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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Friday 30th April
It’s 7.30am and I’m darting around the house, shoving items into bags, making packed lunches for small boys and jotting down interview questions ideas as they pop into my head. Very shortly I shall be leaving for a long weekend in Sheffield, stopping off at A North London studio to hear some of Tarja Turunen’s new solo album before the journey Ooop North. Should all go to plan, this evening I shall be seeing Joe Elliott’s Down ‘N’ Outz at Sheffield City Hall, staying over in the Steel City for tomorrow’s gig by Kiss and Taking Dawn. Then – whisper it quietly – Survival Sunday at Hillsborough; Sheff Wednesday versus the mighty Eagles. I’m bricking myself, I don’t mind admitting. Whatever the outcome, don’t expect any Diary updates for a while.
For obvious reasons, I don’t have time to jot down any significant thoughts on last night’s Cathedral, Church Of Misery, Gates Of Slumber gig at ULU. The show started late as the bands were delayed at immigration entering the UK, which was a shame as GOS only got to play for 20 minutes. Church Of Misery were outstanding: Pure, fuzz-loaded genius. And the addition of (occasional) keys has made the headliners sound like one of Lee Dorrian’s much-beloved Vertigo Records bands from the 70s. I wish had time to type more, but the boys over at www.rockersdigest.com will no doubt have a full report (and set-list) before I return to Ling Towers.
Until then, COME ON YOU EAGLES!!!!!
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Wednesday 28th April
For the past few days I’ve tried to adopt an ostrich-style approach to the sheer amount of financial problems that are affecting Crystal Palace. If I don’t read the Bulletin Board, the whole damned mess cannot possibly be happening, right? Well, I’ve just received a photocopied letter from the Administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, regarding my long-term season ticket and the fact it may not be available next year due to the club’s possible insolvency. Honestly, I could cry.
Metal Hammer have asked me to review Porcupine Tree’s new DVD, ‘Anesthetize’. Filmed with multiple cameras over two nights in Tilburg, Holland, during the 2007/’08 tour that I consider to be the band’s best ever – playing the brilliant ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ album in its entirety – it is simply stunning. Clever camera angles; amazing manipulation of colours; a sound that makes you feel as though you are seated in the front row, ‘Anesthetize’ has it all. Should you be wondering what the fuss is all about, here’s where to begin.
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Tuesday 27th April
Just as I feared, last night Palace failed to beat West Bromwich Albion – a result that would have kept us safe from relegation. It was always going to be a tough ask: The Baggies have already surged back to the top flight, but although CPFC went ahead in the first half – sending Selhurst Park mad in the process – it was a lead that couldn’t be held. The defiance of Julian Speroni, who pulled off a string of magnificent saves, was all that kept the score at 1-1. The Eagles are in administration and according to news reports are two weeks away from extinction unless a buyer comes in, we must now travel to Hillsborough on the last day of the season and attempt to avoid defeat. More than ever before, slipping into League 1 could be catastrophic. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, I’d back Palace every time – we are the foot of the table thanks to a cruel ten-point deduction; The Owls are down there due to dismal form. The trouble is Wednesday’s tails will be up; they have been given a ‘Get Out Of Jail’ card. And they might just use it.
Whatever happens, I’m proud of my club and the way its myriad troubles have galvanised the fans. So many things have gone against us this term, including the perfectly good goal chalked off at Ashton Gate and the throwing away of a two-goal lead at Blackpool. But, just like Ben Watson hitting the post with a penalty in the 2007/’08 play-offs, perhaps this year’s season-defining moment will be Marek Cech’s extra time goal-line clearance from a Darren Ambrose shot, with the keeper beaten. Had that gone in, well, I’d probably be in hospital having my stomach pumped.
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Monday 26th April
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Bret Michaels will recover from a brain haemorrhage that for a while appeared to endanger his life. The 47-year-old Poison vocalist remains in critical condition, but despite being heavily sedated is now conscious and talking once more. I’ve met and interviewed Bret on several occasions and he was always a pleasure to deal with.
