3pm Moscow, sitting in room with laptop typing this before we go along for the first show of the 2011 Final Frontier World Tour. Only seems yesterday when we finished touring last year in Valencia where I went with Bruce Air! And now of course we have Ed Force One back, but a newer sleeker 757 with its new colours as you will have seen on the website. Looks great doesn't it.
Of course by Valencia I was already well into routing and arrangements for the 2011 touring. I like to get things set up as early as possible to give us the best opportunity to get the availabilities on the venues that we need -- the later you wait the less chance you have of getting the ones we want. The fact this leg of the tour is 66 days from Moscow to Tampa was a total fluke by the way, it just came out like that but 6's do seem to haunt us, it's quite incredible how often it comes up. Nothing sinister I trust! All the dates are set for this year although 3 festivals are yet to be announced but for any of you towards the eastern end of Europe it won't be long now
I travelled up to Stansted from Hove on Tues eve so I didn't have to deal with M25 traffic on a morning and it also gave me a chance to have a few beers with the Killer Krew, always a treat, honest!! Albeit expensive! The plane was due to leave for Moscow at about 9am but technical problems, hopefully our last, held us up for a few hours so we ended up arriving at about 10pm local time, 3 hours ahead of the UK. We were met with snow, sub-zero temperatures (which Floridian Nicko was NOT happy with despite being decked out in a Russian fur hat and jacket!!) and a great many (very patient) national TV news crews and press photographers, the result of which you can see on the website. When we land we have a couple of the guys and John McMurtrie our photographer and Andy M our film and IMTV man go down first if its steps onto the runway. Then, when they know transport is ready and everything is more or less under control, the band go down so the cameras can get them without Gaddsy in the way! Nice and smooth, Jan and Bruce had a few words on camera with the TV guys despite the cold (tough guys!) then it was off to our splendid hotel, drop the bags and up to the bar for a nightcap with Dave and Nicko, quickly to be joined by many of the others ending with staying up rather longer than expected although it was 3 hours earlier by our body clocks so probably wouldn't have slept earlier anyway.
Up in the morning and into the gym to be soon joined by Davey. I got in pretty decent shape for my Cuba bike ride last week,(I had to, it was tough!) and intend to keep it up. Famous last words on a tour like this. By the way because of all the tour prep I haven't got my thankyou notes up on the web yet but it is next on the agenda, so apologies to all of you who supported me on justgiving and the auction, it is much appreciated by myself and the two excellent charities.
The rest of the day was spent working on the laptop as usual then in the evening it was dinner with Sarah, Todd and Kath from our Phantom team and then to the bar where most of the guys and team were and again a later than intended evening!
Early today we had a meeting with relevant parts of the team to go through everything from media to guest lists to make sure everything runs smoothly -- it should have been yesterday to avoid this early start but some of the team were needed at the venue. You would think the show was more important than my meetings! The band always do a full and thorough sound check the day before the first show to make sure everything is to their satisfaction. After that, unless they are encountering problems, members of the crew do the soundchecks at every show and always end out playing Highway to Hell. Then took an hour for a swim - so both first two days I got to work out, for how much longer I wonder?
I am very much looking forward to tonight and the brand new set list covering a number of songs from the new album, of course, but also a healthy dose of "classics" as there will be so many new faces in audiences around the world, especially of course in Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea where we have never played before. It is terrific that in those places it looks like we will get a lot of fans coming along for their first ever Maiden show -- Singapore will be sold out out at about 12,000, Jakarta could be anything from 15 to 25,000, Bali is smaller and will sell out 7,000 and Korea is smaller still at just 5000, but still a great opportunity to visit there. And in Australia at the festivals we will have some 100,000 new faces at least plus our first visit to Belem in Brazil and the first time in Tampa in a long, long time. So there are a few songs we have to play, although not every one!! No doubt via the web you will soon know what those are.
The production is again everything we can ram onto the plane with other parts being built specially in each territory. Lights are provided locally and will be where possible/available (depending on the territory) be as good as last year (hats off to Rob Coleman for a terrific lighting design and operation) and as always sound will be the very best available and of course brilliant thanks to Mr Doug Hall. And of course there will be Eddie.
I am sorry to say that this will be my last regular diary, for a number of reasons, although I will contribute from time to time especially on special occasions. The reasons are partly that I won't be on the whole tour as I shall return home for a while to take care of business between Melbourne and Sao Paulo, but mainly the fact that I have written about shows in many of these places twice in the last three years, and often more before, so it needs a fresh pair of eyes on events. You can only say so much about anywhere. Also I can only do these if I do them properly, I have too much respect for you guys to fob you off with something rushed and badly written, and this takes some time to work out what to cover and then write up, especially as my typing is far from 100 words a minute!! There appears more and more to deal with on the Maiden front and that has to be priority.
So our new Phantom team member Todd Nakamine will be taking over with the regular diaries as from this first show in Moscow. Todd has worked with us for some five years in America based out of LA, firstly with our label and last year with our promoters dealing with media and other areas. He is a big Metal and Maiden fan and even went to two of the four legendary Live after Death shows at Long Beach in 1985 -- and has the photos to prove it. Believe me he knows his Maiden!! He is assisting me in many areas including casting a fresh but informed view over everything for the diaries. I do hope you enjoy them. They are certainly going to be more current than I was often able to do too!!
Todd is Japanese American as you can tell by the surname -- we went to a Japanese restaurant recently though and the staff were astounded when ...he asked for a fork!! Watching him try to use chopsticks is a remarkable experience akin to watching a cricketer facing up to a bowler but holding the wrong end of the bat. Or for you Americans a pitcher and a baseball bat.
This has taken a couple of hours so it's almost time to go. I am always nervous but excited before the first show on a tour especially with a number of new songs involved ( especially can't wait for Where the Wild Wind Blows, already one of my all-time favourites -- gives me chills down the spine)
So take care and wish us luck!!!!!