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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Thursday 30th April
With another issue of Classic Rock entering the final stages of production, yesterday was filled by three interviews. I spoke to Stone Gods singer/guitarist Richie Edwards, who revealed that the feud with Justin Hawkins is now officially a thing of the past. “Dan [Hawkins, SG guitarist] and [his formerly estranged ex-Darkness sibling] Justin are getting on great again, and I’ve seen Justin myself a few times recently,” Edwards told me, fresh from a writing session for the band’s second album. “We went to see AC/DC at the O2 Arena together. Justin’s in great shape again and he’s kicked all the shit he was taking. It was tense for a while but a lot of water has gone under the bridge.”
I also had enjoyable chats with Mick Box of Uriah Heep and The Tubes’ Fee Waybill. With his ludicrous prediction that “there will be a lot of non-stop Cockney dancing” at the band’s summer festival appearances (Heep have just been added to the Classic Rock-sponsored Memories Of Woodstock Festival in Shrewsbury on August 7), Mr Box was in typically irrepressible mood. The same wasn’t quite so true of Waybill, who claimed The Tubes were so dreadfully treated by a certain promoter on their last UK tour in 2005 that they vowed never to come back. But for being booked to play at Sweden Rock and “having to come right through London to get there”, their June 2 Islington Academy show would not even be taking place. Fee did, however, reveal that he is recording a new solo album with his good friend Richard Marx, which upon putting down the receiver promoted me to dash away and slam Marx’s self-titled debut from 1987 (the one featuring ‘Should’ve Known Better’, ‘Don’t Mean Nothing’ and the gorgeous ‘Endless Summer Nights’) onto the turntable… it still sounds sublime!
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Wednesday 29th April
Phew – the return of Creed (see yesterday’s diary) won’t affect the long-term future of Alter Bridge, according to singer Myles Kennedy. “I can assure you that as soon as they [Creed] finish in October, we will move forward. Contrary to false statements, Alter Bridge continues to be paramount to the four of us. AB’s third record is well on its way. The guys will embark on their reunion tour, I will make my [solo] record, and then we will carry on.” That’s a relief.
My eldest son Eddie can’t decide whether or not to attend Crystal Palace’s final game of the season – a fascinating clash with manager Neil Warnock’s former (and still much beloved) club, Sheffield United. With the Blades, Reading (managed by former Eagles legend Steve Coppell) and Brum all in the mix for automatic promotion, a reported 5,000 United fans will be at Selhurst. The media has made much of Warnock’s potentially divided loyalties – the club that he supports vs the interests of the one that pays his wages. After the scathing things he said about other teams putting out weakened sides having lubricated United’s drop from the Prem, and with the eyes of football upon him, should Warnock allow the team just roll over and capitulate I would lose all respect for him. The problem, of course, is that Palace’s strongest possible current XI is a complete and utter pile of shit. Whatever happens, even though Coppell has said this season will be his last in management, I personally hope he signs off by restoring Reading to the top flight.
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  Tuesday 28th April
With no gigs or evening phone interviews, last night I sat down to watch a bit of the telly. I tried to defy my instincts and appraise the BBC’s re-make of Reggie Perrin with an impartial eye, but the canned laughter that erupted within 30 seconds of episode #1 was an instant turn-off. Sure, there was the very (occasional) giggle, mostly at how badly the new cast was attempting to reinterpret the show’s original gags… but Martin ‘FA Cup Impersonator’ Clunes as Reggie? No, this has to be a bad dream. It’s not ‘great’ or ‘super’ and I didn’t get where I am today by watching shockingly bad TV remakes. Annoyingly, Clunes doesn’t even seem to realise what he’s stirred up by attempting to fill the boots of the late, great Leonard Rossiter. In a recent interview he dared to state: “I’d like to know what these people who think Leonard Rossiter is irreplaceable are doing. Are they just watching reruns of Reginald Perrin? Then I guess they would find him irreplaceable. I haven’t watched the recent reruns, but a lot of the people who did said, ‘You’d be amazed how slow it is, and how few laughs there are’. For better or for worse, things have moved on.” I’m just about to delete the ‘series link’ and do some moving on of my own, thanks very much.
Ooooh, how exciting – just received a package from SPV Records containing UFO’s newie ‘The Visitor’ (June 2) and ‘Into The Valley Of The Moonking’ (June 15), with ‘Play My Game’ (May 18), the solo debut from ex-Priest/Iced Earth frontman Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, acting as the meat in a very appetising sandwich. On a less savoury note I see that Creed have announced plans of a US reunion tour that starts in Pittsburgh on August 6. There’s no firm indication of whether this regrettable turn of events will spell the end of the road for Alter Bridge, who shortly after the ‘Myles Kennedy for Zeppelin’ debacle were making loud noises about preparing a third album. I’d take Alter Bridge over Creed on any day of the week/month/year.
