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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Tuesday 29th April
This afternoon I did a quick pre-tour interview with Jonathan Cain of Journey. Our conversation was succinct but to the point, and the merde will definitely hit the fan when the regulars at melodicrock.com read Cain's comments about their beloved Jeff Scott Soto - I quote: "Jeff saved the day by stepping in to take over from Steve Augeri [who was having voice problems], and we were grateful for that, but in my mind he was [always] a relief pitcher". Ouch! Look out also for Jon's interesting comments regarding the band's infamous lip-synching allegations...
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Monday 28th April
Most of yesterday was spent working in my office, also getting to know Def Leppard's new album. I'm pretty impressed by 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge', which despite being a little inconsistent heralds a return to the band's signature sound. I found the time to wade through the latest issue of Classic Rock. The Velvet Revolver cover feature was excellent.
I'd like to think that my world exclusive interview with Queen + Paul Rodgers also came out pretty well, too. And although it had been hacked around a little, it was pleasing to see my story on the making of Wishbone Ash's 'Argus' album in printed form at last. Speaking of which, according Ross Halfin's diary I'm as old as all the four members of Wishbone Ash put together?! Should that be so then Monsewer Halfin, who is many years my senior, must be as ancient as the combined membership of the Electric Light Orchestra.
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Sunday 27th April
It had to happen sooner or later, and with other results not going too disastrously I was glad that Palace's 10-game unbeaten run came to an end at Hull City's KS Stadium and not at a potentially more damaging moment. With fate in our own hands, the Eagles will make the play-offs if we overcome Burnley at Selhurst on the final day of the Championship campaign. It's gonna be a long and nervy seven days.
I set off for the Brixton Academy, where Metal Hammer's Defenders Of The Faith package tour was winding up, as soon as the results came through. Arrived just as 3 Inches Of Blood began the show in rousing style. The sword & sorcery-obsessed Canuck thrashers were so good, we could even forgive new drummer Ash Pearson’s for his tasteless Police T-shirt - or maybe not. DevilDriver used their 30-minute spot equally well, but the evening was really about co-headliners Arch Enemy and Opeth, who'd been taking it in turns to close proceedings. Having been limited to just half an hour on this same stage during The Black Crusade back in November, last night they stretched out for twice that time to offer an impossibly tight and seriously satisfying display.
Here's the set-list: 'Blood On Your Hands', 'Ravenous', 'Taking Back My Soul', 'Dead Eyes See No Future', 'My Apocalypse', 'Revolution Begins', Drum Solo, 'Dead Bury Their Dead', 'I Will Live Again', 'Enemy Within', 'Nemesis', Guitar Duet and 'We Will Rise'.
Despite being plagued by early sound problems, Opeth turned on the style. Having followed their career for many years, it was great to see them play to such a huge and enthusiastic audience. Substituting 'Master's Apprentices' for 'Serenity Painted Death', which had been played on the rest of the tour, they included one song from the forthcoming 'Watershed' masterpiece, which sounded monumental live.
Mikael Åkerfeldt was his usual drol self, introducing the final track, 'The Drapery Falls', by announcing: "We'd like to play cover of a fucking legendary English band called Right Said Fred; here is their classic song 'I'm Too Sexy'". In fact, this is what Opeth **really** played: 'Demon Of The Fall', 'Master's Apprentices', 'Baying Of The Hounds', 'In My Time Of Need', 'Wreath', 'Heir Apparent' and 'The Drapery Falls'.
Had a little drink-ette with Åkerfeldt after the gig, which was nice. And, as ever, the ubiquitous Herman Li and Sam Totman from DragonForce were around, having interrupted the recording of a new album. Entering the backstage bar, Totman wasted little time with pleasantries. "Oh, hello you old cunt," the clearly refreshed guitarist greeted me. "Are there any women around?" Charming...
