Dave's Diary
This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily
(except after nights of excess)

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Monday 30th April
Eldest son Eddie and I traipsed back to Selhurst Park again yesterday, where Palace's unexpected 2-0 victory ruled vistors Derby County out of automatic promotion. The result left me with mixed feelings. There were negative vibes because Palace's triumph unlocked the door for Sunderland and Birmingham, whose respective managers R*y K***e and S***e B***e are vile specimens that I would take great pleasure from pulling the trigger on in a firing squad scenario.
After dropping Eddie back home and some quick nosebag, it was a train and tube haul across London to Koko in Camden for a gig by The Wildhearts. Even on a Sunday night, the place was rammed to the rafters. Ginger and company responded with a short (75 minutes?) but very sweet set that kicked off with water-tight, day-glo renditions of 'Vanilla Radio', 'Caffeine Bomb' and 'TV Tan'. Astonishingly, the band were all completely sober (fortunately, I'd drunk enough half-sugar Bacardi Breezers to do their all their swaying for them - don't mention it, guys). This morning, even 12 hours after the show, I still can't stop humming 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go', with its timeless lyric of "I wanna be where the cunts like me/Are buried six feet underground".
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Sunday 29th April
The thought of attending a show at Wembley Arena used to fill me with dread. Besides the horrific trek to the other side of London, woeful acoustics, over-priced food and drink and surly security gorillas are all a part of the gig-goer's experience at this rusty old cattle shed. Fortunately, a lick of paint and the removal of the stage from one end of the hall to the other has made a massive difference to the sound quality.
Thin Lizzy were already onstage as my friend Steve and I arrived. They played a selection of their hits, though I couldn't help but notice one of the band members was missing. The fella that wrote the songs... what was his name again?! At least Tommy Aldridge, who doesn't seem to have aged a day since 1974, was on the drum-stool again.
I'll be honest, the presence of special guests Styx's was the main attraction for me. Incredibly, it had been 26 years since I last saw them at this venue, on the 'Paradise Theatre' tour. The US pomp-rock icons threw in just one song, The Beatles' 'I Am The Walrus', from the latest covers discs, 'Big Bang Theory'. The rest of their hour-long set was a glorious trawl through a catalogue that's worth its weight in gold: 'Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)', 'The Grand Illusion', 'Too Much Time On My Hands', 'Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)', 'Miss America', 'Come Sail Away' and an encore of 'Renegade'. For a few tunes they were joined by original bassist Chuck Panozzo, a character whose resilience continues to inspire. The crowd belonged to headliners Deep Purple, no doubt about that, though the warm response that Styx received suggests this tour will have done them no harm at all. Afterwards I went backstage for a quick meet 'n' greet session with James 'JY' Young, Tommy Shaw, Ricky Phillips, Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman and the indestructible Panozzo. It seems that the band will begin work on a new CD after this summer's US dates with Def Leppard. Oh yeah, a quick word of praise for a book on Styx that I'm currently reading. Have only got as far as Tommy Shaw's arrival so far, but Sterling Whitaker's The Grand Delusion is packed with detail and plenty of juicy goss.
For obvious reasons, I missed the start of Deep Purple's set. Early reports from these dates suggested that Ian Gillan's voice is on its last legs. It wasn't too bad at Wembley, and the band were doing the 'Machine Head' album in its entirety, but I decided to beat the crowds by sneaking out half an hour early. The thought of hearing 'Smoke On The Water' once again would have ruined an otherwise great night.
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Saturday 28th April
You must've heard all the gags about guitar players and light blubs. Well, if your world was shrouded in darkness then the Astoria was the place to have sought help last night. As I walked into the gig with Del Bromham from Stray, with whom I'd been partaking of a quiet glass of lemonade or two, ex-Thin Lizzy men Gary Moore and Eric Bell were deep in conversation in the upstairs bar. There must have been many more axe heroes lurking in the shadows.
