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.
Monday 24th October
Having enjoyed both of her albums, I'd really been looking forward to seeing MARTINA EDOFF. The Swede was performing with a first-rate backing band that featured three members of H.E.A.T. (including guitarist Dave Dalone who had recently re-joined Erik Grönwall and company after the departure of Eric Rivers). Edoff's 35 minutes of soave, elegant Scandi-AOR, complete with effortlessly classy vocals, simply flew by. The perfect hangover cure.
Although I praised their recently released second album, 'Go Ask The Moon', the jury remains out on Manchester's ANGELS OR KINGS. My problem? I just don't really rate their singer Baz Jackson, especially onstage. A couple of songs did little to change that opinion, so having sat down to do a little interview-ette with Nick Workman from Vega for an upcoming issue of Classic Rock I went back to my hotel to drop off the tape recorder.
What can I say about ALESSANDRO DEL VECCHIO? Usually stuck behind a keyboard or a mixing desk, the ubiquitous Italian has written some of the best AOR songs of recent years. At Rockingham he stepped out centre stage, microphone in hand, to prove himself a rather good singer, running through songs penned for the likes of Revolution Saints and Hardline. The elephant in the room was Alessandro's almost Lilliputian stature, but let me tell you… the guy's talent is in direct contrast to his physical presence.
Every indoor melodic rock show has its wild card and FORTUNE, the obscure US pomp-meisters whose self-titled album got lost in the shuffle 31 years ago, filled that spot at Rockingham 2.0. The old fuckers really pulled it out of the bag with a performance soft as silk, embroidered by the skill of veterans. The connoisseur's choice came good… and then some!
"This song was voted Number 11 in a list of 20 power ballads you've never heard, but you'll hear it tonight," teased JD Kelly whilst introducing FROM THE FIRE's iconic weepie 'Tears Cried In The Rain'. Even 150 miles away in Bath and Fleet respectively, I could almost hear my fellow AOR disciples Paul Elliott and Jon Hotten weeping in admiration. What a pair of pathetic part-timers! The pair missed a rather excellent display from FTF, including 'You Will Survive', a moving tribute to the late, great Jimi Jamison. For me, THE DEFIANTS were the show's real Sunday night headliners. Having made arguably the best melodic hard rock record of 2016, the four-piece – featuring past and present members of Danger Danger, including that band's erstwhile frontman Paul Laine – simply roared onto the stage in Nottingham and proceeded to pour kerosene over all that had preceded them. Laine was fantastically, unapologetically, uproariously, flamboyantly drunk, behaving like a brattish teenager; watch as that bottle of Jack Daniel's flew through the air to shatter on the other side of the stage, giggle as he loses his microphone stand under the drum riser and share the bemusement of his band-mates who continually shrugged in disbelief at the singer's crazy antics. But Laine's spirited display gave the show a real edge, and somehow he managed to hold things together vocally. As The Defiants left the stage after 80 unmissable minutes, all inside the Trent University Students Union knew that they've witnessed something very special indeed.
No offence intended to ex-707/The Storm singer Kevin Chalfant, who in reality topped the bill thanks to rather tenuous connection with Journey, but with an early start back to London in the morning, four or five of the songs in his set were quite sufficient. There was too much talking and the music seemed just a little… smug? Maybe that's the wrong word. Whatever the problem, I wasn't digging it. I snuck out for something to eat and an early night.
So… what was my overall impression of Rockingham? First and foremost, it offered a tremendous, imaginative bill, put together for all of the right reasons. The crowd were also major stars of the event. The venue? Yeah… I liked it; nice and clean and the bar staff were very friendly. But the sound system? Ah, well, there we have our one problem – and it's a biggie. The front of house mix for Trixter, for, example, was a disgrace… little short of white noise. What's the point of having everything else in place when such a fundamental consideration goes down the shitter? Things really must improve next year. But… the organisers get ten out of ten from me for their effort and ambition.
Sunday 23rd October
STONE BROKEN began the second day of Rockingham. Despite not having heard a single note of their music I quite liked 'em, though the set began to lose impetus towards the end. Imagine if Nickelback came from Walsall; you'll get a rough idea of what they're doing.
I kinda like BLOOD RED SAINTS… in principle, at least. They've made a good album but why on earth they persist with doffing the hat to Bon Jovi's 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' is beyond me – okay, Pete Godfrey insisted that this was the least time they'd do so, but it's all a bit too working men's club for me.
I bailed early to meet my old mate Dave Reynolds (pictured) and his better half Andrea for a drink in a local pub, though we kept our eyes on our watches, mindful of the band up next.
