19 Jun 2008 - Rod's Diary - Chicago & Cleveland
ROD'S DIARY - CHICAGO/CLEVLAND - JUNE 10-12
Chicago Sun Times -- June 12 -- "Stella's Column" -- and I quote " CHICAGO SCENES -- Iron Maiden, the Heavy Metal band, stopped by the jazzy Back Room on Wednesday and gave an impromptu performance for the crowd that included....." !!
Yes there is a story to this, just bear with me.
We flew into Chicago in the early hours after the show in Winnipeg for a well earned day off. While I was peering at the laptop a certain drummer was off for a round of golf locally with some mates in the area -- Nicko now has golf mates in every area you could find! A few beers were had and then, unchanged, the party set off for the bright lights, something which Chicago has an abundance of, and many more followed. Jump a few hours to the Back Room bar where a very "happy" Nick decides to join the band on stage and proceeds to give this "impromptu performance", banging the hell out of the drums in the process. Fortunately a certain pair of amigos under the aliases of Dave and Jan happened coincidentally to be there, though a bit unusual not being Irish but it was close to the hotel. Rescuing Nick they eventually got him back to the hotel and when I asked what he played in the club the following day Nicko gave me a very quizzical look. What songs, what drumming??? Be warned, this is what happens when you play too much golf.
About the right height in Cleveland - must be the devil's place!
At the same time I was in a nearby Irish Bar -- lots in Chicago -- in a part of this wonderful city which was totally alive. Apparently in Chicago it was ladies night with the girls getting free drinks so everywhere was mobbed, so we could not get into any of the swish restaurants with kerbside tables to watch the world go by as everywhere was rammed. I was there with Thomas and Wolfgang who had flown in from Germany to discuss some aspects of our appearance at the world's biggest metal festival, Wachen, for which 75.000 tickets sold out some time ago and we headline the first night. It was shepherds pie and beer for us then. Not a late night though -- I was jaded after the great Canadian Experience -- we will get to that later but the wrong way round of course -- and they had just flown in from Germany having been on the **** with Lars Ullrich and Biff Byford from Saxon, who Thomas manages. Dangerous company indeed!!
The following day was work then down to the show about 5. We have always had a close relationship with Chicago for some reason and always play there on our US tours. I don't think we ever missed it. A really great and lively city. In 1982 on the Beast on the Road tour we passed through 3 times as special guests to Rainbow, then the Scorpions then Judas Priest. I recollect calling the promoter when the third visit was proposed to ask if this was a good idea, weren't the fans sick of us yet. Quite the contrary, he responded, they can't get enough of you! Happy with that we played there again. It was probably these regular visits back then that cemented a special relationship with a number of fans there who became known as the Chicago Mutants, though I can't recall why? Ugly bunch (not you Joan!!) but not mutated in any way I could discover. There guys would always show up at the first show of our US tours for years, irrespective of where that was, and some still do. It's always great to see them. Our 80's Chicago event shirts would often say "Chicago Mutants Rule" or something equally great/sad! So always good to catch up with some of the survivors here.
I didn't fancy the sheds here so elected to play the All State Arena, formerly called Rosemount Horizon, and a place we must have played over a dozen times. Really good arena. And a great concert with a very enthusiastic crowd of 12,000.
We spent most of the next day in Chicago then flew to an airport near Blossom Music Centre, another shed, but one with a real difference. It's the home of the Philharmonic Orchestra and in fact says so on the signs at the entrances. This is both good and bad, but overall the good certainly overrode the bad.
Due to staging and our size of show it was tough to fit so it limited pit due to thrusts. Also the chains hanging the lights have to go through wooden stage ceiling slats and to avoid damaging and eroding the wood the chains are not allowed to go up and down so no moving lights, which makes the Mariner experience especially a bit less spectacular. Also the load bearing for hanging our PA is a bit less than normal so we couldn't put as much PA in as we normally would. However for orchestra sound the whole thing is constructed of wood so the onstage sound and acoustics was fantastic and the band loved it and would like to carry the whole structure around with them. Also the out-front sound I thought was fantastic.
Bruce and Natasha, our wardrobe girl.
It was a difficult show to produce due to the limitations and prior to the show it was in my mind not to return there due to this but the attitude of the band was eff the moving lights, give us this sound. They played a blinder and the crowd was great again. I have been known to moan about US audiences in the past but they are proving to be very very into it on this tour so everyone is having a great time.
We also go back a long way with Cleveland. When we started here we were very fortunate to have plenty of bands we could support like Priest, Scorpions, UFO, Rainbow, 38 Special etc which got us in front of many more people than slogging round the clubs and really was essential to us as with little of no media support it was essential that we played to as many people as possible to turn them on to Maiden. Fortunately for us it worked out. However we did play the famous Agora Club in Cleveland and this was always a great place for us to visit. However in more recent years industry has declined there similar to other very blue collar areas which were the soul of Maiden back then, and to some extent still are. Ticket sales generally are poor in this region due to unemployment and a general lack of spare money so we were delighted to have almost 10,000 turning out for us when many tours are avoiding the market or have cancelled after poor initial sales. So thanks Cleveland -- and also nearby Cincinnati- for showing up and giving us a great response. And we love the sound in your venue.
After the show it was back the nearby airport to fly into NY and head for the hotel......and to that bar with Bruce!!
Ps the Midwest was very bad for me personally. In 2 days I only won one hand of brag while playing on the plane. Gaddsy and Ian are still smiling. Revenge will be sweet!!