24 Feb 2011 - Todd's Diary - Indonesia

We landed in Jakarta on February 16 (the actual days are becoming a blur) for Maiden's first ever shows in Indonesia.  This one was a really short flight, about 90 min, which is good after that long haul to Singapore. There was a lot going on for these Indonesia shows. Dickie had flown ahead of us from Moscow, straight through to Indonesia, to rebuild the stage so that it was safe for the band and could handle the Maiden lighting rig among other things. As I wrote in my last two diaries, it is REALLY important for the Maiden team to deliver a top-notch show and give you fans your money's worth. I think you can see now how extremely serious we are to deliver. The stage HAS to be both safe and function in top form so Dickie spent weeks busting asses to make sure these shows went off without a hitch, all the way down to the very last detail even if it meant rebuilding the stage from scratch, which they nearly did! He even had the locals do a Rain Stopper dance (not kidding) called the Pawang Hujan. The forecast was for heavy rains and wind so this rain master performed this ceremony to keep the rain away. IT WORKED! The sky was clear and the wind was almost non-existent but I'll get to that later.
Wow! What a greeting! There must have been over 300 kids outside the terminal. They were all screaming and chanting for the band, holding hand made signs. Felt like a football match. As we were waiting for our passports (Ian and Gaddsy yelling at officials to get on with it) we were finally let go after about an hour wait (and all employees got everything signed by the band). The pandemonium and screaming that ensued as we walked out the front doors was deafening. As chaotic as it was, the fans were very respectful to the band and families. There were no barricades holding them back, just a thin line of security and Jeff. They were conscious not to crowd the band too much and quickly backed up (still screaming) when asked although when Steve stopped to sign a few autographs things got a little nutty. For the most part, it was actually very controlled pandemonium if that makes any sense.

We had police escort (apparently it's the same motorcade that US President Obama used), this being my very first. All I can say is what a way to travel. We zipped in and out of traffic with sirens blaring. This is not only to get us from point A to point B, but also to ensure the band and crew's safety. Since this was the first time in Indonesia and there were so many news photographers and TV crews, we rushed back to the hotel and held a press conference with Bruce and over 100 media types. Bruce answered a stream of questions regarding the tour, the new album and one reporter even wished him a belated Happy Valentines Day in which he jokingly replied "Thank you but that isn't a question." Bruce is always a quick wit.

We were told by officials not to wander off from the hotel because we were westerners and because of the thick political climate, so most of my time was spent in the hotel. Since it was close to dinner when we arrived, we decided to wash up before and head to the hotel restaurant. What a spread! It was buffet style with everything you could imagine. Indian, Japanese, British. Chinese, Italian etc. I decided to go for English style (Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding) and not sushi since I was eating with Rod and didn't want to become the butt of the joke again regarding my chopsticks handling. This crew is HARSH! I've learned very quickly that with this lot they can turn on you at the drop of a dime just to "take the piss out of you and watch you squirm." Everyone gets a turn at some point. I never had Yorkshire Pudding. It wasn't very tasty alone but spread gravy and meat on it and you're on to something, although I am sure Rod would disagree with this!
Next day was show day. I awoke to what I THOUGHT was buzzing traffic but as I gained consciousness, I realized it was prayers over a loudspeaker! I've only seen this in movies and news clips. I looked out my window and there was a Mosque across the way. lt is a Muslim country after all.  It was really fascinating.  After listening for a while, I threw on some shoes and went upstairs for a quick lunch with William and Matt, later joined by Bruce and John Mc. Soon after we all jumped into a string of cars and again escorted through traffic to the show. When we arrived there were police, army and security everywhere, over 500 of them. The kids were great though, VERY respectful, all 20,000+ of them. It was definitely a different audience. They knew every lyric and beat but they listened carefully so they could soak in every word without missing a single second of the show. The band was in true Maiden form and as Bruce shouted "Scream for me Jakarta," the place erupted. He joked around with the crowd about the big water cannons the police had ready to fire, although this never  looked at all likely to happen with such a great crowd and was probably more to cool them down as it was very hot and humid the whole time here.  All in all I found the people of Jakarta happy, generous, polite and really passionate for metal and Maiden.