Performing onstage for the first time in 26 years, LIONHEART managed to overcome a massive keyboard glitch in their first number to deliver possibly the best set of the entire weekend. Having reeled in the Glenn Hughes-isms that usually lie at the core of the frontman's style, Lee Small of Shy/Phenomena/Skyscraper fame fitted in well,his emphatic display causing Dennis Stratton to declare Small "our adopted son". For those that are interested, their eight-song set was culled mostly from the album 'Hot Tonight', though the non-LP track 'Prisoner' was among its many highlights, ditto the full-pelt anthem 'Lionheart' that the band recorded for the 1982 compilation 'Heavy Metal Heroes, Volume II'. Pomp-AOR just doesn't get much better than this. New underwear please!
By now the Leicester-Palace game was underway and I sought a local pub that might have had Sky Sports. My quest took me to a boozer that was completely empty save for the barmaid, who happily flicked through the channels and found the BT Sports channel. Not as good as Jeff Stelling and company, but it would suffice. Palace went behind in the game and then conceded a second goal, and in walked three girls who proceeded to pump the jukebox full of coins and for the next hour filled the air with revolting ska music – the Specials, Madness, Bad Manners, etc etc. As if I wasn't already miserable enough, this was a soundtrack for suicide. The game finished 3-1 to Leicester. Bollocks.
I arrived back at the venue in time for the Poodles' final song, 'One Night Of Passion'. But it was JEAN BEAUVOIR that I'd really been waiting for. After the football, JB and company were just the guys to do it, delivering a set that mixed Crown Of Thorns classics with solo and Voodoo X-era material, plus songs he'd penned for others, including 'Uh! All Night' by Kiss. Culled from the legendary Crown Of Thorns debut, the über-balled 'Standin' On The Corner For Ya' was among the highlights of the weekend.
By this point, an alcohol boost was a necessity. Though we returned to catch their final few songs, Dave, Andrea and I decided to give headliners Steelheart a miss in favour of a few sherberts… by all accounts it was a wise move. Rumours of diva-ish behaviour from Miljenko 'Mile' Matjevic had already begun to seep out from the backstage area, and though the singer was in remarkably fine voice for a guy of his age the man's sheer arrogance dripped from every pore. Word from those who'd stayed was pretty consistent – too many Zeppelin covers, many of their best Steelhouse-penned songs were left ignored, there was a stupid drum solo and it was all over in around an hour. What an utter tool.
Saturday 22nd October
Okay, here's a very quick precis of last night's show in Nottingham – Day #1 of the second annual Rockingham Festival. With just four bands performing from late afternoon onwards, it was a nice 'n' leisurely start to the weekend. And before I go any further, I wasn't reviewing the show for anybody, so if you're gonna get on your high horse because I missed a few of the bands, try taking a chill pill – I was on friggin' holiday!!!
ART NATION got things underway with a cool, confident and massively enjoyable blast of Scandi-AOR. I'm a big fan of their album 'Revolution' and the six-piece proved themselves excitable, capable and extremely entertaining, a bit like H.E.A.T. in miniature (which is meant to be a compliment).
The flamboyant ROBBY VALENTINE was up next, mixing pomp, pop, metal and rock to grandiose effect. From the strutting 'Rock Star' to the emotive ballads 'Dear Dad' and 'Over And Over Again' it was completely obvious that he doffed a feathered cap to Freddie Mercury. I'd never seen the Dutchman before and now call myself a fan.
LEE AARON was among the main reasons I'd made the pilgrimage from London to Nottingham. Now 54 years young, the Canadian had returned to rock music after decades away with current disc 'Fire And Gasoline'. She's still got the voice, along with that cheeky personality that made her so loveable. "If I'd known there would be so many photographers I wouldn't have worn my fat-ass pants," joked Lee early on, adding: "They gave us fish and chips last night!" The set-list threw in a handful of new songs ('Tom Boy', 'Fire And Gasoline' and '50 Miles') but focussed upon her heyday era. 'Barely Holding On' from the 'Call Of The Wild' album was nothing less than a complete show-stopper, my only real complaint being that 'Lady Of The Darkest Night' was truncated in a medley with 'Powerline'. That minor grumble aside, the Metal Queen was sensational. Making their UK debut after a whopping 26 years of existence, headliners TRIXTER brought along a confetti canon, a couple of leggy blonde strippers and a flight case of quality party tunes including 'Rockinghorse', 'Road Of A Thousand Dreams', 'One In A Million', 'Line Of Fire', the newie 'Tattoos And Misery' and of course their biggest hit 'Give It To Me Good'. The guys deserved much, much better than the pitiful sound they were awarded during the first 20 minutes show's 70-minute duration, but somehow managed to kick ass all the same. Trust me, you would not want to be the one clearing up all of that mess.
