ROD'S DIARY - BUDAPEST AND BASEL - AUG 12-14
We flew into Budapest the day of the show. This is another magnificent Eastern European city on the banks of the Danube, which separates the two halves of the city, Buda and Pest. It's the capital of Hungary and has a population of about 1.7 million. We have toured here regularly going right back I think to 1979 when we flew in for a one off show at a small festival, so was one of the first shows we did outside the UK. We played there of course on the Powerslave tour and used to stay high up on the hill at the old Hilton next to some monastery and with spectacular views over the city. In the eighties I did quite a lot of sightseeing around the city and remember it well. Budapest was of course under the Nazis during the war and then part of the Warsaw Pact. However it was never as much a part of the pact as say Poland or Czechoslovakia, there was much more freedom. It was interesting that at that time you could fly in from the West and pick up a visa at the airport, but you could also fly in from the Soviet Bloc, which made it unique and a place where East could meet West. There were probably a lot of spies based there then!! We never had a problem playing there and it was much easier than anywhere else in Eastern Europe to do this and, as we really loved going there, we would play there fairly regularly and always had a great time. Back then it was without the neon and colour of a western city and in some ways very quaint. I remember a pedestrian only area of narrow cobbled streets with small cafes many of which would be playing classical music -- you don't get much of that now!
An aside -- did any of you see the research published last week looking at the personality traits of fans of different musical genres -- well, the traits of metal fans were the same as classical fans and quite different to rap, jazz, pop, blues, country etc. Very interesting -- of course intelligence was one characteristic!! I think independence was another. Maybe the world at large is starting to realise metal fans are not the morons they are often perceived as. I don't know whether this is a good or bad thing as we sure don't want to get drawn in to the values of "the world at large"!!
Back to the tale. I had a fantastic hotel room with views over and along the Danube being situated on a corner with effectively glass walls. Unfortunately I didn't get much chance to get out as you will see later so not many pics. However you may wish to check it out more as it is a beautiful city (now a major tourist destination) and the history is very colourful. Due to its geographical location Hungary was a sort of cross roads of Europe and was occupied by the Saracens at one time leading to an eastern influence on some to the architecture.
By the Danube
We had a couple of EMI execs, Caryn and Debbie, over from London for the show so I met them in the bar for a drink before setting off for the venue. We were playing the Sziget Festival which I think has been going a few years. It is over a few nights and they added one at the beginning to accommodate us. As it was an extra day it was just us and Lauren, not a full festival bill. However there was still the full 35,000 and more people there for us and Maiden clearly dominated the event shirt! This was the only heavy rock/metal day with the other days being very mixed musically with the likes of REM and Jamiroquai. It was quite a drive to the site but as it was along the Danube we didn't mind too much. The festival was on an island in the river and our driver had a real problem finding his way to the correct entrance. Back stage, as you can tell from a couple of pics, was very well laid out, though relatively quiet as we were only a couple of bands as opposed to ten or more on the other days. It was obviously well thought out and put together with excellent catering facilities and even a few games. The audience surprised me as, with it being very much a mixed bag musically (about 30,000 sales were for the whole festival and about 5000 for just our day), I thought they would not be as responsive as usual. Well if they had got a ticket mainly to see Jamiroquai they weren't going to go nuts over us were they. But they did. Reaction grew as the set progressed and it was another really excellent show and apparently the reviews of the "festival launch" were fantastic.
Afterwards we just ended up in the hotel bar for a while. I awoke the next day with "stomach problems" and didn't feel at all good. I went for walk along the river but it was so hot I gave it up and returned to the room feeling very sorry for myself. On tour everyone tends to pick up something as you go along due to all the travel and change of circumstance. I guess your immune system gets a bit worn down. I had done well since being in a poor state in LA, but on that leg of the tour the travel and time changes were so extreme people were falling down all the time. Just knackered sometimes!! So a bit of food poisoning or a stomach bug doesn't help matters. But this wasn't a stomach bug -- I have known enough on bike rides to know the difference -- so I could eat sparingly at least. No alcohol though!
Over the Danube
Ian sees Gaddsy off
The next day in Basel I felt even worse, very bad. The hotel rooms were really small and to be cooped up there for 2 days was not very appealing so Ian came up trumps talking to the hotel and getting me the Presidential Suite. It was huge so at least I could suffer now in comfort. There was no way I could make the show that night so I switched on my Skybox and suffered peacefully. It was a drag though as we had a gang over from the UK for the two days there including my partner Andy and the bands accountant Pete, both great mates as you will have gathered from diaries past, and both over to go through some business stuff with the band before the end of the tour when everyone disperses. They were trying to get me to the bar, even if only for a diet coke. I did try, lasted 5 min and retreated mournfully!
The show went fine -- it was only in a small arena capacity 9000 which sold out quickly when it went on sale months before. We wanted to go outdoor but the suitable venue was not available. The promoters checked again in April and still wasn't available. I found out it had become available later so it's a big shame they didn't think to check it again in May. Really pisses me off that. So apologies to any fans there who couldn't get to see us this time round.
The day off following was much the same for me -- work, Sky Slingbox, TV movies though I forget now which, and plenty of rest and hoping I would be ok for the next day -- a big day, the first ever show at Assen TT course in Holland, the famous superbike racing circuit. You will have to wait and see.
Next week I am on a special mission assisting Nicko so will not be able to get to Assen and Moscow for a couple of weeks and the next diary will hopefully be one on our little trip. If you watch sports news you may have seen that Nicko has been enlisted by the European captain Nick Faldo to assist in the "motivation" of our team in the Ryder Cup due to start next week at Valhalla in Louisville Kentucky. If you switch on you may sees us in the crowd yelling support (not during or just before the swing though!!). We don't know yet precisely what this entails but drums may be part of it!! Anyway take care y'all and I will tell you more when l get back