The venue was next to the sea so they even had security on the beach to stop anyone gate-crashing in canoes!! Often at dusk any winds blow in moisture from the sea which would condense on the metal stage and cause some water problems but as the weather was so good, perhaps thanks to Dickie's rain dance, this never occurred. Every show seems to bring up a different problem, especially in new places, and the Krew are always ready -- this time with miles of waterproof sheeting just in case the mists or the rain storms hit -- it was in fact rainy season!

The next day we were escorted to the airport, right on to the tarmac to a waiting Ed Force One and off to Bali, which is one of over 15,000 island that make up Indonesia, with some 2,500 different languages!! The crew was grabbing what little sleep they could as Ed Force One took off for short hour and a half flight. We landed in Bali and greeted with a red carpet (seriously!) and again escorted by police to hotel where we were met by a staff with leis, cold towels and a passion fruit drink. We were in this huge open patio with only a hut shapedroof. I asked where the lobby was and someone pointed out we were standing in it! I could already tell this was going to be a good stay. The only thing was this humidity. My God, it was humid. I think the whole time I walked aroundwith a soaked shirt (day and night) and probably emitted a very unpleasant odor.  I've never experienced humidity quite like this. I also have never seen such a beautiful place like this as well. It really was a tropical paradise. I got to my air conditioned room to dry off, opened my window to the garden and a bird flew right up to my window and planted itself right there on my balcony. It would return the next day as well. 

After I washed up and cooled off a bit, I went downstairs for a dinner graciously thrown by William from EMI for any of us that couldmuster up the energy to eat. I was there! Also joining was Rod, Gaddsy, Ian, Janick and Nicko along with Matt (journalist). We had a four course meal consisting of duck, chicken, fish, prawn rolls and some vegetable dish (I didn't eat that) plus, what else, beer! I actually preferred my pina colada at the risk of being the butt of the joke, and of course Nicko had his wine. William half jokingly told Nicko to order the table a bottle of wine but not the most expensive. Being a gentleman, Nicko complied by ordering the second most expensive bottle. He is a man of his word! After having a few, somewhere around 10:30, some of us decided to go for a swim in the pool. I can't tell you how mind blowing it was swimming in a cool, refreshing pool under the Bali moon. Words can't describe so here's a photo.

After we ended up in the hotel pool bar until around 3am or so before turning in.
The next day was another non-show day so I figured I'd get some work out of the way so I could join some of the group (including Bruce and Janick) on a day trip to the Uluwatu Temple to check out the Temple Monkeys and see the Kecak & Fire Dance. After a long bus ride with a tour guide who seemed to go into stories not at all related to where we were going but what seemed like his own family background, we arrived at the temple. We were atthat point warned that the monkeys go after jewelry, glasses, can pick pocket you and unzip purses where some of the locals bribe the monkeys with food and grab the things they stole and send them back to the tourists. They can sometimes attack you as well. What have you gotten us into Zeb!? As we approached the temple there were monkeys all over the place! And yes, they not only jumped on tourists who were naïve enough to feed them, they actually went after Zeb and tried to open her purse! Scandalous primates.

