This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Sunday 3rd September
Well, I knew they'd be good, but I didn't think they'd be THAT good. Last night Leatherwolf wound up a six-date jaunt around the UK, the first time that they’d been here since supporting Vow Wow back in 1989. The show took place at … of all places… the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden. For band that had travelled from Los Angeles and after such a prolonged absence, it had threatened to be an insalubrious way to sign off. However, nobody looked peeved to be playing to less than 100 people in a pub – quite the opposite, in fact. Singer Michael Oliveri laughed and joked about enduring a shopping trip with his wife that afternoon and being the subject of photos on Facebook of lugging around her bags when he'd rather have been supping a beer, but he was warm and grateful to those that turned up. You knew without a doubt that this was five guys that really loved being in a band. It was a beautiful thing.
Far from going through the motions at the request of an audience member Leatherwolf went off set-list to add ‘Spirits In The Wind’ from the album ‘Street Ready’ in the show’s latter stages.
Musically, they sounded amazing. Hair flailing all across the tiny stage, the energy levels surged as their fabled ‘triple axe attack’ worked its magic, meaty rhythms colliding with melodic, tuneful arrangements. This was classy, classy stuff. Along with everyone else in the Fiddler’s Elbow I grinned like an idiot when they broke into my fave chewn ‘Hideway’, and for three minutes and 56 seconds I was back in 1989. Later on I stared in disbelief and amusement as Amanda and Belinda did the bump (whilst trying not to spill their drinks) during ‘The Calling’.
A brilliant, brilliant night. Please don’t leave it another 28 years, fellas.
Saturday 2nd September
I cannot abide the increasingly popular phrase ‘it is what it is’; a glib cliché trotted out by lazy people who cannot be bothered to properly articulate themselves, but yesterday’s Richie Kotzen gig at the Islington Assembly Hall? Well, ahem… let’s go with the flow… it was what it was.
The show had attracted a decent sized Friday night crowd but a handful of numbers including the rather fine ‘My Rock', one of several delivered seated at the electric piano, was all it took to realise that something was up with Kotzen’s normally stellar soulful croon. He quickly explained that his voice was in "recovery mode" after a recent bout of illness collected on his travels for the new album ‘Salting Earth’. There were also some technical gremlins that saw him angrily call out somebody at the side of stage. Perhaps inevitably, a bass solo within 15 mins was followed by a fairly lengthy drum workout half an hour afterwards, though the crowd remained sympathetic.
And let’s be clear, the music was also extremely good. "We're giving you a very different set tonight to accommodate my issues,” said Richie as his bass player took the mic for ‘High’, proceeding to blow us away by playing the solo – usually performed on a guitar, of course – on an upright instrument with a bow… very cool. Julia Herzog from the night’s support band The Konincks stepped up to sing 'Remember' and we were into the home strait. There was plenty of shredding during the final quarter, which of course I adored. Given the circumstances I was amazed that Kotzen managed an hour and 20 mins, returning for an encore of 'This Is Life' he admitted: "Two days ago I couldn't even speak." This was a somewhat brave choice but just like the show itself Richie made it through with pride and reputation intact. What a trooper.
Friday 1st September
Crikey, it's September already?! No doubt my friend Tyrina Gallagher will have her Christmas tree up in a few days’ time. Here's this month's Playlist and YouTube.
Thursday 31st August
Today is the final day of the transfer window and it's terrifyingly silent at Selhurst Park. We are second from bottom of the league on goal difference, have lost our first three games (without scoring a goal), we have the worst keeper in the division, no back-up for our one and only striker and our manager is rumoured to be a 'dead man walking'. I can't bring myself to look at Sky Sports News. Who would want to sign for us??!!
[Edit: Well, despite the efforts of Piny Penis at West Brom who tried to ransack the deal, we got Mamadou Sakho over the line. As a loanee from Liverpool, Mama was probably our best last season, it's great to have him on the books full-time. Turkish striker Cenk Tosun from Beşiktaş had looked like a good deal for £12.5m, but of course somehow it failed to happen. I am very, very worried about this season's prospects].
