15 Mar 2007 - Rod in Belgrade

LONDON near HEATHROW 8am THURS MAR 15

So Monday and Tuesday had a couple of quiet days in Athens before heading off to Belgrade. Spent both days doing little but work in the room with a trip to the gym. Quite a bit to catch up on so it's a good opportunity. I have been to Athens a few times with Maiden so have visited the Acropolis about 3 times -- well worth it as it really is something special. In 99 l brought my 2 eldest sons Tom and Ben who were about 7 and 8 at the time and we not only toured the Acropolis but also Socrates cave (where he took the hemlock) and Poseidon's Temple which is about an hours drive out of the city. We also went to the original Olympic Stadium and the boys ran round the ancient track. Athens really is a very interesting place to visit particularly of course from a historical viewpoint.

On Monday evening the EMI Greece team  took us out to dinner and a local Greek (of course) restaurant -- so thank you Margarita, Ieonidas and all your colleagues. Great food. We sampled pretty well the whole menu and it was all terrific. A few glasses of wine too plus the obligatory Reiki at the end -- hope l spelt it right. Good for the digestion they say but prob not so good for the liver!! Bruce and H weren't there as they had gone back to the UK. Bruce of course is flying out Bruce Air with a load of fans to Belgrade.

Jan and myself went to the bar after and l had an interesting chat with the presidents of the Croatia and Polish fan clubs. They knew exactly when we last played Belgrade but l have forgotten -- blame the Reiki!! Of course had to promise them both that we would make it to Poland and Croatia next time round so l do hope l can deliver. The band are keen to play both so here's hoping! (later found out last time in Belgrade was Somewhere On Tour in 1986!! Of course it was then Yugoslavia so a lot has changed for the region and the city but really not that much for us. Even a few of the songs may be the same!!)

Tues evening an overdue "quiet night". Got slingbox out again and watched a lot of the opening cricket World Cup game West Indies v Pakistan -- good win for Windies. Also tuned in to latest episode of Life on Mars 9pm gmt BBC1.  Excellent series. My father was a policeman so it brings back a lot of memories of how the police were in the 60s and 70s. Very different from now. Yes the CID really were as depicted in this!!! Fags hanging out of their mouths a lot of the time and beers where poss! Read a bit too and tried to sleep but l think someone must have put speed in my spag bol from room service. Just couldn't, mind whirring, kept putting the lights on to make notes. Last thing l remember it was 5.15am then Gaddsy calling at 7.15 with wake up call to leave hotel at 7.45. Off to airport and 90min flight to Belgrade checking into day rooms at a hotel. A load of fans at airport to greet us. At hotel caught up with emails, had cat nap then off to gig at 7.

As we approached the massive Belgrade Fair venue l was surprised by just how many buses and coaches there way on the way in, out and around the place. I knew that fans were coming along from all over the Balkans and surrounding countries but just didn't realise the sheer numbers of them. And from so many diverse locations.

Something Maiden love is playing to big multi national audiences, a huge melting pot of cultures all brought together under Metal's (or Eddie's) banner. To play Dubai and then Belgrade, considering the recent and current histories of these regions, and to have in attendance so many different nationalities and cultures from those regions and much farther afield was really inspiring. As Bruce said onstage at Dubai, we are all human race. Wouldn't call us hippes by any stretch -- well not the band anyway -- but there is a lot of peace and love within the Maiden community of fans and they understand this. And it was well illustrated at these two shows. Shame we cant get more of the human race into this way of thinking. Enough of the schmalz, on with the show!!

And what a cracker. 20,000 fans crammed into a very good venue. We played this same place in 84 and 86 but its been refurbished since. And were they LOUD. I am running out of superlatives. As l said about Athens, they were as good or better than the best. And this was just a stage further, perhaps as we haven't been here for so very long and perhaps because of the feeling of camaraderie of the different elements in the audience coming together under this banner. Whatever it was though it was BLOODY LOUD. I didn't even try to get back to the mixing desk where l always go -- just too packed, couldn't make it. The place looked rammed about an hour before the concert started yet must have been about 3000 still outside.

The opening chords of Doctor Doctor started the madness and it was unrelenting. A great show for the Bruce Air gang to experience. They will never see this in the "west" -- bloody Elf'n'Safety would never allow so many people in such a confined space to have so much fun and behave with such abandon!!! Must have been 16,000 on the floor alone, a heaving mass of ecstatic fans jumping up and down, pumping the air and singing every world loud as f***!!! This sort of atmosphere almost brings tears to my eyes, though that may be the smoke! You can imagine FoD. We cannot leave it another 21 years before we return to Belgrade. And to all of you who were there thanks for making it a very memorable night for the band and l.

We headed straight off stage to go our different ways, escorted by the police to help us get out before the traffic got too crazy. Bruce went back to hotel to get his head down a few hours before flying his gang back to London Gatwick at about 8 in the morning (he even has signed certificates for his BruceAir mates now, he really does enjoy these trips. It's a good job he has vast hidden reserves of energy though!!) Jan and Steve went back to hotel to wait for a 4am call to go to airport and fly to Frankfurt, lay over 4 hours then fly to Bangalore with the crew. They must love our crew to do this. Imagine -- 4 hours in the early hours stuck in an airport with Dick Bell. Help!!! But Steve said it was the easiest route to get to India

Davey, Nick, H and l disagreed. We went straight to airport, jumped on plane, drank and chatted for a couple of hours on flight, off at Luton, 50 min drive to hotel nr Heathrow, in bed by 2am and a good kip before getting 13.30 flight BA to Bangalore. Must say this tour is not the best routing Dubai -- Athens -- Belgrade -- Bangalore and the travel is long and quite tough but we really wanted to get back to Athens and Belgrade and you find somewhere to play between Dubai and India!!! Afghanistan maybe -- well , one day no doubt we will get there too!!!

Time for a shower and leave -- more from india. We are really looking forward to next 2 days!!!

- Rod

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