FEATURE FRIDAY: The History of Maiden’s Brazil Triumphs

Scream for me, Brazil! Bruce Dickinson sheds blood in front of 300.000 amazed spectators.

On Tuesday October 30th, tickets go on sale for the spectacular Rock in Rio festival 2013. In this week’s massive Feature Friday, Brazilian fan Fabian Oliveira tells the tale of Iron Maiden’s legendary appearances in Brazil, from their first visit in 1985 through to the next Rock in Rio.

Ever since Iron Maiden first put their feet on South American soil on the eve of the first Rock in Rio festival in 1985, there has been an indestructible bond between the British metal icons and the vast and passionate metal community of Brazil. As Bruce himself has said: The further south we go, the hotter it fucking gets.”

Having stood in the midst of the 300.000 strong Rock in Rio crowd in 1985, watching the magic first hand, Brazilian fan Fabian Oliveira now tells the tale of Iron Maiden’s triumphant march through Brazil. From the festival grounds of Rio, via giant stadiums and race tracks, to parking lots deep in the rainforest. And everything in between. Read on!


By Fabian Oliveira

IMOC NICK Troopers

Next September, Iron Maiden will land in Brazil for the 10th time. I guess it’s just the perfect occasion to reminisce about the old tours and the everlasting love affair between Maiden and their Brazilian fans.


Is there anybody out there? Iron Maiden play to their largest crowd ever at Rock in Rio 1985.

January 11th -Rock in Rio Festival, Rio de Janeiro

Special Guest to Queen

Setlist: Aces High, 2 Minutes To Midnight, The Trooper, Revelations, Flight Of Icarus, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, Powerslave, Guitar Solo, The Number Of The Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden, Run To The Hills, Running Free, Sanctuary 

Maiden’s first visit could not have been more effective than this. The band played in Brazil for the first time at the very first edition of the now legendary Rock in Rio Festival in 1985. Before touching on the performance, a bit of perspective: In 1985, rock shows with international bands in Brazil were few and far between. Alice Cooper played our shores in 1974, followed by Genesis in 1977, Queen in 1981, Van Halen and Kiss in 1983. Rock in Rio though, was another story: A huge 10-day festival, covered by live national television every single day and receiving massive media coverage all over the country. The event got a bigger meaning because of the election of the first civil president after 20 years of military dictatorship. It was an actual celebration of freedom, represented so well by the spirit of rock’n’roll.

Maiden played the first day of the festival, above some Brazilian artists and Whitesnake, and second-on-the-bill to Queen. At the time, Queen was arguably the biggest rock band in the Brazilian market, which meant that the eyes of the whole country were turned to the show. As we all know, Maiden in 1985 was just an unstoppable machine and simply (power) slayed the 300,000 people in the crowd – still the biggest audience Maiden have ever played to.

The hunger of the band, the quality of the songs, Eddie as a mummy, the Egyptian stage, all of that just got printed in the imagination of a whole generation of rock fans. The concert itself had some issues, though. Bruce Dickinson was clearly struggling with some sound problems on stage, but it didn’t affect his performance much. During Revelations, he split his head open on Dave Murray‘s guitar and came back on stage after the solo section with blood all over his face. You can see it here, in a clip that is available on the Live After Death DVD (2008):

In the end it looked great on camera, both on TV and in pictures that were published in newspapers and magazines. After this somewhat clumsy start, the band just got on with the fantastic Powerslave set.

Even if AC/DC, Queen, The Scorpions and Yes played great shows at the festival as well, Maiden was just the most powerful band of the whole cast. Being just 11 years old at the time, it made me a fan for life. Maiden’s love affair with Brazil was born, and there was no turning back after that.


Scaled down stage set in São Paulo 1992, without even a single backdrop to hide the cityscape in the background.

July 31st – Maracanãzinho, Rio de Janeiro

August 1st – Palmeiras Stadium, São Paulo

August 4th – Gigantinho, Porto Alegre

Support act: Thunder

Setlist: Be Quick Or Be Dead, The Number Of The Beast, Wrathchild, From Here To Eternity, Can I Play With Madness, Wasting Love, Tailgunner, The Evil That Men Do, Afraid To Shoot Strangers, Fear Of The Dark, Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter, The Clairvoyant, Heaven Can Wait, Run To The Hills, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Iron Maiden, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Trooper, Sanctuary, Running Free

It took 7 long years for Maiden to return, but when they did their legend was intact. Unlike the US or the UK, grunge was accepted in Brazil but not at the expense of the older bands. It was not unusual for a new Brazilian rock fan in the 90s to like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, and still love Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. Also, from the first Rock in Rio on, a whole local metal scene emerged from the underground, with bands like Sepultura and Viper achieving global success. It also helped that Fear Of The Dark was very successful in the Brazilian charts, with Wasting Love being an unlikely radio hit here.