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Sunday 25th April
Here’s something you won’t read too often on these pages: I have two reasons to be grateful to Cardiff. Firstly, the city’s football club did my beloved Crystal Palace a huge favour by beating our relegation rivals Sheffield Wednesday during the afternoon. With Wednesday taking the lead, being overturned, then equalising and finally conceding the points, I watched an internet link of the match with my heart in my mouth. During added time the Owls had a shot that hit the inside of the post then rebounded back across the goal before trickling to safety. Sweet Jeeeezus, I damn nearly pooped my pants.
Nerves still jangling, I grabbed a bottle of white wine and scuttled off to Islington’s Academy 2 for my first live appointment with The Reasoning, a fine female-fronted Welsh band that straddles the divide between progressive rock and metal, without resorting to zillions of boring time-changes. Despite the best efforts of the venue’s soundman to conceal the seven-person group’s delicious three-part harmonies and the overall intricacy of their music, I came away very impressed. All six of the tracks from ‘Adverse Camber’, the band’s latest and best album were aired, though not in consecutive order, a brief acoustic interlude (‘Sacred Shape’ and ‘In The Future’) offering spine-tingling interplay between the voices of ex-Karnataka singer Rachel Cohen and guitarist Dylan Thompson. With the endorsements of both Fish (with whom they have toured) and Marillion’s Steve Rothery (who guested on their debut album, ‘Awakening’) starting to seem wholly justified, this is a band to look out for. Here’s the set-list: ‘Awakening’, ‘Dark Angel’, ‘Diamonds And Leather’, ‘The Nobody Effect’, ‘Fall Angels’, ‘Sharp Sea’, ‘Script Switch Trigger’, ‘Sacred Shape’, ‘In The Future’, ‘The Thirteenth Hour’, ‘Through The Now’, ‘Call Me God?’ and ‘Aching Hunger’, with encores of ‘14’, the Floyd pastiche of ‘Wish You Were Beer’ and ‘A Musing Dream’.
With things ending at the exceptionally un-rock ‘n’ roll hour of 9.05pm (one could only sympathise for ticket-holders that didn’t know the show would commence at 7.30 prompt), there was no option but to visit a local pub and drink a lot more alcohol. It’s a tough life. The members of The Reasoning arrived to join the fun. I was disappointed to learn that none of them actually supported Cardiff City, as I’d like to have bought them a drink. So I bought myself a few more instead – which is why this morning I feel like I’ve done ten rounds with Mike Tyson. But, hey, it was worth it. C’mon you Eagles!!!!
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Saturday 24th April
Having gone to see Feeder 24 hours before, my journey back to the 1990s continued with last night’s sighting of Reef at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I have followed these fine west country slackers from the outset, attending many of their concerts and going on the road with them for RAW Magazine circa their debut album, 1995’s ‘Replenish’. It’s good to see them back (for an explanation of Reef’s reunion, click here).
With classic décor, a great view of the stage and outstanding acoustics, the SBE is one of my favourite venues, so my friend Mark Cousins and I arrived in plenty of time to pick the best seats in the balcony. Propelled along by Kenwyn House’s rootsy riffing, the bulk of the quartet’s songs are over and done in two or three minutes, but they refuse to skimp on the hook-lines. Gary Stringer was in terrific voice and adhered to his promise of playing all the hits and selection of assorted album highlights. I enjoyed the groove of their set-closer, ‘Choose To Live’, the most, though the 95-minute display held the attention of the Empire – and yours truly – from start to finish. I would love to see Reef make a new album, as on this evidence they have definite unfinished business. Here’s what was played: ‘Come Back Brighter’, ‘Good Feeling’, ‘Stone For Your Love’, ‘I Would Have Left You’, ‘Weird’, ‘Mellow’, ‘Consideration’, ‘New Bird’, ‘Place Your Hands’, ‘Don't You Like It?’, ‘Summer's In Bloom’, ‘Lucky Number’, ‘I've Got Something To Say’, ‘Superhero’, ‘Who You Are’, ‘Set The Record Straight’, ‘Lately Stomping’ and ‘Choose To Live’ plus ‘Naked’, ‘I Do Not Know What They Will Do’, ‘Yer Old’ and ‘Feed Me’.