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Monday 27th April
The glorious weather of the past few days is gone and I stood in a deserted house (the kids have just gone back to school after half-tem), sodden after a downpour during the early morning dog walk. “Well, this sucks,” I thought, turning on the kettle to make a warming cup of tea. Then the unmistakable opening chords of a certain magical song – ‘Easter’ by Marillion – danced onto the airwaves of Planet Rock Radio and caused a metaphorical rainbow to appear through the kitchen’s mist. I’ve played so much Fish-era Marillion of late, it was time to dust down the brilliant ‘Seasons End’ album. What a way to start a week.
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Sunday 26th April
It was another of those exasperating quandaries: Whether to attend Palace’s away game in Doncaster or The Zombies at Hammersmith Apollo? Quite a toughie. But in the end, after checking the rail fair, there was only one serious choice. So I visited the Olympia Record Fair in the morning, zipped back home to listen to the Eagles’ inevitable 2-0 defeat on the radio and then headed back into town in the evening. Exhausting… but I don’t regret the judgement call. Reprising a three-date Shepherd’s Bush Empire run that was witnessed by Robert Plant, Paul Weller, Robyn Hitchcock, Tim Rice and members of Garbage, The Zombies were set to once again reunite their living members – vocalist Colin Blunstone, keyboard player Rod Argent, bassist Chris White and drummer Hugh Grundy – for a final (in the UK at least) recital of 1968’s ‘Odessey and Oracle’ album. Preparing for the main event, a warm-up set included the superb ‘I Love You’ and ‘Mystified’, but it was the solo tunes ‘Misty Roses’ and ‘Say You Don't Mind’ – both enriched by a string section – that revealed the full theatrical quality of Blunstone’s stunning voice. With a massive cast of backing musicians and vocalists (it took Argent six or seven minutes to introduce them all), The Zombies fulfilled their pledge to honour every original note of ‘Odessey and Oracle’, sending the Apollo absolutely into grey-haired rapture. A quality night, and how pleasing to have been one of the youngest members of the audience.
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Saturday 25th April
Last night I returned to the Forum again, my second visit in 24 hours. This time it was to see Asia. After experiencing some nasty personal trauma during the daytime, liquid refreshment was a priority. A good gang of people filled the adjacent pub; my friends John Dryland, Xavier Russell and Steve Hammonds, Classic Rock contributor Paul Ging, Asia’s manager Martin Darvill, publicist Roland Hyams and booking agent Don McKay, also Mick Box and Bernie Shaw of Uriah Heep, so a few glasses of vodka and Diet Coke were supped.
To be honest, having seen Asia play pretty much the same set twice since the reunion of their original line-up, and with my friend Nick Shilton reporting things unchanged again from a recent show in Germany, I was wary of the night in store. In fact, the band elected to make three changes; lifting an extra song (‘Heroine’) from the comeback album ‘Phoenix’ and revisiting ‘My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want)’ from 1983’s ‘Alpha’. The one change I **didn’t** foresee was the switching of ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ for another Buggles track, ‘Living In The Plastic Age’. To my mild frustration, ‘Roundabout’’, a Yes song that the band has gradually grown into, retained its place in the set, as did Asia’s remakes of ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’, a King Crimson classic that bassist/vocalist John Wetton didn’t originally feature on, and the inevitable Emerson Lake & Palmer submission, ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’. When one considers the vast catalogue of tunes that could have been tapped (‘Red’, ‘Karn Evil 9’, just about anything by Yes) the band’s lack of imagination baffles me.
“You must understand, we have to take things a bit at a time,” Wetton told me cautiously in a recent interview. “We’re still not as confident as many people think we are. [Even three years] down the road, nobody wants to upset the apple cart.” Minor niggles aside, however, the foundation of the set and the sheer quality of the playing and singing was thoroughly enjoyable. Here’s what was on the menu: ‘Only Time Will Tell’, ‘Wildest Dreams’, ‘Never Again’, ‘Roundabout’, ‘Time Again’, Geoffrey Downes’ Keyboard Solo, Steve Howe Guitar Solo, ‘The Smile Has Left Your Eyes’, ‘Don’t Cry’, ‘Heroine’, ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’, ‘Without You’, ‘An Extraordinary Life’, ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’, ‘My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want)’, ‘Living In The Plastic Age’, ‘The Heat Goes On’/Carl Palmer’s Drum Solo, ‘Sole Survivor’ and an encore of ‘Heat Of The Moment’.
A gaggle of thirsty revellers gathered in the bar post-show. Messrs Downes and Wetton dropped by to say hello, Martin Turner of Wishbone Ash fame seemed in a party mood, Mick Box was as convivial as ever, while John Dryland, Roland Hyams and myself huddled so deep into our nonsensical conversation that the realisation we were the last three people left in the bar raised hoots of laughter. Ahem… time to leave, then.
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Friday 24th April
Rob Halford’s ears must have been burning. No less than two Judas Priest classics were aired at last night’s Saxon/Doro gig. During her special guest set, ex-Warlock singer Doro Pesch offered an unusual reworking of ‘Breaking The Law’, the petite German songstress also returning to the stage during Saxon’s encore to duet with Biff Byford on ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’. Doro’s own set was a bit of a firecracker, Enid Williams of Girlschool guesting on ‘Celebrate’, one of just two songs from the new album ‘Fear No Evil’ (the other being ‘Night Of The Warlock’), while a packed Forum punched the air to such Pesch standards as ‘Earthshaker Rock’, ‘I Rule The Ruins’, Hellbound’ and ‘True As Steel’.
