My wife Kathy, daughter Laura (17) and her friend Charlotte, and youngest boy Jake (13...sorry! nearly 14) flew in for the MSG show and to stay in NY a few days and then go to Chicago with me and then on family hols. So I didn't go to Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit much to Steve's surprise!) but all went well. We were a bit down on crowds in Pittsburgh, a bit under 9000, but the area is suffering as is Cleveland of course, where we had just under 10,000. Both getting a difficult time with the recession. We hope things improve for you guys in those areas. It's very much the same in the legendary industrial cities in the North of England -- manufacturing has gone and with it many, or even most, of the jobs. It is so tragic that a complete way of life for decades can just disappear like this. And a life on welfare benefits is no fit replacement for a job for any human being. Does global and corporate really come down to this?
Detroit is beset with similar problems but almost 12,000 fans turned out -- double the number last time (2005??) -- and apparently the show was killer even though Nicko had a couple of brain storms apparently!! Hope if you were there you didn't notice and if you did you should be honoured to have heard a totally absolutely brilliant and impeccable drummer make a very very very very occasional mistake (that a fiver Nick, OK??) And of course the best looking guy in the band (make it 50!!).
While all this was going on Kathy and I were touristing (at least between emails!) with the kids -- the Empire State building at night, which I have only seen in the day before, its even more amazing at night. We went about midnight (and still long queues) after a brilliant real NY Italian meal in Little Italy -- I was waiting for Tony Soprano to walk in, and am sure some of the people there were Sopranos extras, or maybe the real thing! We saw West Side Story (yes really, but Gee Officer Krupke is a cool song if you think about it -- and how little has changed really) : a boat trip round the Statue of Liberty; a buggy ride in Central Park; Squeeze at Radio City Music Hall (reminding me of our multiple nights there in 1985) mainly because my daughter was at school with Chris Difford's daughter but they did write some fantastic songs like Up the Junction. Both these were admittedly a bit different to being on the desk at a Maiden show!!
So to Chicago. Firstly, apologies to our Chicago fans especially those core mutants amongst you -- for the first time in a while there was no event shirt. I own up completely -- there was supposed to be one but I was just not happy with our ideas (just how many times can we do gangsters!!!) and eventually gave it up. When you are a while away from a tour you are not entirely focussed city by city, more by regions, and also being so busy at the time it didn't seem to be a big deal. But a couple of days before the show I started to "see" the show and knew there would be some disappointment from the fans there so sorry guys if I let you down on this. Promise wont happen again, it is a long held Maiden Mutant (John and Jean and gang) tradition!!! -- but I will need some help on research (though I do love gangster shit, don't we all -- unless you lived here in the 20's of course!!)
Reminds me of an anecdote from more mists of time -- 1982 and the Beast tour, supporting out good mates The Scorpions (great band, The Zoo is one of my all time favourites but I wish they wouldn't whistle - sorry Klaus!!) they invited us along to an after show party and it was in the middle of the country side miles from anywhere and Steve and I were left stranded there around 3am wondering how the hell we would get back to the hotel. A pick up screamed to a halt right in front of us -- "wow -- its Steve Harris (I wasn't famous then!!!!!) -- what are you guys doing? Need a lift" And yes we did -- we piled in and they took us right to our hotel. We were chatting and they told us they were Capones -- yes , really! - and as we looked doubtful the driver showed us his driving license. It was true. And there was a family get together that weekend of all the Capone clan who, it transpired, are an honest family embarrassed by the connection to Al who was, we were told, very much the black sheep of the family and gave them all a bad name -- even to that day! I will never forget that! we met a Capone!
The last couple of times here we played the arena so as a change and also for a bigger venue this time we played the First Midwest Amphitheater about 35 miles out of town. Last time in 08 we almost sold out the arena, about 12,000, and this time we had over 16,000 fans there to see us. And of course the mutants and all their mates were fantastic. Great show -- I know I keep saying this but if you were at any of these shows on the tour you will know it is true. Playing to audiences who are right with the band is always great and the guys always respond. Even my daughter -- who is of course a super cool 17 -- loved it!!
I am writing this in my hotel room the day after the show with views of the city from my window (though I really should be checking out the scene of the St Valentine's Massacre) as I want to catch up before going on a 10 day summer family holiday -- so this is the last diary til Europe. For those who have never been to Chicago you should -- it is a beautiful city with so much to do. Lots of great bars and restaurants, a massive musical heritage, a wonderful beach, a pier (just like Brighton where I now live!), zoo, aquarium, top sports teams. In the early days we would often play Milwaukee the night before and drive in after the show and I still remember clearly that the view of the skyline as you approached was always magnificent. Because the city in on the lake and is quite windy - hence the name The Windy City -- there is little or no smog so the air is so much clearer than say NY and the lights of Downtown really do sparkle in this clarity.
It has been a remarkable tour -- we have been so very warmly received by you guys and even got some good reviews -- albeit with the odd cynicism and patronising comment thrown in of course!! Some will never "get" Maiden and Metal - and at a time when there is so much media attention to it being a terrible summer for concerts with so many cancelled dates and poor attendances you guys have made this our best tour over here ever and one of the most enjoyable for sure. By the time we finish we will have played 23 arenas / amphitheatres to about 300,000 fans and a couple of great Canadian festivals to 100,000 more. Not bad for an English Metal Band who have been around for a while!! Keep the faith and see you all next time. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And again, THANKS!!
Next one -- AUG 1 SONISPHERE KNEBWORTH, near London in the UK. Maybe see you there. Back home, it has to be a special show!!