I'd never seen the Grammy-nominated Texan blues legend Johnny Winter before, but the air of expectation inside the packed hall suggested I wasn't the only one anticipating the experience. A decidedly frail-looking Winter has lived every last minute of his 60-plus years. He was led out onto the stage and plonked down onto a chair where the next 75 minutes were spent picking at a guitar the way George Best might have played football in his fifties: lots of elementary moves and the occasional moment of inspiration. 'Hoochie Coochie Man' and 'Highway 61' were the only two numbers I really recognised and the material sounded a little too samey. But much respect for the way Winter left the stage and returned to play an encore. So many younger acts elect to ignore the tradition these days, it made me think: If this shell of a human being can put his frame through torture to respect such an age-old ritual, so should the zit-encrusted newcomers.
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Friday 27th April
Yesterday morning was spent transcribing an interview I'd done with Ian Hunter a few days earlier. Luvvly fella, and very quotable. The former Mott The Hoople frontman's new album, 'Shrunken Heads' (due on June 4), is also rather splendid. In the evening I had the pleasure of witnessing an excellent Porcupine Tree gig at London's Forum. Amplifier, a band much beloved of my Classic Rock compadres Malcolm Dome and Jerry Ewing, opened the show. I saw just the last couple of numbers but in my estimation they're a bit of an aural dung-hill. Porcupine Tree, on the other hand, were outstanding. I've seen Steven Wilson and company on just about every tour since 1999, and last night's two-hour show - which included the new album 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' in its entirety, plus various catalogue nuggets - might just have topped all those that preceded it.
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Thursday 26th April
he rise of Trivium has little short of astronomical. It's scarcely possible that two years ago they were playing London's Garage. The Floridian metalheads now find themselves capable of pulling an enormous and fanatical crowd at the far more prestigous Hammersmith Apollo. Good luck to 'em, they're hardly the most original band on the planet but they've worked incredibly hard to get this far.
Just before the lights went down for special guests Annihilator, I was surprised to take a call from Tom Zutaut, the man that signed Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Dokken and many more. He now manages Tesla, who will be playing a special Classic Rock-sponsored show at London's Shepherds Bush Empire on June 28 (supported by the reunited Fastway) to promote their new covers disc, 'Real To Reel' (June 5, via Tesla Electric Company Recordings). Now that's a gig I can't wait for.
Introduced by Trivium guitarist Corey Beaulieu, who later joined the Canadian thrashers for a song, Annihilator played like a band that needed to make up for lost time; thankfully so, their most recent appearance on the Apollo (then Odeon)'s stage was back in 1991, opening for Judas Priest. They played several songs from their latest album 'Metal', plus classics 'Never, Neverland', 'The Fun Palace' and 'Alison Hell', sending the predominantly young crowd wild - great to see. I'd wondered whether Trivium would strive to make their show a little more professional, and sure enough come encore time they wisely omitted the usual array of cover versions, save for a brief flirtation with Skynyrd's 'Sweet Home Alabama', to concentrate on their own material. As I've alrady stated, I've minor reservations regarding the quartet's lack of identity, but if you'd seen the way the Apollo reacted to them last night, well... suffice to say they'll have to try very hard to fuck things up now.
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Wednesday 25th April
How upsetting... Roadstar (as we know them) are no more. Details are still quite vague, but the band have parted company with Laurie Mansworth, the former More/Airrace guitarist who for the past seven years has managed them and co-written much of their material. From what Laurie tells me, the winners of Classic Rock's Best New Band award plan to continue under a new name, but minus the benefit of his expertise. After seven years of tutelage, Mansworth is understandably choked by this decision, though resolute not to sling any mud. Coming just weeks after the release of their second album, 'Glass Mountain', the timing of the split is pretty astonishing. More details when I get them.
In the evening it was off to the Underworld (again), this time to check out Firewind and Grand Magus. Unsigned openers Crowing Glory did enough to make me want to see them again, their riff-heavy set featuring a respectable cover of Iron Maiden's 'Children Of The Damned'. But Grand Magus, a Swedish doom-metal combo featuring Spiritual Beggars frontman JB, were outstanding. A power-trio in every sense of the term, their 40 minutes onstage were assisted by an unusually clear sound, in marked contrast to the headliners from Greece. The front of house mix was abysmal for the show's first 20-odd minutes, ex-Helloween man Mark Cross' drums burying Gus G's flamboyant axe flurries - the very reason we'd gathered in the first place (for the uninitated, Gus used to play with Arch Enemy and Dream Evil). It wasn't until an appalling guitar/keyboard workout and drum solo that sent many - including Herman and Vadim from DragonForce, who FW opened on a UK tour for back in December - scurrying to the bar, that things improved. Thankfully, things ended on a high with an encore of 'Allegiance', one of the best tracks from their current disc of the same name. But it was touch 'n' go for a while...