The band played three concerts on this tour, all of them sold out. I got to see the São Paulo gig and, despite the total absence of production (not even a backdrop – you could see the buildings behind the stadium!), the band played a rabid show with lots of energy, and most people commented how well Janick Gers fitted the band. By all accounts, the Rio and Porto Alegre shows were just as great – and they had all the backdrops as well! To finish, a little trivia: the Eddie used on this leg of the tour was actually the one from No Prayer On The Road. I guess the Fear Of The Dark one was kept in Europe for Donington and the other festivals.


Top: Steve Harris and his weapon of choice.
Bottom: Blaze Bayley trying to keep the pace in Curitiba during the The X Factour 1996.

August 24th – Monsters Of Rock Festival, Pacaembú Stadium, São Paulo

August 25th – Monstros do Rock Festival, Couto Pereira Stadium, Curitiba

August 26th – Metropolitan, Rio de Janeiro

Support acts: Motörhead, Skid Row, Helloween, Biohazard, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate

Setlist: Man On The Edge, Wrathchild, Heaven Can Wait, Lord of the Flies, Fortunes of War, Blood on the World’s Hands, Afraid to Shoot Strangers, The Evil that Men Do, The Aftermath, Sign of the Cross, 2 Minutes to Midnight, Sanctuary, Fear of the Dark, The Clairvoyant, Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Trooper, Running Free

With a new singer in the line-up, Blaze Bayley, Maiden came back to Brazil to headline the third edition of the Brazilian Monsters Of Rock Festival. The fans were more than curious to see the new band live. 45,000 fans packed the Pacaembu Stadium to see Maiden and a very strong bill that included Motörhead, Skid Row, Helloween, Biohazard, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Raimundos and Heroes Del Silencio. Sandwiched between Maiden and Motörhead, Skid Row had to cut short their set because of the crowd reaction. Everyone was just too anxious to see Maiden. Here’s a low-quality clip of Fear Of The Dark from that night:

Then just 22 years old, I watched Maiden from the barrier playing their biggest concert on the X-Factour. Blaze Bayley was very nervous, but the band played a blinding gig and the whole stadium sang along with both classics and new songs. You could see the happiness on Steve Harris‘ face at the end of the concert. The tour continued with two additional concerts in Rio and my hometown Curitiba, with Motörhead, Skid Row and Helloween supporting.


Final call: Blaze’s Iron Maiden adventure comes to an end in 1998.

December 3rd – Metropolitan, Rio De Janeiro

December 4th – Brinco de Ouro da Princesa Stadium, Campinas (Cancelled)

December 5th – Anhembi, São Paulo

December 6th – Skol Rock Festival, Pedreira Paulo Leminski, Curitiba

Support acts: Helloween, Raimundos

Setlist: Futureal, The Angel And The Gambler, Man On The Edge, Lightning Strikes Twice, Heaven Can Wait, The Clansman, When Two Worlds Collide, 2 Minutes To Midnight, The Educated Fool (played only in Rio), Sign Of The Cross, Afraid To Shoot Strangers, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Evil That Men Do, The Clairvoyant, Fear Of The Dark, Iron Maiden, The Number Of The Beast, The Trooper, Sanctuary

Although successful, this was a somewhat turbulent Brazilian tour. The problems started at the first gig in Rio, where a scorching heat in the venue and a way too laid-back audience prevented Maiden from playing an encore – for the first and last time in their career. The next day, things got even worse: Maiden was to play for the first time in Campinas, but the promoter didn’t supply a barrier. There was no separation from crowd to stage, which obviously meant the fans could get seriously hurt. Since the barrier never appeared, the security team simply vanished and the show had to be cancelled. A riot started, with furious fans breaking lots of seats of the stadium. Thankfully the police arrived and no serious injuries were registered.

The São Paulo gig, as usual, was very well attended, but really heavy rain spoiled a bit of the fun. The tour ended on a high note with a headlining performance for over 20,000 fans at the Skol Rock Festival, in the gorgeous Pedreira Paulo Leminski in Curitiba. Built in an old quarry, it was the chosen venue for a national TV broadcast from MTV. This concert has a very special place in my heart because I got to go on stage for Heaven Can Wait. I also was working as a reporter for a local TV station and had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Murray, definitely the nicest person alive.

Most reviews in the Brazilian press were critical of Blaze’s performances. Change was in the air – you could sense it, being close to the band in those days. Here’s a TV clip from Blaze’s second-to-last Maiden show:


A day in the life: Iron Maiden with Bruce back at the helm entertaining a couple of hundred thousand Brazilians at Rock in Rio 2001.

