11 Mar 2008 - Rod in Buenos Aires

ROD'S DIARY - MAR 6-7 BUENOS AIRES

I was greatly looking forward to a couple of days in Buenos Aires. In jan 2001 we had a few days here and I went cycling 40 miles a day round a bird sanctuary near the city centre in training for my first charity ride in Kenya the following month. We also had a fantastic night out eating tons of magnificent Argentinian beef courtesy of EMI. For some reason Jimmy Page was with us and everyone got smashed and started the Mr Gumby Monty Python knotted-hankerchief-on-the head routine. I think this is where it started and (embarrassingly) it comes out to this day (see day 1 chile). It was on our way to Rock in Rio 2001, the one we filmed. So good memories.

Arrived in Buenos Aires early afternoon and were staggered by how many fans were at the airport as the plane taxied to a gate you could see them running into view to catch a good sight of the plane. Same at the hotel when we got there, seemed hundreds so siege mentality sets in. It is hard to do anything in this situation. We love you guys but even I am getting claustrophobic and times and ready to yell 'please give us a break'. Maiden really is a household name in south America I was told even in Colombia, where we visited for the very first time, name recognition is 70% across the populace. So its not just fans who want an autograph and photo, and lets face it everyone has a camera/mobile nowadays, its almost everyone we come into contact with. We can never begrudge a fan even if at a low but a hotel can be a difficult place as the following amply illustrates.

I hated this hotel at first sight (Nicko walked in then walked out and found a different hotel, wisely) for some reason and did not enjoy our stay there. The only bar is in the lobby on the ground floor and is completely open plan, I set up the laptop to work on arrival and kept at it til evening when I called down for a break. Bruce, some air and our crew were in the bar. They were collected at two or three tables pushed together. Surrounding them was a ring of empty tables places by hotel security to give them the tiniest bit of privacy and around those tables were gathered a total ring of hotel guests of all ages standing, staring, gawking and taking photos. The front of the hotel is all glass and across the whole front Maiden fans were pressed to the glass 3 to 5 deep. Now who deserves the time and respect, the fans or the guests, but how do you go out and do autographs for so many. It really is a predicament and I cant pretend to know the answer but I do feel more for people like McCartney who has dealt with it most of his adult life. But we dont want to hide, we want to go to the pub etc. Thankfully it isnt like this most places we go and generally speaking the band handle it pretty well. Maybe its me getting tour syndrome!

Anyway so much for the evening. Next day I worked and went to the show with the Tres Amigos. Its an odd venue, playing across the pitch rather than along it so you have a big empty stand behind and a big full one in front with thousands on the ground but lot without much of a view due to the width. Apparently they have had to have this configuration for a few years now after noise problems with local residents. So they pointed everything in a different direction. Shame really as again this show had been sold out (27.000) for ages with a lot more demand for tickets so if it could have been the standard football stadium stage configuration we could have got more fans in.

EMI presented us with very attractive placques to commemorate lifetime sales in Argentina of over 750,000 albums which is pretty extraordinary when a gold album is just 25,000 I think. So thank you EMI.

Prior to the show, and no doubt with a thought of the Falklands, I was being asked by various people if we would do Trooper and if Bruce would wear the iconic jacket and fly the flag. Well of course he would. The Trooper is about heroism. It is not about patriotism or misplaced chauvinism, its about valour and an early example of what can be a terrible waste of the lives of brave men when sent on a fools errand by incompetents. Our fans know that and if anyone takes it to mean any sort of triumphalism they are sorely mistaken. I do not think there is any problem between the real people of Argentina and Britain at all, I have never experienced this, its in the minds of politicians and mischief makers. Personally I have great respect for the Argentinian mindset particularly as represented by their rugby team who performed so brilliantly and doggedly at the World Cup last November.
However a small proportion of the fans at the show did their best to change this respect by their filthy behaviour which shamed their country and Metal.

There is still a habit of the few here to spit at the bands. They were nasty in this way with Lauren, who is going down extremely well to audiences here, which of course pissed Steve off no end, as it obviously would. He made it very clear to me and the band that if any of them spat at him he would be straight in the audience to sort them out. And believe me he would, he has before, and to make it worse the security pit here was really narrow so not only was it easier for some total wankers to spit across it, it meant also that is was less distance for Steve to jump!! Anyway I told security to tell fans if they spat they would be out of the stadium, which they did, telling the front row to pass it back. I went into the pit to keep an eye on this myself and although most were fine and having a fierce headbanging time metal audiences here are a far higher proportion male than say Brazil and more aggressive some, naturally in the safety of a few rows back, still had to lob towards the stage.
You metal fans in Argentina need to sort out these few who give you a bad name or next time we will arrange a 20m pit!!

After a few numbers in the pit I was sure security had it reasonably well in control so went off to have a massage. I could hear clear as a bell and the band were playing really well and the masseur was brilliant and a lovely guy. A heavy set very strong rugby prop forward who massages wrestlers and bent me around right out of shape and back into it. We had a good part sign language chat about rugby.

The vast majority of the crowd were loud as ever and obviously going for it big time, leaving the few to spit their way to (hopeful) ejection. The band enjoyed the gig to varying extents in the circumstances.

Sadly we found afterwards that the discs we had been presented earlier by EMI had been stolen from backstage as had one of our backdrops for the show. Back at the hotel the bar was no better than the night before, there was realistically nowhere else to go - I could not bring myself to stay in that awful "bar" - so I went to bed, though some apparently did get out and found an Irish Bar and had a good time with fans there.

For me, l have to say it was a disappointing 2 day stay especially considering the good times we have had in Buenos Aires in the past. But as the outro says always look on the bright side of life, da dadadada dada dada!!!!

- Rod

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