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Tuesday 24th April
My first piece of work for the Japanese market has just been published (so far as I know; pesky licensing deals notwithstanding). The long-running and extremely well-respected Burrn! asked me to review Europe's gig at Shepherds Bush Empire. Of course, I was only too happy!
For the past week or so I've been engrossed by Barney Hoskyns' excellent book on the West Coast rock scene of the 70s. Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters And Cocaine Cowboys In The LA Canyons 1967-1976 pulls no punches. It's a beautifully written documentation of an era dominated by the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac et al. As I'm currently in the process of sifting through the expansive back catalogues of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Ry Cooder, Linda Ronstadt and Randy Newman among many others, its recommendations are worth their weight in gold.
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Monday 23rd April
Limbering up for a hectic week: six attractive-looking gigs in as many days, and at least five interviews confirmed (so far), including a face-to-face meeting with Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy and James LaBrie. Plus a record fair at the weekend and the last visit to Selhurst Park of 2006/2007... thank the Lord. It's been an utterly miserable season. I'm glad to have resisted the temptation of going to Barnsley for Saturday's 2-0 defeat. We're playing bland, uninspiring football and apart from 45 irresistible minutes against Preston North End, nothing I've seen suggests next year will be different. Peter Taylor may have been a CPFC legend as a player but realistically speaking will only be given until October to show some improvement. After that? Let's give another ex-Golden Eagle, Chrissie Coleman, a try, if he's still available.
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Friday 20th April
All hail! At long last I've managed to blag a special edition copy of Manowar's current album, 'Gods Of War', which comes with a bonus DVD. The packaging alone reminds us in no uncertain terms that Manowar are a heavy metal band - its imitation leather gatefold booklet (written in runes, of course) cunningly protected from nu-metal poisoning by a weighty metal casing, complete with embossed Manowar logo. And the music? It's so heavy that I almost gave myself a hernia slipping it into the deck. A full-blown concept piece about Odin, it uses orchestras, choirs and narrated sections to re-establish the US band's unmistakable brand of drama-strewn bombast. Apart from the appallingly laborious bonus track 'Die For Metal', 'Gods Of War' is nothing less than a triumph of gleaming steel; bassist Joey DeMaio and company's finest work in many a long year.
Other goodies lurking in the piles marked 'to be played' or 'for further investigation' include newies from Ian Hunter ('Shrunken Heads'), Roadstar ('Glass Mountain'), American Dog ('Hard'), Paradise Lost ('In Requiem'), Ken Hensley ('Blood On The Highway'), the Manic Street Preachers ('Send Away The Tigers'), Sonata Artica ('Unia') and Orange Goblin ('Healing Through Fire').
P.S. Fed Ex man just dropped off White Lion's two-disc 'The Definitive Rock Collection'. The weekend's looking better still...
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Thursday 19th April
Brilliant - there's a petition to the Prime Minister to ensure that Steve Harris, founder member and bassist of Iron Maiden be included in the next list of honours. As my Classic Rock colleague Geoff Barton rightly points out, Steve must be worth an MBE (Metal Bloke Extraordinaire) at the very least. I've added my name to the list - which already includes Monsewers Dome and Barton, and Bruce Dickinson! You even get an email back from Number 10 Downing Street to confirm you've signed.
This is embarrassing to admit, but until last night I'd never seen Amon Amarth. I'd enjoyed their records, but somehow kept on missing the Viking-themed melodic death metallers from Sweden, who take their name from JRR Tolkien's books. This shameful situation has now been righted. With Fintroll and Octavia Sperati also on the bill, the Islington Academy was packed to capacity to hear songs from the latest opus 'Oden Is On My Side' (including the title cut, 'Runes To My Memory', 'Cry Of The Black Birds') and old favourities ('Death In Fire', 'The Sound of Eight Hooves', 'Bleed For Ancient Gods'). Frontman Johan Hegg looked a little past the peak of physical fitness, possibly something to do with those horns of ale he and his longboat companions were so eagerly consuming, but once the dodgy sound sorted itself out the band were tight, malicious and deadly.