Introduced by the hymn ‘Jerusalem’ and with fans passing Byford their St George’s Cross flags, who proudly draped them across the drum-riser, the show was themed around the English national day. I was happy to see Saxon, who’ve come through some pretty tough times, resisting the temptation to rely on past glories in their 30th anniversary year. Several of the songs from the latest album, ‘Into The Labyrinth’, sounded as good as anything from the group’s heyday, and for those of us that have seen them a few times of late they spiced things up further with the revision of golden oldies like ‘Machine Gun’, ‘Ride Like The Wind’ and ‘Requiem (We Will Remember)’. Including 45 minutes of encores before finishing at 11.20, the band just didn’t want to stop playing – perhaps, being canny Yorkshiremen, they knew that overrunning would mean they didn’t have to buy quite as many drinks at the after-show party. I wouldn’t put it past ’em. Anyway, here’s the set-list: ‘Battalions Of Steel’, ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’, ‘Demon Sweeney Todd’, ‘Ride Like The Wind’, ‘Requiem (We Will Remember)’, ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’, ‘Valley Of The Kings’, ‘And Te Bands Played On’, ‘Hellcat’, ‘The Eagle Has Landed’, ‘Come Rock Of Ages (The Circle Is Complete)’, ‘Machine Gun’, ‘Never Surrender’ and ‘Wheels Of Steel’, with encores of ‘Live To Rock’, ‘Motorcycle Man’, ‘Crusader’, ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’, ‘747 (Strangers In The Night)’, ‘Denim And Leather’ and ‘Princess Of The Night’. Phew!
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Thursday 23rd April
I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s interview with Derek Trucks, and his gig was also rather good (probably would have enjoyed it more had I known a few songs other than the stuff from his latest disc, ‘Already Free’). Trucks is a rather serious young man with a pleasant demeanour and, of course, a helluva slide guitar player – as you’d expect for someone whose father named him after the band Derek & The Dominoes. Derek, who went on to play with Clapton and jam on a couple of occasions with Bob Dylan, was a fascinating guy to talk to. We discussed his disdain for most modern music and his shock at ‘Already Free’ debuting at #19 on the Billboard chart. He explained why he doesn’t mind fans making audio recordings of his shows for trading purposes and the fact that unlike most ‘jam’ bands, his own doesn’t jam to the point of sheer exhausted noodledom. But for me the most interesting part of the interview was Trucks expressing his belief that the Allmans will never again play in the UK – even though we were seated in the same Empire dressing room that must have accommodated Gregg Allman during an all-too-rare British appearance in 2007. I’m paraphrasing him here as I don’t have time to go through the tape just yet, but Derek believes the ABB have “missed their window of opportunity” and that their organisation is now too big to play the type of venues they could sell out. That’s a crying shame.
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Wednesday 22nd April
I’ve just been invited to a stage performance of Rick Wakeman’s solo album ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ at Hampton Court Palace next week. Snapped up the offer in a heartbeat. As a fan of Rick’s I’d have gone anyway, but the news that Brian “FLASH GORDON’S ALIVE??!!” Blessed is to be the event’s narrator was what really swung it. Anyway, later on today I will be zipping over to Shepherd’s Bush for a concert by the Derek Trucks Band – also a short pre-show interview. I’m pretty excited. Seeing as Trucks, whose uncle is Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, is a member of the ABB I’ve just dug out my tie-dye T-shirt from the one and only time I saw the Brothers onstage (at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in 1995). To me it a garment of the uttermost taste. On the other hand my youngest son, home from school on half term, is so embarrassed and amused by the shirt’s design of a gigantic multi-coloured mushroom he believes I’d be less incongruous leaving the house naked. Not that I give a damn.
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Tuesday 21st April
I'm extremely impressed with Dennis DeYoung’s new solo album. Okay, the word ‘new’ is used guardedly as ‘One Hundred Years From Now’ has been available for a while in Canada. This updated edition, which sports visuals by the same artist that drew the cover of Styx's ‘Paradise Theater’ artwork, now adds two extra tracks. With titles such as ‘Turn Off CNN’ and ‘I Don’t Believe In Anything’, its lyrics are perhaps a little overbearingly world-weary but musically and vocally it sees DeYoung in quite astonishing form, notably ‘Crossing The Rubicon’ which tips its hat at the signature heyday pomp-rock of Dennis’ former band. Check it out, though you might wanna skip ‘Breathe Again’, a ‘Babe’-style tribute to his wife Suzanne.
