06 Mar 2008 - Rod in Bogota

ROD'S DIARY FEB 28-29 BOGOTA

Firstly apologies for delays on diaries. I am in the middle of set up of North American tour which takes a lot of time going through campaigns show by show and setting up on sales. We went on sale in LA, Texas and Albuquerque for May last weekend and l am sure you will all be glad to know they got off to a flying start with a lot of presales to you members so we are pleased this seems to be working for you.

We set off for the airport at about 11.15 and it was virtually seamless onto the plane with immigration requirements done at the foot of the stairs after the vans took us right up there. Chris Ingham was in the terminal as we departed and later sent me this email -

 "I was in the airport terminal when Ed Force One took off from Costa Rica and the entire place was crammed at every window. There was a spontaneous round of applause and a huge cheer went round as the plane went up. Bizarrely, and at exactly the same time, the giant plasma screens in EVERY departure lounge actually had the live footage shot from the night before as it had made the national news - how's that for synergy!"


Flight uneventful, went through various aspects of documentary with Scot and Sam like the chopper we are using for the show in Bogota, had a chat with Ben from Q to work out best way for him to get best possible out of his trip, etc. We were told we have been given the privilege of docking at the Presidents Gate in Bogota which is reserved for his guests and visiting dignitaries. But this meant we were limited to the number of VIP passes who could quickly get through the airport. We could only take band party plus one so we elected on Martin one of documentary crew. The small room where they dealt with VIP immigration though was packed with staff and soldiers all wanting photos and autographs -- the soldiers even brought along Trooper posters for us to sign!! Confusion reigned as we got into the vans and waited for the rest then the 2 vans took off with just me and the band in them. Major language difficulties meant it took a mile or so before I could get them to stop then the less full one went back for Ian, Martin and Gaddsy. It returned after a while so we continued to the hotel with our police escort -- 6 bikes.

Along the route we passed the Simon Bolivar Park where we play tomorrow and for over 2 miles along the actual pavement along the road by the park there were tents, fans and Maiden banners and flags. We were not travelling very quickly and the van windows weren't darkened so the fans started seeing us and cheering and running towards and after the vans. It was a terrific sight, they all looked so very happy to see us arrive! I was thinking what great footage Martin would get for the doc of the band in the van, the police outriders alongside and all fans coming towards us and the tents and banners behind them. Just the drama and excitement its great to see in a doc -- and of course I want plenty of natural drama in ours so you can all see what it was like on this incredible journey round the planet.

Finally got to the hotel and got out to find that the second van, the one that went back to collect the rest had collected  -- nobody! No martin, no Ian....no cool shots of our marauding fans. Oh well, cant win them all. Shame though. The hotel was guarded by security and an outer ring of armed police. We never felt the slightest in any danger but I guess they don't take any chances yet and they seemed from what I could see to treat the fans ok -- there were of course a lot surrounding the hotel. However for some reason they did apparently remove all the tents along the side of the park overnight and I have no idea why or what the fans did when uprooted.
Did some work and spent time in the bar with our promoter Phil, William, Ben, our doc guys and various passing band, management and crew and turned in later than I should. So what's new.

Up early but starting to feel a bit lousy. Maybe it's the altitude -- Bogota is at a about 9000 ft but I cycled in Peru at 14,000ft and was fine then. So maybe more it's late nights and a tough schedule. Anyway can't go back to bed today, it's a big one.

Producer Rosie and cameraman Dave from CNN arrived late last night so I catch up with them in the morning. The view on Maiden of the worlds media is undergoing a seismic change as you are seeing/reading currently with major TV News Media catching up with the reality of what is Iron Maiden and their fans, something most of the national newspapers have never really noticed (particularly in the UK where they see us a hack east end metal band of dubious quality and taste, a view I take in reverse without the east end band bit). CNN are filming a 30 min special program for showing early May and are with us in Bogota, San Paolo and Curitiba. We will announce full details of this nearer the time. Rosie seems bright and very on the ball and David I know I will have a few beers with (prophetic words) as he is an Aussie with a taste for rugby, cricket and ....beer!! At last a like minded soul on the road -- although Chris Ingham of Metal Hammer can also be classed in this category! Another fine man! David in normally off at trouble spots around the world so our battle zone is probably small fry but he is glad to be here -- especially as he got a call a couple of days later and if he hadn't been with us he would have been off to film on the Gaza Strip which is not a place to be right now. Rosie is the Producer of the CNN series Maiden are to be a part of and has also been joining us for bar duty on a fairly regular basis and she certainly has certain members of the band charmed!!