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Wednesday 18th April
And so England's run in the cricket World Cup comes to a humiliating end at the hands of the South Africans, who won by nine wickets to reach the semi-finals. Following the SA captain's unbeaten innings of 89, Kevin Pietersen must be regretting having called Graeme Smith an "absolute muppet". Pietersen is the one who has flattered to deceive since England won the Ashes (remember that?!). Right after we were skittled out for a pathetic 155 runs, I took Bob The Dog for a walk and had a quick bite to eat, then dared to switch the telly back on - it was already over. Michael Vaughan must never represent his country in one day internationals again, and I agree with Ian Botham; it's got to be time the coach (Duncan Fletcher) was changed.
There's one crumb of comfort this morning: Gov't Mule have ended a two-year absence by announcing a one-off British gig at the Mean Fiddler on July 14.
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Tuesday 17th April
Until last night I'd never been to the Barbican Centre. The upper-class London venue's listings reveal why: What pretentious arse they present. Van Der Graaf Generator seemed to attract just the right demographic: bearded, pot-bellied, pseudo-intellectual baldies (or is that me being uncharitable?). Unlike the last time I saw them, at the Royal Festival Hall in 2005, just three-quarters of the band's reunited classic line-up remained. Even without saxophonist David Jackson the show was captivating. Dark, sinister and schizophrenic, with an unnerving habit of switching moods in the space of heartbeat, VDGG's music is to easy listening what Pam Ayres is to comedy. Now almost 60 years old, Peter Hammill is an unusual frontman, chattering to himself during the brooding silence between songs, then using that remarkable voice to exorcise his inner demons. Assisted by an excellent, crystal-clear sound that emphasized an apparently effortless compatibility with keyboard player Hugh Banton and drummer Guy Evans, the two-hour performance flew by, and two new tracks ('Lifetime' and 'All That Before') were magnificent. Here's the full set-list: 'Childlike Faith In Childhood's End', 'Lemmings', 'Lifetime', '(In The) Black Room', 'Every Bloody Emperor', 'All That Before', 'Gog', 'Meurglys III', 'The Sleepwalkers', 'Man-Erg' and an encore of 'Still Life'.
P.S. Philadelphia hard-rockers Britny Fox have reunited for a US tour. My old mate Dave Reynolds will be excited to bursting point. I can almost smell the friction burns from here!
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Sunday 15th April
Yesterday's game against Wolves finished 2-2, but Palace should really have taken the three points. The visitors played for much of the game with ten men and Shefki Kuqi had a perfectly good goal ruled out by a referee who'd clearly left his blind dog at home, so the draw felt a little like a defeat.
After dropping eldest son Eddie at home, I hoofed it up to the Astoria for Within Temptation's sold-out gig at the Astoria. I'm a big fan of these Dutch gothic-rockers but haven't really acquainted myself too well with their latest album, 'The Heart Of Everything'. Lauren Harris was the opening act. This was my second sighting of Steve Harris' 21-year old daughter, though perhaps the first one shouldn't really count as it took place after a collision with a bottle of vodka. Lauren has bags of confidence and a fairly strong voice, but her brand of pop-rock wasn't suited to this crowd. She does a nice version of Gun's 'Steal Your Fire', but the announcement that she playing her last song of the night generated a hearty cheer. Unusually, Lauren closed her set with UFO's 'Natural Thing', and was rewarded by polite applause as she exited the stage.
Within Temptation are on the verge of enormous things. Sharon den Adel is an incredibly gifted singer, and when the six-piece group kick into top gear their combination of power, melody and pastel colours is utterly betwitching. Just about every song deserves mirrorball and dry ice accompaniment. It's official: women in party frocks can still rock like muthas! Unfortunately, however, their material can be just a little too formularised. 'Stand My Ground' and 'Forsaken' (both from the last album, 'The Silent Force') still bring up goosebumps, as do the previous record's 'Mother Earth' and 'Deceiver of Fools', but unlike the rest of the Astoria, which shrieked its approval for the entire 100 minutes - even during the quiet bits - once or twice towards the show's end I found myself staving off a gentle yawn.