So... the organisers of Download have finally announced a day-by-day breakdown of this year’s event. Aside from Opeth and Mötley Crüe (both, amazingly, on the second stage), Friday’s bill presents slim pickings. I’ve a vague interest in headliners Faith No More, but elsewhere only Voivod, Meshuggah and Duff McKagan's Loaded really tickle the Ling tastebuds – expect a few bevvies to be consumed. DragonForce, Down and Anvil are among the next day's must-see attractions and I daresay I’ll take a look at Slipknot and Lawnmower Deth, too. Sunday is where the real fun begins, just about all of it (except for Shinedown, Papa Roach and Buckcherry) on the main stage. At least I won't have to wander too far to watch (in descending order) Leppard, Whitesnake, ZZ Top, Dream Theater, Black Stone Cherry, Journey (hold on... BSC **above** Journey?!?), Skin, Tesla and the Stone Gods. Better start saving those beer tokens for the first two days...
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Monday 20th April
The FA Cup is one of the most sacred and famous sporting competitions on the planet, so it **really** annoys me when certain clubs demean the trophy’s legend by putting out weakened sides to compete for it. Oh, how I enjoyed seeing Everton give Alex Fergiesbum a bloody nose during yesterday’s Semi Final at Wembley. Settled via a penalty shoot-out after extra time, the Toffees’ victory also represented triumph for the smaller man. I’m still laughing at the memory of the red-faced wankbag F***ie hopping up and down with rage on the touchline after the referee turned down a second half penalty appeal; truly, truly hilarious.
The Coverdale-Joe Lynn Turner feud refuses to die, DC having issued a statement that rakes over the coals once more. “I have no idea why Mr Turner has launched this foolishness, but I ask that it stop now,” requests Coverdale. “It has no merit, serves no purpose and is a total waste of precious time. I have no desire in any way, shape or form to have any communication with him. He should know better. Next he'll be accusing me of wearing a wig on stage.” Ouch.
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  Sunday 19th April
Yesterday’s game between Palace and Derby Country was dismal till the controversial sending off of striker Victor Moses galvanised the Eagles, Shefki Kuqi lobbing keeper Stephen Bywater to put the ten-man home side ahead. And with Derby looking truly atrocious, that’s the way it stayed. Apart from the reaction to Kuqi’s opportunism, the afternoon’s loudest cheers were saved for the eventual sinking of HMS Charlton, who threw away a two goal lead to confirm next season’s place in the third tier of the British game. I downed a bottle or two of wine in celebration, obviously, but with Simon Jordan still unable to sell the club and boss Neil Warnock due to retire at the end of 2009/2010, the chairman’s malaise is gradually permeating almost every aspect of Crystal Palace FC, from dwindling attendances to the standard of players we now seem able to attract. To be blunt, I fear for the future.
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Saturday 18th April
The biggest story of the moment is the spat between vocalists Joe Lynn Turner and David Coverdale, the former claiming to have witnessed the latter miming onstage in Finland last summer. “I couldn’t believe [Coverdale] was using these tapes — for lead singing!” alleges JLY, continuing: “Not just backgrounds, but lead! My mouth was open. I was like: What the fuck, David?! You can’t do this. You look so stupid, so foolish.” DC wasted little time in dismissing Turner’s claims as “absolute balderdash”, telling the Classic Rock website: “I have no idea what the hell the daft bugger’s talking about. I do not, have not and will not use tapes of my voice to mime in concert. My band and I perform and sing live. Yeah… we’re that fucking good! What a total prick.”
Filled by three interviews, my Friday was pretty busy. After lunch I had fun speaking to Myke Gray, guitarist of the newly reunited Skin. These days running his own lucrative business as a fitness trainer, Gray seems to have grown up a lot. He was willing to hold up his hands to the childish egotism of youth and, more surprisingly still, when one considers that he was a teetotaller when I first knew him, Myke also admitted nearly pegging it due to drink and drugs not too long ago! That was a revelation I didn’t see coming! Myke also put me in touch with vocalist Neville MacDonald – one of the nicest men in rock. Like Gray, MacDonald withdrew completely from the scene and had to be persuaded to participate in Skin’s summer reunion at the Download Festival. Both men spoke with affection of the first time they reconnected at a rehearsal studio in Wales, laughing and hugging one another (in a manly way, of course!) at realisation the chemistry between them was still there – despite Gray not having touched a guitar in five years. With a second warm-up night at the 100 Club now added it seems the fans are still out there, too. However, both were cagey regarding the possibility of continued activity after the Download show. I guess time will tell.
In the evening I chatted to Million Dollar Reload, the Irish rockers who made headlines when their singer Phil Conalane was named as a potential replacement for Scott Weiland in Velvet Revolver. Although Conalane gave me the lowdown of what happened, I’m not about to ruin the surprise ahead of the story’s publication… sorry.
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Thursday 16th April
You know you’re getting old when musicianly friends ask you to not to check out their latest band but take a look at what their sons are up to. Not that I mind, but this seems to be happening to me a lot recently. Another sign of aging is picking up the freebie evening newspaper en route to said gig and being shocked by a photo of someone you lusted after in your teenaged years – in this case TV presenter Michaela Strachan – who now looks like a red-nosed female incarnation of Wurzel Gummidge. And as if you’re not paranoid enough about turning into a living fossil already, final terrifying proof arrives when you reach the front of the box office queue, and the ticket lady says: “Right… Dave Ling, isn’t it?” You enquire how she knows this, as Dingwalls isn’t a venue you visit too often and she replies: “Oh, you’ve been around forever…”. Ho-hum. So it’s official: My first flush of youth is over.
