28 Jun 2011 - Rod's Diary - Holland & the Festivals

And so after a very successful full Arena tour of Germany, our first so extensive in many years. It was off to  Holland. This was the first time we have played the Gelredome in Arnhem. It is basically an indoor football pitch with bleacher style seats around the perimeter. This works well for us as there were about 14,000 on the floor with over 10,000 more in the bleachers and it looked fantastic even though it's a very wide hall. The sound was surprisingly good too in a venue with steel girder frameworks in the roof.

A big area packed with fans standing in front of the stage always drives the band on to greater heights, especially if the fans are loud and reactive. Obviously at festivals everyone is on the ground and so it works well, though we are finding at some festivals the barriers are getting ludicrously far from the stage which the band hates, they like to be as close to the fans as possible. This is one of the reasons we have the three thrusts at the front of the stage for the guys to walk out on in front of their monitors. By doing this we can put the PA bins which provide for the front audience in the two gaps between the thrusts which effectively means that the band are closer to the audience as otherwise the PA would be in front of the stage adding to the distance needed for security purposes to get any fans over the front barrier.

Elf n Safety is a continual problem nowadays with a load of nannies coming up with ever-increasing overweening rules to protect people who don't want or need to be protected to such a ludicrous extent. Maiden and Krew are not going to allow any possibility of harm coming to any fans if they have means to prevent it. Many safety applications are of course beneficial but in some places now the nanny state - wherever it may be, and it is getting widespread believe me  -- allows less and less people standing in an arena, less and less volume and more and more distance form stage to barrier. All these, especially when combined, have a serious detrimental effect on the atmosphere of the show. The worst places I have ever seen are Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia -- in the former the amount of people allowed on the floor (even with side barriers added for no point at all) and the latter with its ridiculous sound limits and beer "pens". If any of this applies to your local venue you should write and complain to the venue and the council. We fight it all the time and bend around things as much as we can and any assistance is much appreciated or we will end up with 4000 on a football pitch sized floor,  twenty meters from the band at 80dB. Which would have as much atmosphere as a bridge club on a wet Wednesday in Hartlepool (I chose that as Janick is from there! No insult meant to you Hartlepudlians, except Jan.)

Shit, how did I get started on E'n'S again so soon. Maybe cos it drives me, the band and probably you fans mad where it is applied over-vigorously or stupidly. And anyway, going back to what I was talking about, this did not apply at all to Arnhem and Holland which was just fine. Sensible people and good promoters (thanks Rob) can remove many problems, though there was a lot of smoke in the air -- but then it was Holland!!! Made the lights look good but not great for Bruce's throat/voice!

Then off to our first 2 Sonispheres which are very well run affairs in our limited experience to date, having only played Sweden, the flagship one at Knebworth UK and the storm affected one in Finland all last year. We enjoy visiting both Warsaw and Prague  with their monumental histories and architecture and enthusiastic audiences, and of course our special relationship with Warsaw goes way back to our tour in 1985 when the Curtain was firmly in place. Believe me there have been a few changes since then. Both shows went really well, the band enjoying being outside again though there was a bit of rain to contend with at both. Typically when we played Warsaw it was a beautiful day in Prague and vice versa!! The fans did not appear to mind too much though, even if they noticed! Gotta love you guys, nothing ever fazes you!!

After Prague I went home for a bit as have a lot to do in the office and get a bit fed up of working in hotel rooms all day. Anyway the band are in safe hands now with Dickie gone! And no it had nothing to do with the Test Match v Sri Lanka, that was the week before and after!

Nickelsdorf was apparently huge, 55,000 and all mad for it -- we haven't played Austria for quite some time and have been trying to arrange this terrific festival for a long time too so it was welcome at last to be able to do both.

Sonispheres followed in Greece and Istanbul with -- as to be expected -- magnificent crowd support. Also as somewhat expected sadly the numbers in Greece at about 15,000 was less than hoped but maybe with the current tragic and dangerous economic and political situation there this hope was over-optimistic, but all those great fans who were there could forget their national woes at least for a few hours.

This is the first time we have played in Turkey with Bruce so was most certainly special for the fans who have been waiting almost forever. A total sell out and magic night, and l only wish l had gone . I love Istanbul having spent a week there with my family last year and of course Athens has always been a favourite. Always next time though.

Which brings us up to date as I write this -- I will also be missing Basel and Imola this weekend but will include news of those when I next write to you after the Paris shows, where I will be if only for the food and wine!!

Until then
Take care y'all

Rod Smallwood

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