Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

"Rock City", Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Jan 2001

Covered by Thiago Martins:
South American Field Agent for Metal-Rules.com 

Well, let's get back to 1985. Brazil wasn't a usual place for heavy metal/hard rock bands to play. Only a few gigs happened here, and on that year we got the first edition of Rock in Rio, bringing Iron Maiden on its World Slavery Tour, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, Queen, Whitesnake, as well as many other non-rock attractions, but respectable artists. It was the first time that heavy metal was really played in Brazil and ater this festival Brazil started receiving lots of rock bands, becoming each year a part of the route for rock bands tours. 

In 1991, the festival was reissued, but no more of a rock festival, it was a "hit groups" festival, as we have Billy Idol, New Kids on the "Cock", Information Society and stuff. But still we had a heavy metal day, when Sepultura was for the first time recognized in Brazil as a big band, Brazilian "AOR" Lobão, who hasn't been very well received by Brazilian crowd, also big international acts as Megadeth, Queensrÿche, Judas Priest and the headliners Guns N' Roses. 

Then, ten years after the second edition, for seven nights Rock in Rio was back on its third edition. For the heavy metal fans in Sao Paulo, there wasn't many things to celebrate: Iron Maiden and Rob Halford was scheduled to play here last year, but they had to postpone their gigs as there is a "exclusivity clause" that don't allow the band to play in other Brazilian city in a certain period of time. So, to see both bands, the Sao Paulo fans had to wait and then travel to Rio de Janeiro so we could see the band. 

After all, this edition Rock in Rio schedule was definitely the worst one: Britney Spears, Five, Aaron Carter, N'Sync, Sting, Red Hot CHili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Oasis, Papa Roach were some of the attractions, as well as some Brazilian crappy stuff as Sandy & Junior, a couple of kids that translate some massive international pop hits to Portuguese and are really big on Brazil. 

The most awaited concert was the return of Guns N' Roses. Well, for the loyal fans, they made a spectacular gig, for me, I didn't like it. They played all their hits, the new line-up is musically better than the original one (Buckethead and Robin Flinck are way better guitarists than Slash and Izzy and so on), but I could not feel that it was "a band", but some musicians playing very well the old Guns N' Roses tunes. For Axl, he is not fat, just not on his "best weight conditions". He actually sucks as a lead singer, like on the old days, he is running all the stage, like on the old days, he is still trying to be the "bad boy", like the old days, but he seems now to be respecting his fans more than on the past. Well, if you really liked Guns N' Roses on their glorious days, you might have enjoyed this gig. If you didn't, like me, there's nothing much better now that would make you start enjoying them.

I made my bags and traveled to Rio to see the heavy metal night, that took place on January 19th, 2001. The schedule had three Brazilian bands. The first two were called Sheik Tosado and Pavilhão 9. The first band was a load of crap. Pavilhão 9 is a rap band, but they actually are very heavy (not a "rap metal", or nu metal stuff, but a heavy rap). They had some special guest, like Igor Cavaleira from Sepultura. They made a respectable set, but couldn't satisfy a heavy metal fan. The third band was the American Queens of the Stone Age, and they really suck. Their bassist, former Kyuss leader, got naked on the stage and it wasn't very pleasant for a man to look on the stage. This gig just never ended, it was a torture for the crowd. But, as it always happens in Brazil, the non-specialized media told it was the best gig of the night. The next act was the third Brazilian band, Sepultura. 



It was the first Sepultura gig since 1999. For the first time since Max departure, Sepultura was recognized in Brazil as one of the biggest heavy metal acts in the world. Also, the band has finished the recording of their new album, named "Nation", a concept piece that will describe a "Sepulnation", with a flag and anthem.

This concert was full of expectations, and the biggest Brazilian band of all-times really made it. Derrick Greene surely kicks ass, his voice is fantastic, aggressive, explosive, he's way better singer than Max Cavalera. Andreas Kisser is a good guitar player and showed to be now the band's brain, along with Igor Cavelera, amazing as usual. Paulo Jr. keeps on being the regular bassist he always has been. 