Did my emails then off to the show early. This is a sort of bowl in the Park and was already pretty full by the time I got there. Over 40,000 turned out in the end which is great as we have never been here and only did one advance interview with the national paper. Nicko did this and the headline was "We are not a Metal Band". Nick, bless him, considers us to be a progressive heavy rock band which of course we are. But the rest of us think its Metal!!!! But newspapers always go for the best soundbite as we all know!

Spent some time showing CNN round but also met up with Fantastica which is Brazil's biggest TV program. I took them round a bit and then they did some preliminary interviews with the band and I took them to sidestage to film the incredible audience for the first couple of numbers. Then took them out to the mixing desk. The show was going great and the crowd every bit as good as Costa Rica singing along to every word all throughout the set despite most not speaking English and it being our first time there.

Actually while I think I should say something about Colombia as I was asked to say nice things about their country by many of the fans I met. So I will. There has been a bit of a stigma about the country for many years as we all know but this really does seem to be changing rapidly with tourism developing at a fast pace and everyone we met was very friendly. We did not get much time or opportunity to go around but Bogota was a far prettier city than I had imagined and the countryside around was stunning with the mountains and forests. It's a high altitude, about 9000ft I believe, and Nicko in particular had problems during the set and went through a small tank of Oxygen, as probably any drummer would with their energy output, but the rest were not far behind and struggled for breath occasionally. So back to the country -- yes this is definitely, like Costa Rica, somewhere we will return to.

Back to the show, where I was at the mixing desk when Rob our lighting operator called me over so say he had been told by the authorities that he had to put the house lights up as the crowd was too crazy. This seemed strange to me as they looked to be having a wild and exuberant time to me and it all had a sense of joy, no violence or intimidation at all. So I quickly made my way backstage to find what we really happening. At first we were told there were 5000 wild fans who could not get tickets had stormed the police and the barricades and fences around the ground causing so much trouble that the police had to bring in water cannons and gas. This was why the house lights were on and I could fully see why so didn't complain -- however there seemed to be no hint of a violent air or anything in the audience. But in a situation like this I would always take the precaution of getting our guests off the out front mixing desk and backstage so sent some security round to do so. The concert continued uninhibited and with a magnificent reaction by the now increased audience of some 46,000!!

There was however a problem getting out of the venue due to the gathering of ticketless fans outside still who would swamp the band vans -- no intention to do any harm but on the other hand we wanted to get to the bar. So we sent out 2 decoy vans on the usual route -- poor guys they were held up and couldn't move for hours. Soon after the decoy we went a longer route with an extended Police escort of 2 cars and 8 bikes whizzing through Bogota at great speed in convoy. Wow , this really was memorable. An exciting end to a really exciting show.

Ended up in the bar for a while and later found out that what happened was there were over 5000 ticketless fans outside trying to get in being very "troublesome", unlike our fans but l suppose they were desperate to see the show. To ease the pressure the military let in about 1500 -- they apparently didn't think there was room for more and there probably wasn't. There were some injuries but according to local papers the next day -- which carried us on the front pages across the board -- there was nothing serious and it all seemed to pass off without too much comment which is l think a good thing as Colombia does not need that right now. Everything I saw of crowd and security was cool, the fans having a great time -- and we could really see that with the surrounding lights on them -- and noone bothering them, and I walked around quite a bit.

As l said, magnificent crowd, beautiful country -- we will return one day!!!!

- Rod

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