The band I went to see were a six-piece called Goldheart Assembly, featuring the bass-playing/singing offspring of former Marseille vocalist Paul Dale. Combining elements of guitar rock, acoustic-folk and psychedelia with a hint of prog (they have two keyboard players) into a tasty organic stew, the song ‘Oh Really?’ is a playful thumbing of the nose to the indie press that seems to have adopted them. I wouldn’t begin to know how to categorise the still-unsigned Londoners, but they have a real chemistry and I liked that I saw.
P.S. This morning’s ‘in’ box contained a press release from Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy, confirming the rumour that Transatlantic, the all-star prog supergroup completed by Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas, Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings and ex-Spock’s Beard leader Neal Morse, are back after a seven-year hiatus to begin work a brand new studio album. Absolutely superb news as their debut, 2000’s ‘SMPT:e’, is one of my all-time favourites.
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Wednesday 15th April
What a surreal night. My attempts to secure a ticket for AC/DC’s shows in London having failed dismally, a last-ditch plea for help was despatched in the morning to a handful of Future Publishing colleagues, though mentally I resigned myself to watching the repeat of the Brian Clough documentary on TV. Incredibly, however, the phone rang and thanks to Sian L, Alex M and Ian W, Cinders ended up going to the ball after all. One moment I was wondering what to cook the boys for their tea, the next I was boarding a bus for the O2 Arena. Back at home well before midnight, ears ringing and sporting a goonish, disbelieving grin, I almost had to pinch myself to check whether the experience really happened.
What of the show, you ask? When Classic Rock critiqued one of the tour’s earliest dates, at Madison Square Garden, its reviewer described Brian Johnson’s voice as “a bit thin and reedy, with barely any of his trademark rasp”, implying that for all its OTT qualities – the show begins with a full-size locomotive crashing through the video screens – the actual performance was a little on the economical side. In fact, Jonno sang a lot better than I’d feared, and when he seemed to tire during the encores the crowd happily helped him out. The band also played for five minutes short of two hours, including five songs from the current ‘Black Ice’, all of which except ‘Anything Goes’ – the sort of empty-headed, insincere stadium fodder you’d associate with Bon Jovi – slotted in just fine. At 54, Angus Young remains one of the rock music’s unmissable showmen, his act having changed very little through the years (I’m happy to say). Stripped to the waist and covered in sweat, spinning on his back, duck-walking all over every inch of stage, teasing the crowd with a striptease, all that seems different is the addition of a Nobby Stiles-esque comb-over. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine 61-year-old Johnson committing to doing this all over again in two or three years’ time and many of the fans must have gone home accepting the very real probability that this will be AC/DC’s final tour. Like them, I’m glad I saw it one last time. Here’s the set-list: ‘Rock And Roll Train’, ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be’, ‘Back In Black’, ‘Big Jack’, ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’, ‘Shot Down In Flames’, ‘Thunderstruck’, ‘Black Ice’, ‘The Jack’, ‘Hell’s Bells’, ‘Shoot To Thrill’, ‘War Machine’, ‘Anything Goes’, ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’, ‘TNT’, ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and ‘Let There Be Rock’, with encores of ‘Highway To Hell’ and ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’.
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Tuesday 14th April
The rest of the nation returns to work after the Easter bank holiday, though I spent much of the past four days penning various reviews for #2 of Classic Rock Presents Prog, and completing a sleeve essay for a project commissioned by EMI Records. However, I made a point of plonking myself in front of Sky Sports News for updates regarding Palace’s trip to Southampton. With goalie Julian Speroni forced to leave the pitch and have some stitches, defender Clint Hill filled in between the sticks (boss Neil Warnock doesn’t believe in naming a substitute keeper), so the Eagles did well to reach half time at 0-0. Speroni returned in the second half but was powerless to divert a superb 30-yard drive from David McGoldrick which eventually awarded the home side three priceless points in their relegation battle. Expecting the formalisation of Charlton’s drop to League 1, I opened a bottle of wine to celebrate, but a 0-0 draw at Coventry gives the Clowns what looks like a final week in the Championship. Failure to win their next game, at home to Blackpool, should do the trick. There’s also a good chance that the fans of the Tangerines will sing ‘Glad All Over’ at them, as by a bizarre coincidence it also happens to be their own club team anthem!
Some interesting goodies have dropped onto my desk, including a sampler of Praying Mantis’ newie, ‘Sanctuary’ (due via Frontiers on June 8), ‘If The World Was You’ by country rock legend JD Souther and a finished copy of Dennis DeYoung’s hotly-awaited ‘One Hundred Years From Now’.
