Published: September 3rd 2008August 27th 2008
Thursday 21st August to Thursday 28th August, 2008
Sexist ? Me ? No way. Okay, okay, so I may have made a few references to 'chains' and ‘kitchen sinks’ in my dark and shallow past but only ever in jest. Honestly. Furthermore, despite refusing to stray from my never changing steadfast opinions on ladies behind the wheel, a point of view derived from twenty five years of near death experiences working on the UK’s highways and byways I do actually enjoy to see the female form competing on an even keel with the alpha male, just ask Adalia from the Long Beach soccer group who, she'll be the first to tell you, gets subjected to exactly same mildly abusive drill sergeant grilling on a Saturday morning as any of her male counterparts.
Consequently, having travelled down the coast to Irvine to see Iron Maiden in my first fortnight over here it seemed only right when I saw a flyer advertising a gig by the world’s only all female Maiden tribute band that I should put my unprejudiced principles into practice and attend. It’s not that the bands existence was news to me, far from it. A couple of years
The Devil Wears Horns.
The final Devil Horns of a great afternoon.
ago knowing my fondness for all things Maiden the editor of Powerplay Magazine had asked me to review a copy of a covers album that the California girls were about to release in Europe and I recalled being actually surprised by the quality of it’s content, so much so that if memory serves me right I'd given it a more than respectable seven out of ten. Thus, having badgered a tired and shabby Phil into joining me on the proviso that he could wear my Eddie in LA Tee Shirt on Saturday lunchtime we headed east to the Orange County suburb of Santa Fe Springs.
The show was advertised as The Iron Maidens and Friends, their chums in this instance being members of various California tribute bands Mentallica, Just Like Priest, Diary of a Madwoman and Highway to Hell and it was taking place at The Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet, an enormous open air market that it soon transpired is the place to go for anyone shopping on a low to lower end budget. ie. Mexicans.
The second of three one hour long sets was due to start when we arrived at 1.30pm and already a large
The Devil Wears Horns.
Sunset through my shades.
crowd of hairy beer swilling Hispanic headbangers (and that was just the women) had gathered around the front of the stage and on the surrounding picnic tables and wooden benched terracing erected within the hellishly hot tarpaulin covered arena. The night before we’d had our customary Friday night drink in nearby Huntington Beach and crashed at colleague Nigel’s house and when I’d finally managed to drag myself from the comfort of my softly quilted king sized bed the following morning I’d discovered Phil unconscious and spreadeagled on the living room floor. It wasn’t that he’d drawn the short straw, simply that he'd done his usual party trick of falling asleep the moment he'd sat on anything soft and had simply rolled the wrong way in the middle of the night ensuring that by lunchtime both his mind and body were paying the price. He was suffering.
I had a decision to make. How could I possibly encourage a muted and sickly comrade from within his self pitying shell of alcohol induced despair ? Within seconds of our arrival and without having had time to do anything other than take in our surroundings I'd found my answer. The mixing desk
The Devil Wears Horns.
Knackered. Long Beach Meet Up 3 Arsenal FC 5.
operator/Master of Ceremonies, who I was totally unaware at the time was stood right next to me powered up his microphone and started to inform all present of the agenda for the remainder of the day and when he eventually paused for breath I leant across, tapped him on the shoulder and whispered into his ear that the friend to my right, gesturing with a nod and a raised eyebrow at a totally oblivious Phil, had come all the way from England for the show, that he had just arrived in the country and asked would he kindly give a shout out for him. Job done.
Phil had no idea that any of this had gone on and looked slightly surprised to say the least when the guy demanded the attention of everyone present to announce the presence of the Englishman in their midst. Their reaction was a surprise to myself let alone Phil as they turned as one, including the road crew busily preparing the stage and whooped, hollered, clapped and whistled for a full thirty seconds as Phil stood slightly blushing acknowledging the applause with Winston Churchill like waves in the air of his walking stick. And
it worked in perking him up no end.
Despite the heat we had a brilliant afternoon, not least for the quality of the bands on show (I swear Rob Halford and James Hetfield were the real thing) but also for the quality of the people present. South Americans love to rock and full families, the majority dressed in Maiden colours were in attendance ranging in age from one year old babies to sixty year old men. I met and chatted with Clark Gable (honestly, he showed me his driving licence), a fifty something 'artist' with a huge head and a Tommy Cooper face who smelled of stale rolling tobacco and his sister dressed in her collectors item Kiss shorts, several full families of Mexican rockers and the Iron Maidens themselves including drummer Nikki McBrain who had played the complete set with a full neck brace on. Phil had commented that it would no doubt be for the benefit of some suspect insurance claim or other and I had to agree, drumming Iron Maiden style probably being the last thing any self respecting GP would permit if there was a justifiable reason for his patient to be wearing one of
these things so when the set had finished I sought her out and asked her what had happened.
"Oh, I got shunted up the rear" she replied with a face so straight and serious that told me she was totally oblivious to any possible double entendre.
"Lucky you" I replied which instantly drew a look from her that told me it was time to change the subject.
Early the following morning I was on my way to Irvine for my first soccer 'scrimmage', friendly to you and I, into which I'd been drafted into via an e mail from organiser Ogieva late on Friday afternoon. My soccer group were playing against another similar motley crew, imaginatively named Arsenal FC, a team which I thought a little unfairly contained no sign of a girl and I took it upon myself to organise the eight who'd turned up into some sort of formation, not least because Rich, another of the organisers had told me before we started how much inspiration my presence had given to the whole group. Incredibly we were two nil ahead at the break but ended losing 5.3 but it was enough of a workout to
The Devil Wears Horns.
Two falls and a submission. Phil and Nigel battle it out.
ensure I was still hobbling come the following weekend.
This week has finally seen me become 'billable' meaning that from now on I can no longer be looked upon as a free loader sucking Faithful and Gould's resources dry but as a full time employee earning my corn and as of Thursday I am off the bench and 'officially' working for Fresh & Easy, the US branch of Tesco Supermarkets assisting with the cost management side of their network expansion of new stores that are rapidly springing up across Western America.
The fact that I've up to now been 'unemployed' has been nothing to do with my abilities I'm pleased to say, purely a reflection of the current economical cut backs currently happening out here in the States but from now on hopefully there'll be no looking back. Despite the fact that it has been beyond mine and everyone else's control I've still been feeling a sense of frustration and guillt at sitting around the office with next to nothing to do. Until mid September I'll be working from our offices here at Seal Beach, a leisurely ten minute drive from home but from then on will be
based at their El Segundo head office, close to LAX and a horrid forty five minute commute across Los Angeles. Ugh.
There are more photos below