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Saturday 14th April
Off to Selhurst shortly for Palace's game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. This'll make ya laugh. On Thursday night I spoke to my mate Steve Hammonds who works for Sanctuary Records. He'd heard from Robert Plant's management company that Robert, who is a Wolves nutter, was desperately seeking a ticket for today's game as the away end is completely sold out. I offered him a spare season ticket, and for a while it looked as though I might actually have attended the game with Percy, sitting in the Lower Tier of the Holmesdale Road stand. I don't mind admitting, such a prospect simultaneously terrified and thrilled me, but Robert was eventually offered seats in a more appropriate section of the ground. In a way, I was relieved. What might have happened if it turned out to be a celebration day for the Palace? Mr Plant would have given no quarter, trampled me underfoot or maybe even thrown a custard pie. And it would have been nobody's fault but mine.
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Friday 13th April
Canadian writer Martin Popoff emailed to say kind things about my sleeve essay for Black Sabbath's 'The Dio Years' collection. Then, about an hour later, the postie delivered a finished copy of said album. Of course, being an officially-endorsed product some subjects were off-limits, but on the whole I'm very, very pleased with the way it came out, and what an honour to have been involved with such a great project.
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Thursday 12th April
Missed Saxon's appearance on Channel 4's Get Your Act Together With Harvey Goldsmith due to attending the No Mercy Fest. However, I did set the Sky+ for it. As Biff Byford had so rightly predicted, it was a stitch-up from start to finish. The show's editors used every trick in the book to make the band look old, fat, irrelevant, stupid and/or over the hill. Then again, Saxon didn't exactly do themselves any favours by going along with Goldsmith's toe-curling embarrassing publicity stunt; attempting to get into the Guinness Book Of Records for the most air-guitarists gathered in one spot, at a Sheffield Wednesday football game. The result was car-crash TV of the most unmissable kind.
My 'in' box is full of Saxon-related messages this morning, presumably because I was visible in the programme (thankfully, a non-speaking role this time). A site regular who I won't name accused "poor Biff" of "beginning to look like Catweazle" and poured scorn on the manager Thomas Jensen for appearing befuddled throughout("Give him his own show"); something that I personally consider a tad unfair. But you have to applaud Saxon for trying. The programme at least got people talking about them again, which was the whole point. Funnily enough, as I type this, Thomas Jensen has sent an email. Seems that 6,500 new people visited www.saxon747.com after the show. The band have been lined up for The Friday Night Project and signed a new worldwide booking agency deal, with shows in Japan, Australia, South America and the US on the way. Worth gritting one's teeth for, I'd venture.
Also caught up with the final episode of the BBC's time-travel cop show Life On Mars. And what a fabulous conclusion to one of British TV's finest ever series. I was on tenterhooks right till its clever conclusion. It's marvellous news that Philip Glenister, who plays Jerry Ewing-esque DCI Gene Hunt, will be returning in a 1980s-themed spin-off next year.
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Wednesday 11th April
A promo of Dream Theater's new album, 'Systematic Chaos', is here. Only played it once so far, but the band seem to have excelled themselves with their debut for new label Roadrunner. Three epic songs ('Repentence', 'The Ministry Of Lost Souls' and 'In the Presence Of Enemies Pt 2') clock in at more than ten minutes long, plus another pair that fall just short of that mark, but the music is marvellously detailed.
Last night - or to be more accurate, yesterday afternoon - I went to Koko for the No Mercy Fest. Even at 6.45pm Germany's Dew Scented were already blasting out their competent yet predictable strand of death metal, with two further bands (Hades Lab and Root) long since departed. Sheeesh! The venue's balconies were roped off and empty, but Polish black-death band Behemoth began the event in earnest. As well as turning back the clock to their first demo in 1992 for 'Summoning Of The Ancient Gods', guitarist/frontman Nergal and company delivered a tight, brutal set that included 'Antichristian Phenomenon', 'Conquer All' and 'Christians To The Lions'. Behemoth's newie, 'The Apostasy', drops via Century Media in July and I'll be waiting for it.
