ROD'S DIARY FEB 16 -- TOKYO SHOW
Got up 9-ish to deal with some emails then back to bed til about 1pm -- feeling the flight and the night a bit. As I think I said before in Japan we go on stage very early, 5.50 pm in fact, so I left for the venue at about 2 as there were things I had to do.
First was a meet with our tour managers and key production people to go through the LA show and security in Latin America. The Forum LA is madness. Its been sold out for ages and it seems we have become flavour of the month in LA and everyone and their mother wants tickets, people who have never bothered before (yes we know who you are!!) Needless to say we want tickets to go to the fans so try to keep our guest list as small as possible, as guests need tickets too and these would otherwise, on a show like this with huge ticket demand and sold out so long ago, go to real fans. That is not to say our guests aren't "real fans", some are, but you get my drift. Anyway we went through what we wanted as our guest policy. Went through the requests and had to bin many of them as just no room in the venue. My room will be rammed that night too so must make a mental note to avoid it! I love the big what I call "focal point" shows but hate all the backstage razzamatazz. Ideally we would have no guests at all backstage but it's always a matter of where you draw the line. The band tends to keep themselves to themselves anyway and prepare for and concentrate on the show, which is, after all, why we are here. Unless they have some close friends or family at the show in which case they go see them. We gave up meet and greets years ago as it always somehow seemed that the people who were there shouldn't have been!! Having said all this it's a great problem to have and you can never complain about people wanting to see you. It's actually quite satisfying to be this hot again in LA!! But we know that's thanks to the fans here and no one else. We are certainly not flavour of the month with the media, especially of course radio!
Then we reviewed security in Latin America. We generally don't carry security with the band; we have just one guy with the crew to supervise hall security and passes as, unlike some, we really don't feel threatened by our fans! This guy is now Jeff as our wonderful Wally has now sadly retired. Wally, who had a very colourful history and many a tale to tell, is very much missed.
In South America, especially with these huge stadium shows, we really need people with the band as fans here will be everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. Its great to see and feel the enthusiasm and excitement but the band do get mobbed everywhere so this security is not so much protection as organising the fans a bit so as not to squash the band!!
Then I met with Toshiba our record co here and some EMI International execs. Although the Tokyo show 10,000 was sold out we do not seem to be making any progress here, certainly compared to everywhere else on the planet and, as manager, I can't really allow this. I think we are still perceived here as a little English metal band whereas perception everywhere else is far different I think now. I knew from checking that they had used little of our info and pics of the plane and scale of this tour to excite the media and create a new story. I therefore explained at length, and I hope clearly, what we expected of them in future. There were many nods of agreement but after so many visits here I know to take these not as signs of agreeing but rather saying yes, we understand. So we shall see what the future holds here for us. It is strange that a traditionally strong market for us like Japan is levelling off yet everywhere else in leaping ahead and in particular Australia, since 1992 a poor market for us as far as we were told, has come back into Maiden so very strongly.
Also saw my good friends Masa Itoh and Koh Sakai for a chat -- regular readers will know the very major part that these gentlemen have played in the story of Maiden in Japan but those who don't should refer back in this diary archive to previous Japan news, probably around Oct 2006 which I think was the last time here.
The Messe Hall is totally different to anywhere we have played in Japan before. It is more like the cool "barns" we used to get in Europe, particularly Germany. Basically it's a big room holding 10,000 standing, or GA (General Admittance) as we would call it. Usually Japanese venues have been theatres like the Budokhan with seats and incredible acoustics, both of which take a bit of the edge off a Maiden show. But here the audience were standing, relaxed and loud and the sound had more rock n roll edge to it. Perfect sound is not what you want, for the right vibe you need that bit of distortive edge. So it really was a fantastic show and ironically, considering my meeting earlier, I though it was the best reaction we have ever had here. It is a stunning show and the band are playing great now but I think a lot of it was the GA venue. I am surprised we never played here before as it has been going a few years but I was not aware so I shall have to have words with our agent!!
This show also marked a momentous but sad occasion, the retirement from touring of the Rt Hon Mr Dickie Bell who has been with us since 1981. Dick has been a fantastic Production manager who always could be relied on to take care of anything and everything and over the years, with our adventurous approach to touring, he has been given many an unusual problem to deal with but has always done so effectively -- our 757 and the logistics around that is probably what finally finished him off!! Dick also always did everything with great humour too and there is many a support band of Maiden who will recall being serially abused by him.
Dick has already retired from the road three times but I had always managed to lure him back with the promise of new adventures, but this time he insists (and more to the point so does his wife Liz) that this is the end of Life on the Road. He will however remain very much part to the family helping in many areas but particularly setting up tours. We just won't have the pleasure, it that is what it is, of having him on tour anymore.
It was appropriate that this should take place in Tokyo, the scene of many great Dick Bell stories. After the show we had a surprise party for him at our adopted pub the Hobgoblin, where the band laid on good grub like fish n chips and a free bar for a very appreciative and thirsty crew. Hopefully Dick enjoyed it too! He was also presented with various signed pics which I am sure is just what he wanted!! The watch will have to wait. I will not go into further detail to save a few dozen people from great embarrassment!!