February 25th was a non-show day so I decided to go out to Manly Beach by ferry with Dickie and Janick. It was good to get out of the room for a bit, break from work and see a little of Sydney. It would be a waste if I didn't. I also really wanted to get a few shots of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney Opera House is a masterpiece of late modern architecture. It is admired internationally and proudly treasured by the people of Australia. It was created by a young architect who understood and recognized the potential provided by the site against the stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbor. Denmark's Jørn Utzon gave Australia a challenging, graceful piece of urban sculpture in patterned tiles, glistening in the sunlight and invitingly aglow at night. Jorn Utzon died in Copenhagen in November 2008 aged 90.
In its short lifetime, Sydney Opera House has earned a reputation as a world-class performing arts center and become a symbol of both Sydney and the Australian nation.
Of course, before we left, I realized that I forgot my seasick pills but decided to go for it anyway. This was mainly because Dickie wouldn't let me go back and get them and also Janick thought it might make a great photo with me being sick. No worries. All good below. Sorry Janick, maybe next time. Of course, while leaving dock, a fan driving one of the boats opened his window and started screaming to Janick. Janick politely smiled and waved. On the ferry ride to Manly Beach we struck up a conversation with a nice old lady sitting next to us who told us a little about Manly Beach and interesting things to look at on the way. It was a real treat to hear Janick explain what band he was in when she asked. At one point she pointed to this small little building in the middle of the river that was once a processing house for the criminal element England shipped over.
The settlement of Sydney began its life as a penal colony, with a total of 568 male and 191 female prisoner convicts with 13 children, 206 marines with 26 wives and 13 children, and 20 officials having made the voyage. The total convict population that year was 730 persons, with 413 under medical treatment. In fact free settlers did not begin arriving until 1793.
After 30 minutes we pulled into Manly Beach and had a nice and relaxing walk by the beach before stopping for a meat pie. On the way, Janick was stopped by some very excited fans for some photos and autographs. One was even wearing his Iron Maiden shirt! Janick graciously obliged and we were on our way but not before one of them getting the Dicky treatment because one of the fans had his hands in his pockets! No kidding! "Hands out of pockets!" I've been slapped many times. See below.
Since Ed Force One had to fly out the night before in order to set up at the venue, out of necessity, we had to fly up by private plane. This time we were in a Citation II which snugly sat seven of us (Rod, Bruce, Ian, Dickie, Barry, John Jackson and myself). I have to admit, I am not used to flying in something this small so I was just a little nervous. Mostly during the take off and the landing. I really began to miss the safe feeling of traveling in Ed Force One. Once in the air though, I was able to relax a little. It was great to see Bruce in one of his many elements. He spent most of the time with his head in the cockpit talking pilot talk. Rod got a little rest on the way, Dickie was his usual restless self and Ian was looking a bit focused but then again that is the way he always looks. We landed safe and sound and as we were coming in we saw Ed Force One parked on the tarmac. Bruce watched Ed Force One through the window like a proud father and followed her as we passed. After landing we quickly jumped into our waiting cars and off we were, straight to the Soundwave festival site with little time to spare.
What happened to the cool breeze that greeted us when we first hit Australia?!?!? O'well, at least it was the dry heat I am used to. I wandered around a little to get familiar with the site and make sure I knew where the main stage was and the best routing. It was set up like Warped Tour in the states with all the bands centered around the eating area only with strange Aussie animals running about. It was also good to see some familiar faces from the US like the Slayer, Rob Zombie and Split Media camps. It was a little touch of home for me. Remember, it will be sometime until I'm home again so it's good to see some old friends. I spent most of my time running around helping the band organize some stuff for the New Zealand charity. The band have a lot a friends and fans in New Zealand and are donating various items to help the earthquake victims.
It was an early curfew tonight, being an outdoor show, so the band went on at 8 pm. This was the first time Maiden played Soundwave and it was the first of five and sold out with 46,500 fans waiting in the hot sun to see them. The band hit the stage at 8:00pm to a sea of sunbaked fans who firmly planted themselves all day to get the best spot possible.
This ended out being a very strange show with many problems.
Firstly, during the show Barry (our merchandiser head for Global Merchandising and a very good friend of Rod and the band) came down the ladder from the upper lighting level to sound desk level on the out front tower and accidentally put his foot in a hole in the flooring and caused his foot great damage. He split the heel, which is very serious, and is having an operation today (Monday). He hopes to fly back home at the weekend , that depending on how the op goes, but he will be on crutches for a few months. In a city and country becoming more and more obsessed with Health and Safety and all that, it is strange how this could have happened.
