Hello again and sorry about a late diary but it's been a bit frantic as you probably can tell. I am back on diary duty for this tour as, due to the different nature and requirements of a European Tour and the fact that we will be doing a lot less media than we do visiting new places around the globe, Todd is not with us for this. I thought he did a very good job with the diaries earlier this year and it was great to have a fresh approach and he will of course continue working with us in America. Thanks for a great job, Todd
Of course the Round The World tour was as spectacular as ever and when John McMurtrie's book of photos from this and the Somewhere Back In Time tour comes out you will get even more access pictorially. We took a few extra days off this time, so, although the tour was the longest Ed Force One jaunt so far, the guys had a bit more time to get over jet lag and see more of the places we visited, or, for Nicko, to play more golf!! This was appreciated too by our Killer Krew who actually got a few days off and the band threw a couple of parties for them.
I should mention here a major event at the end of that tour section. The very Right Hon Dick Bell, esq and production manager extraordinaire, retired -- for the third time - but sadly l think this may actually be the last and he really is gone. He set up this tour and came on the first part of the Round The World Tour including going ahead from Moscow to Jakarta to sort out the local production which allowed us to go and do the show. Dick has been with us permanently since his first trip to Australia in 1982 and has been, besides an outstanding Production Manager dealing with all aspect of crew and hardware on the road and all physical aspects of rehearsals and recording off the road, a great guy to have around, with - as you will have seen from Flight 666 - a very eccentric sense of humour and fun. The crew were entertained by his antics -- BUT were always fully on the ball and loyal to the Maiden cause. In short he was a terrific crew leader and top man to have around. Give him enough red wine and he would happily jump off tables in Japan making a plane sound and pretending to be a Zero fighter. Yes, that and many other madcap, wine-fuelled escapades actually did occur, most I cannot repeat. The band, who he always referred to as "the musos" had an immense respect and affection for him. Sounds more like an obituary doesn't it -- don't anyone show this to him though, he would hate a kind word said about him, the old git! (it is not true that he is 78 though) We are however very pleased with our new production manager, Patrick, who Dick chose. He may not have Dick's mad streak, few have thankfully!, but he is doing a terrific job for us. And otherwise our Killer Krew is still pretty much the same as it has been for quite a few years now, so the family atmosphere of our tours continues unabated.
We took a few weeks R and R after finishing in Florida (or at least the band did!) -- IMTV will be up soon on the USA part, sorry about the delays but Andy Matthews has been very busy on a special project for us along with doing screens at the shows and there are only so many hours in a day so bear with him -- it will all be there in time. We will miss out the last South America IMTV for now but it will come later when the content doesn't give too much away!
So to the start of Europe. After a week's rehearsal the first show was in Frankfurt -- it was the first opening date of a Maiden tour that I have EVER missed in 32 years! However it was my daughter's 18th birthday party that night so of course I had to be there. And it was a terrific night -- and time flies. Similarly to our extensive UK tour, we thought it was time we went out to the fans rather than expect them to come to us at festivals or stadiums, so we elected to play 6 large Arena shows spread throughout Germany making this the most far-reaching tour Maiden has done for a very long time in that country. We must have got something right as tickets flew and every ticket was gone way in advance, except a few production holds.
Let me explain production holds -- when we book a venue with the promoter, seats are held back while the production sightlines are worked out. We try to accommodate as many fans as possible but we also want them to see at least most of the stage! (note that restricted view tickets are always marked as that or sides or similar). A few weeks out, based on final show configuration and experience of that show in earlier tour arenas, some of these production holds may be released, just as we did last week for the UK. They may be side seats or they may be seats in the main part of the arena, depending what was held. Also if the Front of House, as we call it, or the mixing desk platform, can be reduced in size or height, more standing tickets may be released. Then on the day once the whole production is in the venue, the production manager will "walk " the arena and sides checking sightlines to see if more tickets can be released, which is why at most shows there will be some tickets made available usually around mid-afternoon on the day of the show. Also some other holds for my business guests or band friends and family may be released too if not needed on that day. I hope this helps. This does not just apply to Maiden but to most tours depending how efficient that band's team is about getting all the tickets available to the fans.
The German shows went incredibly well with the band starting out on top form. It was only a few weeks since Florida and they had rehearsed a few days to warm up again and it was the same set as earlier (cos we like it!) so we didn't need five or six shows to get it all gelled musically. And the audiences were terrific!!
I particularly enjoyed Berlin, always loved that city. I first went there in about 1970 with the Cambridge University European Society (though l was not a member!) and we got taken everywhere including visiting the mayors (there were then 8 in Berlin) and the Schultteiss Brewery -- I preferred the latter, and radio and TV stations. These media generators could cover two thirds of East Germany (of course the Wall was very much present then) and churned out the most outrageous pro Western Propaganda -- as you do!
I especially enjoyed visiting East Berlin for lunch most days going through Checkpoint Charlie by the Brandenburg Gate on Friedrichstrasse. To go through Checkpoint Charlie you had to change 5 DM West German currency for 5 DM East German -- 5DM in West Berlin bought you a plate of Spaghetti Bol and a coffee, 5DM in East Berlin got you a 3 course meal, a few beers, a packet of fags and a couple of souvenirs!!
Also I vividly recalled the ruins along the wall where the line of the wall did not follow the agreed boundary as walls have to be somewhat straight even if "zig zagging" so on the West side there was East land which could not be touched hence the ruins remained. This was the same over the U-Bahn (underground) station that surprisingly connected to East Berlin apparently bringing in some workers from east to west -- again the land around the station remained East German property hence ruins. Over the Wall was also the first time I went anywhere with no advertising and garish neon lighting, which made it drab but highly emotive, like "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" and other black and white movies -- we of course saw similar in 1985 when Maiden toured behind the Iron Curtain and it was the same in Cuba where we did our charity bike ride earlier this year -- natural buildings without Capitalism splashed all over them in huge letters! It would be nice to get more of a balance and hold back the corporate a bit I think
This has of course all changed and Berlin is a magnificent city full of action. I do feel a bit for Germany though, after years of giving massive financial support for the former East Germany they now have to lead the rescue of parts of southern Europe. They must feel it will never end but most appear to deal with it very responsibly.
There ends the first diary, more to come soon from Holland, Warsaw and Prague.