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Saturday 26th April
Hmmmm. Interesting timing. Of all the occasions to be commissioned for a phoner with Glenn Hughes. The Voice Of Rock's beloved Wolves lie a place below the mighty Palace in the play-off shuffle, with two games to go - first of which takes place today. So it was inedvitable that last night's conversation would have an underlying sporting edge. Besides him comparing new album 'First Underground Nuclear Kitchen' to "'Play Me Out' without the drugs" (a reference to his 1977 solo debut), we found ourselves reluctantly agreeing that neither of our teams deserve promotion this season. "I'll be thinking of you at ten to five, brother," he said, before putting down the phone. "May the best team win," I replied, pretending to be casual and not even adding: "So long as they play in red and blue". Hahahaha, the games we play! COME ON YOU EAGLES!!!!
P.S. Just received an email from my old Spider buddy, Colin Harkness, who's invested in a mobile phone now that he considers himself "capable of owning one without the risk of losing it". Reminds me of the time my dad bought his first pair of jeans... He was in his fifties at the time!
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Thursday 24th April
As a prouder than average Englishman it was lovely to return to my homeland on St George's Day, in bright sunshine and in good time for Saxon's nationally-themed show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. The fact that Sweet Savage were opening the gig had completely slipped my mind. I'd never seen the long-lost Belfast combo, best known for having Def Leppard's Vivian Campbell in their ranks, before. They did their Metallica-covered song 'Killing Time' but seemed to be onstage for a mere nano-second (though it was actually five numbers). Girlschool were special guests. I make no apologies for being a huge fan of Kim McAuliffe and company, and from my lofty perch in the balcony (where the sound was top-notch)gems like 'C'Mon Let's Go', Hit And Run', 'Race With The Devil' and 'Emergency' really lit the blue touch paper.
Having just been confirmed for this year's Download Festival, the headliners were in amazing spirits - and who could blame them? In honour of St George's Day, Saxon had opted to play a set-list chosen by the fans, focussing on their numerous songs about England and its traditions. As someone who's attended many of their gigs in the past, I loved the fact that they dipped into the archives for 'Warrior', 'Witchfynder General' and 'Sixth Form Girls' - the latter a song from 1980's 'Strong Arm Of The Law' album that, amazingly, had never played live before. However, had I been a newbie who'd walked in off the street I'd have been furious that they overlooked the immortal 'Wheels Of Steel' in favour of 'Iron Wheels', an obscurity that Biff Byford wrote in 1992 about the decline of the nation's fishing industry. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. For what it's worth, here's the playlist in full: 'Princess Of The Night', 'Let Me Feel Your Power', 'Lionheart', 'Never Surrender', 'Motorcycle Man', 'Iron Wheels', 'Jack Tars', 'Thin Red Line', 'Witchfynder General', 'Sixth Form Girls', Medley - 'Warrior'/'Battle Cry'/'Man And Machine', 'I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)', 'And The Bands Played On', 'Attila The Hun', 'The Power And The Glory', 'State Of Grace', '747 (Strangers In The Night)', Medley: 'Denim & Leather'/'Ashes To Ashes' and 'Crusader'.
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Wednesday April 23
I type this from a Paris hotel room after Heathrow Airport's infamous new Terminal 5 did its best to scupper my bid to witness the debut live gig from Gallic proggers Demians. My colleague Jerry Ewing and I were in our seats and awaiting take-off when the pilot informed us that due to a security blunder each passenger would have to return to the luxurious but flawed £5.3 billion building, where we and our property would be re-scanned before re-boarding the plane. With the clock ticking towards an 8pm showtime, tempers flared. Eventually, however, we arrived at the (half-full) 700-capacity venue Le Trabeno a few minutes before the lights dimmed.
Everybody knows that hairy armpits and al fresco urination aside, France has contributed very little of cultural significance. So the arrival of Demians comes in the nick of time. Formed by multi-instrumentalist/singer Nicolas Chapel, their 'Building An Empire' album has already elicited glowing praise from Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree's mainman calling it: "A must for everyone that appreciates the art of epic and ambitious 21st century rock music". Chapel later admitted that he and his three-piece band were extremely nervous before taking the stage for a short support spot to British nu-proggers Oceansize.