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Friday 23rd April
The post-grunge fallout of the late-1990s was a time when almost everything changed. Kerrang! began disappearing up the arses of Rage Against The Machine, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson (although I own a few isolated copies published afterwards, my collection per se ceases at #624 dated Nov 23, 1996, with The Prodigy on the front cover). A year earlier the title that employed me, RAW Magazine, had gone bust after an ill-fated dalliance with Britrock. Unsurprisingly, this is not an era of which I am especially fond. Despite the previous statement, I **was** able to enthuse about a handful of bands with genuine enthusiasm, though this support went unpublished until being invited to contribute again to Metal Hammer UK, thereafter the launch of Classic Rock. Of those being written/obsessed about in the big K! I enjoyed The Wildhearts, 3 Colours Red, Reef, Therapy?, Headswim, White Zombie, Terrorvision, Bush, Skin, Skunk Anansie, Blind Melon and others.
Having attended many of their earliest gigs (at such venues as Dingwalls), I was also a great fan of Feeder. To be honest, although the group’s fortunes have mushroomed in a commercial sense, their most recent albums bored me shitless. So it was with a combination of intrigue and nostalgia that I accepted an invitation to the see them again for the first time in – Ooooh, probably a decade – at their old stomping ground, the Electric Ballroom. The trio were operating under the temporary pseudonym of Regenades, a handle that had allowed founder, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Grant Nicholas to take stock after drummer Mark Richardson left to rejoin Skunk Anansie. Rounding out a set of all-new material with such vintage Feeder classics as ‘Tangerine’, ‘Sweet 16’ and ‘Descend’, despite the audience’s calls for their hits, they were excellent from start to finish; heavied-up re-energised and just like I remembered them. It felt a bit like going out and getting bladdered with an old mate you hadn’t seen for years – immensely pleasurable! Here’s the set-list: ‘Barking Dogs’, ‘Sentimental’, ‘This Town’, ‘Left Foot Right’, ‘Home’, ‘Down To The River’, ‘White Lines’, ‘Tangerine’, ‘End Of The Road’, ‘Renegades’ and ‘Call Out, plus ‘Lost And Found’, ‘W.I.T. (Women In Towels)’, ‘Sweet 16’, ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Descend’.
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Thursday 22nd April
Having been out of the country with Trans-Siberian Orchestra when the band debuted last year, and as a long time follower of Luke Morley’s oeuvre (from the Terraplane days onwards via Thunder, Bowes & Morley, the Power Station and his short spell as a solo artist), there was no way on earth I’d have missed last night’s gig from The Union.
Arriving at the Islington Academy for the last two songs from Saint Jude, I was soon gnashing my teeth. What a great band; classy, rootsy blues-rock overlain by Lynne Jackaman’s smoky vocals – the rest of the audience and I were left wondering: How come we’d never heard of them before? Sadly, I’m still failing to connect with Voodoo Six, the Steve Harris-endorsed Londoners whose robust brand of toe-tapping hard rock should appeal to me on paper. They’d replaced lead singers since my last sighting of them (it was aeons ago), but despite the early promise of a song called ‘Ain’t No Friend Of Mine’ I still found them somewhat stodgy and uninspiring. Sorry. The show had certainly attracted a few interesting people, including ex-Thunder chappie Ben Matthews, Dan Reed (who smilingly handed me a copy of his long-awaited solo debut, ‘Coming Up For Air’) and a few Airracers.
At Islington, The Union were winding up their very first UK tour. Blessed by an emotive voice and confident onstage demeanour, ex-Winterville man Peter Shoulder offers a fine foil for the more experienced Morley. Together they have penned a set of keyboard-less tunes that rarely encroaches into Thunder territory (‘Watch The River Flow’ and ‘Step Up To The Plate’ being rare exceptions), electing to rely instead upon dynamics and mood. The likes of ‘Black Monday’, ‘Lillies’, ‘Saviour’ and ‘Come Rain Come Shine’ are sombre, dark and organic – hardly loaded down with fist-punching qualities yet rich in both content and substance. I expect ‘You Know My Name’ and ‘You Know My Name’ to work well on the band’s debut album. And don’t be surprised if they issue ‘This Time Next Year’ as a Christmas single. Considering the audience was unfamiliar with just about all of The Union’s set, barring a farewell cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Proud Mary’, most seemed to enjoy what they paid to hear (though the sheer volume of gratuitous chit-chat during the quieter moments made me wish I’d brought an Uzi). Here’s the set-list: ‘Easy Street’, ‘You Know My Name’, ‘Black Monday’, ‘Holy Roller’, ‘Watch The River Flow’, ‘Lilies’, ‘The Space Between Us’, ‘This Time Next Year’, ‘Saviour’ and ‘Step Up To The Plate’, with encores of ‘Come Rain Come Shine’ and ‘Proud Mary’.