After around a quarter of a century's existence, it's hard to imagine a UK metal scene without Napalm Death and their brand of social invective. The Brummies still play 'Suffer The Children', 'Breed To Breathe', 'Scum', 'You Suffer' and their version of the Dead Kennedys' 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off', but material from last two albums, 'The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code' and the current 'Smear Campaign' also sounds great. Moonspell begin impressively but despite the appeal of keyboard-drenched offerings like 'Opium' and 'Awake', they're ill-equipped to have headlined such an event, and the crowd slowly drift away, ending No Mercy Fest 2007 on an anti-climactic note.
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Tuesday 10th April
What a small world it can sometimes be. I know just one person who lives in Stoke-on-Trent. Stepping off the coach in Hanley a few hours before yesterday's showdown with the Palace, I walk into a record shop and the fifth or sixth face I see belongs to Tony Woolliscroft, a photographer with whom I did many enjoyable trips in my days on RAW Magazine. One of these was to Israel with Paradise Lost in 1992. Back then, as if to prove my global shrinkage theory, Woolliscroft bumped into a fella he knew from the Potteries at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem of all places, and found out the score of the latest Port Vale game. Tony has now become a Liverpool supporter and was full of talk of European Cup semi-finals. Nice bloke, but a tragic glory-hunter. The least said about the match, which Stoke won 2-1, the better. The best part was when CPFC players Ben Watson, Jobi McAnuff and Danny Butterfield, who were taking no part in the game, came and sat with the fans in the stand, munching pies. What would the club dieticians say about that?!
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Monday 9th April
Making the most of the weather, we enjoyed the World Cup game between England and Australia by throwing a barbecue before last night's Clutch gig at the Astoria. Enjoyment of the cricket didn't last long, of course, but Mr Dome arrived with a bottle of something evil-looking; a black liquid called Blossa Glögg that tasted a bit like cough medicine and turned out to be 21% proof. Consequently, my memory of the evening's events is slightly hazy. I do recall The Sword's special guest spot being tasty... if tantalisingly short, around the half-hour mark. This is something that's really beginning to irk me. I fail to see the logic in having four acts on one bill, each allocated a set that seems to last nano-seconds. Does it really sell many more tickets? Personally, I'd rather two or three bands were given reasonable set-lengths.
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Sunday 8th April
David Coverdale has shot down the rumours of a reunion from Deep Purple's Mk III line-up, revealing "I have not agreed in any way, shape or form" to such an idea. However, he would be willing to feature in "a 'one-off' charity show [with] all [of the] surviving members of Deep Purple." Shame...
This Easter weekend is being occupied by some enjoyable work. I've been commissioned by two separate record labels to compile two-disc 'best of' anthologies of a pair of my favourite artists. It would be premature to name them right now, but one of these acts has released enough CDs to fill an entire half a shelf of my office. So it's an arduous and painstaking though distinctly pleasurable task.
On an equally upbeat note, Palace have at last beaten our bogey team, Preston North End. Yesterday's game at Selhurst ended 3-0, with the home side registering 19 shots on goal (11 on target) in an emphatic and deserved victory. It concluded a win-less run of 10 games against the men from Deepdale, who looked nothing at all like a promotion-chasing side. I don't like Preston at all, so it was lovely to have played a part in derailing their umpteenth surge for the Premiership. David Nugent threw his toys out of the pram upon being substituted; one of the funniest things I've witnessed in yonks. Afterwards, in the local pubs, the CPFC faithful were left scratching their heads in bemusement. Were PNE really that awful, or had Palace just played like Brazil on steroids? And how come Shefi Kuqi, who'd performed like a one-legged clown the previous week, actually found the back of the net... twice? Not that we were complaining, mind...
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Friday 6th April
How do Roadrunner Records keep on digging up such great bands? Went to see Hinder and their special guests Black Stone Cherry at ULU last night. The headliners from Oklahoma City have notched more than two million sales of their second album, 'Extreme Behaviour' Stateside (largely due to the success of the ballad 'Lips Of An Angel'), and they've enough outsize braziers hanging from Austin Winkler's microphone stand to prove the point, but it was Black Stone Cherry that won the night. The big-riffing Kentucky quartet, who claim to "redefine Southern rock for a modern audience", barrelled through a selection of songs from their self-titled Roadrunner debut. 'Backwoods Gold', 'Crosstown Woman' and 'Lonely Train (Can't Judge A Book)' had the crowd whooping and leaping around like loonies, though a laboured mid-set blues workout briefly threatened to derail their good work. You'll be hearing a lot more from Black Stone Cherry.