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  Monday 13th April
Unsurprisingly, there have been some emails regarding Dave Mustaine’s hints of a Metallica/Megadeth tour (see Diary, April 11th). Stephen Robinson (AKA the deejay Catbird – why does my spellcheck keep turning that into ‘Catford’? – from Totalrock Radio) quite rightly points out the relevance of the word “potential” in Mustaine’s statement, adding: “Surely the whole Dave/Metallica thing is a feud rather than a potential feud?” Metal Hammer editor Alex Milas also proposed, with tonge in cheek, that Dave is about to bury the hatchet with Rotting Christ, the Greek metalheads that Megadeth’s leader had ejected from a festival bill to accommodate his Christian beliefs. Of course, we are all hoping to see Mustaine, who, though remaining thornier than average, has mellowed considerably in recent years, reconciled with his old band-mates. Forgiveness is a cornerstone of Christianity, after all. But in one of the last times that we spoke face to face, following the movie he referred to as “Some Kind Of Bullshit”, Dave showed no sign whatever of turning the other cheek, stating: “You know what? I actually had aspirations to play with those guys [Metallica] again one day, but it was such a fucking awful thing that they did to me, editing the thing to make them look great and me look like the bad, insecure guy… now I don’t ever care if I fucking see Lars Ulrich’s face again. That was the final betrayal.” It’s unlikely that such an attitude could be smoothed out by the tokenism of Metallica’s offer to **attend** – as opposed to **participate in** – the group’s recent induction at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
P.S. Since the posting of this morning’s entry, site regular James Mitchell proposes the theory that Mustaine might offer an olive branch to co-founding bassist David Ellefson. Somehow I doubt it. To quote Mustaine from the same 2003 interview: “Fuck David Ellefson. He’s been a professional ass-licker for his whole career. For the last three records, Dann Huff and Bill Kennedy [producers] all wanted to get rid of Ellefson. When I fired Nick Menza [drummer, in 1998], Marty Friedman [guitarist] turned to me and said, ‘We should have fired Ellefson, too’. I should’ve listened.”
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Sunday 12th April
Picture the scene. It’s around 7.30pm on Saturday. The front door bursts open and in trudge Dave Ling and eldest son, Eddie. The former is somewhat the worse for a long, steady day’s drinking, and both are furious at having seen Cardiff – a team of dirty, diving, injury-feigning thugs with a set of fans that define the term ‘inbred cretin’ – overcome Crystal Palace, largely due to the gross incompetence of an inept dickhead of a referee that declined two penalty appeals (one of which was absolutely clear-cut; both for the home side, naturally). So the soothing effect was palpable as, after Mrs L had nodded to the corner of the room and announced: “Your post is over there”, I opened a mailer that contained… ulp… a watermarked promo of Dream Theater’s newie, ‘Black Clouds And Silver Linings’. Drummer and mouthpiece Mike Portnoy had already whetted the appetite of the band’s fans with his quote of: “Imagine if ‘A Change Of Seasons’, ‘Octavarium’, ‘Learning To Live’, ‘Pull Me Under’ and ‘The Glass Prison’ were all [contained] on one Dream Theater album”, but a simple glance at the song timings – 16 mins and 10 seconds, 8.35, 5.25, 12.49, 13.07 and 19.16 – almost had me drooling. 75 minutes later and the oafish ineptitude of R Booth (Nottinghamshire) is a long-distant irrelevance. ‘A Rite Of Passage’ and the soaring ‘Wither’ are destined to thrill those that prefer DT in more succinct form, but… the rest of the album… Christ! Apart from pointing out that the band has cut back on the growled vocals of the last album and **really** played to its long-established strengths, it’s hard to know where to begin. So instead I’ll leave it till the official unveiling date of June 22 for you to add your own personal choice of superlative.
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Saturday 11th April
I wonder what on earth Dave Mustaine could be hinting at with the cryptic web posting: “I have agreed to doing something last night that I am sure a lot of people are going to be very excited about, and something that I had hoped would one day lead to another one of the potential feuds going away for good, if not for a long while.” A Metallica/Megadeth tour, perchance? Hmmm…
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Thursday 9th April
The impact of witnessing Black Spiders for the first time was so seismic (see March 30 for details), last night I felt compelled to check them out all over again. This time they were at the Underworld in Camden, once again warming up another band’s audience – in this instance Danko Jones. Though the three-guitar frontline was forced to jostle for space by a slightly sludgy mix that also clouded the roar of ex-Groop Dogdrill frontman Pete ‘Spider’ Spiby, the effect was pretty much identical only this time, as an ‘insider’ it was fun to watch the fellow audience members as the music caused jaws to slowly slacken. Even 12 hours later I still find myself inadvertently humming the refrain to ‘St Peter’ and the absurdly brilliant ‘Kiss Tried To Kill Me (It Was Gene Not Paul)’. Miss these guys at your peril.
