Iron Maiden rocks El Salvador with nod to slain archbishop

Fans of British heavy metal band Iron Maiden wait for their arrival at the airport in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador on March 5, 2016 (AFP Photo/Marvin Recinos)

San Salvador (AFP) - British heavy rock band Iron Maiden drew huge cheers from a 9,000-strong crowd in El Salvador's capital late Sunday when it upheld the memory of a local archbishop slain 36 years ago.

Drummer Nicko McBrain set off the thunderous ovation when he put on a black t-shirt with an image of the murdered Salvadoran priest, Oscar Romero.

Some of the musicians had before the show paid a visit to San Salvador's cathedral to visit the crypt where Romero's remains are kept.

Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980, at the height of El Salvador's civil war, as he held mass in a church in the capital.

Many in the country believe he was shot dead for speaking out against injustice and the reigning junta's repression. He was declared a martyr by Pope Francis a year ago and beatified.

The crowd at Iron Maiden's concert included fans from neighboring Guatemala and Honduras. Together with El Salvador, the countries make up the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America that is notorious for its gang violence and corruption.

"It was a top-class show that made us forget for a moment all the problems we have," said one 45-year-old man in the stadium, Ricardo Chavarría, who was there with his son.

Iron Maiden is on a world tour promoting its latest album "The Book of Souls". Its next stop on its customized Boeing 747-400 aircraft called "Ed Force One" is Costa Rica, for a concert to be held Tuesday.