Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Maiden Brazil

Several years back Umlaut was working for an entertainment company far, far away. There was a summit meeting of all the company's international reps from around the globe. One of the reps Umlaut was introduced to was a guy named Micki, who was the company's rep in Brazil.

That evening there was a business dinner on the company dime at a hoity toity restaurant. Everyone was dressed in suits and it was all very "professional". Since we had met earlier in the day, Micki and I sat next to each other at one of the tables. Both of us ordered steaks. When they arrived I asked him how his was cooked. Without any hesitation he answered "Well done.. like out of the flames of Hell.."

Under the circumstances (fancy restaurant, suits, business talk, etc.) his answer caught me COMPLETELY off guard since it was the type of answer I would have given "outside" of work. So we started talking.. and music came up.. and then METAL.

To make a long story short: It turned out we were like twin sons of different mothers (or I should say "muthas"). While I had been a teenage 80's Metalhead in the S.F. Bay Area, Micki had been a teenage 80's Metalhead in Brazil. While I had written for Metal publications in the States, Micki had written for Metal publications in Brazil and England. Where I knew Metallica when they were an unknown band, Micki knew Sepultura when they were an unknown band. Also, we both have Blackfoot albums on vinyl. Fate (Mercyful) had led us to that moment and we've been friends ever since. Brothers (or I should say "Bruthas") in Metal.

Neither of us are involved with that entertainment company far, far away any longer. Micki returned to writing and is currently the N.Y. correspondent for the Brazilian music magazine Dynamite [click for link].

Old Metal Trivia: Dynamite was started by one of the original partners of the legendary concert club The Dynamo [click for link] in Holland. The Dynamo was the CBGB's of European Metal in the 80's. Old Metalheads like me smile whenever we hear that name, eventhough very few of us ever saw a show there.

Autographed poster from Raven @ The Dynamo - 1982
(From the Umlaut Archives)

As a prequel to Umlaut's upcoming epic Iron Maiden OzzFest posting, I asked my Metal Brutha for his Maiden memories.

"Summon Wrathchild..."

Submitted by Micki

Of course those below aren't the only times Iron Maiden played 'terra brasilis' (their penultimate performance there begot the CD and DVD Live In Rock In Rio III), but since Umlaut asked me for some "Maiden memories containing curious facts" those were the ones I could remember.

MAIDEN IN BRAZIL - 1985: My first memory of Maiden in Brazil is - of course - the first time they went down there. It was January 1985 and the "gig" was Rock In Rio I (to which also went Ozzy, Scorpions, AC/DC, Whitesnake and Queen).

Unfortunately, Iron Maiden was the only band that could play just once (all the others played twice) due to the gigantic World Slavery Tour schedule (they actually got a hole within their American dates, went to Brazil and then returned to the US again). Therefore the set was basically the same we can hear on Live After Death.

The first curious thing about that show was that although Maiden was playing after Whitesnake, they were opening for Queen! But you know what? At least they were luckier than Ozzy, who played five days later after local bands and opened for Rod Stewart (No, it wasn't a typo)!

The second curious thing that happened was that the big Eddie (the mummy bust that comes out of the sarcophagus) was "retained" at customs for some reason, thus only the small Eddie (the walking mummy) could perform at the concert. So far so good.

But the third curious thing - and the most interesting one (at least concerning its repercussions) was that during one of the songs (Revelations), Bruce Dickinson threw the guitar he plays (on the intro of that song) to the air, but when it came back down it hit him on the forehead thus opening a gash above his right eyebrow.

Like nothing had happened (aka professionalism), he continued the show and so did the blood - running down his face. The TV journalists discussed endlessly whether it was part of the concert ("Barbarians!", one said) or an accident.

But four days later, when Rudolph Schenker (the Scorpions rhythm guitarist) threw his Flying V to the air (Flying V indeed!) and it came back down hitting him on the forehead opening a gash above his right eyebrow, the TV journalists discussion was back and finally over - they assumed it was a "Heavy Metal tradition" ("Barbarians...")!

MAIDEN IN BRAZIL - 1996: Another curious thing that happened regarding Maiden in Brazil was in 1996 during the Phillips Monsters of Rock Festival (with Blaze Bailey), which featured (in decreasing order of appearance) Iron Maiden (UK), Skid Row (US), Motörhead (UK), Biohazard (US), Raimundos (Brazil), Helloween (Germany), Mercyful Fate (Denmark), King Diamond (Denmark) and Heroes Del Silencio (Spain).

Besides the double performance of Danish vocalist King Diamond (first with his solo band and then with his original band Mercyful Fate) on the same day and subsequently, the thing that was most outstanding in the bill was Skid Row between Motörhead and Iron Maiden (before you ask the Brazilian band Raimundos is indeed more popular than the bands that played before them and could easily play after Biohazard - and I still ask myself why they didn't).

I mean, Motörhead is too loud and heavy to be followed by such a band as Skid Row, especially when the audience will be dying to see Iron Maiden... And what happened was a total massacre - vocalist Sebastian Bach was showered with paper cups, spits and bad words no matter how hard he headbanged and how fast the band played - and boy, they tried!

It was a shame, because the band is good within its environment and their previous shows in the country were extremely successful (But again - they had been billed right...), but being sandwiched by Motörhead (whose fans hate "Hair Metal") and Iron Maiden (whose fans can't wait to see and you have to be very powerful in order to catch their attention and soothe their anticipation) wasn't a good idea - at all.

Thus comes the "Tale of Saint Steve".

The show was over. Maiden had killed as always. The city (São Paulo) was quiet. It was late at night and Mr. Harris woke up to have a glass of water.

Looking outside the window of the Maksoud Plaza Hotel he had a vision... (This hotel has a huge parking space between the entrance and the street therefore who is inside the hotel is able to see everything that goes on on the street). Well, what Steve saw was a bunch of Iron Maiden fans spending the night on the street in order to try to get autographs in the morning, when the band would be heading to the airport.

Touched by the effort by those brave Brazilian fans, "Saint Steve" got dressed and went down there in order to compliment those courageous Maiden-heads, who got their autographs, pictures and handshakes more easily than they could ever imagine they would!

On his way back to his room, Mr. Harris spotted a familiar young man crying at the bar. His self-confidence was shattered and his morale deepened in mud. So once again "Saint Steve" decided to interfere thus spending more of his sleeping time helping those who needed him.

And it worked.

After some pep-talking from the "holy bass player", Sebastian Bach could finally get back to his room and sleep...

P.S. from Umlaut: Powerslave Tour 1985 (aka The Egyptian-themed tour)


Lauraloha, Umlaut's Maui Correspondent, reports:

"Speaking of Iron Maiden, Dave Murray lives down the street on a golf course in Wailea. He is spotted in line at the local movie theatre now and again and is written about in the local social column. Although, I doubt any of the Wailea cronies have ever heard of Iron Maiden, let alone seen Dave off the golf course and in spandex."