Their half an hour set was filled by three numbers; the album's opening cut 'The Perfect Symmetry', 'Temple' and the record's sublime 16-minute epic, 'Sand'. Suffice to say that if you enjoyed the album, live performance enhances its sense of hypnotic mysticism. Chatted to Chapel for a while afterwards. A nice guy, and rather shy. He doesn't object to comparisons with Porcupine Tree, which is just as well as he will have to field many questions on this subject during the coming months.
We leave for the airport shortly, which is just as well as Mr Ewing's loutish behaviour may soon have us ejected from the hotel. Jerry just confided that after breakfast he put the 'do not disturb' sign on his door and was laying naked on the bed, in the process of "cracking one off" (to use his own verbiage), when the maid burst in on him. I've no idea how much the average Parisian hotel worker earns but surely it won't go anywhere near covering the poor cow's counselling bills.
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Monday 21st April
It's an uplifting through rare feeling when a band whose album you've enjoyed actually delivers the goods onstage. However, last night's live encounter with Sahg left me overflowing with superlatives. Promoting a disc called 'Sahg 2' (Regain Records) the Norwegians had never played London before, but their combination of doom-metal and 70s-influenced hard rock, served up with lashings of delicious harmony twin-lead guitars, was little short of remarkable. 45 minutes wasn't anywhere near enough, and I sincerely hope they come back to headline while the iron's hot.
The last time I saw Trouble, at the Scala less than a year ago, an unforgivably abysmal front of house mix screwed a potentially great evening. I'm happy to report that a combination Dingwalls' superior acoustics and the fact that I stood in the perfect place, less than 15 feet from the stage, resulted in perfect vision and sound. Okay, Eric Wagner's voice sometimes develops a bit of a painful screech these days but last night's show was the exact opposite of the Scala debacle. As it was the last night of the tour and the crowd had gone so apeshit, they even added an extra final song, 'All Is Forgiven'. Here's the set-list: 'R.I.P.', 'The Sleeper', 'Come Touch The Sky', 'Plastic Green Head', 'The Eye', 'Simple Mind Condition', 'Wickedness Of Man', Medley: 'Supernaut'/'Run To The Light', 'Trouble Maker', Instrumental Jam/'Goin' Home', 'Mr White', ''Scuse Me', 'At The End Of My Daze', 'Psychotic Reaction', Medley: 'Electric Funeral'/'The Tempter', 'Bastards Will Pay' and 'All Is Forgiven'.
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Sunday 20th April
It's late afternoon and Clan Ling has just returned from a highly pleasurable weekend at our caravan on the Essex coast. Having been unable to get tickets for yesterday's must-win away promotion showdown with Twatford... er, Watford... eldest son Eddie and I had to make do with watching Sky Sports News in the camp's showbar, armed with a pitcher of cider (just me, obviously; Eddie was on strawberry milkshakes). Each time they cut to Vicarage Road, nerves jangled like a car alarm had gone off. We went loopy when news came through that Paul Ifill had put the Eagles ahead late in the second half, even more so when Victor Moses notched a second. As the clock ticked towards full time I began mentally repeating a nervous mantra: "Come on Ipswich... equalise against Wolves." Lo and behold, in the 94th minute that's exactly what happened! Cue another five-pint pitcher in celebration, and one almighty hangover the following morning. But, hey, Twatford had it coming and I don't regret a single sip of the Devil's brew.
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Thursday 17th April
It's been very much a case of 'back to square one' for Heaven's Basement, the band previously known as Hurricane Party and Roadstar. Last night I trecked over to Camden for only their third gig since severing ties with Laurie Mansworth. As many will know, former More/Airrace guitarist Mansworth acted as the quintet's manager and producer, also playing a big role in the writing of their material (putting it mildly). So I was a little anxious on the band's behalf. Fair play to them, they were willing to go on first on what was intended as a four-band bill at the tiny Barfly - though in the end headiners Valient Thorr pulled out.
