19 Nov 2006 - Rod: Stockholm II

STOCKHOLM NOV 19 1pm

Late setting off for Tempere last Sunday. There was a pile up on the M25 clockwise so Bruce, H and Jan all got caught up in it and were about an hour late. No big problem though as we obviously allow leeway in the schedule for unforeseen problems – lm sure the Fins in Tempere wouldn’t be too impressed if we missed the gig due to a traffic jam on the M25. other than being bored sat in traffic everyone in great spirits and ready for the last of the warm ups and into the real meat of the tour with the big arenas everywhere. Have to say l was getting pretty excited – this tour has always felt to me like it was going to be very very special. We flew in to Tempere for the show and then after quick showers headed off to the airport for Helsinki and two shows and three nights there then five nights in Stockholm.

It was a 6700 capacity ice hall and sold out in about an hour last Feb. we have never played here before so l think everyone was pleased to see us. The gig went ok – it wasn’t a great sounding hall but the smaller halls often aren’t as the ceilings in this type of hall are often low with metal beams so can be tough to get it right. Band not too happy with onstage sound so decided to do soundchecks both days in Helsinki. The sound is usually much better in the big arenas as due to the size and height of them there is less to negative effect on the sound. Also with the audience all round the sides of the hall and often very high up this helps too. I think in Aalborg and Tempere the fans were a bit miffed we aren’t doing Run to the Hills, Beast, Trooper etc as many wont have seen us as we haven’t visited there before. Of course in most of the other cities we have played four times in the last 5 years with 2 tours being sort of hits based for the summer so less to complain about as they get a regular fix of the old stuff but l do feel a bit for the fans in Aalborg and Tampere as of course they would like to hear those songs but you just cant please everyone sadly. This came through is some press reports – see later

This was also Trivium’s first gig. They are a very good band and excellent people so its good to have them out with us. They have a fine stage set up so it was disappointing that on the first show here they couldn’t use it as there was not room to get it on and off stage quickly enough but they will be fine in the bigger halls. You should all get in early enough to check them out. I met them a while ago when they came round to the Sanctuary office in NY xmas 04 and we had a number of beers and played the album about five times. We invited them on the tour sept 05 and confirmed it early 06 – we do try to get really good young bands to tour with us so as its added value for the fans at the gig and Trivium are doing really well with a recent top 10 album debut in the UK and good initial chart entries round Europe so it all makes for an even better night for everyone

Arrived in Helsinki about midnight , spent a bit of time in the bar . Met up with our agent John Jackson from K2 and Andy Taylor and Pete de Vroom, Maiden’s business team who were all over for a couple of days to go through a few things and also bumped into Kerry from Slayer – they were playing Helsinki the day before us and Tampere the day after with the Unholy Alliance package which is doing really well. Its always good to see the Slayer guys – of course we have done quite a few shows with them over the years.

The next day was off and l spent a lot of time going thru various things with Andy/Pete and also John, along with the usual stack of email but now l am on the Phantom server life is much better as online connctions are very quick as it doesn’t have to have the degree of firewalls the Sanctuary server had , which being a public company l suppose it needed, although hugely annoying at times as you guys who read the USA diary will know!! In the eveing the label took us all out for dinner and a good evening was had by all – thanks our friends at EMI Finland.

So to the Helsinki shows – full on from here on. Hartwall Arena holds about 11,600 and both nights sold out ages ago with extra production seats being released the last few days. It is always worth checking on tickets for sold out shows – and this applies to any band – near to the show date as once production is finalised and in there are often more tickets available. We also of course have a band allocation for family and friends and some of these are often released a few days before the show.

Both shows went really well. The soundchecks and the layout of the hall made for good onstage and outfront sound and Dougie did a great job – he is really nailing the new album now. The fans were of course terrific and the reviews also. One thing that always amuses me up here is the competitiveness of the Nordics – if you mention Norway in Sweden or Denmark in Finland they boo – but even when you mention Tempere in Helsinki or Aalborg in Denmark ie the same country – they boo too!!! I guess it’s a bit like London being booed in Newcastle but it always makes me smile

Before the first show EMI presented us with platinum discs for the new album – it went platinum in the first month the fastest we have ever done here. Finland is a fantastic metal market and we have always done really well here as have many metal bands. They also have a lot of great metal bands of their own. Visions of the Beast has been top 10 DVD here since it came out ages ago and often pops back up to no 1!

Kimmi Raikkonnen (l do hope l spelt this correctly) the brilliant Ferrari F1 driver came to the first show – like many Finns he is a Maiden/Metal fan. Bruce got talking to him and they arranged to go Go-karting the day of the second show. John Jackson was really pissed off as he is a major F1 fan but had to fly back to London that morning. Bruce came third behind Kimmi and his manager who is also a pretty mean racer but – and would you believe this – Bruce got the fastest lap time 0.4 secs ahead of Kimmi. Bloody typical – l guess Bruce is a lot more reckless, its in his nature as you have probably all guessed by now – but l must stress, not when he is flying so if you are ever on BruceAir you have nothing to worry about.!!!! Bruce said he was a terrific guy - l didn’t realise he was in the band lounge so didn’t get to meet him which is a drag. Though l love sport l am not a massive F1 fan but this guy is really starting to become a legend and is a great driver - Ferrari No 1 - that’s something.

So all in all l was very pleased with Helsinki. Everything is now working great, sound problems all sorted, show looks and sounds superb and the band are really starting to be on fire – and with an album as difficult as this it does take a bit of time!!! And l've been eating properly, getting out for a walk and getting some kip so feel a lot better - still fired up with tour adrenalin though!!

After the second show we flew straight off to Stockholm. Sweden is probably our most successful country anywhere – Maiden really are huge here and even a mainstream household name !! We even get followed by paparazzi which is pretty weird!! The first 2 shows at the 13,500 cap Globen (known locally as the golfball due to its spherical nature) sold out in a couple of hours.. a few days late we added a third show which also sold out in a couple of hours – and we couldnt fit any more dates in!!! also as you probably know Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg sold out 55,000 last year in two and a half hours. So pressure – just a bit!!!! Expectation is so immense here. More later, and there is an awful lot to talk about!! I am on my way to the Irish Pub – The Dubliner, so no cliché there then – to watch Ireland v Australia rugby on their big screen and hopefully to get some fish and chips. Will try to do some more later depending on intake of John Smiths Yorkshire bitter...

One last thing, talking proudly about my home county in northern England – a mate sent me a link to a very funny sketch on Yorkshire Airways so if you want a laugh here is the link – obviously there is absolutely no truth in it!! http://www.ftg.co.uk/simon/yorkshire
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