Friday 21st October
I was invited to last night's Nickelback gig at the O2 Arena via the support act, Monster Truck, but almost didn't get there in time to see the Canadians. A security alert had closed North Greenwich Station, which meant taking a Planes Trains & Automobiles route from the other side of the Thames, doubling back to South London via a cablecar that descends to drop off its users directly outside of the venue. Rather inconvenient and a tad expensive, but boy… what a view!
Huge queues outside the O2 also contrived to take things down to the wire, but Mr Beare and I gained admission about two minutes before the lights dimmed for Monster Truck's 45-minute opening slot.
Up on a far bigger stage than usual (previously, I'd only seen them at venues such as the Camdern Underworld and the 100 Club) the guys put on a very professional and engaging display. They kicked ass and their fuzz-toned retro-rock went down surprisingly well with an audience that seemed to have almost no idea of their existence.
Nickelback are a band that I can take or leave. I first saw them at Wembley Arena whilst promoting 'Silver Side Up', home of their biggest hit 'How You remind Me', back in 2002 and came away with a strong respect. Since then, however, the Canadians have made some very dodgy records indeed, a fact that brought them dubious status as 'housewives favourites'. This was reflected in the crowd at the O2 – their bodies had barely a rock 'n' roll bone between them.
Having been stung for a king's ransom at the bar, Mr Beare and I decided to give Nickelback three songs before deciding whether we would leave in search of more reasonably priced libations, or stay to watch the show. The band began exceptionally well with the 1-2-3 punch of 'Edge Of A Revolution', 'Something In Your Mouth' and 'Animals' but very soon took their foot off the gas, allowing an air of impregnable smugness to descend. Five numbers in, Andy and I looked at one another, burst out laughing and without need of discussion turned tail to leave.
Wednesday 19th October
Quiet please, guitar legend at work. What a masterclass in tone, control and sophistication. I give you the one and only Robin Trower.
Yeah, last night I was in the crowd at a packed Islington Assembly Hall as a national tour from Old Fish Face (as he is affectionately known) hit London Town in promotion of the latest album 'Where Are You Going To', released earlier this year by Manhaton Records. Alas, an annoying breakdown in communication meant that I missed just about all of the support set from The Stevie Nimmo Band… he was saying "This is my last song, thanks and goodnight" just as I entered the venue – gah!
However, despite its brevity – a little less than an hour and a half – Trower's set was nothing less than majesterial, including many of his classic solo gems from the 1970s. Though the response was ecstatic, attendance could've been a little better and as we wandered over the road for a nightcap at the Vineyard, with the latter point in mind I asked my companion Robert Corich, "The guy's 71 years old… I wonder why he still continues to do this." Mr C's response was, I suppose, inevitable: "Because he can." Haha, yeah. I'll shut up. (My thanks go to Paul Clampin for use of the excellent photograph of Catford's *other* famous musical son! Hehehe).
Tuesday 18th October
I've been rather bogged down with interview transcript for much of the past fortnight, but now I'm finally starting to sift through a few of the key arrivals on my desk. Some are much older than others, but these days it can take a while to get hold of finished CDs (or vinyl).
Monday 17th October
Steve Harris is such an incredibly nice man. He conducted himself with far more class than I'd have done had the result gone the other way. When the call was connected I admitted, "Since 5pm on Saturday I've been dreading as well as looking forward to this conversation". "Haha..., I bet you have," Harris replied. It was hard to dispute Steve's verdict of the weekend's game - "We [the Hammers] wanted and needed the points more than Palace", and so we got on with talking about music instead. Whew...
Sunday 16th October
That's the travel booked for next weekend's AOR-tastic Rockingham event in Nottingham. I can't believe that I'm actually going to see Lionheart, Lee Aaron and Trixter once again!
Saturday 15th October
A 19th minute goal from Manuel Lanzini was enough to hand Wet Sham the points at this afternoon's game – though the visitors played amazingly well in the first 25 minutes or so, it was one that we *really* didn't deserve to lose. I look forward to payback - Palace's inevitable win at the soulless, empty former Olympic Stadium. Right... those sorrows must be drowned; clear a path to the bar, it's cocktail time!
Friday 14th October
It had been a *long* time since my most recent visit to the Beaverwood Club in Chislehurst – a friendly, intimate blues venue here in Sarf London (though if we're going to picky it's actually in Kent). Setting foot over its threshold for the first time in many months I realised I'd really missed the place.
