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It really is a strange feeling to leave a country in the morning, chasing the sunset and only 4 hours into the flight it is night.fall Strange feeling indeed. We landed in Melbourne, Australia around 10pm and were greeted by a nice, cool breeze. I actually needed my jacket for the first time since Russia. At the hotel we were standing out front and I sighed with relief as the light wind blew through. Steve happened to be walking up and replied "Feels good, dunnit." It did. The weather was a relief after the humidity we were dealing with just before.
After dropping our bags off, Jeff (Steve's right hand man) and I decided Chinese food was in order before sleep so we strolled to Chinatown (one in every port, just like McDonalds) for a bowl of fried noodles and rice. The next night was another non-show day so Jeff and I went over to the local pub we heard about to have a few quick drinks. Some of the Krew were hanging outside (Sean, Squid, Charlie, Spider...) and greeted us as we walked up. Spider then grabbed me and said they were asking for me. "Who?" I replied as he pushed me in with a smile said "Here's Todd." It seems that more of you have been reading my diary than I thought. Suddenly I'm face to face with a bunch from IMFC asking "You're Todd of Todd's diary?" I then found myself surrounded and questions were coming left and right "What's it like?" "How did you get to do this?" "Do you travel on Ed Force One?" "Can I get a photo with you?" and the occasional "Lucky bastard!" It was all very strange and new (and flattering). I found the local IMFC very nice and mellow. Drinking with them was great. Some of them I remember seeing, and photographing in Singapore AND Indonesia!! Great group of kids and obviously really dedicated. Ran into all of them at the Sydney as well but will talk about that later.
A Quick word about the Killer Krew. You all know The Killer Krew. The guys in the Krew look like a rugged bunch, and that they are. They are also actually really cool guys. When I was first "dropped" in the group in Stansted, I was feeling like I was all alone in the deep end. I know it looks like it's a piece of cake but think about being a complete stranger, dropped into a plane with a crew of 53+ who, for the most part, have been together for years, management AND band. It was a little nerve racking. I was probably more of a thorn in their side when I was on the label and promoter end and now, here I was, the over-packed rookie with no one having a clue as to what I do. Once the sniffing out was over I quickly started to sink in as each started having a go at me, making me feel like part of this extended family. It really is like one big family. This means taking the piss out of each other at any given moment. Everybody gets a turn or two, it's just a matter of trying to side step it and maybe throw someone else to the pack of wolves to save yourself. As Patrick is taught me, "Fuck Off" should is becoming my response to almost everything. Right now they are having a go at John (photographer). Apparently there's a shot he desperately wants of the engine at night that you can only get while sitting on a window seat. The Krew won't let him get to it. They won't change seats and move his stuff every time he tries to get a leg in. Even Bruce had a chuckle at this when he heard. Harmless, fun but still funny as hell as they continue to wind him up.
The second night out Bruce actually dropped by the pub giving the IMFC fans a little treat. IMFC was very cool and made sure not to swarm Bruce, which I found really impressive. Here and there they would say hi and ask for the occasional photo but they did let him have some space and talk with friends without interruption. Note to fans, from personal observation I think you'll find them more responsive if you don't pounce immediately. In general the whole band is rather shy and quiet (Nicko not included). They are such an unassuming band. You'll find at times that they would rather walk around unnoticed as part of everyday people as opposed to the more typical rock star ego that craves public recognition. Then again Maiden is not your stereotypical rock band in any way, shape or form, which is why they've had such longevity.
I had left the pub early to find food and was a little tired as the past 2 weeks were finally catching up to me. I HAD to try and get some sleep before show night. The next morning Bruce mentioned later that after the pub they ended up at a late bar to cap off the night. And he STILL gets up earlier than all of us and gives his all night after night. What's my excuse!
I rode up to Hisense Arena the next day with Bruce after we finished a little promo we did at the hotel. Good crowd. I walked around during the show and was pleased to see the kids singing every word to songs off the new album. The only booing came when someone threw a blow up cricket ball onstage and Bruce mentioned the Australian loss to England. Friendly boo, and laughter of course. All in jest and was quickly forgotten as Maiden burst into the rest of their set. After all, I guess they did win. In fact, in my first meeting at management, they were designing the shirts for Australia and there was talk about Eddie with a cricket bat but they didn't use it because England won and it would look like they were taking the piss out of the Aussie fans.
The next morning we were off to Sydney and since the show was that night, the Krew had to fly Ed Force One early that morning in order to get to the venue to set up in time. Hopefully you are starting to see how much goes on behind the scenes and how hard the Krew work in order to deliver a show night after night. We followed right behind them on a chartered private plane. This was my first time for that as well. I ended up on Peter Jackson's (Heavenly Creatures, Lord Of The Rings) plane with Steve & family, Bruce, Dave, Janick, Rod, Steve Gadd, John McM and John. It was a nice short flight and before you knew it you were at a packed The Entertainment Centre.
You could the fans were really pumped for the show. IMFC were again in full force, as was The Beast who came all the way from England (see bonus photos). All were right up front as usual, showing their devotion as "Doctor Doctor" pumped through the PA signaling Maiden were about to hit the stage while making the crowd go mental! The venue heated up, literally! It was boiling in that venue. It felt a bit like Bali weather. Both Steve and Janick mentioned how hot it was onstage when we were back at the hotel.
Later that evening I ended up at a bar for a quick drink. What better way to cool off than with a nice cool beer! I met with Vicky from EMI Australia in the lobby and we joined Bruce, Rod and Russell Thomas (Kaos) for a quick drink before a handful of us went for a pint at a local pub and later joined by Janick. The group slowly whittled down to Vicky, John McM, Janick and myself, ending shortly after with Janick lecturing some fan that left his 14 year old son outside the pub so they could drink and maybe get to talk to Janick. The father instinct kicked in with Janick politely lecturing the father about leaving his son outside the pub so late at night (1:30 am)! Too funny. Again, I'm beginning to see a theme. For some fans, whether it's airport staff, hotel staff, or parents with kids, there is nothing more important than Maiden... Maybe try and prioritize your children or you'll get an earful from Janick ;-)
On to Brisbane! A sold out 47,500 await us at the first of the 5 Soundwave Festivals!!!!
Hit page 2 for bonus shots!
Arriving at Melbourne Airport