Given just 45 minutes, I thought they did well. Richie Hevanz is still one of the best young hard rock singers out there, and their new songs pick up where Roadstar left off; hard-driving, head-shaking melodic rock with the focus on strong, anthemic choruses. A couple of tracks weren't quite up to par, and it sometimes seemed like they paid too much attention on headbanging and the throwing of rock star shapes, but in the chunky funk of 'Fear' and 'Saint Routine', the rapid-fire rock of 'Rain On Your Parade', the irrepressibly hummable 'I'll Never Write A Love Song', the big ballad 'Mirrors' and the rabble-rousing finale of 'Executioner's Day', the basis of a killer set is firmly in place. It's extremely early days, of course, and I'm really looking forward to watching the band push on from here.
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Wednesday 16th April
This is a nailbiting time of year for a footie fan. The business end of the season. Shit or bust. So last night I stood outside the Underworld with mobile phone in hand, nervously awaiting text news from Molineux of a game that would affect Palace's play-off ambitions. Biting the bullet - it was 0-0 at half-time - I went downstairs for an excellent gig from Death Angel. Though the venue wasn't anywhere near full, you couldn't dispute the reception afforded the reunited San Franciscan thrash-metal combo. So taken aback by the response were the band that they threw in an additional golden oldie, 'Mistess Of Pain', during the encore. Singer Mark Osegueda seemed almost tearful whilst reminding us that a September 1987 appearance at Hammersmith's Clarendon Ballroom (I WAS THERE!) was the band's debut outside of the States. They might've overlooked one of my own favourites, 'Bored' from '88's 'Frolic Through The Park', but material from the new 'Killing Season' disc confirms that Death Angel have added an exciting twist to their chosen genre. Here's the set-list: 'Lord Of Hate', 'Evil Priest', 'Buried Alive', 'Dethroned', 'Carnival Justice', 'Voracious Souls', 'When Worlds Collide', 'Soulless', 'Sonic Beatdown', 'Seemingly Endless Time', 'God Vs God', 'The Devil Incarnate', 'Steal The Crown', '3rd Floor', 'Kill As One', 'Mistess Of Pain', 'Resurrection Machine' and 'Thrown To The Wolves'.
That last-named DA song was to prove apt, as exiting the venue I was overjoyed to learn that West Brom had stuffed the Wanderers by a second-half goal to nil, giving Palace's promotion push an invaluable leg-up. Boing boing... and out!
P.S. I'm coming over all Canadian. Postie just delivered a promo of Rush's 'Snakes & Arrows Live', plus a paperback edition of 'Saga - The Biography', a detailed-looking biography by the Dutch writer Edwin Ammerlaan. Nice!
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Monday 14th April
Well, yesterday's White Lion interview went rather well. As promised, Mr Tramp spoke candidly and at length about several subjects, including the absence of guitarist Vito Bratta - and the other two members of their classic line-up! - from the band's reunion album and tour. Now all I've gotta do is condense the conversation into around 700 words... that'll be easy (not).
Sunday evening was taken up by a last-minute phone interview for Metal Hammer. Though it was with a band that I like (sorry, no clues) and I enjoyed the chat, it meant missing Down's gig at the Brixton Academy. That was a bit of a bummer, but you can't have it all.
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Sunday 13th April
I'll shortly be picking up the phone for a pre-UK tour chat with White Lion's Mike Tramp. The Dane and I have often crossed verbal swords in the past. "I'm really up for giving you a great interview," Mike tells me in an email. "So many of today's writers are 18 years old and have never heard of Slade. Looking back at all the talks we've had before, I sit here now with a totally different view of the past that I thought I lived in and had control of. It will be good talking to you, no-holds-barred, true Brit-style." Will letcha know how it goes...
Yesterday at Selhurst, Palace eased past Scunthorpe United to stand their ground in the play-off places. With most of the other results going our way - oh, my aching sides... Did anyone see goalkeeper Darren 'Butterfingers' Randolph dropping the ball into his own net at the Valley to dent Charlton Pathetic's promotion dreams??!! - the '07/'08 season looks like going right down to the wire.
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Saturday 12th April
Last night's Ace Frehley gig was terrific. The Astoria was packed and noisy; just the way it should be on a Friday night. Winding up with a titanic singalong version of 'Love Bomb Baby', Welsh Glamsters Tigertailz got the show off to a kick-ass start. Kim Hooker was obviously moved to be sharing a stage with his hero. "When I walked into a record shop and bought Kiss' 'Alive' album in 1976, it changed my whole fucking life," said the emotional singer, who looks so much like Ace that he's often mistaken for him. "I've missed a trick tonight, though," laughed Hooker. "I should've worn my [Kiss] make-up."