We ended up at the top of the temple for the Kecak & Fire Dance. The view from above was breathtaking! 
As our group was ushered in we actually heard "Bruce! Bruce" from the audience across from us.  No doubt there are now photos of Bruce in someone's vacation photo album.
Kecak is a unique Balinese dance because it is not accompanied by actual musical instruments but a chorus of about seventy men imitating sounds of the musical instruments, telling a story and provide sound effects with only their mouths. The name Kecak comes from the chattering cak-cak sounds of the chorus. It was very infectious and Janick in particular seemed to really enjoy the rhythmic chants (I actually heard him chanting back). While I was sitting there, it REALLY dawned on me what a wonderful, once in a lifetime opportunity that was handed to me. As I sat under the Bali sunset, watching this incredible cultural performance, I realized, aside from working for one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time, I was experiencing worlds I never dreamt I would WITH members of the band! Life is good.
When we got back to the hotel we immediately ate a nice dinner and went to the local pool hall for drinks. We met some of the crew and sat with some of the locals who offered us some food. A sealed package of Quail eggs. Yeah, as nice of a gesture that it was, I couldn't risk something going terribly wrong down there with a big show we had coming up so I pretended to eat it and discreetly put it in a napkin. They were smiling so I think they knew. William and a new friend Chris actually tried it. In the end, nothing went wrong so I am a little bummed I didn't actually try it but I just couldn't risk it.

The next day was show day. We headed out in a convoy of cars, police escort of course, to Garuda Wisnu Kencana. The venue was mind blowing! It was like stepping into The Temple Of Doom! Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) is a private cultural park at the southern end of the island of Bali in Indonesia. Bukit is a limestone plateau with Uluwatu to the west and Nusa Dua to the eastern. It is devoted to the Hindu god Vishnu, and his mount, Garuda, the mythical bird who is his companion. The statue of Vishnu is 23m high, although the original plan was for a 146 metre gold plated Vishnu riding Garuda on top of an 11 story entertainment complex.  This was apparently the first metal concert held at this venue.

Fans from all around (Malaysia, Surabaya and even Denmark and of course, Finland!) packed GWK to capacity. Just before show, I was running around backstage dealing with press when word had it, Bruce being Bruce, had decided he wanted to climb one of those stone walls in the back, got about 10 feet up and fell to the ground hurting his foot! I thought Rod was going to bust a vein. They sat Bruce down, which is never easy to begin with, and iced his foot until show time. At show time, he shot out of a cannon like nothing happened, giving Bali one of the best shows of this leg so far.
Unfortunately I was distracted from part of the show because I was kept busy chasing around sneaky video bootleggers and pro photographers trying to make a free buck off the band. I wanted to talk to you fans about this and explain our point of view: There are always illegal bootleggers pushing pricey, subpar videos and photos into the market place and basically ripping you off on low quality bootlegs and knockoffs. Iron Maiden has always been about quality. When Maiden put out a live DVD or issue photos, we work very hard to make sure you get the best quality possible and not something below our very high standards. For the true fans I will always try and show you the utmost respect and give you a little warning and still let youwatch the show. I really don't like chasing those around who break our rules. Ok, enough lecturing.

Whilst the band carry a full show on the plane in some places due to technical or local conditions it cant all be used. ln this case the stage was on the flimsy side, high with just 8 "legs" and little cross bracing so the backdrop drapes couldn't be used as they would act as a sail in the wind and bring the whole roof and lights down on the band. lt was a only a  breeze but even that with a huge "sail" was enough to be dangerous -- when it abated a bit as the evening got a bit cooler the Krew tried putting one up but with the rock walls either side providing a wind tunnel even this was not feasible and was quickly taken down. So if you were there you now know why this was, but it  didn't dampen the show or the audience reaction.

After the show we went back at the hotel, Bruce walked in and said "I need a beer" and carried around a trash bag of ice for his ankle. If you don't believe me, see below (sorry for the bad quality. It was dark).

After a few drinks and some food, he went back to his room because he was flying us out the next morning!

The next morning we all gathered in the lobby ready to leave for the airport but not before one last "winding" of our group. This time Janick fell victim. As we were waiting for our cars, Janick turned for just a moment to sign some stuff for fans and Dickie decided to hide Janick's guitar. Janick is never without his guitar and was a bit panicked when he saw it was gone. Dickie let him off the hook and Janick took it like a true gentleman with a hardy laugh.
Off to Australia!

 - Todd

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