09 Feb 2007 - Rod: 30,000 feet over the Atlantic

Hello again – sorry its been such a while but with Christmas and New Year, getting very  busy in new year setting things up for March and June, getting new offices together, catching up with personal stuff built up whilst mainly away on tour for 3 months……yes, any old excuse will do. Could be laziness and needing a break. I am not a writer after all and its sometimes tough to make yourself sit down and take time to do this sort of thing if you are not a natural . A bit like homework l guess – you know you have to do it but it’s a bit of an effort but when you get down to it sometimes it can be fun!!.Or not!!. But anyway l am stuck on the plane for 9 hours so lets make use of the time and get this up to date to the end of this tour. At least l take my responsibilities and promises seriously even if a bit out of synch. After that I get a break until march when we set off for Dubai

Picking it up from the last one at Manchester Airport lets deal with the important things first:

1) I did say not to MENTION THE CRICKET and the Test series as we all know was a disaster but at least we won a couple of one day games late on and have this next weeks 3 games to redeem ourselves in the one day finals. But it is against OZ so we will probably get hammered some more – but you never know. As a Yorkshireman it was satisfying that Michael Vaughn returned as captain for the 2 of the matches we won but he is injured again. You have to feel for Freddie Flintoff - magnificent player but he has had l think a pretty tough time on this tour – it really is tough to be an all rounder with major contributions to make with bat and ball and to also be the captain, just ask Botham. I was fortunate to have a number of beers with Freddie just before they went off Ashes hunting and he is great company and very down to earth just as he is portrayed in the press – and he can hold his beer better than most!! He deserved better but l am sure he still enjoyed it.

LATE PRESS – 7.45 am Barbados and we just beat Aussies in first day final. Great effort esp. from Collingwood. This will make our team feel a whole lot better.

2) WE WON AT RUGBY. Now cricket is hugely important but rugby really is a matter of life and death. (yes , I know , sorry!!)  England have a team again by the looks of it. I went to Twickenham (of course) for the game against Scotland and the atmosphere was electric. Even if you are not a rugby fan check out the game against Ireland in Dublin on BBC on Feb 24. Huge match and should be a fantastic game. We should beat Italy easily this Sat but l will have to watch it at Surfside bar on the beach. Not the same somehow but who is complaining.

As you will see from the heading I am on a jumbo which is over the Atlantic on the way to Barbados. Three of my kids – Tom, Ben and Laura – are off skiing with the school so Kathy is taking Jake away for a few days whilst I slope off for a bit of (well deserved?) R and R. We had Christmas at home and as you can guess you don’t get much of a break over xmas as its just full on esp. with 4 kids three of whom are teenagers!! The intention is to play golf every day for 6 days and get rowdy in the evening. Easy the last bit – have had plenty of practice on the road! I’m going with a couple of mates and know other people out there so a typical boys time out. Sport and beer. Lovely! I have a terrific wife to let me get away with this don’t you think – or maybe she just wants to get me out of the way again!!

Anyway back to the point. I finally got home from Manchester although it would have been quicker getting back from NY. The shows in Glasgow, Newcastle and Sheffield all were sold out and all went really well according to the band. I didn’t go as l was catching up with other stuff and didn’t really need to be everywhere on the UK tour. So to Earls Court.

As most of you will know we have played on two separate occasions both selling out at about 17,000 but we haven’t played two together so it was a great feeling this time round. Quite big stuff really. First one was already sold out and the second we ended up with about 15,000 so about 32,000 fans over the 2 nights. Bloody great!!! We got the massive hoardings outside with Eddie on and it looked superb. Our promoters had them kept up over chistmas too so that whole period anyone walking past EC would see Eddie and our logo massive across the venue. Very cool!! Take a bow Andy Copping.