Announcing that he will play the Download Festival in the summer - where, let us not forget, Kiss have long since been confirmed as a headline act - Frehley had no need for cosmetics. Backed by a young, enthusastic backing band whose bassist and drummer handled the parts originally sung by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, and playing with crystal-clear volume, the guitarist served up a 100-minute precis of his almost four-decade career. Ace's self-titled 1978 solo album would have to be among my desert island discs, so 'Rip It Out' was the absolutely perfect way to begin the show. Despite dropping in some space-cadet observations, Frehley sounded sober and focussed, cherry-picking many of the songs he wrore or sang with Kiss along with occasional relics from his Frehley's Comet days (truthfully, 'Stranger In A Strange Land' came at just the right moment for a bar-run). Personal highlights included 'Hard Times', 'Snowblind', 'Rocket Ride' and 'Shock Me', which not only incorporated an extended guitar solo but a return of his celebrated 'smoking axe' routine. Here's the full set-list: 'Rip It Out', 'Hard Times', 'Snowblind'/'I Want You', 'Rock Soldiers', 'Breakout', 'Into The Void', 'Strangeways', Medley: 'Torpedo Girl'/'Speedin' Back To My Baby'/'Five Card Stud'/'Trouble Walkin'', 'Stranger In A Strange Land', 'New York Groove', '2,000 Man', 'Shock Me', 'Rocket Ride', 'Deuce', 'Love Her All I Can', 'Love Gun', 'Cold Gin'/'Black Diamond'.
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Friday 11th April
Visited what was, for me at least, a new venue in London last night. My lager-lout buddies Chariot had agreed to play a charity date for a fella they know called Graham Barnell, who urgently seeks a bone marrow transplant. It was great to see the band churning out their tried 'n' trusted, meat and potatoes British metal in the intimate surroundings of a central London boozer - The Phoenix, just off Oxford Circus - before such an enthusiastic crowd. I understand that The Quireboys are also going to play a similar benefit gig at the Esquires Club in Bedford on April 20. If you're in the vicinity, please drop by.
For the past several days I've been unable to stop playing two albums in particular. Uriah Heep's 'Wake The Sleeper' (Universal, June 2nd) is a marvellously colourful and engaging set of songs, delivered with all the band's inimitable gusto. I've already waffled at length about 'Watershed' by Opeth (see Tuesday's entry), but I must be pretty close to wearing out my watermarked promo-disc. Along with Swedish proggers Beardfish's 'Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two' (Inside Out, May 19th), this pair has been in near constant rotation all week long.
**Smack-smack-smack**... That noise you hear is Mr Ling licking his lips... Advance copies of Glenn Hughes' 'First Underground Nuclear Kitchen', 'From The Moon To The Sun' by Kip Winger and Warrior Soul's 'Live In England' have just arrived.
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Thursday 10th April
Amazing news from UFO's North American Tour, which kicked off last night in Baltimore. After all the moaning and bitching about the band's unimaginative set-lists of the past few years, Monsewer Mogg and company have done the sensible thing and returned 'Ain't No Baby', from the seminal 'Obsession' album, and 'The Wild, The Willing & The Innocent favourite 'Long Gone', to the show. 'Pushed To The Limit' (from 'Walk On Water') and 'Heavenly Body' (from latest disc 'The Monkey Puzzle') also make their presence known. Here's the full song-list: 'Long Gone', 'Mother Mary', 'Hard Being Me', 'Pushed to The Limit', 'This Kids', 'Only You Can Rock Me', 'Ain't No Baby', 'Heavenly Body', 'Baby Blue', 'Too Hot To Handle', 'Lights Out', 'Love to Love', 'Rock Bottom', 'Doctor Doctor' and 'Shoot Shoot'. Think I'll bung 'TWTW&TI' onto the death deck in celebration.
