12 Mar 2007 - Rod in Athens II

ATHENS MONDAY MAR 12 - 11am (9am GMT)

What a day -- although it started badly when Gaddsy called me to say the Irish Pub was closed so we couldn't watch England v France there. But from there on in it was just a fantastic day.

Had to watch the game on the slingbox again in my room but picture pretty good -- and what a game it was. And we won 26-18 and 2 great tries to zip. The "new" boys Rees, Strettle, Flood, Gerraghty did us proud. All very exciting and maybe we are back on track, will see in Wales next week. I was exchanging texts with my rugby mates there and the atmosphere was awesome -- must have been nearly as good as at the gig.

I know l had a tired moan about the behaviour of some of our fans yesterday being over the mark, but l have to tell you the massive majority of fans here really are the best, right up with Milan, Barcelona, South America and Quebec -- maybe even better if that's possible. We didn't have a Db meter but must have hit 115 if Milan was 113!!

I got to the hall straight after the rugby finished at about 7 and the hall was already packed to the rafters and you could feel the tangible excitement of the 10,000 SO crowd. The hall was built for the Olympics a few years back. It worked really well as the audience was right on top of the stage and very close. I don't know how they got so many people in there. Usually we have the music through the PA fairly low prior to showtime but as everyone was already in an hour before l had our guys make it louder to give everyone something to enjoy before Lauren. And when she and her band went on it was as good as a headline reaction in many places. I have to say she is going down really well at all the shows and there was even a Lauren Harris banner in the front!

When "Doctor Doctor" fired up the place went nuts jumping up and down and clapping, then into the intro all hell let loose. As l said before the album was No 1 here for 5 weeks and everyone seemed to know all the words to EVERY song in the set. I have also said before the better, noisier and more reactive an audience is the better the band as they really feed off the vibe and the energy. So from the word go the band was blistering. The nature of the building meant the sound was not technically perfect but it was great heavy metal sound -- loud and with drums and vocals very clear. I wont go into it in more detail but you just imagine how loud the singing was on FoD and the Greater Good was majestic. This is the new Hallowed -- l can't imagine a future set without it. Breeg was also huge right up there with the Trooper. Beast shook the foundations. What a night. A few things l noted:

There was a big banner on the first circle saying MAIDEN ATHENS then in smaller letter Philadelphia -- so hello to you guys from Athens USA style.

Bruce, who was in a great mood throughout, teased the audience by getting them to sing the first few lines of Alexander the Great which of course is a major favourite here and we get many requests to include it in our set. Maybe one day!!!

Its Steve's birthday today (12th) and Bruce had everyone sing happy birthday at the end -- there were a few banners out there wishing him happy birthday too. We wont mention ages of course!

Bruce announced Jan as the 6 million dollar man as he has his right knee strapped up with braces which inhibits his momvement. This was caused on the last tour by a fan pulling hard at his leg when he was sitting on the side legs dangling down. Its still not better. Smart move by some mindless moron.

When Bruce announced all the band members before the encores all got a great hand but when it came to Nicko almost everyone in the hall raised there arms and started jiggling their fingers and going "WHOOO". Now we have no idea what this signifies (if anyone knows perhaps they could tell us) but it was a lot of fun to see. Maybe they were just warding off evil -- or more likely the fumes of red wine!!

 A guy had his back to us at the mixing desk with shirt back "I am really an albatross salesman from Huddersfield" This reminded me of the very first American tours when people would come up to us and ask "are you an English rock band?" to which we would say "Yes". They would then of course ask which one (in case its Led Zep no doubt) and we would say Iron Maiden and they would give us a blank look and walk away. So l had shirts done with on the front NO WE ARE NOT AN ENGLISH ROCK BAND and on the back something stupid like WE ARE DENTAL FLOSS SALESMEN FROM MONTANA (ref the wonderful Zappa and "Moving to Montana soon.....gonna be a dental floss tycoon" -- check it out) . This albatross one did of course refer to the Powerslave tour and Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner -- and of course Huddersfield is in Yorkshire, Gods own country!!!

So thanks Athens -- you were truly magnificent!!!!! A memorable gig. We will return!!!!

After show runner to get back to hotel. Went to bar and it was a flashy one with disco music -- cant handle that. Tried downstairs bar til it closed, some of the guys went off to a pub. Didn't fancy that and sure as hell couldn't deal with the disco bar so went to bed and to read for a bit. New book "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera which was recommended by a friend. Tough going -- first page and a half referring to Nietzche took me half an hour to understand -- and still not sure if l do!

Have to say this was a very strange way to end a day of a massive England Rugby Union win and top notch Maiden show!!! Usually have to be poured into bed on a day like that.

Anyway no more now til after Belgrade on Wed. Take care.

- Rod

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