I'd made the epic bus journey from Catford to Kent to see one particular award winning little Finnish lady… Erja Lyytinen, AKA Finland's own Queen Of The Slide Guitar. Going through my records, a whopping for your years had flown by since I last saw Lyytinen onstage. At the bar I asked London's legendary blues promoter Pete Feenstra about the evening's support act. "Erja Lyytinen," he smiled, "she's playing two sets!" Fantastic!
Besides including my own personal favourite of Lyytinen's songs, 'Change Of Season' (from her 2013 set 'Forbidden Fruit') and featuring a cover of Tony Joe White's 'Steamy Windows' (also, of, course recorded by Tina Turner back in the late 1980s), the 100-minute performance served to debut a rather splendid and groovy new song called 'Black Ocean' that she recently recorded with producer Chris Kimsey of The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Marillion fame, in addition to the record's title track, 'Stolen Heart' – watch YouTube footage of the song being performed a year earlier at the Beaverwood here.
Post-show Erja asked whether I would write a brief liner note for the album for its release in February 2017. Of course, I was only too happy to accept.
Well, that's rather conflicting. Whilst I'm very happy indeed to be doing a phone interview with Iron Maiden's Steve Harris on Monday, it'll happen in the aftermath of Saturday's late televised game - Crystal Palace (in the top half of the table) vs 'Arry's beloved Wet Sham (who are in the bottom three, need a result to kick start their season and have a very nasty habit of winning at Selhurst). 'Arry and I have an extremely combustible relationship when it comes to the beautiful game… methinks this might end up being a wee bit uncomfortable.
Thursday 13th October
My recent interview with Tyketto's Danny Vaughn which appears in the latest issue of Classic Rock has now been posted at the TeamRock website. I love the fact that it's been titled: 'Nirvana? It was just pop music in cardigans'. Fair play to the guy that posted the response: "That's kind of harsh ... toward cardigans."
Wednesday 12th October
I'd like to wish a very happy 68th birthday to the one and only Ricky Parfitt. Here's hoping that he feels better and stronger soon. I really love this shot taken on a beautiful English summer's day when I was invited to go wing-walking with the Quo for the filming of their 'The Party Ain't Over Yet' video in 2005.
Tuesday 11th October
Cheers! The first cuppa of the day is served in my brand new mug. Very cool, huh? My pal Robert Corich had a few made up in varying designs – purely for his own use – and there were extras. I was very happy to doneate a home to a few of the spares, including this one featuring the sleeve of the Sweet album 'Strung Up'.
Fast forward to early evening and I'm feeling somewhat accomplished: 65 minutes spent bashing away on the treadmill, 750 calories burned. Hmmm... maybe a glass or three of wine during the England-Slovenia game? I think I've earned it.
[Edit: England remain top of qualifying Group F despite the goalless draw in Ljubljana… try saying that name after a bottle of cherry brandy. Kudos goes to Joe Hart who pulled off some excellent saves to keep the scoresheet clean. Not exactly what I'd been hoping for but as the Euros taught us, with England it's always best to expect the worst possible outcome – anything positive then comes as a bonus].
Monday 10th October
Well, it was great to be back gigging again after an absence of more than a week. Diamond Head, who pulled a decent-zed crowd in the Islington Academy's main room (for a Sunday night anyway), were the first band I ever wrote about in print (a live review of a show here in Catford that appeared in Kerrang! #12), and I don't mind admitting that they have a bigger than average place in my heart. That will never change.
London-based multi-nationals KilliT proved to be a highly enjoyable warm up act, with a style that straddles the best elements of both heavy metal and hard rock. I shall deffo track down a copy of their independently released debut, 'Shut It Down', which a quick Google search informs me has been picking up some very positive reviews.
The headliners turned in a display to warm the cockles of any self-respecting fan of heavy metal. Besides five tracks from their critically acclaimed new self-titled album ('Bones', 'See You Rise', 'All The Reasons You Live', 'Diamonds' and the first encore of 'Shout At The Devil'), a well-paced 100 min set included a rare outing for the 'Canterbury' classic 'Knight Of The Swords', plus 'Streets Of Gold', which was not performed at some regional shows, among many, many highlights. What a triumph... it made the group's Nick Tart-fronted era seem like a bad dream (which with hindsight it probably was). Diamond Head are back, baby!
Sunday 9th October
After a painful, laborious day working on my invoicing, I'm looking forward to a bit of Diamond Head tonight. New singer Rasmus Bom Andersen has really given 'em a kick up the ass!! The band tore it up a few months ago at the Bloodstock Festival and I've a feeling that after many years of swimming against it the tide could *finally* be turning in their favour.