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Wednesday 21st April
Thank you so much, QP-HaHaHa. Last nite’s 1-0 victory for N**l Wa***ck’s men keeps Twatford well and truly embroiled in the relegation quagmire. The matter of which club will join Peterborough and Plymouth in League 1 looks set to go down to the last day of the season. Palace have already sold 3,800 tickets for the Survival Sunday showdown at Sheffield Wednesday, and it’s been rumoured that as many as 5,000 Eagles fans will be in attendance to see the season reach its conclusion. Even just thinking about it, I can feel the ol’ sphincter beginning to twitch.
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Tuesday 20th April
Classic Rock’s new Slash fanpack issue is here. Got to say, the Limited Edition version of the album (which comes as part of a package that includes specially themed 132-page issue, pull-out poster and patch) is really, really good. For me, its standout selections are the ones that feature Ian Astbury (‘Ghost’), Lemmy Kilmister (‘Doctor Alibi’), Myles Kennedy (‘Back From Cali’ and ‘Starlight’), Iggy Pop (‘We’re All Gonna Die’), Alice Cooper’s duet with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger (‘Baby Can’t Drive’), Chris Cornell (‘Promise’) and Kid Rock ‘(‘Hold On’), though ‘Slash’ offers a surprisingly consistent set of tunes.
Other regular visitors to the Ling Towers Death Deck are Y&T’s newie, ‘Facemelter’ (due May 24th via Frontiers), notably the excellent track ‘Shine On’, also H.E.A.T’s sophomore disc, ‘Freedom Rock’ (Edel, late May), a superb selection of summery pop-rock ditties.
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Monday 19th April
Oh, how frustrating. I’d been looking forward to tonight’s gig from Thor – the Thunder God’s first appearance in the UK for a quarter-century. Sadly, it’s been cancelled due to the volcanic ash cloud that has played havoc with international air travel these past few days. How pathetic is that? As a kid I was under the impression that Thor could wave around his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, and achieve flight. Or better still, to open portals to other dimensions and even travel in time. Now I’m stuck with a mental image of him sitting on his suitcase at the airport and looking sullen, just like all the other schmucks.
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Sunday 18th April
Derby County 1, Crystal Palace 1 – not good enough, really. A second half rally from the Eagles produced a point, thanks to Stern John. But this was a must-win game. The CPFC faithful now pray that Sheffield United can defeat their fierce local rivals at lunchtime. Though I’ve promised to take youngest son Arnie to the cinema this morning, I shall be watching, fingernails bitten to the bone. [Edit: The Sheffield derby finished 1-1, a pretty good result for Palace].
The result wasn’t what I’d hoped, but yesterday’s trip to Pride Park was a fun, drunken day out. Shirtsleeves weather, plenty of pubs, lots of singing (especially inside the ground). On the way up I managed to wade through six Procol Harum re-issues, ‘Broken Barricades’ (1971), ‘In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’ (’72), ‘Grand Hotel (’73), ‘Exotic Birds And Fruit (’74), the Leiber and Stoller-produced ‘Procol’s Ninth’ (’75) and ‘Something Magic’ (’77), some but not all of which I have bought previously on vinyl. If ever there was a band undeserving of one hit wonder status, it’s Procol. Robin Trower plays so brilliantly on ‘Broken Barricades’, it’s no wonder he would leave following its release to go solo. My live experience of Procol Harum extends to just one gig – it’s hard to believe they actually played Catford’s Broadway Theatre, just a ten minute walk from my house, back in March 2003 – though I hope to see them again soon.
