5th August 2019
In August 2013, Maiden did two shows at the O2 in London, so it was a simple case of “Hi Vic. I need me plus one for the first night and me plus four for the second night. Will that be okay?”
“Leave it with me,” said Vic Vella.
So, it was August 3rd and Vic had come through yet again. My wife and I attended the first night on our own as we don’t get out much, but it was great to catch up with old, and new Facebook friends alike.
Hospitality yet again was in Alphabet City, just inside the O2 to the left. The bar downstairs was so full, I dragged the Mrs upstairs into the bands main hospitality area, where we found Doug Sampson and his wife Barbara milling about with a beer each.
Oh no! A free bar again, but people were also wandering around with burgers on trays. Don’t mind if I do, thank you very much.
Chris Lang was also supposed to be there, but yet again he never made it, but I did find Cod and Michael Goodchild, and Michael’s brother Tony, so the hospitality area was beginning to resemble something I remember from many years before. I also bumped into Pippa Lang again, who was doing a great impression of someone standing up while attempting not to fall down. Must have been something in her drink?
It was getting close to show time, so we made our way to our seats and just in time. ‘Doctor Doctor’ had already started, the lights went down, the show started and two hours later it was all over. I don’t remember any real highlights, as I was far too drunk at this point, but I dragged my wife back to hospitality anyway. One more for the road ended up more like six.
Luckily, we left the O2 in time to catch the last of everything, undergound, overground and bus, and finally got home at 1.30am.
All I had to do now was get up and do it all over again. I felt like shit, but I had promised my three girls that I would take them to the show, and I did exactly that.
We met up with a mate of mine, Lee Muir, and once I had collected the passes, we had over an hour to kill. My daughter Lily, was doing a Vlog at the time, and to kill a bit more time she did a quick live interview with me for all her mates. I hadn’t realised up to that point what a cool character I thought I was in front of the Maiden masses. I nearly removed my sunglasses.
There I was being interviewed by my daughter and you could hear people asking, “Who’s that?” “I dunno, some old fart?” “No, he must be some kind of Metal God.”
Lily stopped filming and said, “This is my old man, Loopy. And if it wasn’t for people like him, Iron Maiden would still be struggling at Hammersmith Odeon.”
I tried to bury my face, but I needn’t have bothered. “Yep, definitely an old fart,” said the second guy.
I was over in a flash. Hospitality was calling.
I took it a little bit slower this time, not forgetting I had the girls with me. Lee was capable of looking after himself, and I’d only met him the day before. He’d booked himself into a hotel in Romford, so I met him at the station on the Saturday and showed him the way. He went off and did his own thing and we caught up with him later in hospitality the following night, but I’ll come to that soon.
We made our way to hospitality in Alphabet City and keeping the girls with me at all times, it was rather a dull affair. I enjoyed a beer and the girls got whatever they wanted. I turned a blind eye. They were here to have fun as well, so who was I to get in their way?
It was about this time I noticed that we had standing tickets, and that meant we had to trek around at least three quarters of the building to get where we needed to be, and with no sign of the band in hospitality, I made the decision to go to where we had to be to see the show.
If you have no concept of the O2 Arena, then let’s just say it’s fucking huge. Imagine a 20,000-seat arena inside a huge tent, set within a shopping mall that has a lot of bars and eateries, and then include a bowling alley, a couple of night clubs and other smaller venues and a multiplex cinema, and you are getting close. But it’s slightly bigger than that.
So, twenty minutes later, we arrived at our destination and showed our passes, and were pointed in the direction of the standing area at the back of the arena and what felt like a quarter of a mile away from the stage, or a third of a kilometre if you prefer. I decided to make camp near the exit, and the girls went off to see how close they could get to the front, and when they eventually returned, they showed me some really good, close up photos of the band on stage.
At the close of the set I said it was time to head back to hospitality, and off we went for the twenty-minute return walk.
Alphabet City was buzzing by the time we got back, and enjoying the freebies, it wasn’t long before Steve Harris showed up, and was deep in conversation with Dennis Stratton. Being part of the family, I thought I would join in the chat. Dennis spotted me coming and instantly said, “Oh Gawd blimey”. This was totally normal when we all toured together, so not unexpected.
Much hand shaking took place, and then I introduced them both to the girls. Steffy and Tina said a quick hello, but Lily had a bit more to say than that, so she cornered Steve for about five or six minutes.
Meanwhile, Lee found us and got some drinks for everyone. We all sat and chatted for a while until it was time to leave, so we made our way to the station to get the tube to Stratford.
Now we move on to an event that Chris Lang did manage to attend, Metalwave, which I covered for MetalTalk in October 2013 here.
This was held at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet on October 10th, featuring bands such as Dennis Stratton’s Maiden Years, Praying Mantis, Chariot, Clovenhoof, More 2012 featuring Chris Tsangarides on guitar, and if I’ve forgotten anyone, I apologise for my bad memory, but then it can’t be that bad if I can write a book about Iron Maiden can it?
I was asked to help Dennis out by getting the drum kit on and off the stage as drummer ‘Magic’ Martin Johnson had to dash off to another gig. We always suspected that his mum had his dinner on the table, but this will never be proven. The rest of Dennis’ band was his long-time sidekick and mate Dave Edwards on guitar, bass player Laurie Dalziel, special guest Michael De Jager on guitar and guest vocalist Gary Stone.
It wasn’t until I arrived at the venue that a few familiar faces began turning up. I knew that Chris Lang would be there as it was his weekend off, but I was a little surprised when not only Dave Lights turned up to do Den’s lights, but Doug Hall had also shown up to do Den’s sound. Then to cap it all off, Maiden’s live recording engineer Tony Newton turned up to do the front sound for Chariot and oversee the whole live sound.
Five members of Maiden’s crew, past and present. That must have scared the crap out of some of the other bands there, but it was just us showing Den our support. He spent a lot of time with us in his short stay with Maiden and we all loved and still love the guy. It was our honour.
Sally Newhouse (not related), as I call her, captured some of the event on her camera.
I also had my camera with me. This next photo shows Doug Hall and Dave Lights together front of house for the first time in about twenty years.
The next two photos show Dennis Stratton’s Maiden Years.
If you wish to experience Den and Dave playing in the east end of London, you can catch them on the first Sunday of each month at the Crown Inn, Roneo Corner, Hornchurch from 5.00pm to 7.00pm. Covering classic rock and blues songs from Hendrix, Clapton to Billy Idol and a storming version of ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, they never disappoint and keep proving that neither of them have lost their touch.
Throw in a sense of humour of two great friends that have played together for over forty years, the packed pub gets exactly what they are there for.
The original columns, published between 2012 and 2016, led to the hugely popular ‘Loopyworld – The Iron Maiden Years’ book, which you can buy from eBay.
If you want the book dedicated, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do it for you. All books are signed. You won’t be disappointed.