Rod's Diary - Last few shows of 2011

First of all, everybody -- sorry it's been a little while since you heard from me but it's been pretty hectic recently and then of course we had a break after the end of the Tour. I think I last left you just as we reached the Nordic territories when Mr Howard Johnson took over with some illuminating Diaries. It was good to see Howard again -- an old friend of the band who was with us way, way back in '85 and so it was great to have him on the road once more so many years later! As I mentioned in my previous Diary, the show in Gothenburg was fantastic as usual, and once again the whole town became Maidenville; we were wonderfully received and the band had a great time, visiting a few bars in the City Centre after the show! Helsinki was also a stunning reception with a few celebratory rounds after to mark another terrific visit to the region
 After leaving the Nordics we went into St Petersburg in Russia, a remarkably beautiful place. I'd always wanted to go there and even though I'd once done one of my Charity Bike Rides from St Petersburg to Moscow, there'd been no time to have a proper look at the city at all, just a quick run round on a bus... so it was really nice to go into The Hermitage and the massive square and The Winter Gardens and see The Potemkin battleship with its rich history from the Revolution. We had a great show there, then a long flight down to Faro. We had freight-air all the equipment and fly the crew and everything but if you're doing the extremes of the continent from the very North to the very South then that's only way to do it rationally. Steve, for many years had always wanted to play Faro, as was covered in Mary's Diary, because of his friend Manu who sadly passed away a few years back, and this was really a show in honour of him, and Faro being of course an area Steve knows well, having had Eddie's Bar for many years so it's somewhere he spent a lot of time. We flew up from there into Madrid for the last show in continental Europe, and the last Sonisphere of the ride. Again, all was very well organised, a terrific show with terrific fans, and then back to the UK and home. 
Its the most extensive UK tour we've done for a while, and thats largely because since the last Arena tour back in 2006 we had played Donington Download, Twickenham Stadium, and last year of course at Knebworth for Sonisphere so we just thought that instead of having the fans travel to us as they did for last four or five years, that it was about time we went to see you guys! So we decided to do a pretty well full UK Tour making sure we went into all four countries. In Cardiff it was a shame there was not a larger venue, (we thought The Millennium was a bit big to do just for Wales) and so we chose the CIA which is a nice little gig, quite small for us, but a fantastic audience. The two shows I went to on the UK leg (besides London) were the first two -- Glasgow and Aberdeen. I hadn't been to Glasgow for some years,  the last time I think was when we played there back in 2006 and, as usual, it was interesting leading up to it, wondering if the crowd would be as still as fantastic.. I remember Glasgow going right back to the '80's, the Apollo there, which had a stage which must've been about twelve feet high and it was a gig where I was always worried about the band falling off in front of the stage! But the audience is thankfully still pretty much as it was back then... still terrific! 
Aberdeen was a place the band hadn't played for 30 years, and in fact I don't remember if I was even at the shows there back then, I don't think I had ever been before so this visit was quite special for me. The whole town looks as if it were made of granite, it has a sort beautiful light grey colour to it. The docks very obviously very busy and it seems all the oil has brought in quite a lot of wealth up there, so all in all it was very interesting experience. All the rest of the shows went really well. I know a lot of you were at them, and the band certainly enjoyed visiting all the places again.
The two shows at the O2 in London was obviously a big event for the end of the Tour and it was great to sell out both, about 33,000 fans all told and some 120,000 over the whole tour. We had a bit of a party and a knees-up after each one due the number of friends and family coming along, this being the home-town shows and it was quite sad on the second day, it being the last show for a while in the UK. After the tour everyone went back home for a well-earned rest. I haven't really spoken much to any of them, other than on business matters. Its important that after everyone spending so much time together -- since February this year -- that we all get to have a bit of a break from each other, although Bruce does call in occasionally, usually between flights! The whole tour was pretty spectacular; I think everyone -- band and crew -- really enjoyed it. We got around a lot of places, saw a lot of people, had a lot of good times. It certainly won't be the last time we see you guys. I'm just starting to get my head around a few things, talking about what we might be doing in the future and at some stage - I promise - I will enlighten you on all that!
So for now, take care and have fun