10 Mar 2008 - Rod in San Paolo - part II


 A very nice chap called Antonio Carlos Castro from Placar, a big Brazilian football magazine, was at the football yesterday and offered Steve's team the opportunity to go see the big match -- Corinthians v Palmeiras -- you should have seen their reaction, like kids with santa. "What, go and see not only a big match in Brazil but also a local derby, they don't get much bigger than that. Yes PLEASE santa!!"

This was quite ironic. Being a huge city San Paolo has a number of stadiums  some of which are football. As our tour was being set up last year before the football fixtures had been announced we held the biggest non football stadium we could get, about a 30,000 capacity -- nowhere near big enough for here. When the fixtures were announced we wanted the Corinthians stadium which is about 70,000, but it was booked for football. So we took the Palmeiras stadium which is 42,000. Little did we realize at the time that the teams were playing each other that day! You may recall in a press release a while ago our promoter bemoaning the fact that we there weren't big enough stadiums for us here. It is not strictly the truth, just that we couldn't get the bigger one due to the game.

So I went along with the team really just to check out the stadium for future reference, not really being much of a football fan. Traffic on the way was murder and I was in a car with Steve as we had to leave at half time to go to our show, while the rest could watch the whole game and still be at the gig in time for us to go on -- although that came a massive second behind the game of course. We were stuck in traffic with kick off looming and didn't have our mandatory police escort so Alfredo -- a wonderful guy who has been looking after us in south America ever since 85 and takes incredible care of us especially in terms of what to see, which clubs and bars to go to (if we can get out of the hotel!!) -- called over one of the police on bikes and told him who was in the car. "AH, Steve Harris. I am a big fan. Follow me." The power of that name down here!! Of course Steve being Steve was most embarrassed but he didn't want to miss the kick off so off we went sirens blaring to the main gate where only the teams are allowed in. A quick password -- steve harris! -- to the gatekeeper and we were in!!


Of course Steve and the team had a great experience and enjoyed it immensely, but surprisingly so did I. Now I have never been to Anfield and only time I went to Old Trafford was 1963 when Dennis Law and Ian Ure got sent off -- few of you will remember these great players no doubt -- but I hear the atmosphere at a Liverpool v Man Utd game at either is a wonder to behold and I have seen it on TV. But it just does not compare. The sheer noise here and waving of arms was immense like the first paragraph of yesterdays diary. They appeared to have a different chant for anything that happened -- foul, offside, lineout -- and the stadium was separated in half for the 2 sets of fans -- white for Corinthians, green for Palmeiras, and it was packed. The atmosphere was such when the crowd got totally animated it gave me a massive boost of adrenalin and I felt great. If I lived here I would watch football just for this, its sort of a national drug l guess. The hospitality from Antonio was excellent and sadly we left at half time with the score 0-0. Apparently after about 10 min of the second half Palmeiras scored and that was the final score -- the atmosphere for a goal must have been truly astounding. I was really hoping to witness one. Would it be as good for us in the evening?


Traffic out of course wasn't too bad and we got to the Palmeiras Stadium in plenty of time for the show. Our agent John Jackson was over for this show so he, Phil our promoter and I went to a press box Phil suggested we use. What a view -- it was under the roof of the stand looking over all the audience with the stage and screens to the right. Over the back of the stands opposite and behind the stage there was a panoramic view of tower blocks and skyscrapers and you could see the people packed on top of the lower ones and in windows everywhere getting a free view. The atmosphere was intense and when Doctor Doctor kicked in the place went mad, and progressively more so through the film intro and The Speech. Every time I hear the intro to Aces High -- even when not at a show -- I get goose bumps. It is just so immense, you just know what is going to happen. Must have experienced this at a show 150+ times but believe me its still very much the same. I am sure you all know what I mean. And then we were off at full belt and I could hardly hear Bruce -- they knew every word and blasted it out. The whole show show was incredible with a view like this over an amazing audience, as I said yesterday like a live animal as they moved as one across the whole stadium. All 84,000 arms held aloft almost the whole show, bellowing out the lyrics though few spoke English. At times like this I feel very proud of what this band gives to its fans -- they give 110% and here the fans give 150% back. Remarkable. This will live in my memory for a long time as I don't often get to view the stadium from such a wonderful vantage point to see both band and crowd.

Thank you San Paolo for being just as mind blowingly great as ever!! And for even matching, and many times surpassing, your football supporting kinsmen.

Of course everyone was delighted and we all went back to the excellent hotel bar etc but it all pales into insignificance at the memory of these two magnificently supportive audiences.

- Rod

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