybe 50 metres above the crowd, right at the back about 100 metres behind the back of the actual arena which had been created between the bends on the racetrack, and it just looked awesome! The sound up there was pretty good so hopefully it was good for the kids at the back, it's always hard to gauge but we were quite a lot higher and further back and it was pretty damn good.

The whole thing went in a bit of a blur, I went back afterwards and spent time on stage just looking at the audience - I could look at an audience like that forever, every arm in the air. The singing along was unbelieveable, Wasted Years especially had a huge choral response. Very proud of you guys and we will be back for sure!

After the gig we got everyone quickly on the buses so we could get out as quickly as possible, cos obviously with 50, 60, some people said 70,000 people there it takes a long time to get in and you can be sure it takes a long time to get out again. A couple of friends of mine were along and wanted to stay for the whole set in the middle of the crowd and couldn't make it back to come back to the hotel with us - it took them four hours to get back to the hotel. But they said the spirit among the fans was absolutely fantastic. The next day they were on a scheduled flight back to Rio and they said it was rammed with fans in Maiden t-shirts who'd obviously been to both shows. We had the police escort back to the hotel and I think that anyone off-duty who wanted to come along or get to the show first came along cos we had a lot of motorbikes! We got back quick and we got quickly to the bar, which was open as late as we wanted it to be... which turned out to be well into the early hours. Everyone got back from the show, everyone was in great spirits... a wonderful experience, a wonderful night and a pretty fantastic weekend all round.  And at that point in the bar I'm going to leave you, all l can say is l am glad it didn't rain that evening!! I'll pick up the story in a couple of days... bye for now.

 

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