The concert started with the massive hit "Roots Bloody Roots", and everyone in the "rock city" (the name of the place where the festival took place) knew the lyrics, and started jumping along with the rhythm of the songs. The band played all its best songs, even some older, dedicated to all the fans, like the almighty "Troops of Doom", as well as the classics "Refuse/Resist" and "Territory". "We who are not as others" was a surprise on the setlist. 

The band also played some new songs. The "Sepulnation Anthem", played by the Finnish guys of Appocalyptica, that was used as a taped opening is really fantastic. The new songs are very good, way better than on "Against" album. During one of those new songs, one fan invaded the stage. The security men took this guy and would start to smack him, as usually happens here in Brazil, but the band stopped playing the song. Andreas and Igor run into the guards and "rescued" the fan and put him back on the audience without any harms, showing that the band really cares about its fans.

Finishing the set, the band played the classic "Arise", emending its end with the first verse and chorus of the "Dead Embryonic Cells". The band was really great on stage, and now let a lot of expectations for the new album and the new tour, so the band can show the world that definitely Max departure is a past thing.



He's really born to raise some hell. Forget all the fucking techno crap he had made. What Mr. Halford and his band showed in Rock in Rio is something amazing, it's pure and raw HEAVY METAL! No bullshit talking, he doesn't need anything like that. Rob Halford entered the stage with leather jackets and pants (in a heat of almost 40°C - like 100ºF), with the fucking great guitarists Patrick Lachman and Mike Chlasciak, the correct bass player Ray Riendeau and the awesome drummer Bobby Jarzombek. They haven't said many things, they just blow out everyone ears with the best heavy metal concert I've ever seen.

The concert started with the three first songs of the perfect new Halford album. "Resurrection", "Made in Hell", and "Locked and Loaded" showed what heavy metal is, and even those songs not being familiar to all of the people in "rock city", the metal feeling was in the air. Getting more brutal, the band played two Fight songs, "Into the Pit" and the fantastic "Nailed to the Gun", and Mr. Halford hadn't yet talked to the crowd, the band just kept playing the songs, fucking heavy metal!!!!

Then the first moment when my heart almost exploded. Without any introduction, I've just heard the riff of "Stained Class" and I went almost crazy, losing the sense of what was happening on the festival. A special moment, as well as I didn't expect to hear this forgotten Priest song live. Another "obscure" Priest song was played, and I was almost dead when I realized that he was playing "Jawbreaker". I screamed my lungs out, but when I looked around I noticed that all the stupid fashion fans didn't know what was happening...

So fuck them, the next song was the epic-absolutely-fantastic "Silent Screams", and Mr. Halford showed all his interpretation power and all his voice. I could notice some tears falling from my eyes at the ending of this one. Hell, I was completely amazed, and I haven't noticed that the crowd seemed to not be understanding that Halford was giving a heavy metal class. The next songs played were also from Resurrection album, "Cyberworld" and "Nightfall" kept the high-level of this concert. When "Nightfall" ended, the band immediately emended with "The Hellion", and again my Judas Priest heart was about to explode when I realized that "Electric Eye" would be the next in line. So it happened, and the crowd now started recognizing it, and we could hear the voices singing the choruses, it was one of the finest moments in my life. The next song was "Metal Gods", c'mon, imagine the hell that a heavy metal fan should be feeling as it was the first time I could see anything related to Judas Priest live. Ok, the crowd seemed not to know very well the easy chorus of this song and I've got angry with the "Iron Maiden fashion fans" that were at my side trying to survive smashed on the first row of the venue of 250,000 people. 

To close the set, Rob Halford, holding a Brazilian flag, started doing that "sing-after-me section", "oh yeahs" and stuff for the crowd to sing. The he made that fine question: "Breaking the what?" Fuck it. The crowd answered and the riff started, and then Mr.. Halford said "Sing the words Rio", and he hadn't said not even a single word for the rest of the concert: 250,000 heavy metal fans sang alone the whole lyrics of "Breaking the Law", the melodies of the solo, everything. Imagine yourself on a concert and the lead singer just leaves the crowd to sing the whole song, imagine the feeling when you hear 250,000 people singing with you. It had never happened in any gigs I've seen, and I was screaming my heart out, with tears in my eyes, it was absolutely fantastic. It was HEAVY METAL!

