30 Sep 1999 - Johnny B - Madrid
We arrived at the venue, an indoor Bullring with great expectations. It was a massive venue. The gig had already been switched from it's original venue as Maiden had sold out the concert 3 weeks before the gig date. With so many people desperate to see them it made sense to switch to a larger venue and this was large. Well it seemed that way when it was empty. We arrived at Madrid airport early afternoon and after quickly dumping our bags at the hotel we came straight to the venue. Good job we did as Steve found out that nothing was on time. The Bullring was a great venue for a concert but trying to get phone lines for the internet etc was fraught with difficulty. Also the Spanish phone lines can FRY your modems so be careful. They carry a much higher current than our system and even though you get online the connection can damage the sensitive wiring in your modem. However ..... I had Captain Jim Silvia to the rescue. He had his modem fried in Spain on his previous trip and did not want to repeat the nightmare so he bought a little gadget called a 'Road Warrior'. (check them out at www.warrior.com ... aren't I good to you !) This little darling plugs into the phone socket and gives out a reading like a traffic light. Green means good, go ahead and connect in safety. Yellow means use an adapter or there will be trouble and red means 'Frying tonight'.
I plugged in and 'Warrior' went to red immediately. After trying many different combinations of adapters, plugs and wiring adaptors I finally get a green. I log on and .... it cuts off. I log on again .... and it cuts off. I spend 45 minutes trying to fathom out what on earth is going on. Eventually after many conversations with venue staff in broken English I find out that they have no idea what is happening. By sheer fluke I hear the production office phone ring and .... my modem cuts off. It seems to 'save time', the national pastime, they have run my modem line to the band area off the same junction as the production phone. As a result every time someone picks up the production phone it has priority and cuts my line off. Another wait and eventually at 6pm I have a separate line.
I go for something to eat and on the way out to see the crowd I bump into Heidi, the band's wardrobe lady. She reluctantly agrees to do a quick indent about the venue. The amazing thing was a 6pm the Spanish were only just finishing the stage area which meant the crew were still waiting to set the stage for the concert. Tempers were fraught. At 7pm, a good half hour after the doors were due to open the crew were still working on the stage set and the lighting and sound techs were just getting set up. Pandemonium.
I went off to film the crowd waiting outside. The crowd was singing already and when I walked up with the video camera I nearly started a riot. Whoops ! The security guards were unaware of the crowd reaction to the camera. They spotted the camera and suddenly started chanting and bouncing. The pushed forward and knocked over 3 barriers. This was outside and even before they were let in .... it was gonna be a massive gig.
I went back up to the check on the uploads when I hear a call on the walkie talkies for me to go to the stage. I rush down with the camera and witness an amazing sight. Sitting on the stage is Dickie Bell and Steve Cox enthralled at the site in front of them.
The venue is letting the crowd in ...... through one entrance. They are pouring in like ants trying to escape rain. The view through the entrance is amazing. As far as the eye can see there are Maiden fans, bouncing, singing, chanting as they come through the doors. I finish videoing the sight and go off to film the secret underground operating theatres where the matadors and toreadors are taken if they get gouged by a rampaging bull.
The concert was intense. They venue crammed over 19,000 screaming fans into the gig and they were up for it. Boy were they up for it. Bruce was in great form as he climbed high on the stage like a trapeze artist. Every time you thought he was as high as he would g