Then in the set closer "Iron Maiden," Eddie had a severe fall (no, he hadn't been out the night before!) and with damaged parts he could not get out on stage which, to my knowledge, may be the first time ever (Rod?). The Krew did tell me he had fallen a couple of times while on stage in the past but not for a long while and never before he got on stage. So Brisbane fans sadly are the first ever, I think, to be deprived of Eddie's appearance on stage and everyone feels bad about that but there wasn't much that could be done. The Krew do send their apologies to the fans there, it was sadly just one of those things. The band, as it should, charged on of course.
The bigger issue was sound. I'm not familiar with many of the terms in the conversations I heard but it seems that Health and Safety and the local council were paranoid about the hearing of their young people so they set a ludicrous sound limit, which our camp think was wrongly calibrated to begin with, basing it on industrial noise. This limiting is happening in some places round the world and I remember reading about this in Rod's diaries before, but this is a different level of officiousness and may have affected the enjoyment of the show for some, especially those towards the back. Every band during the whole day had to just deal with this BS but of course most of them did not have the size of crowd as Maiden had on the night so the distance that decent sound levels had to travel was much greater in this case. There were no delay towers. You have to wonder what the world is coming to when the city fathers want to interfere in the pleasure of thousands of their constituency for the sake of a few dB which the rest of the planet is happy with. If I was a rock fan in Brisbane I would have to move to Sydney where, as below, the council was far more rational, less paranoid and CALIBRATE CORRECTLY! But despite this the reviewers certainly enjoyed the show as you can see below
Brisbane Times | Faster Louder | The Vine
After the last song, the band and VERY pissed off management piled into waiting cars back to the airport so we could make it back at a decent hour so the guys could rest and give it their all the next day. Rod was in a particular rush to get back to our Sydney hotel because the rugby game was being broadcast live from the UK which started around 2am. Apparently it's a big game, I'm American so I know little about the sport, England vs France and I guess England won since word quickly shot around our camp that Rod was in a good mood the following day despite the events in Brisbane!! Safe to walk the streets again.
Of course the Killer Krew stayed behind to pack, load, fly and set up in Sydney the next day. Note to fans, if you see the Krew out and about, make sure to give them a shout out. They were all also in good spirits considering they've been in the hot sun all day working.
In the morning it was a rush to get as much done before we had to be at the festival site to get situated. EMI were presenting the band with a very special sales award for career sales of over a million albums just in Australia, a rarity according to EMI Chairman Mark Poston. I met with Emma from EMI and help coordinate getting 14 of them together and ready, which is never easy, for the group photo. EMI are a great bunch. The thing I noticed about the Australian fans and people in general is that they are REALLY polite and friendly.
After everything in the back was taken care of, I quickly ran to the pit to help Zeb with photographers and get a glimpse of the punters up front. Wow! The fans were really psyched! I guess I would be too, waiting all day holding my spot near the stage and Maiden were about to go on. The crowd was one of the best so far. A sea of kids screaming at the top of their lungs as the band hit the stage.
Again there was a dB limit here but it was a good few dB higher than Brisbane and caused Doug our sound guy no problem at all with the result that the place ROCKED. Eddie was fully recovered from his embarrassment, the crowd were great, the band had really good sound on stage, this was the real thing. A massive relief after the night before.
After the encore, we piled into our cars and it was back to the hotel. I hadn't eaten dinner yet so I went to The Pancake On The Rocks for some blueberry pancakes and ice cream (keeping healthy is important when touring) and after called into the bar across from the hotel where Rod, Janick, Bruce, Nicko and Gaddsy were. The bar was also packed with very fit, tough looking young guys, many of whom were asking for autographs and photos with the band. I was NOT going to jump in and try and fend these lads off and it's a good thing too. I found out that they were Cage Fighters and that there had been a big tournament in town that day so they were all celebrating or drowning their sorrows -- you could usually tell which from the marks on the faces!! They were a very polite and friendly bunch of people and fortunately it appeared that no grudges had been carried out of the Cage!!
We have a few non-show days until Melbourne on the 4th for Soundwave show number three, so talk to you in a few days.
Bonus shots on Page 2!