14 Jun 2007 - Rod catches up

BRIGHTON JUNE 14

As you know from my last diary l intended and expected to be in Ludwigshafen for the gig last Friday. A car was booked to pick me up at my London office to take me to the airport. When the time arrived and the car wasn't there l called to check to find that by a miscommunication it had gone to my flat instead. No problem l thought as the flat is a 10 min walk away so it won't take the car long. However this was not allowing for how bad traffic can be in the Covent Garden and Soho area. By the time it got to me -- taking 55 min to drive a 10 min walk!! - l was over an hour late in leaving and as traffic was so bad would probably have kept the band waiting about an hour and a half. It wasn't so important that l went so told the band to go without me rather than waiting around so long and having to rush at the other end. So l went back to Brighton. The show apparently went fine though.

In some ways this was good as l was due to leave for Donington the following morning at 9am and wouldn't have got back from Germany til about 2.30am -- not a great prep for a Donington weekend! So ended out having a quiet night in and up and ready in the morning. Mark, who was one of our drivers at Sanctuary and is now a Product Manager, had offered to drive so we were away by 9.30 with my son Jake, who is 10, and his friend Jacob in the back. Jake is a drummer/singer and Jacob is a guitarist and between them and other school friends they usually have a band on the go so they were very keen to check out some new bands. My other kids are grounded for the weekend to revise for exams -- normal annual school ones for Ben and Laura but important GCSEs for Tom. Kathy stayed home to crack the whip!!

Took about 3 hours to get there and the traffic wasn't too bad at all. Checked in at hotel then got to download at about 2pm. The main thing l wanted to see was Gallows at 3.50 -- we manage them at Raw Power in which l am a partner with their manager Craig Jennings. The kids went off to see some bands in the tents and then came along to see Gallows -- and their jaws dropped. I don't know if you guys are into punk but this band is incredible, the "real deal" as they say! I liked real punk but in the late 70s got fed up with how it was all commercialised so quickly to become what was essentially a load of pop bands once the Pistols were over. I never considered the Clash or the Stranglers to be really punk, just great bands who came along at that time and would have done well anytime. They had, and acquired, some punk attitudes of course but that doesn't mean they met what l would define as punk personally. The Gallows gig was electrifying and everyone's adrenalin was pumped up by the end. Even if you are not into punk it is worth checking out as the sheer energy is tremendous. I am not trying to sell you all this but this band is destined for something special.

After Gallows we went on to the main stage to catch the end of Machine Head and then all of Slayer -- and both were as strong as you would expect. MH are definitely having a very successful comeback which is good to see.
 l  saw a few people back stage then got ensconced in the Live Nation Hospitality area for a few beers. Its always a good ingredient of these festivals that you see lots of people and bands backstage that you haven't seen for a while -- especially the Americans as there are obviously loads over for this with the number of American bands on the bill. Metal is quite a close knit fraternity as even if you aren't touring with a band you will end out on a few festivals together. The kids were collecting autographs of course and were having a great time and all the bands they approached were so friendly to them.

Whilst l was in the bar (working of course!) Mark took the kids out towards the back of the crowd to see Marilyn Manson and the first part of Linkin Park before we headed back to the hotel a bit before the end to avoid the crowds. They didn't seem that impressed although they do like Linkin Park especially. They said the sound kept moving about but l guess it was because they were a long way back and the wind was blowing the sound and it wasn't loud enough. I do wonder if there is enough PA at the back. Can't help but wonder what it was like back there for Maiden.

Back at the hotel l got the kids to bed and then went to the bar for what was intended to be a short time but as tends to happen you end out meeting up with friends and acquaintances there and it all goes a bit wrong! Eventually got to bed at about 3 and up the next morning about 9.30 feeling a bit dodgy. A good breakfast with the kids helped then about 11 we headed back to the site to see Parikrama -- or so l thought. You know when you have something on your mind you are so sure of you don't even check it. Well l was sure that Download started at 12 and Parikrama was on at 12. I had been carrying around a list of bands and times for 24 hours but had not even glanced at the Parikrama onstage time as it was so ingrained. Stupid or what ......they were on at 11. I found out when l called Dave P just outside the site at about 11.30 to say l was there -- he told me they had just come off. As you know after l saw them in Bangalore l invited to open Download for us if they could make it over -- and they did. And l missed them!! Apparently it went very well for them with a warm response from the crowd and Dave said they played really well. This is such a good festival band l am really sorry to have missed them. Dave arranged some other shows for them and of course l will see them at Brixton on the 24th. Such a great bunch of guys too and so excited at being over here and playing.

