‘Don’t worry, buddy. We’ll get there on time’. I have to admit that it almost broke my heart to see a father and a son having this conversation, both wearing matching Iron Maiden t shirts, as a heavy rain was pouring down outside the bus and a bunch of cars owned by protesters wouldn’t let us into México City. It almost broke it because, for a moment, many of us thought we wouldn’t make it to the concert on time.
And there was a lot to lose if we didn’t. To witness an Iron Maiden show is, according to a lot of music and metal fans alike, a once in a lifetime experience – although in México is a twice-in-3-year-period, since it is one of their favorite countries for touring. But there was something extra special about this event, since Slayer – one of trash’s Big Four – was going to be their opening act, along with the band Ghost. So yeah, kid: no worries, but you better pray we get there on time.
With protesters, Tuesday night traffic, rain against us and hope on our side, we barely made it to the Foro Sol. We missed the chance of seeing Ghost live, but Slayer’s set was just beginning with World Painted Blood blasting all over the place. Even though most people hadn’t arrived yet with all the shenanigans going around the city, more than twenty thousand people were already jumping and head banging around, wrapped in water and other liquids I don’t mind not knowing about.
Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast”
For eleven songs, Tom Araya, Kerry King and company gave a master class of a three decade long trash metal career despite the storm surrounding us, and they gave themselves the time to honor a great comrade. A mere 4 months before this show, founding member Jeff Hanneman died of liver failure, having written many of Slayer’s most memorable tunes and metals most sought-after guitar riffs. A video featuring his life on the road with the band and fellow musicians was displayed on Precious sized screens during Angel Of Death as a giant Hanneman sign mocking a Heineken add, one of his favorite drinks, hung up beside the band for the whole evening. As an odd surprise, the downpour stopped just as their last note was played.
With no cloud on-sight and some people drying up while others were cursing their lungs out for arriving late and not being able to see Ghost and Slayer, the place began to pack-up with thousands of fans wearing black shirts with any kind of Eddie stamped on them. Soon, after what seemed like forever for a bunch of kids witnessing their first encounter with the Englishmen, Doctor Doctor by UFO began to raise the hype as icebergs appeared on the screens and water drops made a return in the sky. Then, hell was raised by the appearances of Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Nicko McBrain, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers; and when the first notes from Moonchild were strummed, front man and showman Bruce Dickinson jumped from backstage with a sombrero on, turning the place into a wet t-shirt and head banging heaven.
Taking a break to notice the gathering, Bruce declared México, rain can’t fucking stop metal in México, my friends. Fuck you, rain! , right before Can I Play With Madness. The beauty of an Iron Maiden show, according to what legends tell, is that each songs comes with a display of theatrical antics and a surprise or two along: no one was disappointed. Each song came with a different background and wardrobe on Dickinson, some pyrotechnics and special guest appearances by Eddie and other monsters. One of the most memorable and first to come up was by The Beast itself, for the classic anthem Number Of The Beast, played with a horned creature with red flashing eyes witnessing the crowd from the stage.
Another old friend from the fans was invited, the Phantom himself, along with his organ as the audience went ape-shit insane with Phantom Of The Opera, only to lose a few more pounds afterwards when a giant walking Eddie soldier, sword in hand, rushed on-stage and above the band with Run To The Hills chanted along with fifty thousand mouths back grounding. More fireworks, an embryo, the many reincarnations of an immortal Eddie, guitar tricks and costumes came and went across seventeen songs and a Winston Churchill speech. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Fear of the Dark and Iron Maiden closed the first set, making way for an encore of Aces High, The Evil That Men Do and Running Free and an audience begging for more.
What we last saw and heard as a delighted Dickinson placing sombreros on each band member as they were introduced and cheered by the wet gathering they had embraced with three decades of metal and constant touring, a nice ¡Nos vemos pronto y gracias, México! and the Monty Python classic Always Look On The Brightside Of Life. And for that night, when many elements seemed to be against us, we all did.
After a long thirty minute walk across dirty water ponds, food leftovers, lost shoes, broken items, sweaty sticky black shirts and what smelled like biohazard areas back to the bus, all you could see were smiles and all you could hear was Fucking amazing. Back inside the safety of our eight wheeled transportation, I noticed the same father and son back in their seats, with that little fellow falling sleep, soaking wet and exhausted.
-Did you like it, buddy?, said the dad.
-I really did, daddy. Can we do it again and bring mommy with us next time?, answered his son.
-We might have to drag her, but I’m sure we will. You know what she thinks about this kind of shows. Answered his dad.
–But it made me happy and I want her to be happy too!
Hell, thankfully a tear can be mistaken for rain water after such a concert, rain can’t fucking stop metal in México and rain can’t keep a kid from being happy at an Iron Maiden show…
Written by Jorge A. López Mendicuti
OurVinyl | Senior Writer