27 Sep 1999 - Johnny B - UK
We arrived in Luton in pouring rain ...... typical really. I haven't seen hardly a spatter of rain and we get near Blighty and it is pouring. We land with not much time to spare for the two intrepid band members who are rushing to get to the award ceremony for Rod. Within minutes of landing they have been rushed to customs and out to the waiting cars. Nicko is rushing home first before he goes to the ceremony. Bruce is rushing to try and get to a party that they are holding for his son who's birthday is the following day. Unfortunately the bane of nearly every UK residents life, at least once, the infamous M25 struck again. In spite of being able to get from Stuttgart to Luton in less than 3 hours it took Bruce nearly two to get from Luton to his home.
Next morning Jim and myself couldn't wait to get to the airport and on our way to warm climes. However the next curve ball was about to be slung at us. Nicko and Bruce had made the award ceremony and Rod was really made up. He was gobsmacked that they had put in so much effort to come and share his triumph. Rod received his award and the two 'adventurers' made their speeches in his honour. What Rod has achieved personally and with this band should be shouted from the highest mountain. He is a real credit to the managers association. Nicko and Bruce were so proud of him. Their pride being matched by Rod's for the band. A good night was had by all. Next morning Nicko made his way back to Luton. Jim and myself arrived early to file flight plans, refuel the aircraft and generally make sure we would be able to leave as soon as everyone arrived. However disaster struck again. Bruce's car was delayed getting to him and consequently he left home late. He then hit the same M25 problem he hit the night before..... backed up traffic and tailbacks you have nightmares about. As a consequence he arrived at the airport very late and we had missed our 'opening' to take off. The second 'opening' also came and went. I had to phone Steve Cox in Milan and tell him the drummer and singer could be a tad late. I could hear him palpitating down the phone. With a somewhat calm Bruce with us and loaded onboard we finally got clearance to take off at 3.30 pm UK time which is 4.30pm in Milan ..... the time we should be landing.
The flight was amazing. As we flew over the mountains we could actually see solid glaciers and icepacks. Eventually we arrived at Milan airport. The panic was already on as the time was now 8pm in Milan and the band were meant to be on stage at 9.15pm. We still had to get to the gig. Outside the airport the roads were chocker. Everybody and his mother was driving about and not exactly calmly either. Stevey Cox had somehow (and what a great idea) managed to organise a Police escort to the gig. So for the next thirty minutes it was 'follow that car driver ..... and don't lose it!' We arrived at 8.30pm only 45 minutes before gig time. The band had had to put back the 'Meet and Greet' with the fans that was due to take place before the show ..... until after the show. The venue was magnificent. Not only was there the maiden gig going on but ..... five-a side football, a basketball match, ice skating demonstration and squash matches. The venue was so massive that all these things were going on at once without affecting any of the others. Blinding!
The band went on stage near enough on time. The crowd were absolutely outstanding. I am running out of superlatives on this tour but honest guv .... they just keep getting better. There was a massive crowd there and they were really, really up for it. 'Fear of the Dark' and 'Run For The Hills' were spine tingling. Bruce had some grief halfway through the show with some moronic w**ker in the crowd but .... I'll be arsed if I will give him any publicity on the web. He knows who he is and if Bruce or the band ever get near him .... they'll feed him alive and feet first to Eddie. They were REALLY pissed. However the rest of the 12,000 crowd were brilliant. They were noisy, appreciative, energetic, and really ..... well manic