19 Jun 2008 - Rod's Diary - New York

ROD'S DIARY -  NEW YORK - JUNE 13 TO 18

Sat in my hotel room in Manhattan wondering how i am going to catch up on this diary. Last one was Vancouver nearly 2 weeks ago. It's been a bit of a mad rush and tough to find the energy and the time to do these right now. However i didn't go to the Philadelphia show last night and am not going to Washington/Baltimore tonight as i just need to catch up with a ton of stuff that has been hanging whilst we have been travelling. I will rejoin everyone in Boston. So let's try to catch up on the diary for a while today. I am going to start in NY as its fresh in my mind and a lot happened. I can then go back to the previous shows.

We arrived here straight from the show at Blossom near Cleveland, getting to the hotel about 12.30. Dropped off the bags in the room and headed for the bar to meet Bruce. It's NY City and bars stay open!! Ill advisedly we stayed there til about 4.30am, talking about all manner of things and having "a few" drinks. We even carried on after they closed the bar at 4, and it was just as well they did.

So Friday became a tough day with a late start. Cooped up in the room for most of the day though I managed to catch up with a lot of stuff related to Twickenham and the European Tour which is getting very close now. Had a quiet recuperative evening -- watched the Lakers game, where they blew a half time 24 point lead to lose the Celtics making it 3-1 Celtics with 3 to play. Made a mental note that we would need a convenient TV for game 5 on Sunday -- 9pm EST on the evening we play Madison Square Gardens. Now there is a conflict of interest as we go on stage at 8!


Bruce with his BBC radio producer Ian Callaghan.

I did get out for an hour or so to go along with Bruce to K Rock which is not far from the hotel. Our old mate Ian Camfield from XFM in London is now a NY jock at this prestigious station and has a drive time show 4-6pm six days a week. You can get some of it online as the interview we did with Bruce with Ian was on there. Good interview as always with Ian as he is so knowledgeable about and so into Metal, and of course the key word -- enthusiastic. Important word that!!

After that watched a movie, "Bank Job" with Jason Statham. Not bad, but not great either. How can they expect us to believe you can drill a tunnel into a bank two doors down under a restaurant and no one would hear the jackhammer and if they did they would not connect the tunnelling to a bank next door. 

I have had regular trouble sleeping on this part of the tour for some reason, usually it no problem -- must be all the excitement! Same again tonight. However I was well aware that England were playing the New Zealand All Blacks at 3am EST so got up to watch it live on Sky Slingbox rather than watching the recording of it later. Not a great England performance, the first of the new regime, and we were convincingly beaten. Normally I would go on about this but as we are so far behind l will spare you the gory details.

Needed a good lie in Saturday then more work with cricket in the background on the handy Slingbox again, the first One Day International (ODI) England v New Zealand- England won convincingly. Some revenge on the Kiwis for the rugby but it's not the same. 

And of course the US Open Golf is on live every day at present til about 9 EST -- but there is already too much sport here for a metal diary so I will not comment more til the end!!

Set off with Bruce for PNC NJ at about 2.30. As soon as we got going a massive storm started, severe lighting, minimal visibility, chucking down with rain, the whole range. As we passed through it I was hoping that it wouldn't be like that before or during our show some 90 min drive away. Some hope!!

When we got there after braving various traffic jams the weather was good and continued to be for most of the day. Steve arrived just after us from his soccer match. His team had come over again (last game San Paolo, see diary from March) for a match but this time it was only a 2-2 draw. "It was bloody hot" they all said. No excuse, 2-2 against USA when you beat Brazil 7-0???!!!.


Steve with some of the team in strip.

