SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS MAY 18-20 -- the PREPARATION
So almost time for the first show here on Wednesday. And the dreaded diary starts again. On the first leg, as we fitted in so much in such a short time through so many countries, the diary was daily, but now it will be more leisurely to match the pace of the tour but will still hopefully have some things of interest to you guys. Also as I was so busy I didn't take any pics on the first leg but this time I have brought my Brownie 127 to take some amateurish snap shots at the heart to the inaction.
Last Saturday I took my accustomed seat (1A of course!) on Ed Force One to join Bruce and various media to Cannes film festival. When I sat down I thought I must have put on a load of weight but then realised Astraeus had taken out the plush band seats at the front of the plane to revert back to the standard seats. Makes a big difference! EF1 is still in daily service still sporting our colours and flying all over the place for BA and Astraeus. Many people I know have stories of spotting it. My daughter came back from our family holiday at Easter to go skiing with some friends and we got an excited text that they were flying to France on "dad's aeroplane "! I wish it was! And when the rest of us landed at LGW a couple of days later we went right past it parked by the runway.
We had a good flight into Nice, took some buses and headed for Cannes. As traffic was so heavy they dropped us off on the edge of the small town and we walked the 10 minutes through the thronged streets followed by TV and press cameras who thought it was very cool for Bruce to do this rather than arrive in a mighty yacht. It wasn't hard as we haven't got one of those, a bit slow for touring. Apparently in the "olden days" this was how the major stars got to the Festival, walking through the streets, so the media thought it was terrific. The real stars of today aren't allowed to do this anymore -- elf 'n' safety and security raises its head again. It was fun though, about 100 of us trooping through the middle of town following Bruce, the director Julian Doyle and various cast members.
We headed for a press reception on a balcony overlooking the harbour. Shame the weather was poor but at least it didn't rain. Bruce did various interviews and I chatted to various people to sell the film abroad, along with a few glasses of champagne. Would have preferred beer but in Cannes all you get is champagne and French pastries. After a couple of hours we all walked back through town the cinema to see the "Chemical Wedding". This was my 6th time and I pick up new pieces in the puzzle of the story every time.
After the film it was back on the buses to Nice, onto Ed and off home arriving at about 11.30. A quick but fun trip. The movie is out in the UK towards the end of the month if you want to check it out. Hopefully other parts of the world soon.
Next day Sunday up at 8 for a car to Heathrow to fly to San Antonio via Dallas with Adrian, Jan, Ian and Gaddsy. And a bloody miserable flight it was. The first bit to Dallas was fine but immigration queue on arrival was huge and took over an hour, the gate about a 30 min train ride away, the flight was over an hour late and to top it all they had lost my bag, but thankfully found it again after I had spent 20 min reporting the loss......after the ease of all the flights on Ed on the first part of the tour its hard to readjust to the realities of "normal" air travel nowadays. But David Beckham did get out of the lift as we got in at the airport lounge though I cant say it made up for all the hassle!!
Finally got to San Antonio, and hotel really nice with an Irish Bar 2 min out of the front door. From what I could see looked like a really happening part of a very beautiful city (apparently the 8th or 9th biggest in the USA which surprised me a bit. Population some 8 million I was told). So we all dropped bags in the rooms and straight to the bar to find....surprise surprise, most of our crew. The only ones missing were the lightweights who had not recovered from being there the previous night.....when they finally left at 5 am!! Lasted a couple of hours and hit the sack for a very good sleep. Another 5000 or so airmiles in the last 2 days. Needed it!!
Woke early of course and unpacked and set up laptop etc then down to the venue. Met up with production guys, checked out the big Big Eddie, who does look incredible, went through pyros with pyro guy Keith etc. Band turned up mid afternoon to check equipment and have a full run through of the set to see if they could remember it. Very very hot here. Took a few pics too but so bright not sure how well they will come out. Everyone hung around for a while after run through catching up with the crew and tasting some of the excellent food provided backstage and then headed back to the Irish Pub along with Bruce, Jan (of course) and Dave. Nicko is staying miles away at some golf hotel doing what he loves (second) best.
A few pints of Guiness with John McM our photographer and various crew too before getting that lagged feeling and headed off to bed about midnight. Countdown. One more day to the first show.
Back to work for Ian and Gaddsy.
First gig and no-one showed up!
On Tuesday we had a full day planned with band rehearsing some more in the afternoon, then taking the chance for some photos with John then a full production run through for the band to see how it all looks and to reacquaint themselves with pyro positioning so they don't get blown up. As can happen on the road with all the travel though Steve got hit by a bug was out for the day so all plans put to the sword. Everyone in the band though was very happy with the full run through of the set yesterday so not a problem. They are ready for the show and I can drag them out to do some pics another day -- hopefully! I went down to the show anyway to do a production run through and Jan came with me to check out some of his gear, and Bruce came down a bit later for something to do. We checked out pyro cues and other production timings and then got the huge mummy Eddie out of his sarcophagus to perform especially for us. Bruce spent about an hour with the crew on this working out movements and timings to make it as dramatic as possible and from what I saw later I would say he had succeeded. It will take a few shows to get it spot on as all these things do but generally speaking we are well ready for the first show here on Thursday. And everyone is very much looking forward to it.
Eddie's even on the drums... and so is Sooty
No, you play it like this!
Nick thinks about his diary... about time... Tour doing strange things to our crew
At 8pm Bruce and Dave were doing Rockline, a well established program which is broadcast by major stations all over the USA. (yes Maiden on the radio for a bit -- how about that. The times they are a changing ?? Unlikely, this is a specialist type program) It's been going I think 27 years and all the big rock acts have done it, some, like us, a few times. Its format is playing the music of the guest interspersed with fans calling in to ask questions -- and we apparently got a LOT of calls so if any of you missed out then sorry. There was even a call from Ireland, unusual for a US radio station!! It is usually broadcast live but as we had a show to do the night it comes out it was arranged for it to be pre-recorded, which is apparently quite an honour as its only the fifth time they have conceded this for a band. As we were at the gig and the hotel was not on the way from there to KISS FM, whose studio was being used, Bruce and I had the car drop us off at a bar near to KISS and then, while Raouol our driver went off for Dave, we had a couple of beers while waiting and chatted to some of the locals who thought it a bit weird for a couple of Brits to drop in as the bar was not exactly in the tourist area. As we were leaving we invited a couple of these very friendly and hospitable people to come to the show as our guests -- prior to that they had not put two and two together but then it was "hey, Iron Maiden has been in our bar!"
Dave arrived and we went to KISS. The building it is in is really not what I would have imagined for a rock radio station, so I rechecked the address I had with a janitor and it was the right place so we went up the lift to the sixth. It was vital we were on time as the ISDN link to the main Rockline studio in LA started at 8. By now it was 7.55. Anyway we were there but the door was locked, a big metal thing at that. So we banged harder.......and harder ....and kicked it.....then a call from Elliott at our label asking where the eff we were. BLOODY OUTSIDE THE DOOR. Finally got in and got started. Went great I thought, so all of you in America I hope you get chance to hear it. Maybe you can Google it on the web the rest of you. Davey and Bruce were on fine form and although most questions were serious a great deal of fun was had.
Headed back to hotel after and yes you guessed it a visit to the Irish bar. It had been a busy day for me so didn't get chance to eat so selected bangers and mash from a wonderful Brit menu and of course washed it down with a bit of the black stuff. Not much though, big day tomorrow and still lagged. Next I will let y'all how the first show in San Antonio went and a bit about our history in this beautiful city.
Your round or else!
Best looking member of the band.