I’ve just been having a good laugh at the latest issue of Metal Hammer, which features a rather good My Life Story with Rob Halford. Quizzed about his favourite place on planet Earth by interviewer Malcolm Dome, Halford responds: “It’s Walsall, in the Midlands, which is still home to me. I’d be really upset if I couldn’t go shopping at the Morrisons supermarket in the town. I have a beautiful place in Phoenix, Arizona, but nothing quite beats Walsall.” Equally surreal, when asked about his favourite TV programmes, Rob listed The Antiques Road Show, Flog It and Cash In The Attic. That’s genius - all he needed was Midsomer Murders and Last Of The Summer Wine for a full set.
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Wednesday 8th April
I was disappointed to have missed EMI’s launch preview of the Iron Maiden road movie Flight 666, which clashed with last month’s trip to Wigan to see FM. So the offer to warm up for last night’s Palace-Coventry game by attending a second screening was heartily accepted. Secreting my hip-flask of chilled cider brandy under Barry Norman-style dinner jacket, I headed to a West London location. Rock movies are fast becoming ten a penny, but what makes Flight 666 so different is the way it focuses on the fans. As Maiden and their crew jet around the world, notching 50,000 miles in five continents, crossing time-zones, date-lines and seasons, in their converted Ed Force 1 aircraft (piloted, of course, by singer Bruce Dickinson), one thing is constant: their audience. The scenes of boundless adulation that greet them in the most unlikely locations are little short of amazing. In Columbia, fans queue for nine days to get the best standing position at an open air show. I was equally touched by the disbelieving male fan, who, having caught one of Nicko McBrain’s drum sticks, looked skywards to thank whichever god he prayed to and promptly burst into tears. Truthfully, it made me feel more than a little spoiled. Having been privileged to see Maiden countless times since 1980, in venues of many different sizes (from the Marquee to Madison Square Garden); having flown with Bruce in a small plane and on one of his Fan Club jollies to Iceland; not to mention travelled with the band as they sped away from a venue accompanied by police outriders, still wearing their towel dressing gowns and distributing beer as the gig was dissected, reliving these experiences with Flight 666 made me feel like the luckiest bastard alive.
It would have been easy for the movie to portray Maiden as boastful or smug. In fact, the band seem gobsmacked and humbled by the chaos their presence brings. Iron Maiden are notorious for protecting their privacy, so it speaks volumes for film-makers Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn that they pierced the group’s inner workings to tickle the underbelly of the beast. Steve Harris doesn’t really let his guard down, not that I expected him to, but it’s good to see the shy and understated Adrian Smith showing a little of what he’s about. Equally if not more important, the music has been brilliantly filmed and recorded with a fan’s eye view. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to stand amid a metal band playing at full pelt, or what it sounds like when the crowd shakes the rafters by roaring out a chorus, Flight 666 puts you centre-stage. On general release from April 21, it’s recommended to anyone that calls themselves a fan.
Afterwards, Palace’s game against fellow mid-table side Cov was always going to be an anticlimax. And so it proved, fizzling out as a 1-1 draw. Its only real redeeming feature was seeing the latest of our Academy whizz-kids, Kieron Cadogan, coming off the bench to notch a goal after just 12 minutes. A future Eagles hero in the making, and no mistake.
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Sunday 5th April
A few days before yesterday’s British Steel Festival, Cloven Hoof’s Lee Payne sent myself and Geoff Barton an email predicting something rather special. “We will be playing the track ‘Cloven Hoof’ from our debut album for the first time since 1984,” revealed the bassist, explaining: “We don’t play ‘Cloven Hoof’ live for superstitious reasons; something weird always seemed to happen whenever we did so. But what the hell, for British Steel we’ve decided to do it. So crucifixes at the ready.” And sure enough, a couple of things **did** go awry during the NWOBHM-themed gathering, which took place at London’s Underworld and also featured featuring (in order of billing, from the top down) Pagan Altar, Elixir, Bitches Sin and Celtic Legacy, though it affected Pagan Altar more than the Hoofed headliners.
Delayed by awaiting the footie results – Palace drew 0-0 with Mr Barton’s beloved QP-Hahaha – I missed the beginning of Celtic Legacy’s set, which was a shame as the Irish band sounded very good indeed, frontman Ciaran Ennis displaying an enviable set of pipes. Winding up an all-too-brief 40-minute performance with the golden oldie ‘Ain’t Life A Bitch’, Bitches Sin were more enjoyable still. I’d like to see them headline someday. Not being a particular fan of Elixir I found myself absorbed in conversation in the bar and missed the Londoners’ set altogether – no matter, I wasn’t reviewing – though people later told me they were rather good. Oh well…
What happened next? Well, Pagan Altar, whose brand of doom-influenced metal I’d been dying to experience, were struck down by the Curse Of The Hoof… or something. With their gear set up and a gaggle of fans waiting in front of the stage, loud groans greeted the news that drummer Andy Green Finally was stuck on a motorway, and by the time he arrived the band had time for just – ulp! –12 minutes of almost vocal-less riffery (somebody sack the soundman!). Talk about coitus interruptus, guv’nor.