We have played the PNC a few times and it's a good shed venue generally. We have 11,000 attending, not bad after we played to 14,000 in NJ just 3 months ago. And what an audience they proved to be. Literally about 20 min before we went on the heavens opened and the storm kicked in. As I have said before, sheds are basically permanent stages with an open sided roof covering anything from 4 to 10,000 seats. Here there are about 6500, so about 4500 on the lawns. The staging area and power are well protected from the rain and the seats are well covered. While we were playing you could see the lighting in the sky visible below the roof and the rain was torrential, although at least it as a very warm evening. Looking out though no one on the lawn seemed to be leaving, they were reacting just the same as if nothing was happening despite being drowned. The following couple of days I met people who were there on the lawn or knew someone who was and they all said the same -- no one left, the atmosphere up there was fantastic and everyone had a fine, albeit wet, time. The rain continued long after we came off too.

We have to thank all you guys on the lawns for sticking with us in such terrible conditions. True fans. The band really enjoyed the show and had a really good onstage sound again and, watching form out front, l thought the sound was very good there too.

We did the usual runner to get away before the heavy traffic, and to get back to our bar where we stayed with various friends from round here for an hour or so. Then up mid am, got out of the hotel for a change to get some breakfast then laptop humming for a bit before going to Madison Square Gardens quite early. This is of course always a very big important show for anyone. We first played the Garden in 1983, exactly 25 years ago, as part of the World Piece Tour with Saxon and Fastway supporting (we actually called this part of the tour the British Metal Onslaught and had particularly chosen to take Brit bands out with us). The only time I had been before then was for a live screening form Singapore or somewhere round that region of Ali v Joe Bugner in about 1974 on my first ever visit to America. (Bugner lost on points but just kept out of Ali's way. Very boring, he just didn't fight, but Ali was at his peak at that time).


Dave with pyro maniac Kevin.

I think this is the fifth or maybe sixth time we have played MSG and they have always been good occasions. It holds about 13,000 for our stage configuration and has always sold out. It is a great arena to play with good visibility from most of the seats. Despite all these appearances we still haven't got our picture on the hallowed walls of fame backstage, but maybe one day we will sit between Neil Diamond and Elton John, although the latter has of course played MSG 60 bloody times and at about ten times the ticket prices we allow our fans to be charged.

The only thing I didn't like at the Garden for our show (besides to huge costs involved to play there!) was the GA area. We agreed a half GA floor, as you all know we like our fans standing, and that is the best you can get there. However at the time we weren't informed that you can only put 700 people in this pretty large space. Crazy. But after we found out and tickets were on sale we couldn't do anything as the show sold out so quickly again. Touring can really get very complicated as there are so many things to watch out for and every show is different but I missed this one!! I just took it for granted that half GA is what it says and there would be 1200 or so in the area. I will know next time. However it wasn't too bad as the audience in this "pit" area were definitely up for the show so made up to some extent for lack of numbers. It's very important to our shows that the interactivity and interface between the band and audience is as "close" as possible and we all try hard to achieve the best circumstances.


The infamous Dick Bell returns for the weekend.

Anyway jumping the gun a bit. Arrived there about 3 I guess and first checked out Rod's Room which is a hospitality room I have at big shows for my business contacts and guests, like label people, agents , other managers who want to come see the band (yes Vaughn, Kenny, Justin etc). And the room was perfect -- 3 big plasma screens hanging form the ceiling showing first the golf and then the basketball. I will not incriminate myself by divulging how much time I spent in front of these screens as opposed to production office, watching band etc. The basketball didn't start til 9 so we were back in the room after the show and then at our bar to see the Lakers win and keep the series alive. I did watch a fair bit of golf though which of course I had to so as to support Lee Westwood, an Englishman, who was in the final pair with Tiger!! Sadly he just missed out on the playoff by one missing his last put of the tournament by a couple of inches. Should still do his confidence wonders though and a lot of golf is between the ears. Tiger as always was beyond belief at times.
Another sportsman who is totally beyond belief is Lance Armstrong, seven time consecutive winner (1999 -2005) of the Tour de France, one of, if not THE most gruelling sporting events imaginable. And he achieved this following severe medical problems. In terms of human endurance and pure and simple will power only Steve Redgrave comes close, rowing being an equally exhaustive and totally draining sport. I am telling you this as it appears that Lance is a Maiden fan along with current girlfriend Kate Hudson. Both came along to the show and we put them on the mixing desk for obvious reasons (well we wouldn't put them in the pit with you lot would we!!??) where the NY press spotted them singing along to the songs. They are both huge in the media here, though I didn't get the impression from them that this was a big deal, so it was odd to see Maiden in the gossip type columns due to the media interest it caused by them attending. Must be tough to have to put up with this sort of attention.