Any of you who were there or if you have seen reviews will know about the power break. We were exactly half way through AMOLAD having just played Longest Day when the backline and PA went off. I was on the mixing desk as usual but when Dougie told me it was a house power problem I hurried backstage as quick as I could. Right by the stage I was shown this massive house power cable – must have been about 6-8 inches (no metric here) thick – and it had blown. It supplied power to the backline and PA and monitors so not a squeak coming from anywhere on stage. Fortunately we still had lights so the band could be seen!!! I was told it would take 10-15 min approx to fix – by now we had already been unable to play for 5 min or so. Of course most of the band stayed on stage – they always do if something goes wrong. Bruce made every madcap effort to entertain everyone and Steve and Nicko had a cup of tea and a chat sat at the front of the drum riser. I went up on stage to tell them what was going on and made finger signs to Bruce - who was on one of the side platforms fooling around -  to show how long it would take and made the sign clear so the audience could see too so some would know it wouldn’t be too long so no need to get restless or go to the bar!! Bruce came over and asked me to find a megaphone so he could at least be heard (probably doing the William Tell Overture on his cheeks which he has done in times of technical crisis before) which we did. Bruce took it to front of platforms and started yelling but that bloody thing didn’t work either. After we had been stopped for about 20 min they got it fixed and the band just continued as if nothing had happened. And so amazingly did the audience. We rarely have gear malfunction at our shows as we have a top notch crew who really know what they are doing, and if we do its usually the fault of the venue mainly with power. Yes we do use a lot of power but they should all know that by now and there is no excuse for a generator going as happened say in Switzerland on the ‘05 tour. In this case a whole cable blew which is the venues responsiblity but these thing can happen. I was pretty angry though and we did extract our pound of flesh for the embarrassment of having to stand in front of 17000 people for 20 min with no sound. Most bands would have gone off but Maiden never ever do that unless something really is insoluble – which it never is, there is always a way – and we never have. But anyway I think many fans think it sort of adds to the occasion when things go wrong like this as long as they are right in the end. It makes it different, somehow special. Something else to talk about and be there for, if you see what I mean. We so rarely have problems it becomes a bit of an event , especially at a big show like this. For christ’s sake it was the first London show with a full house and all the media there and we had to stand on stage with nothing happening. Hardly ideal!! But you don’t see it too often and it’s a bit like going to motor racing subliminally hoping for a crash!!!

Anyway the show went well and actually the great majority of  the reviews l saw were very good indeed which makes a change with the national press who really generally don’t get IM at all. Maybe they are starting to – l don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. It goes without saying the audience were terrific so if you were there thanks from me and the band for the good humour and patience when the sound went down.

After the show hung around for a while with a bunch of friends in the hospitality area – a lot of my rugby mates came along with families, always  good to see them – then went back to the hotel with some other friends who were also staying there. Kathy’s cousin Chris is in the RAF and he and his colleagues took Bruce and I over the North Sea last year to see a refuelling exercise where they refuelled Phantom jets (appropriate I think) It was an unforgettable experience – maybe I should put some footage on the website… Anyway Chris came down with a few of the others including Ian the Air Commodore – yes seriously, a real VIP- who was a terrific guy and a genuine music fan. They were staying there too and so were the Trivium lads and Lauren and her band. So it was quite a night in the bar!!!!

The following day I went to do a bit of Christmas shopping and to get Davey a present as it was his birthday that day. Got him the DVD of Planet Earth – you should check it out, its beautifully done and I know Dave really enjoys this type of thing.

The gig was terrific again. I had a bus load of family and friends up from Brighton for the show and spent a lot of time making sure that certain people who shall remain nameless here didn’t get their sweaty mitts on too much beer as they are  not old enough. Yes its true, hypocricy really is my middle name

Show went really well – it crossed my mind that this was the first Euro show not to be completely sold out, 27 straight sell outs to about 32,0000 fans leading up to this one. And the band did it the hard way playing all the album. In retrospect I do think this was not only a brave thing to do but also the right thing to do and I think we got a lot of respect for having the courage – plus of course the sheer musicianship - to pull this off. Some called it arrogance and self indulgence, others called it balls and attitude – I concur with the latter. It is a fabulous album and l do think this tour portrayed a different aspect of the band – and I love the tank!!!

After the gig we celebrated Dave’s birthday with his family and friends and had a few beers in hospitality and continued the party on the bus back to Brighton with a definite warm but tired glow of job well done!!!

So thanks to all you guys for being very much a part of what I really do personally believe was our best European Tour ever in every way.

 - Rod

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