Wednesday 30th August
Haha! This is brilliant. Lionheart bassist Rocky Newton has just posted an amazing piccie of that band's debut gig at the 'old' Marquee Club in January 1981, spotting a very fresh-faced, pudding bowl haircutted version of myself leaning on the monitor in the front row in front of vocalist Jess Cox. Oh, to be that young again!
Monday 28th August
For tea we have just had homemade chili con carne and rice with a side plate of tortillas with grated cheese & Jalapeños. Later on we there will be blackberry and apple crumble with ingredients picked locally this afternoon. Miss Gentle is setting her standards rather high, I think. Okay, okay... you've got the job! *Burps*...
Are Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson about to launch a new band post-Rush? Do it guys, do it...
Sunday 27th August
Disappointed but not really surprised but not really very surprised by yesterday's Palace result. Beyond that, I don't wanna talk about it.
I'm just back from a great workout in Ladywell Fields before the sun became too hot. Two laps of the entire lower park for Eddie Lemmy Selhurst Ling and a third for yours truly. I fear that we have literally run Bob The Dog into the ground! I'm taking some time out from fretting over sport and the pressures of work... here's this afternoon's office.
Saturday 26th August
Well, that’s another of those bucket list boxes ticked. Last night, some 28 years after their all-time classic major label debut ‘Law Of The Order’ was released, I saw Shark Island at the Underworld.
Okay, only frontman Richard Black remained from those dim and distant but much cherished Sunset Strip days, which was odd as bass player Chris Heilmann was in the house (along with his delightful missus Angie), but the 2017 line-up, which included the ubiquitous Alex Kane on guit...ar, sounded great all the same. It was appropriate that their set began with ‘Make A Move’ as Black, who has claimed that W Axl Rose copied his stage mannerisms (in Classic Rock #96 he told me: “Once when I went over to Axl’s house he was playing a video of me. On top of his TV were half a dozen tapes marked Shark Island”), still has the snake-live groove of old; sashaying, twirling like a spinning top and working every inch of stage. I can now die happy, content in the knowledge that I have seen ‘Somebody’s Falling’ and the brilliant ‘Paris Calling’ performed onstage.
This Underworld gig marked the first time that Spread Eagle had performed outside their United States homeland. Still featuring originals Ray West and Rob De Luca on vocals and bass respectively (the latter is now also a member of UFO), the Brooklyn quartet reeled back the years to 1990’s self-titled cult for MCA with the likes of ‘Broken City’, ‘Back On The Bitch’, ‘Switchblade Serenade’ and ‘Suzy Suicide’. Embellished by flashy stun-guitar runs, these vintage gems reminded us why the band are regarded as slightly glammy, hard rockin’ cult heroes.
Back together again since the millennium’s turn, headliners Junkyard are in the UK again for the first time in more than a quarter-century and save for the absence of co-founding guitarist Brian Baker who now plays with Bad Religion, they’ve hardly changed. Although singer David Roach removed his own garment halfway through, each member sported a denim cut-off held together by patches, spit and sheer optimism. They also offered an admirable array of mutton chop sideburns, beer guts, greasy hair and baseball caps.
You certainly wouldn't mess with these guys. The music they play is a formulaic mix of Southern rock, punk and rockin’ boogie; had various members of the Quo and Bachman-Turner Overdrive met in a truckstop in Lewisburg TN and decided to form a band, they’d probably have sounded something like this. However, in terms of pure energy Junkyard can still tear it up like few others, and ending with a revved up take on Girlschool's 'Emergency' was a masterstroke.
Friday 25th August
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind few months but Amanda has just given notice on her flat in the East End and will be relocating to sunny Ling Towers over the next couple of weeks. Amazing news. Despite the terrifying prospect of housing her shoe collection along with my music archive, we are both extremely happy. The Linglets are cool with it and so is Amanda’s lad Ewan. Anyone who thinks it’s ‘too soon’ – with respect… shove it! Life is too short!
