Thousands of heavy metal fans from around Central America gathered Tuesday night for one of the biggest, most eagerly anticipated shows ever in Costa Rica.
Following weeks of hype, legendary British band Iron Maiden took to the stage at the Ricardo Saprissa stadium in Tibás as part of their “Somewhere Back In Time” tour.
The scale of excitement in the lead-up had been staggering. Some fans had camped out since Friday to be sure of a prime position, and more than 25,000 people saw the show.
The hordes were determined to enjoy every moment. A majority of what was, by and large, a middle-class crowd had bought the group’s T-shirts, making the stadium a sea of black. Grown men wore illuminated red devil horns. The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to guitarist Adrian Smith.
Above all, the noise was mind-blowing, the crowd drowning out the aircraft that regularly flew over the stadium.
The event started with national DJ Dr. Leo playing a selection of tracks before Lauren Harris, daughter of bassist Steve, warmed up the crowd.
Finally, just after 9 p.m., the curtain dropped to reveal an Egyptian-themed stage, with the face of the band’s mascot, Eddie, appearing in the death mask of pharaoh Tutankhamun. The group opened with “Aces High,” and played all their classic hits, including “2 Minutes to Midnight,” “The Trooper,” “The Number of the Beast” and “Can I Play with Madness.”
The high point came toward the end of the main show when the group played “Run to the Hills” and “Fear of the Dark” back to back. The latter was made unbelievably atmospheric as the entire crowd joined the band to sing the intro.
I had not expected a great show. That lead singer Bruce Dickinson is a worldclass fencer and a commercial airline pilot jarred my rock-star stereotypes. Could he really be a hell-raising icon and fulfill his duty to fly the group to their tour in Colombia the next day?
However, the veterans showed why they have been so successful for so long. They were full of energy. Dickinson screamed his lyrics and raced tirelessly around the 40-meter stage, guitarists Adrian Smith, Steve Harris and Dave Murray did some serious head banging, and Janick Gers jumped around like a Spice Girl. Although the band did not attempt to speak Spanish, they interacted well with the crowd.
“We could go on here all night,” said front man Dickinson. “This has just been a great, great concert. The next time we come back to Costa Rica, you’re going to have to build a bigger f—ing stadium!”