January 19th – Rock In Rio Festival, Rio de Janeiro

Support acts: Halford, Queens Of The Stone Age, Sepultura

Setlist: The Wicker Man, Ghost Of The Navigator, Brave New World, Wrathchild, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Blood Brothers, Sign Of The Cross, The Mercenary, The Trooper, Dream Of Mirrors, The Clansman, The Evil That Men Do, Fear Of The Dark, Iron Maiden, The Number Of The Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Sanctuary, Run To The Hills

Brazilian fans remained loyal through the Blaze years, packing arenas and stadiums. But when the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith was announced, the interest in the band got to a new high. Maiden was on the cover of every music magazine in the country and a whole generation of fans who never had seen Maiden with the classic line-up were crazy for a new tour. With an invitation to headline the third edition of Rock in Rio, it just made sense for Maiden to end the Brave New World Tour here, recording a live album and DVD as well. Maiden fans travelled from all over the country and South America to see the show. 150,000 of them! Most people think it was 200,000, but the organizers kept the tickets limited to 150k fearing riots or bad behavior from the metal crowd. Of course nothing happened, and the night had the least number of problems of the whole festival.

I don’t need to tell you how great that concert was, we all have the Rock in Rio DVD. Being there myself, it was just unforgettable, really, as the band played with great intensity. Playing with Maiden that day were Halford, Queens Of The Stone Age and Brazilian metal heroes Sepultura. Rock in Rio 2001 was, like I often say to my  friends, “our Donington moment”, very special indeed, and the band picked up a whole new generation of fans once again.


Iron Maiden brings the dance of death to São Paulo in 2004.

January 16th – Claro Hall, Rio de Janeiro

January 17th – Pacaembu Stadium, São Paulo

Supports acts: Heavenfalls, Shaman

Setlist: Wildest Dreams, Wrathchild, Can I Play With Madness, The Trooper, Dance Of Death, Rainmaker, Brave New World, Paschendale, Lord Of The Flies, No More Lies, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fear Of The Dark, Iron Maiden, Journeyman, The Number Of the Beast, Run To The Hills

The Dance Of Death World Tour arrived in Brazil in January 2004. The first concert was in Rio and indoors as well, which was perfect for the theatrical nature of the show. Sold-out gig as usual and the band was very relaxed, playing great. When one of Nicko McBrain‘s drums got broken, Bruce entertained the crowd by doing the William Tell Overture with his cheeks. Great fun. In São Paulo, though, it was serious business with a sold-out show for 40,000 people at Pacaembu Stadium. Bruce even had to stop Wrathchild in the middle of the song because the crowd was pushing around too much and crushing the people at the front. The crowd was cool after Mr. Dickinson’s speech and the concert went on without a hitch, with Dance Of Death, Paschendale and Journeyman being the highlights of the set.


We’re about to land! Ed Force One arrives in Brazil for the first time on the colossal Somewhere Back In Time World Tour in 2008.

March 2nd – Palmeiras Stadium, São Paulo

March 4th – Pedreira Paulo Leminski, Curitiba

March 5th – Gigantinho, Porto Alegre

Support act: Lauren Harris

Setlist: Aces High, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Revelations, The Trooper, Wasted Years, The Number Of The Beast, Can I Play With Madness, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, Powerslave, Heaven Can Wait, Run To The Hills, Fear Of The Dark, Iron Maiden, Moonchild, The Clairvoyant, Hallowed Be Thy Name

We missed Maiden for the Early Days and A Matter Of Life And Death tours, so the anticipation was huge for this tour. When it was announced that Maiden would come back with their own plane and basing the set on the classic Powerslave stageshow, the fans freaked out. The tickets were sold out in a matter of hours and the shows were very well documented in the Flight 666 movie. In São Paulo it rained heavily for 10 minutes before the concert, but as soon as Transylvannia was played through the PA, it stopped. Bruce slided on the stage as if he was wearing rollerblades.

15 minutes into the concert, it was pretty obvious that the band was playing better than ever. The Curitiba show was held once again in the Pedreira Paulo Leminski and saw a very relaxed band play what in my view was the best show of the Brazilian tour. Without the pressure of the heavy press scrutiny at the São Paulo gig, the band nailed a perfect concert. The same happened in Porto Alegre, were Bruce got a cell phone tossed from the crowd and (being the frustrated actor that he is) even “tried to call” his mom.

The repercussion of these concerts were as immense as the Rock in Rio performances, which led to Bruce promising they would come back again the following year for an even bigger tour.


Flying high again. The Somewhere Back In Time final leg in 2009.