With the venue’s curfew time drawing near, the headliners were also forced to abbreviate their own set. Ironically, despite Payne’s prediction, ‘Cloven Hoof’ was among the songs to be cut short – seriously, you couldn’t make it up! As ever, Russ North sang like a banshee, soaring above a set of tunes hewn from the time-honoured cloth of Priest, Maiden, Dio and Sabbath. Though the crowd loudly chanted the band’s name once the Hoof had, er… hoofed it back to the dressing room, this is all they had time to play: ‘Inquisitor’, ‘Nova Battlestar’, ‘Astral Rider’, ‘Gates Of Gehenna’, ‘The Fugitive’, ‘Mutilator’, ‘Mistress Of The Forest’ and ‘Laying Down The Law’. Nevertheless, British Steel 4 was the best attended so far and a big ‘hail’ is due to the organizers for all their continued efforts.
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Saturday 4th April
My friend Jane Hammonds, whose obsession of The Darkness/the Stone Gods/Hot Leg rivals my own passion for FM (how on earth does her hubbie Steve put up with it??), emails to ask whether I noticed that Justin Hawkins was standing about three feet away from me as I enjoyed Stone Gods at the 100 Club on Sunday night? Actually, I didn’t. Or rather I did see someone resembling Justin, draped over the hottest girl in the room, though given the acrimony with brother Dan Hawkins (the guitarist of Stone Gods), I assumed I was in the rough proximity of a lookalike. It’s nice to know the siblings might have buried their differences at last, but **PLEASE**…. let’s not have a reunion of The Darkness… God forbid!
Regular visitors to this page (and indeed those that read the previous paragraph!) will know that I thought The Darkness were utter, utter pants. So now might be an opportune moment to reveal that I finally received a copy of ‘Red Light Fever’, the debut album from Justin’s aforementioned new band Hot Leg. And although Hawkins hasn’t moderated his irksome vocal yodel, the album’s nowhere near as awful as I’d feared. Play it one track at time, then go away for a lie down and its sheer technicolour über-camp excess is almost enjoyable in a masochistic sort of way. But for clarity’s sake: There’s no way I could listen to ‘Red Light Fever’ all the way through in a single sitting without barfing my dinner everywhere… which explains its absence from this month’s Playlist.
And here’s the latest YouTube selection.
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Friday 3rd April
For the past few months my friends Malcolm Dome and Richard Thompson have been chivvying me to investigate a new young, multi-national yet London-based act called Achilla. Last night I finally got around to doing so, as they opened a four-band bill at the Underworld in Camden. Fronted by a petite Hungarian called Martamaria, who claims a place in the Guinness Book Of World Records for her high vocal range, Achilla have been described as “musically balanced between Opeth and Nightwish”, though neither point of reference struck a chord with me; they don’t even have a keyboard player for starters. Which isn’t to say they don’t have potential. I’d like to have known whether their lead guitarist (I think his name is Daniele Panza) could play as well as it seemed, but his contribution was concealed in a dodgy sound mix until too late in the 30-minute display. I guess I’ll see Achilla again before too long anyway, as they open for Hydrogen at The Gaff on the 21st.
Intriguingly, though I didn’t know it till last night, Achilla are co-managed by none other than Jody Turner. It was fantastic to see the former Rock Goddess guitarist/frontwoman again for the first time in many a long year; I’m happy to say she looks amazing and seems content with her life. Fans of Rock Goddess will be pleased to know that the band are in the process of organising some reunion gigs, with Dee O'Malley on bass and Nicola Shaw (ex-Brain Dance) on drums. More news as I get it, though with Jody’s time filled by managing Achilla and another band, Diva Suicide, the return of Rock Goddess isn’t likely to happen overnight.
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Thursday 2nd April
Last night presented one of those frustrating conundrums: free booze and live music from Gentleman’s Pistols at central London watering hole the Crobar, as the venue threw a launch party for its anthology, ‘The Crobar Vol One’, or a night before the telly and England’s vital World Cup Qualifier against Ukraine? Hmmm… Given some of the horror stories I’m hearing this morning, it was a good call to have selected the latter option. Though the visitors were just five places below England in the international rankings, Capello’s side bossed the game and, after the scare of Shevchenko’s equaliser and some schoolboy gaffes from Ashley Cole (whose game seems to have deteriorated since being a loanee at Palace several years back… hahaha…), John Terry’s late strike sealed a 2-1 victory to maintain their 100% record in the group. With a five-point advantage over second placed Croatia, the table looks pretty sweet this morning.
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Wednesday 1st April
What a day of ups ‘n’ downs. I awoke with stomach cramp, having raided the cocktail cabinet to celebrate with a bottle of supermarket brand Baileys Irish cream liqueur as Scumwall lost yet another game at home, further endangering their chances of promotion. It must have been out of date by a year or two. I felt awful… until the postie arrived at midday, thrusting a package from Roadrunner Records into my hand. “Could it be the Heaven And Hell album?” I wondered. And yes, it was ‘The Devil You Know’ (available April 27). Instant hangover cure: Nothing else mattered. I’d heard three unfinished tracks at Rockfield Studios in Wales last December, which whetted my appetite in no uncertain terms. And I’m happy to say, in its entirety ‘TDYK’ an absolute monster.