And so begins a new era of domestic awareness here at Chateau Ling. What is this strange, new-fangled device that now lurks in the hallway??!! (And why the frick does it have its own wifi?) Be afraid, be very afraid...
Thursday 24th August
Like a few of my friends and colleagues at Prog magazine I’ve fallen under the spell of Koyo (the name is Japanese for ‘colourful Autumn leaves’). Last night the Leeds-based band threw a launch party for their eponymously titled debut album at Studio 1 of RAK Studios on St John’s Wood. With an average age of 22 they offer a fascinatingly seamless fusion of prog, alt-rock, psychedelia, post-grunge and indie sounds. My fave track from the album, ‘Strange Bird In The Sky’, began a rather fine live performance.
There was Stella Artois and Jack Daniel’s and coke plus a mountain of pizza and the music came complete with head-removing sound mixed by Simon Efemy… what more do you need? "Aaaah, this is their prog epic," pronounced Herr Spewing as the quintet signed off with ‘Tetrachromat (Parts 1 & 2)’, drenched in squalling saxophone and spacey keys, ending in a sea of guitar feedback. My first response? ‘Blimey, that was a bit good’. My second response: ‘Is there any JD left?’ (Indeed there was). And as we departed Studio 1 attendees were presented with an lovely double gatefold vinyl edition of ‘Koyo’. I can’t stop playing the darned thing. You will be hearing more from this band.
Wednesday 23rd August
Last night Palace beat Ipswich 2-1 in the League Cup, thanks to two well taken goals from James McArthur. It wasn't the greatest match ever, and the visitors fielded a fairly youthful side, but several ales were consumed and a win is a win. Our name goes into the hat for the fourth round. Hurrah!
Monday 21st August
Whaaaaaaaaaaaat??!! Dougie Freedman is back at Selhurst in a newly created role as Palace's new Sporting Director. The man that said he would never leave the club with a job half-done, but what days later had been installed as manager of Bolton. The man who was a key figure in the row over the leaked team line-ups when Palace played Cardiff in 2014. Despite two successful spells as a player, Freedman is *hated* by plenty of Palace fans. This is an astonishing move.
Sunday 20th August
If you’re among those that misguidedly believe there’s no place in prog-rock for melody and/or emotion… well, last night’s gig at the Assembly Halls in Islington would have provided food for reassessment. Southampton’s Kepler Ten began the show. Plagued by technical issues and with a new guitarist of just three weeks’ standing they acquitted themselves with honour but fell short of distinction. The Rush-like ‘Time & Tide’ remains their watermark but I suspect there’s more to follow.
I’d been waiting ages to see Tilt, the Anglo-Scottish combo with strong connections to Fish. Their album ‘Hinterland’ was among the very best releases of 2016, and live they didn’t disappoint – not in the least. The immaculate vocals of PJ Dourley rendered ‘Against The Rain’ a treat for the ears, stunning back projections serving up a riveting audio-visual experience.
Tilt bassist Steve Vantsis reappeared as part of Lonely Robot, the increasingly popular solo vehicle for John Mitchell of Frost*/Kino/Arena fame.
Resplendent in his spacesuit purchased from eBay, the concept of Lonely Robot suits Mitchell to the ground, his second album ‘The Big Dream’ shunning the special guest enhanced approach of 2015’s ‘Please Come Home’. Consequently, at Islington all eyes were on the four-piece band, with no extraneous distractions. Mitchell is known as a guitarist but when tailored to material of his own specification, his voice remains every bit as impressive. This quality was reflected in song after song – ‘God Vs Man’, ‘The Boy On The Radio’, ‘Lonely Robot’, ‘In Floral Green’, the frail majesty of ‘Humans Being’ and the poignant 'The Red Balloon', all once again enhanced by imaginative filmic presentation.