P.S. In answer to those who've asked, I believe the next batch of UFO re-issues drops on June 9.
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Wednesday 9th April
Thoroughly enjoyed last night's Exodus gig at an absolutely packed Underworld. Though he has some pretty big shoes to fill, the US thrash band's current singer, Rob Dukes, is not a fella to be trifled with. Any group in this genre would be proud to have Lee Altus of Heathen doubling up on guitar with the ever-present Gary Holt, and the return of original drummer Tom Hunting, replacing Paul Bostaph, makes Exodus the strongest they've been in some time. I hadn't heard their latest album, 'The Atrocity Exhibition Exhibit A', beforehand but the three songs aired convinced me to remedy that fact - SOON. One of the most interesting parts of the 100-minute show came when Dukes demanded: "How many of you fuckers were born before 1985?" (Cue beers being raised and one the biggest cheers of the night, 'natch). "Okay, and how many were born after 1985?" (Surprisingly there quite a few, though all were leaping about at the front). "Here's what I need you to do, let's turn this whole room into such a moshpit that all the old fuckers at the back will wish they hadn't come here tonight." ULP! Thankfully, I lived to tell the tale, also to report the set-list: 'Iconoclasm', 'Funeral Hymn', 'A Lesson In Violence', 'Children Of A Worthless God', 'Piranha', 'Deathamphetamine', 'Blacklist', 'Seeds Of Hate', 'And Then There Were None', 'Strike Of The Beast', 'Shovel Headed Kill Machine', 'War Is My Shepherd', 'Bonded By Blood' and 'Toxic Waltz'.
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Tuesday 8th April
I've just heard heard what's likely to be the best 55 minutes of music to released in 2008. Yesterday's playback of Opeth's ninth release, 'Watershed', left me almost speechless. Mayfair Studios in London's Chalk Farm had been set up for a 5.1 mix that even guitarist/vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt and guitarist Fredrik Åkesson (both of whom were present) had yet to hear, and it really did the job, sucking everyone in the room into their own private state of silently stunned appreciation.
Just seven songs long, 'Watershed's combination of death metal, prog-rock and psychedelia is as beautifully seamless. With the magnificent 'Porcelain Heart', Åkerfeldt has achieved the most effective combination of haunting, clean vocals and bowel-loosening screams so far, though the album is consistently absorbing. As everyone picked up their gear to leave I asked Mikael whether my ears had deceived me or if the last track, 'Hex Omega', really featured a Mellotron? "Oh yes," he beamed proudly. "There's Mellotrons and all sorts of great stuff all over this record." You won't believe your ears on June 2.
In the evening, with Crystal Palace playing away at Stoke City in a must-win Sky TV evening clash, the drinking started early. The Eagles rode their luck when an early Potters shot hit the post and rolled across (but not over) the goal line, before a touch of class from on-loan Chelski winger Scott Sinclair set up a header for Tom Soares.
Ling Towers went absolutely barmy, even more so when defender Jose Fonte unleashed a peach of a volley to extend the lead just before half time. Hearts were in mouths when Stoke's Whelan pegged one back with 20 minutes to go, but it was Palace that claimed the three priceless points to lift them back into the play-off places. Of course, after such a terrific result it would be **just** like CPFC to blow it against Scunthorpe on Saturday...
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Sunday 6th April
Awoke to find Catford covered in four inches of fluffy white snow. And yet on Friday I caught the sun on my face... There's some worrying truth to all of this global warming stuff. Now where did I put that toboggan?
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Saturday 5th April
A lifetime dream came true when yesterday I witnessed my eldest son representing his school in a five-a-side competition. Eddie can thank his lucky stars not to have inherited his grandfather's sporting genes. As a goalie, he put on a Julian Speroni-style display, saving a penalty and scoring another as his team romped home to win the tropy, even winning one game 15-0. Attaboy. During downtime between games we staged a Parents versus Kids clash during which yours truly defied the passing years to notch a delightful opening goal; rounding two defenders, cutting inside a third and curling the ball sweetly into the bottom corner. Just like CPFC veteran Dougie Freeman (and, before him, Ray Houghton) it shows that whilst the legs might desert you, true class stays forever. Ahem. [Mrs L has asked me to remind you that the kids we played against were ten years old... I don't think that's necessary, do you?].
