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ROD'S DIARY - NORWAY PART 2 (with a bit of Gothenburg thrown in!)
Arrived at the stadium with hordes of fans already outside and in, about 25,000 in all. Not sure what the stadium is used for but it was good for a show as most people were standing with very low stands around the edges. Went backstage and saw the guys. Jan had been wandering round the city as usual with his camera, as had Dave. Nicko and Bruce had flown back in from the UK. Steve and H had been playing football for the Maiden XI against a local side. The pitch was next to the Valhalla indoor stadium where we played last time here and apparently it was a cracking game with the opposition coming from behind twice to get a 2-2 draw. Last time round this team beat us easily, but they did have about 9 ex-pros, some of them Internationals. This time it was a bit more even. We had Stig inge Bjornebye, ex- Liverpool, and Eric Thorsredt, ex-Spurs, plus Steve's son George who is a very useful player like his dad!!
The show was a blinder, even better than Trondheim and on a par with Helsinki. Tremendous audience and the sound was terrific. It's easier to get a great sound when the stands are low as there is less "slap back". The band had a great time with a good onstage sound and Bruce in particular was on top form with some hilarious onstage banter about crane drivers getting the best jobs and a free view (he nearby crane moved at that point so the craneman may well have heard this), the band's origins as a non-drinking, non swearing jazz band until Nicko came along, and a mis-intro to Ancient Mariner which was amusingly handled. He was obviously having great fun. The humour was soon forgotten though with blinding performances of Mariner and Powerslave, which to me have been the highlight of the set all along. Sheer power. Fear of the Dark of course got everyone singing though it was still not dark which once again saved us half of Rob's wages!
And again it was hard to believe that the majority of the audience had never seen us and again it was all ages. Everyone was fully participating in the show and seemed to know most of the words. During the show I had noticed some very young kids crushed up against the barrier round the sound desk hardly able to see but mouthing all the words and obviously very excited so I got them up on the mixing desk for a better view. Well, you have to let the youngsters see Eddie properly don't you!!
My new pals
It must have been a great night around the bars and clubs of Oslo that night but after the show we took the longish drive to the airport, boarded and headed for Gothenburg. Everyone very happy with the show again and settled down for their choice of a celebratory drink. When we got to the hotel we found that the bar had closed at 1am (very unhospitable and very un-Swedish) so off to the room, not knowing that Jan and Dave had other plans heading to the nearest Irish pub til the early hours!
Celebrating another fine show
It had been a terrific few days in Norway and we had felt very welcome -- thanks everyone. Last time here we played two shows in Oslo and Bergen to a total of 22,000, the time before just 2 Oslo Spektrums to about 14,000 in total. This time about 48,000!!!! And by the way the population of Norway is about 4.7 million so again about one in a hundred of the population turned out to see us -- about the same proportion as Sweden!!
I am writing this late in the day on our day off in Gothenburg. Another beautiful hot day. A bit of a lie in, some work then a wander around the town. Another scenic city with canals running through it. I went along to the station to pick up an English newspaper then went into one of the cobbled pedestrian areas lined with restaurants and bars, all with many tables outside, to grab some lunch. The Maiden faithful are already starting to gather for the big event tomorrow. Most bars were already playing Maiden and you had Phantom competing with Madness at full throttle. Heaven for us fans and many were enjoying a quiet beer warming up for action.
I am going back out now for a wander and a few beers. Last time we played here at Ullevi in 2005 we flew home for some reason after the show and missed all the action around the town, which apparently was amazing with fans thronged in the bars singing out the lyrics to our songs which were blasting out from everywhere you went. It really is something as I said in yesterday's diary. Everyone should try at some point to come to the show here, Gothenburg really does become Maidenville for a couple of days and the atmosphere everywhere is quite remarkable. Metal and Maiden fans truly take over the whole town centre for a day or so. In fact a Kerrang review of 2005 said "If Rod Smallwood was God the whole world would be like Gothenburg on Maiden day!" Well, just how good would that be. Everyone having fun, no bullshit, plenty of revellry and camaraderie. Yes I love it, who wouldn't??!! I'm off now for more of the same!! And very much looking forward to tomorrow.
Yes the pubs take plenty of advantage to get the fans in for a good time!