This was a show that had a little of everything you could wish for: a wonderful night's entertainment.
Saturday 19th August
I write in the wake of a narrow 1-0 defeat at Liverpool. After the mortal embarrassment of last weekend and given the levels of pre-game anxiety I can live with that. I saw enough from my team that they should be competitive this season after all. A couple of signings before the window closes - a new keeper, for starters - would make things much easier.
And so... off to Islington Assembly Hall for some ale and prog-rock!
Friday 18th August
It's Friday night are we are partaking in ale and loud heavy metal - as you do. Amanda and I are at the Cart & Horses in Stratford, East London, birthplace of Iron Maiden. Her flat is just up the road in Leyton - my old stomping ground of many moons ago (I lived there for eight wonderful years). Deejays Kayleigh and Michelle are spinning the discs, and we are waiting for my request; Quo's 'Slow Train'. There's a decent crowd in and the cider is hitting the spot. Welcome to the weekend, folks.
Thursday 17th August
What utterly nice comments from Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters at the end of our recent phone interview. “I’m always so happy to get Classic Rock in the mail once a month. We almost lost you, which would have been terrible. Among the low-points of last year was hearing that news – it made us so down to think we wouldn’t see it anymore. We used to have Creem and Circus but now there’s no printed rock media in the States. We take Classic Rock with us on our tour bus, and there isn’t a week that goes by when we don’t turn somebody onto your magazine. What you do is important to us.”
And talking of 'Awwwwww' moments, how 'bout this: Andy Scott of Sweet has just received his copy of 'Scarecrow', the second album from Cats In Space. The result? A right royal thumbs up. In rock music that's the equivalent of 'By Appointment'.
Wednesday 16th August
Last night was spent at Dingwalls in Camden with the lovely Amanda. We caught a bit of modern, metallic prog with Vola. Really enjoyed it; it's not often that you hear a Deftones riff and an A-Ha melody in the same song!
Tuesday 15th August
I must say, I really, really like this new song by ex-White Spirit/Ted Nugent/Bad Company singer Brian Howe. Welcome back, fella. Now get your ass over here and play some British gigs.
Monday 14th August
I'm still writing about the year of 1984 for Rock Candy. Such great memories of The Mighty Thor, who used to blow up hot water bottles onstage and had a buxom partner in crime named Pantera. I just couldn't resist posting this little snap.
Sunday 13th August
Life goes on after the football - after what happened to me at the start of this year, I am realising that it really is only a game - and I'm having a bit of Ted Nugent morning as I revisit January and February 1984 for the pages of Rock Candy magazine. I'd almost forgotten how great the 'Penetrator' album is! Three of its tracks went onto my iTunes. 'Weekend Warriors' is up next...
I've also had Mr Big's newie, 'Defying Gravity', on perpetual play as I work this afternoon... awesome, super-memorable songs and a killer soulful voice; on a par with their best work from first time around.
Saturday 12th August
Chilling in my office with some scrumpy and feeling a bit dazed following a depressing day out at Selhurst. One game is all it takes to know that Frank’s new 3-4-3 formation is not going to work. As someone posted at the Palace forum:
I don't think I've ever seen a performance where the ENTIRE TEAM looked like they were being played out of position.
It’s a very, very good summation. Passing the ball out from the back requires a keeper with good feet as well as hands. Hennessey has neither of those things. Fair play to Huddersfield. We gave ‘em a goal’s head start but they looked a tidy unit. Had their keeper not produced that miracle save from Benteke’s bullet header the result may have been different. However, if de Boer digs in his heels then I fear we have a very big problem indeed.
Friday 11th August
Yesssss! A finished CD of 'Into The Great Unknown', the new album from H.e.a.t has arrived. The weekend starts here!
But there's a downside: less than a year after it last happened yesterday poor Bob lost another claw. Visit to vet. Painkillers and antibiotics. This morning he really doesn't want the wound cleansed, but it's gotta be done.