In the evening I went to see Kamelot and Firewind at the Academy in Islington. Couldn't believe how full the place was. The enthusiasm expressed for Firewind was equally impressive. With their new album 'The Premonition' the Greek quintet are building up a real head of steam, though Apollo Papathanasio might be their Achilles' Heel. Papathanasio fares well enough on the band's records but when he made a meal of singing "I am the power" (a line from the 2003 song 'I Am The Anger'), you half expected a gang of enforcement officers from the Trades Descripions Dept to burst onstage and bundle him into a van.
The headliners' last London appearance, at the Mean Fiddler in September '07, was memorable for all the wrong reasons. A painful injury to bassist Sean Tibbetts' leg forced him to leave the stage, while a dodgy sound mix rendered Roy Khan's normally stellar vocals virtually inaudible. Last night was far more satisfying. They even made some interesting tweaks to the set, adding 'Pendulous Fall' (the bonus cut from current disc 'Ghost Opera'), the same album's 'Eden Echo' and a chunk of the 'Elizabeth Trilogy' from 2001's 'Karma' album, shedding 'Mourning Star', 'Centre Of The Universe' and 'The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)' in the process. Here's the set-list: 'Solitaire'/'Rule The World', 'When The Lights Are Down', 'Soul Society', 'Pendulous Fall', 'Descent Of The Archangel', 'Abandoned', 'The Human Stain', Instrumental Jam, 'Serenade', 'Elizabeth', Keyboard solo, 'Forever', 'EdenEcho' and encores of 'Ghost Opera', 'Karma' and 'March Of Mephisto'.
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Friday 4th April
The dumbest question I was asked all week would have to be: "Do any of you people like riffs?" Why on earth would I have wasted my time at a gig by Texan stoner-sludge doom-monsters The Sword if I hated them? These guys - fronted the fella responsible for the above no-brainer, guitarist JD Cronise - serve up brutal, bloody but thunderously groovy guitar motifs like few other groups. No wonder they describe their music as sounding like "a bunch of bison being pushed over a cliff". To be honest, I don't rate their just-issued second album, 'Gods Of The Earth', anywhere near as highly as 2006's inspirational debut 'The Age Of Winters', but the likes of 'Maiden, Mother & Crone' and 'The White Sea' worked well enough in a live scenario (which is more than can be said for 'How Heavy This Axe' and 'Fire Lances Of The Ancient Hyperzephans', which to these ears sounded like half-finished rehearsal room jams). On the whole, though, the gig rocked.
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Wednesday 2nd April
Just been on the phone with Rick Wakeman, who gave me the lowdown on why he's having little involvement with Yes' 40th anniversary tour. Though Rick hasn't ruled out appearing during the trek's intended two-year run in some shape or form, his son Oliver will be tickling the ivories when Yes kick off in Quebec City on July 12. Seems that the last suicidally long bout of roadwork nearly killed the legendary keyboard player and, according to Rick, almost cost Jon Anderson his voice. He also felt they should have had some new material to promote, which sadly won't be the case. "Oliver's a great player, he spoke at length to Chris [Squire, bassist] and Steve [Howe, guitarist], and I'm pleased that it all worked out," enthuses Oliver's dad, quipping: "They'll also save money on the T-shirts by not having to rub the surname of Wakeman out."
P.S. As expected, Velvet Revolver have severed ties with nutty singer Scott Weiland due to "among other things, his increasingly erratic onstage behavior and personal problems."
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Tuesday 1st April
Hold the front page (NOT!) - 2008's worst kept secret is outta the bag. Metallica will break from recording their new album to headline the Reading and Leeds Festivals over August Bank Holiday weekend. According to Kerrang!, they're even promising to blood a few of the record's tunes. "If we don't, then I give people permission to find me and slap me across the face!" laughs Lars Ulrich. Well, if the new 'uns sound anything like the tripe on 'St Anger' we'll be queuing up to do the same thing, though for a different reason.
Here are this month's YouTube and Playlist.