March 12th – Sambódromo, Manaus

March 14th – Apoteose Square, Rio de Janeiro

March 15th – Interlagos Circuit, São Paulo

March 18th – Mineirinho, Belo Horizonte

March 20th – Mané Garrincha Stadium, Brasília

March 31th – Jockey Club, Recife

Support act: Lauren Harris

Setlist: Aces High, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Wrathchild, Children Of The Damned, Phantom Of The Opera, The Trooper, Wasted Years, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, Powerslave, Run To The Hills, Fear Of The Dark, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden, The Number Of The Beast, The Evil That Men Do, Sanctuary

And so they did. 2009 marked the biggest tour Maiden ever played in Brazil, with a total of 6 sold-out concerts including first-timers in Manaus, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia and Recife. After starting the tour in the heart of the rain forest in Manaus, the band parked Ed Force One in Rio for not only a memorable gig at Praça da Apoteose, but also to do the world premiere of the Flight 666 movie. The event was held at the Odeon, a beautiful old cinema in downtown Rio. There were fans from all over the world at the premiere, and both Bruce and Nicko got on stage to say a few words to the fans.

The São Paulo gig was also memorable, with 65,000 fans packing the Interlagos circuit. It rained heavily on the days before the concert, which means the conditions on the field were far from perfect. But after a 60 minute delay, to wait for fans still on the line to enter the venue, Maiden went on and did what they do best: playing the greatest heavy metal songs ever written. In Brasilia, all the guys in the band went out to visit the  buildings of the capital or to get a drink at the nearest British/Irish pubs. The tour ended in Recife, a beautiful beach town in the northeast of the country.

Here’ a fan-filmed clip from Maiden’s first ever Belo Horizonte concert:


The Final Frontier World Tour comes to Brazil in 2011.

March 26th – Morumbi Stadium, São Paulo

March 27th – HSBC Arena, Rio de Janeiro (cancelled)

March 28th – HSBC Arena, Rio de Janeiro

March 30th – Estacionamento do Ginásio Nilson Nelson, Brasilia

April 1st – Parque de Exposições, Belém

April 3rd – Jockey Club, Recife

April 5th – Expotrade, Curitiba

Support acts: Cavalera Conspiracy, Shadowside, Khallice, Stress, Terra Prima, Firebomb, Motorocker

Setlist: Satellite 15…The Final Frontier, El Dorado, 2 Minutes To Midnight, The Talisman, Coming Home, Dance Of Death, The Trooper, The Wicker Man, Blood Brothers, When The Wild Wind Blows, The Evil That Men Do, Fear Of The Dark, Iron Maiden, The Number Of The Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Running Free

When Ed Force One arrived in the country for the third time, people wondered if the band could repeat the success of the previous tour, since they would be playing mostly the same towns and the plane was not a novelty anymore. The answer to that was a packed Morumbi Stadium in São Paulo, the biggest in town. The show marked the first appearance of the Final Frontier Big Eddie as well, which was shipped from Europe for the gigs in São Paulo, Rio, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

The next day was chaos in Rio, all fault of the promoters. First, they kept people waiting for hours until the doors were open. And then, as soon as Maiden hit the stage, the barrier collapsed. The concert was obviously stopped and postponed to the next day. Even with the heavy traffic on a Monday night in Rio, 95% of the fans came back for a great night out with Maiden in the new and modern HSBC Arena.

Belem was a highlight as well, since it was Maiden’s first time there. It rained heavily before the concert, which was not a surprise to the locals because it happens every single day there in the summer months. On the last show of the tour, which was held in the Expotrade’s huge parking lot next to a supermarket, Bruce even joked with the customers who were getting out with their shopping carts. Lots of fun before the band went to Chile and Argentina to record the En Vivo! DVD and album.


BOOM! The Maiden England World Tour comes to Brazil in 2013.

September 22nd – Rock in Rio Festival, Rio de Janeiro

Support acts and setlist: …

So that leads us to the next chapter now, in 2013, with yet another Rock in Rio headline gig. The festival has moved from the 1985/2001 site, but it’s right next door, still in the Barra da Tijuca area. With the crowd limited now to 85,000, the tickets will surely evaporate. The gig will likely be broadcast on TV and online, and more fans will get on board. The question most fans ask now is if Maiden will play more concerts in the country on this tour. My guess is no, since festivals often demand unique dates. Time will tell.

Solo wise, Bruce did 3 tours in Brazil and a live album called Scream For Me Brazil, and Blaze did 4 Brazilian tours (and will come back again in January 2013). Paul Di’Anno played nothing less than 13 tours or special concerts here, and also lived in São Paulo for some periods.

Nowadays, it’s safe to say that Maiden are one of the most successful bands ever in Brazil, and the vibe of the shows are always amazing. There’s a passion for all things Maiden since the mid-80s that just gets stronger year by year, uniting 3 or 4 generations of rock fans. The Rock in Rio show will surely be a celebration of all this success and, of course, the music we love so much.

Fabian Oliveira


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