Mark went off with the kids to check out some bands in the tents whilst l went to check out our production office and dressing room area. Met with Dave P to go through the different recording and filming scenarios one last time. Dave coordinates all this and there was a lot going on.

We agreed a webcast live as a one off view which l think went very well. I saw other bands on it in the afternoon and the quality of picture and sound was very good. l didn't see us of course but heard it was good with a massive boost of viewers from all over the world when we went on. I am waiting for a breakdown from LiveNation of the numbers in the different territories around the world. I do know that a lot of Parikrama's friends in India were watching them! We thought hard about this when LiveNation asked us to do it -- LiveNation felt if we did it most of the other bands would follow suit which they did. Our first consideration was quality but we have known Mike Kaufman, who runs the visual side for LiveNation, for many years since his days at EMI and knew we could trust his word. We were happy with the arrangements so went ahead as we thought it was a cool thing for fans round the world to catch some of this. The max at any one time could only be 30,000 due to the size of the "pipe" but l think it was worth it and we have heard that many people enjoyed it. This wont be a regular feature though -- just that Donington/Maiden is a bit of a special relationship.

C4 were also recording for a special this weekend -- we had approval and choice of songs and due to the length of the programme its just 2 songs (normally a headliner can be 3 but our songs are rather longer than normal!) as they try to cover a bit of as many bands as possible. We chose Breeg and Fear of the Dark and both sounded fantastic and very exciting so check it out over the weekend.

Also of course there is filming for the screens. We try to have Dave P at as many shows as we can where there are screens to he can help in the editing suite by cueing in the solos which would confuse many people as they move around so much between the 3 guitarists. We do like to get the screens as exciting as possible and really try to cover the guys so if you are at a gig where they keep missing the cues you know Dave is not there.

We were also doing a bit of filming ourselves to add to that filmed by Download etc. We may use this for a DVD at some time but we have to check it all out and it won't be for a while if we do. Radio One were also recording and we chose 2 songs for them to use. We had Kevin Shirley, who is currently in London working, up for the show to coordinate the sound.

As usual on tour we weren't doing any interviews except a short bit Davey did with Fender for their inhouse stuff. However plans don't always go to plan. Steve had come up with his family for the Saturday too to check out some of the bands and was actually staying on site in a camper van -- yes he does daft things like that. So he was around a lot and of course journos approach him for a quick word and if he had time, which he generally would here, Steve being Steve would oblige. A bit of a problem from my end as it pisses off people who I told we were not doing interviews -- which we weren't. So on the NME website you have them highlighting "an exclusive interview" with Steve Harris -- and we would never give anything exclusive to NME. But it's just what happens.

Bruce was also up on the Saturday evening doing interviews for his radio show and was back on site mid afternoon to continue this on the Sunday. And looking very bleary eyed. He had got back to his (nearby and cheap) hotel at midnight and went to the bar with the same intention as me -- being sensible. However it was the same but worse -- 5am!! At least he got a good lie in. l thought at the time it was probably a good thing as Download is such an important show for us we do get a bit tense even after all these years -- we care, we want to be as good as we can - that Bruce would probably be more relaxed and would even enjoy the gig more. And l think this was the case. I think he was also concerned as we had severe on stage sound problems on Friday in Ludwigshafen which pissed him off (understandably) big time. The crew took time at D in the morning to rectify this but any vocalist would be very nervous coming into a show this size wondering what sound he would get on stage. Let's face it you can't sing unless you can hear yourself. As it happens the crew as usual were on top of it that morning and all went fine
The rest of the band arrived between 6 and 7 as they usually do as they get bored hanging around backstage so rarely get to a show until 60-90 mins before we go on.

