Rock in Rio 2019
With all that's going on in the world right now, it's always nice to escape reality. Whether that be through television, gaming, movies, music or even blogs, it's nice to take a break when you need it! We had the honour and pleasure to attend the epic record setting Rock in Rio 2019 in Rio de Janeiro, on the unbelievable day of metal, headlined by the NWOBHM metal gods, Iron Maiden! Although it was a few months ago now, we never got around to talking about it or reviewing it (which we said we would) so figure now is as good a time as any to write it up!
Rock in Rio for us has always been a dream - we remember watching and hearing Iron Maiden live at Rock in Rio 2001 from the CD/DVD of the same name. In fact, we still get chills now when we hear 65,000 Brazilians singing along the riff to Fear of the Dark - and you can best believe that to be part of it was truly incredible. From hearing this live version of them, we knew that one day we would make the trek to Rio ourselves and become part of history - and in this instance, become part of their history even moreso as this was the "Legacy of the Beast" tour, based on their mobile video game that summed up the last 40 or so years of the band. The entire day was incredible from start to finish.
On this day of metal, the line up was truly unforgettable. We arrived at the Rio Olympic Grounds early afternoon, enough time for us to get a lay of the land and ensure we didn't miss the first big band of the day - Brazilian legends Sepultura! Let us just say that this venue is massive - to walk around the whole thing takes at least an hour, and there are many different stages - the main stage, the secondary stage, smaller stages dedicated to different elements of Brazilian music and also areas which spoke about the history of Rock in Rio. There was a wall with hand prints from different artists (including Iron Maiden) and food/alcohol stalls everywhere. They even had a merch tent, which we made the smart move to get into early, as it became very crowded very quickly! It was a very hot day too - as Rio is in the Southern Hemisphere, it was currently the heart of spring and on this day there was not a cloud in the sky - purely the sun. With temperatures pushing 29 degrees Celcius, we were thankful for the free water everywhere and that we had brought bottles!
There was a Ferris Wheel, a zipline, VIP areas and multiple water stations around the area. The lines for the toilets were big but also well maintained, and everyone looked to be in great spirits. The great thing about festivals is that while one band plays, another can as well - however we were mainly there for the big international acts, and couldn't wait for Maiden! We managed to get a spot close to the main stage and watched as Sepultura set the standard. Appealing to their home crowd, they perfectly went through their setlist, playing old and new songs, including an epic version of Roots Bloody Roots, which had the everyone moshing. Thanking the crowd for letting them live a dream, and with some Portugese from long time guitarist Andres, they left the stage, leaving those who had just seen them with ears ringing and remembering why these thrash titans have made such a mark on the world of metal!
We moved from the main stage to the secondary stage (the second biggest) to see one quarter of the big four play - the mighty Anthrax! These East Coast legends were one of the first metal bands to begin to cross into hip hop, and although they may be pushing it in age, that did not stop them - both Joey Belladonna and founder Scott Ian moving around the stage like men half their age. This was an epic live show and we were stoked to be close (though not as close as we would have liked!), and they ran through all the hits - starting with Madhouse, then even more classics like Caught in a Mosh, I Am The Law and Indians! It was truly like a greatest hits show but man if we weren't in thrash heaven! The crowd was eating it up too with a massive mosh pit forming and people jockying for position close to the rail. Unfortunately their set soon ended, but we were even more excited for the next band we got to see!
Originally meant to be Megadeth (one of the big four and one of our personal favorite bands of all time), they had to pull out due to lead singer and founder Dave Mustaine coming down with throat cancer (which he has now beaten!). As big a shame as this was, the replacement band was more than good enough - the German power metal legends known as Helloween! This was another band we have always wanted to see, but never thought we would have the opportunity as they do not tour often. Formed in 1986 by Kai Hansen, it was their second and third albums, Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1 and Part 2 (respectively) that would set the sound known as power metal. These guys were absolutely incredible live. Opening with I'm Alive, this was soon followed with hit after hit - Dr Stein, Eagle Fly Free, Perfect Gentleman, Ride the Sky and Future World. Although they apologised for not being able to perform their legendary long songs Halloween or Keeper of the Seven Keys, they finished their set with the metal classic I Want Out, which has been covered by some of power metal's finest, including Sonata Arctica and Hammerfall. Complete with giant Helloween inflatable balls and lots of pyro, after Maiden this was probably our favorite show of the day!