Saturday 8th October
I watched this afternoon's World Cup Qualifier between Gareth Southgate's England and lowly Malta in a sports bar in Stratford, just down the road from my old East End bachelor pad in Leytonstone High Road. Goals from Sturridge and Alli were enough to seal an easy win, but the way the team coasted in the second half, especially against such mediocre opposition, offered real cause for concern.
Post-match, I hit a local casino with a 24-hour bar in the company of a couple of lady friends, Tyrina Gallagher and Michelle Maher. Of course, things got completely out of control. It's a little embarrassing when you try to order three Long Island Sliced Teas and it's not even 9pm… oh, the shame! But it was that kind of a night.
Thursday 6th October
I've just finished transcribing my recent phone interview with Beth Hart. At the end she said: "You are such a gentleman, it was lovely to talk to you. Thanks for your great, smart questions. I've got a big smile on my face. Believe me, I do so many interviews it's not always like that." How bloody lovely is that?
The Apprentice You're Fired just aired… I always like to stand out in a crowd. D'ya see what I did there? Hahaha!
Wednesday 5th October
Eddie and I spent last night at watch the filming of The Apprentice You're Fired over at ITV Studios on the South Bank (odd, as it's a BBC show). Obviously, I cannot divulge which of the contestants gets the boot because the series debut isn't broadast until tomorrow, but let me reassure you – this year's cast of wannabe cretins is as odious as usual. We bloody love this show!
It's a happy 66th birthday to 'Fast' Eddie Clarke. Here's a story that I did with the ex- Motörhead/current Fastway guitarist for the 200th issue of Classic Rock, which was a themed one. Eddie didn't wanna talk about money, fighting, politics, comebacks or any of the categories that were suggested. Finally he said: "Let's have a discussion about what it's like to get old". And boy, what a great conversation ensued... now all the more poignant since his two old Motörhead bandmates have both passed on.
It's 8pm as I type. I'm just about to call time on a long but very satisfyingly productive day: Interviews with Del Bromham of Stray, Europe's Joey Tempest, Bobby Blotzer of Ratt and Kasim Sulton of Utopia/Meat Loaf fame. Aaaaaaaaaaaannnnddd, relax!
Tuesday 4th October
Had there had been any dim remaining hopes of further Frantic Four gigs, this clip will surely extinguish them. Nuff speaks his mind about Francis 'The AntiQuoist', cocaine and royalties (or, to be more precise, the lack them). Everybody knew Alan felt this way, but saying so publicly is still a bit of a shock.
The latest Playlist and YouTube Of The Month can be accessed by clicking the links.
Monday 3rd October
What amazing news. Steve Hackett is going to be playing "several songs" from 'Wind And Wuthering', probably my fave Genesis album, on his next UK tour in April and May 2017. Yessir, God willing I'll be there at the Palladium on May 19 to hear 'Eleventh Earl Of Mar', 'One For The Vine', 'Your Own Special Way', etc etc...
Sunday 2nd October
I'm very happy to say that I am planning to attend this great-looking weekend festival. Linglet care is sorted and although the decision was a fairly last minute one I've managed to find a hotel that still has rooms. The guest list is now okayed, too... it's all lookin' good! I *will* get to see Lee Aaron, Lionheart, the Defiants et al.
Saturday 1st October
There are very, very few musicians that I'd prioritise above a televised Crystal Palace game. David Gilmour is one of them.
Yeah, although Palace were playing up at Goodison I was thrilled and grateful to accept the offer from my friend Peter Ellis of a spot in a hospitality box at the Royal Albert Hall (Eddie keeping me up to date with the match via text, as yet another tosser of a referee put the boot in… things ending in a 1-1 draw).
The gig was the last date of Gilmour's current tour for 'Rattle That Lock' – indeed, there were some worrying rumours of it being his final show… ever. I'd never seen him before as a solo artist, and perched high above the stage but with a perfect bird's eye view and crystal clear sound, it was breathtaking. With free champagne and amazingly tasty buffet food thrown in, I felt as though I'd died and gone to haven (I cannot begin to express my thanks to Peter for his hospitality, and also to my pal Laurance Adams for the after-show wristbands).
Here's what was played: Set #1: '5 A.M.', 'Rattle That Lock', 'Faces Of Stone', 'What Do You Want From Me', 'The Blue', 'The Great Gig In The Sky', 'A Boat Lies Waiting', 'Wish You Were Here', 'Money', 'In Any Tongue' and 'High Hopes'. Set #2: 'One Of These Days', 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)', 'Fat Old Sun', 'Coming Back To Life', 'On An Island', 'The Girl In The Yellow Dress', 'Today', 'Sorrow' and 'Run Like Hell', with encores of 'Time', 'Breathe' and 'Comfortably Numb'.