Back to the day -- so after checking stuff out with Dave, Dickie etc l took the kids to the main stage again to see the end of Papa Roach and then Mastodon, who have played with us in various parts of the world a number of times before. They are a very good band indeed. I sadly had to go back up to check a few more things out but left the kids to watch Lamb of God, Stone Sour and Killswitch . l saw some of them on webcast -- all good bands.
The kids also took time out from there to see Lauren along with the rest of our gang and everyone was once again very impressed. Sadly l missed this as l got roped in by LiveNation to do a press conference at that time with Stuart the head honcho there about our experiences at Download. Ever try that with a hangover -- l had to write the bloody thing out as l couldn't trust my brain to get it all right. I tried to get Bruce to do it -- he normally would help me out on something like this -- but he said his brain wasn't sufficiently recovered -- and of course at that time Steve was watching Lauren, and the rest weren't there yet. So no way out as LiveNation are mates and l felt obliged to do it for them. Anyway l think l came over like a deflated balloon on my very brief bit about Download, Donington and Maiden so l can feel fairly secure that it wont be used anywhere even for a soundbite. In the services of Maiden l do occasionally have to go in front of a camera but believe me l hate it!!

Sadly l missed Evanescence too who l think are excellent. We really wanted them on our day and had to fight for it a bit as l heard that they were a bit concerned apparently playing before us as they heard our fans were a bit impatient. Marilyn Manson supported us at Download last time and also at Reading. So we had to persuade Evanescence to do our day. I was told that during their headline slot on Friday Chemical Romance (who Jake and Jacob adore!) had a proportion of the crowd chanting "Maiden, Maiden" between their numbers -- something l think is very unfair to any band who are trying to play for you. They have the same managers as Evanescence so l felt for them as following that they were probably very unnerved at the prospect of Ev getting a bit of a hard time from the (rude end of ) the Maiden faithful and regretting their decision to play the Sunday. . So l was very relieved and very pleased to hear that Ev got as good a reception as they deserved. I would have felt pretty bad for them otherwise. And l think it was def the best day for them to play so it all worked out well.

Anyway whilst Evanescence were playing we were getting ready. I went down with the kids first -- we just walked down -- to check out and get control of the mixing platform so the bands kids and families could watch from there. I knew from Dougie that space was quite restricted. Of course when l go there some of the other bands were already up there so l had to ask them to step down in front so there was room for the kids. Then for some reason the security sent all the families onto the stage area where you cant see a thing so l had to go and retrieve them all. Anyway we got there in the end!!

And finally the show. Well it's a while since we had one with so many problems -- not major in the end but enough to take away from the concentration. Firstly there were problems with Adrian's rig before we went on which is why we were some 10-15 late going on. The band of course were ready backstage to go on time so they had to hang around too. Then Bruce fell during Wrathchild!! I don't remember that happening before -- it may have, but not on this big a show!! Then -- and when did this last happen -- the intro to NoB refused to play so Bruce had to talk it instead. Then one of the side ramp spots didn't work...bloody hell!!  I think it took us a couple of numbers more than usual to settle in but overall l think it was fine. Not one of our very best shows but certainly from what l could see and hear the audience were well into it. Just one of those days and we get very few of those at the big gigs. Afterwards the entire band too were "well, yes l guess it was ok". Sometimes though big gigs can be an anti climax too, with so much expectation. This is especially true at home But as l said the fans were amazing -- l always leave the desk and go on stage for the encores to see the audience and once again at Donington as far as l could see everyone -- all 70,000 or so -- had their arms up punching the air and clapping. It really is a great sight and always very moving.

Afterwards went back to dressing rooms so see band then into our hospitality area for a beer and a bacon sandwich! Stayed around for about an hour to let the traffic clear a bit before heading home straight from the site. Sadly the traffic hadn't cleared so in the end got home about 4 am with the 2 exhausted (but very happy!) young kids in the back fast asleep. They had school in the morning -- fortunately l didn't. I took a day off -- some good cricket. Nice to be winning again, especially with Sidebottom doing so well. Another Yorkshireman in the England team and this one from my home town of Huddersfield.

I am not going on the dates over this coming weekend so no diary til after Rome.

- Rod

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