Hinder's 70 minutes onstage, by contrast, seemed to last a great deal longer. They sound a lot less like Nickelback than their records and have a handful of quality tunes ('Bliss', 'Better Than Me', 'Get Stoned', 'Lips Of An Angel'), but too many perfunctory ones ('How Long', 'Homecoming Queen', 'Shoulda', 'By The Way', 'Nothing Good About Goodbye'). And of all the versions of Steppenwolf's 'Born To Be Wild' to be performed onstage through the years, last night's was, erm, definitely one of 'em.
Both bands insisted that London was by far the tour's rowdiest audience, Black Stone Cherry claiming that "The four of us would walk through hell or high water for each person in this room". I'd be interested to know... if anyone caught the show in Sweden, Germany, Holland, France, Manchester or Birmingham, did they say exactly the same thing?
P.S. Mark St John, ex-Kiss/White Tiger guitarist, has died of a brain hemorrhage, aged 51. RIP, fella.
P.P.S. Somebody who knows for sure informs me that Gary Moore wasn't at Joe Bonamassa's gig last week as mistakenly claimed in the following day's diary. He was actually "at home tucked up with a cup of Horlicks or something." So now you know.
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Thursday April 5th
An interesting new interview with Glenn Hughes has been posted at www.rocknworld.com. It sees the former Deep Purple bassist once again pushing for a reunion of the band's Mk III line-up. He's quoted as saying: "We've all spoken about it, through third parties. David [Coverdale, vocals], Jon Lord [keyboards] and I have spoken about it at great length. Ritchie [Blackmore, guitar] has now spoken to people. I'd like to do it for two reasons. The first simply being to play with my brothers again, and [secondly] to complete the chapter. It would be a really great band. One last time, you know." Couldn't agree more!
There's an equally good interview with Zakk Wylde at www.Glam-Metal.com in which the guitarist - ever a plain-speaker - dismisses Ozzy Osbourne's last couple of albums as "fucking shit". Again, I have to concur.
I'm in a news/reviews/tour guide deadline for Classic Rock this week, so it's not the best of times to get hooked on one particular album. However, I just cannot stop playing Gotthard's dazzlingly good 'Domino Effect'. I doubted their ability to make a record as good as 2005's 'Lipservice', but the Swiss are on a roll (groan!). There's not even a hint of bad song here, and the more you play the darned thing the more addictive it becomes.
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Tuesday 3rd April
Went to Dingwalls in London's Camden Lock for my first live experience of Leaves' Eyes last night. The German-based band play symphonic-goth metal band with folk influences. Fronted by the delightful Liv Kristine, they're better than that off-putting description might sound.
Running through songs from 'Vinland Saga', their second album, which documents Leif Erikson's discovery of North America, they sounded spellbindingly brilliant - at times. Norwegian-born Kristine has a beautiful voice, but her husband Alexander Krull (who doubles up as singer of Atrocity) bounded onstage sporadically. His death grunts were sometimes just too obtrustive, certainly compared to the band's recorded output, totally destroying the mood. All in all, however, the show was well worth seeing.
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Monday 2nd April
After the disappointment of Saturday's match at Selhurst - Palace lost (again!) to a very drab-looking Sheffield Wednesday side - I opted to cheer myself up with a visit to a record fair in Orpington. Purchased 20 vinyl gems for just £20. Included among them were 'Third Eye' by Redd Kross, some vintage jazz-rock from Bill Bruford and Stanley Clarke, an obscure Split Enz record, and something I thought I already had but didn't; 1981's self-titled debut by Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford and ex-Ted Nugent frontman Derek St Holmes. Well worth a quid!
And so another week begins. Just been involved in a bit of spirited banter with my Classic Rock pals Malcolm Dome and Jerry Ewing. Both are convinced that the new Night Ranger album, 'Hole In The Sun', is a "masterpiece". I'm sorry, but I just don't want to hear the band that recorded 'Sister Christian' and 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me' playing modern rock. To make matters worse, Messrs Ewing and Doom have the gall to diss Gotthard's splendid newie, 'Domino Effect' (due via Nuclear Blast on April 27th)... cloth-eared dolts!