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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)
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"!!