22 Jul 2008 - Rod's Diary - Twickenham Pt 4

ROD'S DIARY - TWICKENHAM PART 4

It's time......8.15....Doctor,Doctor by UFO, our cue tape, fades and the jet engine kicks in, Transylvania starts and the intro movie from the first leg of the tour plays. And then, as the Spitfires zoom loudly through the PA with that wonderful right to left panning effect, the Churchill speech kicks in and the whole stadium erupts. I think it was the Guardian that said that the roar was greater than if England were winning the Rugby World cup here. I was there in Sydney in 2003 and I can tell you it was! What an incredible reception. This is a great stadium for atmosphere as, with the recent building at the North end the ground, it is now totally enclosed by those vertical high stands, keeping all the sound inside the stadium, both the audience and the band. The pyros exploded, band ran on followed by Bruce who kicked the rugby ball out into the crowd, and a good kick it was too. Johnny W. would have been proud! (ok, let not get carried away here -- ed)



With the audience rampant it was an incredibly exciting start to the show. To be honest the rest is a bit of a blur. I went up onto the stage early in the set to see how the audience looked from up there and it looked incredible. I do keep repeating it but it really is some stadium and the whole vibe on stage was almost surreal. You really could see the audience so well and of course going on so early it was still very light so very easy to see everyone in the stadium.

I was much too tense/excited/stressed/overwhelmed -- however you wish to put it -- by what was to me one of the most important shows we have ever done that I just couldn't settle anywhere to enjoy it, just couldn't stop wandering around. I checked the sound at the back, at the side, walked down the front, back to my spot for a beer, left it, back to the mixing desk,,,,,, on and on. Must have walked miles. Looking back I wish I could have just sat down and enjoyed and taken in the fantastic atmosphere but I just couldn't !! Don't really remember it that clearly. But I do know the show went off without a hitch, looked great, mummy Eddie finally looked the biz, the pyro looked huge and, of course, most importantly, the band played our of their skins. After all these years though I am used to this. The more the pressure the more this band delivers. The bigger it gets the better they are. Its just sheer adrenalin and I guess nervous energy. I think all the really big shows we have ever done -- like Donington 88, Rock in Rio 2001, you name it -- have been truly fantastic performances by the band. The more the pressure, the better they get. So to play like this at a massive showcase gig (in my mind, the band rarely see things like that) like this in your own back yard was so very satisfying. And the sound everywhere I went was excellent, well done Doug and the ML team. I didn't get up into the stands, just didn't have the energy, but people I met later who were in various parts were highly complimentary of how good and loud it sounded. For the sound team these accolades made all the extensive preparatory work so very worthwhile.
I do remember at the end of the show during Iron Maiden I was at the back in the space behind all the towers and desks just taking in the atmosphere when I was approached by five jubilant fans wanting pics taken with me. No problem but I kept shouting to them, as they stood with backs to the stage taking shots in turn, that they were missing Eddie and had to make them stop so I could check him out before returning to the "photo session"

I recall talking to loads of fans briefly all day during my restless travels around the stadium and the good humour and high spirits and expectation of the fans was something I shall always remember. I think everyone in that stadium that day had a really great time. Such a joyful atmosphere brimming with the camaraderie of a shared experience. It really was a microcosm of what it is all about for Maiden. Shared experience, getting high to the music and that immense communal feel of a big Maiden show. Throughout the set the audience was in fine voice, no more so of course than in Fear of the Dark, even though it was only just getting dark!! And, as darkness slowly crept over a wonderful summer's day, if anything the atmosphere just got more and more intense as the show drew to a close with a monumental Hallowed be thy Name.


After the show I went straight back to the dressing room to see the guys. Bruce had a huge grin on his face. They had the very best of times on stage. The sound was really good up there and of course as I had seen myself the audience and the stadium just looked spellbinding. Even H, who is so hard to please, had a great time! They asked me what I thought. I think I responded "yes, fine". It hadn't really sunk in and anyway was what I thought representative of the people who really mattered, the fans?

But in retrospect it would seem that everyone in the stadium that we heard anything from had a fantastic time, and if the huge response at the end was anything to go by this was most definitely the case. Old hands thought it possibly the best show they had ever seen us do. New ones thought it was too!! Even the national broadsheet press, in between the mandatory patronisation of band and fans alike, gave us splendid reviews. The whole thing appears to have been a memorable and 110% success, and, as a manager, that's all you can ask for. This was certainly a day I shall always remember and fortunately I will be reminded at least half a dozen times a year when I go to see England play there, though I doubt I will get the same access "backstage"!!

Afterwards I went back to ERICs bar to join family and friends and guests. All my kids had brought a couple of friends each and I was very pleased that they all loved it. This always matters! But the general sense from everyone was great gig, great sound, great day so we all just celebrated for a couple of hours. I had arranged a coach to bring up and take back the "Hove contingent", about 35 of us. I got on the bus truly exhausted and sat alone catnapping on the 90 min journey home. Half awake, half savouring the day. And I slept well that night!

In closing we would all like to thank all the fans who travelled from all parts of the UK, and in some cases further afield, and gave us such great support and such great memories. And as you all know, you are VERY much part of the show!!! And thanks to Andy Copping and his team at Live Nation and John Jackson and all at K2 for getting us to Twickenham and to all my team and all our Killer Krew for making it all work!!

PS - Don't really remember now but must have been a long lie in and a quiet day on the Sunday after Twickenham. Totally drained after a busy couple of weeks following our return from the North American leg of the tour. Had to catch up with a bit of work though, largely personal stuff I hadn't had chance to deal with, and then packed for a bit of holiday. I was away for about a week, though of course my family stayed away longer and are still there!! I had to get back for the stadium shows in the Nordics, and I certainly did not wish to miss these. While away the band played a couple of festivals in Portugal and Spain which went well. Festivals as I said before about Graspop are pretty straightforward so I don't really need to be there, and quite often you don't get much of a record company presence due to location etc. We were due to play a second Spanish Festival in Zaragoza but heavy storms the night before badly damaged staging and equipment and the promoter was unable to fix everything in time for any of the three days of the fest to run, although we did send our crew and equipment up there in the morning in case something could  be done. Hopefully our fans in Zaragoza can catch us next time round as the promoter was unable to rearrange anything.
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