Thursday 10th August
I’m back from gym for first time in a week, I will sleep very well tonight. Massive respect to Eddie Lemmy Selhurst Ling, who stayed alone for a while on after I left. He's really putting in the work.
Wednesday 9th August
What an awful, awful story about Ginger Wildheart , who has spoken many, many times of his battles with depression. Having known him since the early days of the Wildhearts I'm incredibly fond of Ginger both as an artist and, more importantly, as a human being. Praying that he will come out of this okay.
I have spent the afternoon wading through the many delights of 'The Tower', a double-set from the Norwegian progressive / psychedelic rock power-trio Motorpsycho. It rules. Saw them play a brilliant gig at the Borderline... ulp... seven years ago! I am planning to return when they visit the Garage on October 23.
Tuesday 8th August
It’s cinema/date night with the lovely Amanda, in the back row of the Picturehouse in Greenwich with vodka lime and soda and gin 'n' tonics, watching the excellent Dunkirk. I'd recommend it if you have yet to see it.
Monday 8th August
Check out this very cool little web story on UFO. I hadn't seen it till a couple of hours ago but it contains some genuine laugh aloud moments. I never thought that I'd be quoted alongside a member of Rage Against The Machine (spit!).
My old mates Lionheart have just posted a new video for 'Don't Wake The Ferryman', a bloody great re-make of a song by Chris DeBurgh, taken from one of the albums of the year. Pomp-rock doesn't get much better and I can't wait till the UK tour with Airrace which hits London’s Underworld on December 2.
Sunday 7th August
I’d like to wish a very happy marriage to my good friends Paul and Rita Newcomb, two of the nicest people I know who yesterday tied the knot in the People’s Republic Of Croydonia. I first met Paul, who is also a massive fan of Crystal Palace, many, many moons ago through his involvement with Leslie West of Mountain. He set up an interview with Leslie and Corky Laing that ran over several pages of Classic Rock magazine in May 2003, and we stayed close friends ever since. Paul’s own music career began as a road crew member for Stray – I’m pictured here with the irrepressible Del Bromham, doing our best impressions of Harry Hill. The wedding with Rita and their subsequent reception was so stuffed with London music scene cognoscenti that it was rumoured that with half of its regular punters away the Crobar actually closed for the evening!! Sambuca shots with your meal, sir and madam? Oh go on, then. Amanda and I raised hell with Malcolm Dome, Jerry Ewing et al on the so-called 'naughty table'. Here’s a nice piccie before the madness began… don’t we scrub up well?
Anyway, I’m back at my desk and working on a melodic rock column for Classic Rock Sept 12. There’s yet another winner from Steve Newman ('Aerial' on AOR Heaven Records), and Boulevard's 'IV – Luminescence', the Canadian group's first studio album in 27 years is another frontrunner for the spot of 'lead review', but nobody is gonna top H.e.a.t's 'Into The Great Unknown' this month. It sees the Swedes adding some poppier elements to their sound yet returning with the distinction to which we are now long since accustomed. H.e.a.t. have just made the most complete album of their career. Watch their rise continue.
Saturday 5th August
What a fantastic day out at the Cambridge Rock Festival in its brand new location at Horseheath Lodge. A very homely, comfy spot and (shock, horror) dry weather – plus a wide variety of fermented apple juice beverages… absolute heaven. Proggers GHOST COMMUNITY were just finishing their set as we bowled up in the Noelmobile – regrettably, the last song was all that we heard so it’s hard to state an opinion except that the (male) singer had bloody great hair.
I’ve now seen quite a few shows by CHANTEL McGREGOR and she just keeps on getting better and better; not even some persistent tech gremlins and the fact that in a "blonde moment" she had foolishly left a favourite Stratocaster at home could derail a determined and thoroughly enjoyable display.