As many of you know -- and thanks to some of you for your support -- most years I do a long distance charity bike ride, most recently in Peru, and spend a lot of time in the saddle training, though you wouldn't know it right now with the "road gut" I am carrying (and have to do something about very soon!!) . Even in my minor way, I know how hard it can be and what they do is way off the Richter scale comparatively in terms of sheer stamina and endurance. In many ways it is almost superhuman with the rigours they endure. So it was a real pleasure to meet Lance after the show in my room and have a brief chat. I should have got a photo but too shy/embarrassed to ask though I do very much regret that now so hope he comes along again. I have few heroes but he is certainly one of them. A very pleasant person too I found. Most of the band went straight off after the show so missed meeting them though Nicko and Davey came back after and met them both though of course I think Nicko was more interested in the lovely Kate.


Maiden get platinum award for sales of Live After Death DVD prior to MSG show - Nick, Jan and Rod with Mike, their label boss,  and Anthon from UME and Lisa and Dave from Sony their distributors.

The Trivium chaps were also there -- I forgot earlier they played with us in NJ and did great -- along with 40 or 50 other friends, colleagues, managers, artists, new friends from Fox and ABC news etc. a real NY turnout. And all with the Lakers getting ahead of the Celtics on the plasmas there so a fine evening.

I guess I should talk about the show too. Well, as usual there, it went great etc and I think the crowd had a great time. Except that the power blew out, towards the end of Powerslave would you believe? After the 45 min experience of this at Earls Court 2006 -- see diary -- the band and especially Bruce are not at all phased by this and stayed and waited on stage showing off a few football skills with a ball that appeared from nowhere. After about 10 min our crew had it back on and we were straight back into the set with little momentum lost. Thanks to you fans there for your patience and support.

Back to the bar, saw final part of the basketball with Lakers taking it to Game 6 back in Boston. (I would mention that the Lakers (14) and the Celtics (17) have won between them half of all the Championships since they started 60 or so years ago.). A good day and a good night with a bar full of friends.

Monday was a business lunch and a recovery day watching Tiger v Rocco Mediate in the play off for the US Open -- Tiger as always pulled it off though Mediate surprisingly gave him a real run for his money (and a whole lot of it at that!)

Tuesday did little but have meetings here in NY and catch up on emails clearing a bit of space to get into this today -- and this piece has already gone on way too long!!! The show in Philly last night apparently went ok though the audience was a bit disappointing at a shade under 8000, much less than anywhere else. What have we done wrong to you all in Philadelphia!!! Washington is thankfully much better tonight.

One thing I did sadly do that evening though was to watch the Lakers get totally hammered by the Celtics to lose the series 4-2 and make the Celtics champs. Congrats to Celtics who were magnificent especially in what they call here DE-fence. Lakers never got going again after the first about 3 minutes, or rather werent allowed to do so. It is tough to practically eliminate a player of the stature of Kobe Bryant, but they did. I am not an expert by a long way but even to me it looks like the Lakers need to a new bench (which is not something you put your arse on!). A mate of Nicko had tickets arranged for the 3 of us for game seven in Boston the night before our show there. It is sad to miss it as I love going to major sporting occasions. I have seen final playoffs before but never a Game 7. There is always next year.

I will catch up soon as I can on Calgary/Edmonton, Regina/Winnipeg, Chicago/Cleveland.
Sorry not many pics -- too busy watching sport on TV!!!!

 

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