When the song ended, hell, I didn't knew what I was feeling, I just looked on the stage and the guys were destroying their instruments on the stage, Halford was kissing the Brazilian flag, no one was believing on what happened. Rob Halford is the same thing as heavy metal, and he proved that he's back to raise some hell again.



Choosing Brazil to record the DVD is a risk for Iron Maiden. One point is that Iron Maiden is a mania in Brazil, they always recycled their fans here, almost every teenager in Brazil is an Iron Maiden fan. But when they grew up, they barely listen to heavy metal. The problem is that they usually becomes a fashion fan, and not many of them are interested in knowing the whole career of the band, and so they only knew the classic hits. That happened on this night in Rock in Rio. From the supposed attendance of 250,000 people, I think that "only" 20,000 actually knew more than half of the Iron Maiden set.

Okay, let's talk about the set. If you have the chance to see any concert from the Brave New World Tour, well, this concert in Rio had absolutely nothing different musically related. The setlist was the same, the stage effects were the same also (well, here in Brazil we didn't have the cross stuff on "Sign of the Cross"), the difference were Bruce Dickinson speeches between the songs, stuffs like "Rio de Janeiro is the capital of heavy metal in the world" (well, if you see that here in Brazil Rio is considered the "rock grave", I think Bruce is not very corrected on this), or making some angry critics to Britney Spears fans (she "played" on the festival on the day before) and so on.

On stage, Bruce Dickinson is really the highlight for this concert. His singing is amazing, he still is the best frontman in the world, keeping the 250,000 people interested on the concert during the whole 2 hour-set, he was perfect on stage. Also, for me is a great pleasure to see and hear Adrian Smith back in the band, as he get the chance to play perfectly his sols, and it was beautiful when I've hear "The Number of the Beast" solo perfect again. The other members made their usual performance. Steve Harris was an electric bassist, jumps and runs during all the concert, Nicko McBrain keeps on making his joking drumming play live, Janick Gers keeps on making his circus performance and screwing all the solos and riffs, like he always does, but actually he wasn't so bad on this night.

The highlights of the concert were the amazing "Ghost of the Navigator", as well as Bruce's performance on "Sign of the Cross". The negative point is the setlist (well, it's always the same old songs, "2 minutes to Midnight", "Wrathchild", "The Number of the Beast", "Hallowed be Thy Name", "Iron Maiden", "Sanctuary", "The Evil That Men Do", "The Trooper" - I expect the band to do like Halford did, finding some obscure or forgotten songs and play them live again, as the band usually did until No Prayer on the Road Tour), as well as the large number of new songs on the set (I think that "Blood Brothers" and "Dream of Mirrors" don't work out well on live performances). Other thing that I didn't like is this three-guitar bullshit. There's nothing actually new on this, the old songs sound the same, unless some parts where it seems that there is a guitar more than it's needed. On the new songs, this three-guitar seems to make no difference to only two as the band always did. So, until I can't understand why Janick Gers keep on screwing songs like "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "The Evil That Men Do", while Adrian Smith is back to play them correctly. Well, I can't even understand why Janick Gers is still on the band.

Finally, the worst point of the gig was the fans. If it wasn't for Bruce keeping the crowd awake, probably they would only be noticed on "Fear of the Dark" (a blockbuster hit around here), "The Wicker Man", "The Number of the Beast", and "2 Minutes to Midnight". Old songs easy to sing like "Wrathchild" were strange to the them. 

After playing "Sanctuary", the band made their photo for the DVD, and then announced that they would play "a song we haven't played for a long long time". I was naively expecting some obscure song, some different song, or at least "Wasted Years", never played live in Brazil, but they played "Run to the Hills". It was a surprise, it was very good to hear this song live, it was one of the highlights. 

I wasn't completely satisfied with the gig, but it was surely very good. Actually, this DVD will be very good too, Iron Maiden is in fact the biggest heavy metal band ever. But I expect much more from Iron Maiden than they are delivering since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. I hope someday Maiden become again as fantastic as they were in the 80's.


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