The TYGERS OF PAN TANG kicked major amounts of ass, revisiting vintage tunes such as 'Love Don't Stay', 'Gangland', 'Take It', 'Don't Stop By', 'Rock 'N' Roll Man', 'Raised On Rock', 'Suzie Smiled', 'Hellbound' and 'Euthanasia' and ramming home the quality of their current self-titled disc. From the latter, 'Glad Rags' got the entire place singing along... what a bloody wonderful chewn.
With the headliners in the preparation stages of a new album, FM decided to wheel out a collection of songs that were largely written when Steve Overland was four – or so he claimed (cough, splutter... shurely shome mishtake). There was a rare outing for ‘Shot In The Dark’, the track allegedly ‘misappropriated’ by Ozzy Osbourne, and Overland chose to end a rousing display with “a song by a proper band” – Bad Co’s ‘Can’t Get Enough’. I had managed to push my way right the way to the front, two rows back. Watching from such close proximity, it was lovely to behold the quintet’s sheer joy of playing. Shape throwing, smiles and laughs abounded and there was much piss-taking when Steve fluffed the lyrics to the golden oldie ‘Love Lies Dying’. Such genuine camaraderie is very rare, just like FM’s catalogue. They really are a very special band. Here's the set-list: ‘Digging Up The Dirt’, ‘I Belong To The Night’, ‘Life Is A Highway’, ‘Burning Down My Heart’, ‘Dangerous’, ‘Let Love Be The Leader’, ‘Someday (You’ll Come Running To Me)’, ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘All Or Nothing’, ‘Love Lies Dying’, ‘Shot In The Dark’, ‘Wild Side’, ‘American Girls’, ‘Bad Luck’, ‘Tough It Out’, ‘That Girl’ and ‘Can’t Get Enough’, followed by an encore of ‘The Other Side Of Midnight’. *Swoons*...
Friday 4th August
How fantastic... ahead of its release on September 22, I've just received a watermarked CDr promo of the album that I had feared would probably never be made; Black Country Communion's comeback opus, cunningly titled 'BCC IV'. I'm really, really enjoying this. There are some great chews here. I'm particularly enjoying 'The Cove;, which captures Messrs Hughes, Bonamassa, Sherinian and Bonham in melancholic through slightly groovy mood, offering distant echoes of The Voice Of Rock's former band, Trapeze.
In a short while I shall be heading off to the Cambridge Rock Festival with my pals Noel Buckley and Tyrina Gallagher. CRF is among my fave festivals; intimate and rather booze-fuelled. Hmmmm... I wonder how many different types of cider will be on sale this time?
I’ve no doubt that 'BCC IV' will be blasting on the stereo of Noel's car, and I daresay Cats In Space's awesome 'Scarecrow' will also receive an airing as we head up the M11.
Thursday 3rd August
How better a way to have spent the 30th anniversary of one of rock's all-time great albums, 'Hysteria' by Def Leppard, than being seated in the front row of a 250 person fan night Q&A with Joe Elliott at the Gibson showrooms just off Oxford Street? Honoured. Cajoled by host Paul Anthony, Joe was on top form throughout, revealing that some 'Hysteria'-themed tour dates are a possibility. “Watch this space,” was the singer’s unusually circumspect response, though Elliott did elaborate slightly by adding: “There are going to be shows next year , there’s probably going to be shows in the UK and they may well feature an iconic album in total… or they might not. We’ll have to wait and see!”
Thanks very much to Nick Workman from Vega for allowing me to be his +1 for the evening (PS No tongues were used).
Oh, and feel free to check out my own interview of the era from the pages of Metal Hammer with the band's Rick Savage.
Wednesday 2nd August
I decided to sit out Yngwie J Malmsteem’s return to the UK following his latest comments about the "self-absorbed" vocalists with whom he has worked in the past – check out this article entitled: “Why I Will Never Have Another Vocalist Sing My Music Again”. I wasn’t upset at The Yng laying into Joe Lynn Tunrer, Jeff Scott Soto, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens et al, more unwilling to listen to the guitarist's own notoriously lame efforts at singing. That's it for me, over and out.