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Iron Maiden to rock Brazil ... again

  • Story Highlights
  • Heavy metal icons Iron Maiden announce new tour dates for South America
  • Concerts in four extra countries to be announced soon, including two debuts
  • Extra dates follow string of sell-out concerts earlier in 2008 in Latin America
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By Hilary Whiteman
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Somewhere in South America right now a head-banger is getting very excited.

The crowd went wild when Iron Maiden took to the stage in Colombia earlier this year. They're going back in March, 2009.

The crowd went wild when Iron Maiden took to the stage in Colombia earlier this year. They're going back in March, 2009.

Veteran hell-raisers Iron Maiden have announced five new tour dates in Brazil, within months of playing to capacity crowds in some of country's biggest music venues.

Last March, they packed the 40,000 capacity Palmeiras Stadium in Sao Paulo. Next March, they'll be following in the formidable footsteps of Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, rock band Kiss and the Pope, no less, to wow the crowds at the Autodromo de Interlagos.

The race track is one venue they don't expect to sell out.

"Capacity is about 400,000. I don't think we'll get 400,000," Iron Maiden's manager Rod Smallwood told CNN, "We're set for about 60,000 and we hope to go past that."

The band has every reason to be confident of strong ticket sales in South America where fan loyalty verges on fanaticism. Video Watch part one of Iron Maiden Revealed »

When the band last toured Curitiba in Brazil in March 2008, thousands of ecstatic "Maiden" supporters kept them awake overnight by booming Iron Maiden music outside their hotel.

Across Latin America, they sold 250,000 tickets in less than one week to nine concerts in seven countries. In Colombia, they set a new record for the fastest ticket sales of any event.

Rapid ticket sales are expected this Saturday when seats go on sale for three new concerts in Latin America: Venezuela, Colombia and Chile.

Tickets for concerts in Brazil are due to go on sale next week -- along with seats for four concerts which are still to be announced, in four more countries, two of which will host Iron Maiden for the first time.

"We've always had tremendous success with the fans down there (in Latin America)," said Smallwood.

But why, many may be moved to ask? What is it about Iron Maiden and South America? Are they in love with Iron Maiden or is it heavy metal as a music genre that's really captured their hearts? What do you think? Sound off below.

Malcolm Dome, presenter of British heavy metal radio station TotalRock has a theory.

"The Latin way of life seems to connect with heavy metal enormously," he told CNN. "It's not just in South America, it's the Latin communities in Spain and Portugal."

"I think it's got a lot to do with what heavy metal represents -- passion, energy, emotion, rebellion, a slight anarchy. I think it's the part of the Latin mentality," he added.

Iron Maiden may have been formed in a London pub the 1970s, but it wasn't until 1985 when they took to the stage at the original "Rock in Rio" concert that their South American fan base began to swell.

The band played one gig as guests of British compatriots, Queen, that was broadcast live across the continent winning them new fans, many of whom have stayed loyal over the years.

Heavy metal has not always been viewed with the same sense of awe by fans in South America, according to Cristiane Richardson, a Brazilian who presents the weekly heavy metal radio show Sonic Attack from London.

"It started perhaps as a novelty," Richardson told CNN, "Maybe it was kids rebelling against the samba or the church, but for many years it was looked on as a joke almost."

"[But] it slowly gained credibility and now if you go to a Havana show you'll see several generations -- fathers bringing their sons and nephews. Older people appreciate it as well. It's not just young kids."

She said Iron Maiden's sheer hard work has also won them fans.

"They make an effort everywhere they go to meet their fans and to learn the local language."

Claudio Vicentin, the editor of South America's best-selling heavy metal magazine Revista Roadie Crew, said, for some fans, heavy metal songs are their first introduction to the English language.

"In Brazil and South America many heavy metal fans begin to learn English translating the lyrics and singing together the lyrics on concerts."

"The fans here are very passionate about music. And then, once you like heavy metal, you are going to die listening to heavy metal. You are not going to love Iron Maiden just for one summer."

What is it about the music? "It's the energy of the sound," Vicentin said. "The guitar riffs, the melodies, the heavy drummer sound and the voice of the singer."

Right now, the band is taking a rest from a grueling schedule that started with the first concert in the "Somewhere Back in Time" tour in India last February. From there they went to Australia, Japan, the U.S., Latin America and Europe.

The tour resumes on February 9, when they'll pack up their version of a tour bus, Ed Force One, a 757 airliner decked out in Iron Maiden logos and take again to the skies for the first scheduled concert in Dubai.

As in previous legs, lead singer Bruce Dickinson will be in the pilot's seat, flying the entire band and their roadies from city to city.


One thing that will change is the line up.

"It will be different from last time," Smallwood told CNN. "We'll have pyros with us which we didn't take last time (and) there'll be a few songs we didn't do last time."

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