And there was still more to come! Up next was another of the Big Four of thrash, and were on their final tour - the mighty Slayer! By this time the Olympic Park was truly reaching its max capacity, as over 100,000 people were beginning to get ready for the headliners, and we wanted a good position, so we decided not to head to their stage and instead watch on one of the many huge screen televisions (they were at each stage, so if one band was playing on the second stage, you could see them from the main stage on TV). As it was their final tour, you could tell they wanted to leave with a bang, all the ferocity and headbanging alive and well, with both Kerry King and Gary Holt showing why they are two of the best shredders alive (and Gary with his awesome "Kill the Kardashians" wristband, a jab at them wearing Slayer shirts purely for aesthetic reasons). It was a classic list of songs - starting off with a more recent song Repentless, it wasn't long before they were belting out the classics - Post Mortem, War Ensemble, Seasons in the Abyss, Raining Blood, and finishing with our personal favorite, Angel of Death! Thanking the Brazilian crowd and saying its been their honour to play for the last 30+ years, they left the stage with crowd chants of "Slayerrrrrr" still echoing high and loud, and as their stage cleaned up, attention turned to the main stage and a vibe began to run through the air - Iron Maiden were next!
As the crowd gathered around the main stage, the lights soon went dark as a trailer played for The Legacy of the Beast game. The crowd could not contain their excitement and it wasn't long before the beginning of Winston Churchill's epic speech began to play. Not long after this the lights came on and a massive plane hung above the stage - Iron Maiden appeared and burst into the seminal classic Aces High! Barely taking the time to catch their breathe, they soon launched through the classics and some rarities - including Where Eagles Dare, 2 Minutes to Midnight and The Clansman! A quick costume change by Bruce brought out a huge Eddie who towered above the stage, with the band launching into the classic The Trooper as Bruce fearlessly fought off the imposing Eddie. As the hits continued, just before the next song Bruce brought out a large cross - and following this, the awesome Sign of the Cross! With another change in clothing, Bruce soon returned with arm mounted flamethrowers as the band moved into Flight of Icarus, with Steve, Adrian, Janick and Dave all moving about the stage and keeping the crowd electric.
The song soon finished and a hush fell over the arena, and it wasn't long before the haunting opening riff of Fear of the Dark spread out over the crowd. With a huge cheer, this soon led to what we had envisioned when we had heard the 2001 recording - 100,000 Brazilians and many other races united in their love for metal, all singing along the riff, and once the lyrics started, almost singing over Bruce! It was one of those moments where you can't quite believe it is real and the whole thing felt very surreal to us, as we joined in. With yells of "Scream for me Rock in Rio" causing the entire arena to be shaking from the yelling, this song was the highlight of the Maiden set for us. This song was followed by the iconic Number of the Beast, and ended with a throwback - Iron Maiden. The lights went out but the crowd knew better as they screamed for more. The lights soon went back on and Maiden came back to the front, launching into The Evil That Men Do, followed by our other favorite Maiden song, Hallowed be thy Name. Ending their set with one of the most famous songs, Run to the Hills, they thanked the crowd for making history and being there and said they would definitely be back. With unstoppable cheering, soon there were 5 minutes worth (at least) of fireworks as we all still soaked in the atmosphere. This was truly a night no one would forget.
Although there was still another legendary German band to come (Scorpions), we unfortunately could not stay to see them as we had to make it back to our accommodation via public transport we had booked. As sad as we were not to see them, we knew we would again soon see Scorpions live and are glad we got to see them back in 2018. We were tired, heat exhausted and worn out, so in some ways are glad we got out just after Iron Maiden. However, it was an experience we doubt we will get to experience again, and we are incredibly grateful we got to experience this Rock in Rio in particular. If you do get the chance, make sure you make the time to go over and attend this life changing event.
We hope you liked our review of Rock in Rio 2019, and keep an eye on our website as we will be posting a review of the amazing 70,000 Tons of Metal 2018 that we also got to attend! Thanks for taking the time to read and rock on!