At last, a gig on my home turf!
Saturday 26 March had loomed large in my calendar for a good few months. It’s not often that we manage to find gigs in our illustrious capital city. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is that London venues simply won’t pay what it takes to get us all together in one place. We’ve done a few fanclub / special event type shows in recent years at the Ruskin Arms (Iron Maiden’s spiritual home) and just about managed to get ourselves there and back, but this is the first “regular gig” in a long time to take place within the sound of Bow bells.
My day started with a bit of forward planning. A few days previous I had been taken ill with a Devil Bug, and having recently moved it struck me as a grand idea to go and sign up with the local witch doctor. Upon registering with their fine service it became apparent that my passport had expired. With a trip to Nijmegen beckoning in a few short weeks, I was racked with a bout of loud expletives (much to the horror of the poor receptionist at whom they were directed) and went home to ask the internet how one goes about renewing one’s passport. Saturday morning was spent putting that research into practice at the local post office, while also picking up a more suitable dress shirt to match, as best I could, what Dave Murray is wearing on Iron Maiden’s current tour. It was also incumbent on me to pick up an “emergency wig”; rabid readers may recall an unfortunate incident in Plymouth resulting in what Adrian “d’yer want the good news or the bad news?” Swift affectionately summed up as “looks like a fanny on yer head!”. With a brisk jaunt around town on Saturday morning put behind me, I walked home and set about getting my stuff together for the gig.
Arriving at the venue a refreshing 30 minutes or so after leaving home (thank you, TFL!), I came upon various members of our support act for the evening. Ghoad are a Saxon tribute band, who have been together as a classic rock covers act for the better part of a decade but who recently turned their talents to the tribute world. Their genesis sounds awfully familiar – a pre-existing band notice that their beloved band are poorly represented on the tribute circuit and decide to try their hand at it. We wish them the best of luck for the future! Ghoad’s Manager Andy Findley filled me in (as it were!) on the situation – there was no-one to let us in until a bit later. The Bridgehouse II is the relocated spirit twin of The Bridgehouse, a seminal rock venue in the East End throughout the seventies before being shut down in 1982 and razed to the ground in recent years. Iron Maiden themselves played there in the early days, and the Bridgehouse II is there to take it’s place. A small room on an industrial estate in the wastelands of East London, it seems a slightly surreal place to find a venue.
Half an hour later, the Unbranded and Slightly Damaged Selectadrive Sprinter rolled up with the rest of the band aboard. Bruce “I’ve just done a rather awful trump” Dugginson was complaining of cramp, having had a rather uncomfortable journey, while everyone else looked in decidedly chipper moods. Speed “fugg may owld boots!” Haggis wasted no time offering me up as a sexual favour to the support act in order to get me a lift home (charming!), while Nicko “dum de dee dee dum de dee dee” McBrain Jnr was devasted to learn that there were no eateries nearby. Honestly. I don’t know where he puts it all.
We quickly set about lugging all the gear up the stairs (always fun, I can tell you!) ably aided by the Ghoad boys. By this time it was a mere 90 minutes to doors opening, so I tried to set my gear up as quickly as possible. Sound-check duly ensued, and we ran through the two numbers we had prepared especially for the gig (including the rarely performed Purgatory and the never-before performed Back In The Village – oh, you lucky people!). Both went off without a hitch, more or less, and were received raptly by the pre-gig audience! We cleared off to allow Ghoad to sort their stuff out, and I promptly decamped to the bar. By this time the doors were almost ready to open, and punters started trickling in. I escaped to the outside (where it was colder than expected!) to quietly sup on my pint of Guinness. While I waited outside with the lads, various friends and family appeared. As I said, it’s a rare thing that a gig occurs anywhere near my locale, and when it does my nearest and dearest jump at the chance to see me and my be-wigged colleagues knocking out the choons.
Ghoad brought Saxon to the masses, and in no time at all it was our turn in the “dressing cupboard”. Not wanting to waste any time (punters would be wary of the last Tube departing just after the midnight hour) we bounded onstage to “Satellite 15...” and got on with the show. We played a blinder, with the rarities well-received and the classics being greeted with utter joy. I had one or two marvellous personal moments with mates of mine popping up in front of me on stage right singing right along with me, which was a real treat. I had one slight nightmare at the end of “Hallowed...”, trying to go for the crash-ending but finding my fingers seizing up so what actually came out was a flurry of mishits and Brown Notes. Rather embarrassing! Recovering from that, we rounded out the gig with the encores and said our on-stage farewell while Eddie “Mother of Mercy’s me favourite” the ‘Ead couldn’t resist tearing my dying wig from my bonce and giving me a good slice with the blood-soaked knife. A job well done, although let me tell you it was bloody loud. Even with my slightly-less-than-rock-and-roll earplugs in, my ears were buzzing the next day. I hope the punters have recovered!
I packed down my gear and, having missed the last Underground train, was kindly offered a lift home with the departing Andy and Nibs from Ghoad. This, I’m assured, had nothing to do with ‘Aggy’s inferences earlier in the evening! I’m not usually one to wimp out of loading out the gear (with one notable exception at The Brook, though I still maintain I was busy drinking at the bar and no-one told me the load-out was in progress!!!), but it was such a nice feeling to be at home on the night of a gig without the slog of a long journey home the next day. I arrived home and promptly walked round a mate’s house to continue the party! Splendid stuff.
On a personal note, a huge thanks to all the friends and family who came along (with or without ear protection!). Special thanks to Goc for marshalling the Facebook hordes, to Ross and Sasha for providing me with faces to melt down the front, and to Corey for coming along even though he can't stand Maiden! Kev, Beth, Mike, Mum, Dad, it was properly lovely to see you there. Thanks to Eddie, Mrs Eddie et al, and to the fine chaps of Ghoad.
Until next time, UP THE ‘KIN IRONS
Dave “are you pimping me out?” Hurry