How do you press on after the tragic turn of recent events? I guess you just have to. That's all you can do, really. With tens of thousands of kids coming to see you, many for the first time, you can't pull back in the slightest. You have to charge on with a heavy heart which is what the band did. We flew in to Monterrey on an overnight flight direct from Honolulu, arriving the next morning local time. Monterrey is the third-largest city in Mexico, capital of Nuevo León and the nation's industrial stronghold. The city is ringed by jagged mountain peaks, the Cerro de la Silla, or "Saddle Mountain," dominates the landscape. Unfortunately with the time crunch between the Monterrey and Mexico City shows and the recent escalation of drug gang violence, we were told it might not be safe to leave the hotel alone which was really a shame because I had never been here before, I really wanted to explore. I did manage to sneak next door to a mall and had some Italian food where I ran into some of the Killer Krew and Astreus flight crew. After dinner and for our safety, we walked back as a group where we joined Bruce at a bar for a quick drink before bed. It was a school night and we had a show the next day.
We arrived at the Banamex Theatre shortly after 3:30 pm. With fans already pouring into the venue. Throughout the entire night you could hear the chants of the crowd all the way back in the production room. I took a walk around to take some snaps of some of the local fans. There was no shortage.
Right on cue, when "Doctor Doctor" started, the place erupted. One of the loudest crowds so far. The band were also in top form even with the unexpected break. It definitely didn't show in their performance and the crowd ate up every note and move. SPOILER ALERT- I know I never talk about the set list but I figure most of you know what they are playing by going online. If not, stop here and skip to the next paragraph! Just before the band went into "Blood Brothers," Bruce dedicated it to, first the people of Christchurch and now Japan as he went into how we were just about to land when the earthquake was all taking place and how the band has lots of fans, family and friends in both New Zealand and Japan. I was really touched to hear the crowd scream and applaud because it was more of a supportive, respectful scream as opposed to the usual top of your lungs "Scream for me Monterrey" scream if that makes any sense. You don't have to know much English to understand the message. The best part of this show for me was the fact that, since I was to ride with the Krew, I was going to be able to see the entire show for the first time since I started. Always having to leave straight away, I never see the last 2 songs. I watched as the sweaty, energy drained masses walked out after it ended. The fans, and band gave it their all this night and it showed as the fans dragged their limp bodies out into the lobby and out of Banamex.
After the show we got back to the hotel somewhere after midnight. Since we had a show the very next night, the band had to stay back to get a good night's rest for the Mexico City show. We, yours truly and the Krew, had a 4am lobby call and pressed ahead to Mexico City.
Mexico City, also known as the "Valley of the Damned," is the capital city of Mexico and is located in the Valley of Mexico. It is the most important centre for financial, economic and cultural events of the country. Mexico City is one of the world's largest and most populated cities, ranked third as of 2008, with a population of around 21 million. The city was originally built by the Aztecs in 1325 on an island of Lake Texcoco, with the municipality of Mexico City established in 1524.
On what little sleep we could get on the plane, we arrived pretty much directly onsite at around 10 am and there for the duration of the day. The Foro Sol Stadium is a massive outdoor baseball stadium. I stood in the middle of it before doors and stared at this massive stadium that was soon to be filled with 50,000 headbanging Maiden fans, 20,000 on the floor, about 30,000 seated. There were already fans lined up outside from early in the morning, ready to stake out a place in front of the stage for their favorite band. Again you could hear the chanting and screaming all the way from the stadium. I went out there with my camera for few quick shots (see below) and there were already thousands of kids pushing up against the gate. As soon as they saw me with a camera they went into frenzy, chanting "chino, chino" (this is because I'm Japanese), waving flags, singing and screaming to me in Spanish. Shows how many must go on the Maiden website, I have found a weird sort of fame!!! With only a gate separating me from a crowd of fans lunging forward, I left quickly snapped a few photos and left before there was a riot!!! I could also tell this was making the policia a little nervous by stirring up the pot. I was finally starting to get a first hand taste of the Latin America. As we get deeper into South you can feel the level of crowd intensity rise but I'll get to that. I only saw this in films like Flight 666 but now I was going to finally experience it first hand. This is going to be an amazing journey.
By the time Maiden were about to hit the stage, the stadium was packed and the crowd were bursting Maiden chants. Steve had his supporters right up front, flying West Ham United flags and banners. Sound is crucial with Maiden period but especially in such a huge, outdoor stadium but, as usual, Doug, Mike and Squid were all on point and the band sounded fantastic! Also, despite the the high altitude and the thin air, the band were unaffected. I guess doing this for so long, you adjust quickly and pace yourself carefully. This is another thing that I never really gave thought to until I was winded by climbing a short flight of stairs... or maybe that's my bad eating habits on the road but that's a whole different story. You want to hear about Maiden and not my growing waistline.
Off to Colombia!
Bonus shots on page 2