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Saturday 17th April
I'm attempting to creep round the house. It's 6am, and I depart for Derby County in about a half-hour. I've loads of work and hadn't planned to attend this one, but it's such an immense game that I gave in and booked travel tix on Thursday night. After last night's enjoyable phone int with Jimmie Vaughan I hit the sack early but wasn't able to sleep much. Might have to open that bottle of 'cherryade' I put aside for the trip. **SLURPS LOUDLY**. Hmmmm, that's a little better. Takes the edge off the nerves. Now where did I put the Discman, spare batteries, those cheese pasties and FM's 'Metropolis' CD? Talk tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
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Friday 16th April
I’ve heard some daft excuses for cancelling gig and tours, including the legendary ‘snow on the roof’ ruse (Mötley Crüe) and ‘Sorry, the lighting rig has fallen and smashed the drum-kit, almost killing him’ (Spider, Bristol Colston Hall) but never in all of my years have I known of a show being pulled due to a volcanic eruption. And yet, such a phenomenon was the cause of Iceland’s Sólstafir and Vried from Norway pulling out of yesterday’s Nordic Embassies’ JA JA JA Metal Night, curated by Metal Hammer editor Alexander Milas, at the Lexington in London. Flights all over Europe were grounded after a volcano beneath the Ejfjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland launched a shower of ash seven miles into the atmosphere. Luckily, Finnish-based (yet multi-national) power-metallers Thunderstone, booked originally to play for just half an hour, were already in London and agreed to undertake a free headline show.
Never having seen them before, once Jukka Karinen’s keys and the guitars of Nino Laurenne became fully audible, I was very pleasantly surprised. This was a band that clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously; there were juvenile quips about “Icelandic people peeing into the volcano to make it stop” and gay sex in the sauna, but bassist Titus Hjelm balanced things out by dedicating the aptly-titled ‘Suffering Song’ to Peter Steele, the man with the “biggest penis in heavy metal”. I’ve yet to hear Thunderstone’s new album, ‘Dirt Metal’ (SPV Records, May 24) but tracks like ‘Blood That I Bleed’ and ‘Ghosts Of Youth’ have whetted my appetite for its May 24 arrival on SPV Records. Here’s what they played: ‘Dirt Metal’, ‘Blood That I Bleed’, ‘10,000 Ways’, ‘Tool Of The Devil’, ‘Roots Of Anger’, ‘Forth Into The Black’, Drum Solo, ‘I Almighty’, ‘Face In The Mirror’, ‘Ghosts Of Youth’, ‘Suffering Song’, ‘Swirled’ and ‘Forevermore’, plus ‘Until We Touch The Burning Sun’.

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Thursday 15th April
The rumours are true, and what awful news. Peter Steele, Type O Negative’s lumbering, towering, booming bass player, is dead of a heart attack at the age of just 48. A gigantic man (in all senses of the word!) with a dark sense of humour and brilliant self-mocking streak, Steele was always a wonderful, eminently quotable interviewee. I’ve a full 2,700-word transcript of an unprinted My Life Story article that was commissioned by the UK’s Metal Hammer back in May 2008. It’s pretty revealing and very entertaining. For instance, towards its conclusion I asked what Steele would like to achieve with the second half of his life. This was two years ago, remember, and he replied: “It’s probably closer to say that I’m seven-eighths of the way through my life. That’s what I hope, anyway.” Should the magazine allow me, and if I can free up the time, I shall post it at my site by way of tribute to this unique artist, who was always more talented than he knew (or at least, would **let on** that he knew).
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Wednesday 14th April
Well, that’s a bit bloody stupid, isn’t it? Ratt have re-arranged their show at London’s Islington Academy, bringing it forward to June 15 (from July 8) to avoid scheduling conflicts with their spot on the main stage at Download. This is all well and good except that it now clashes with a gig at the O2 Arena by a certain other US band called Aerosmith. You know what? ‘Infestation’ is such a terrific album I will most likely still go and see the rocking rodents, but expect cries of anguish and fury from those that now find themselves saddled with tickets for both gigs.
Here’s some better news: FM have revealed the support acts for their upcoming dates. I’ve no idea who’s doing the honours in Belfast but according to an email from Merv The Swerve, Airrace have landed Sheffield, Glasgow and Cardiff, with Romeo’s Daughter confirmed for the dates in Birmingham and London. Methinks a road trip to Cardiff might be in order.
Though I’d hoped to attend a gig tonight, my plans to check out the brilliant San Diego proggers Astra at the Scala have had to be reluctantly aborted. My feature on The Enid is due first thing tomorrow morning and although it’s teatime I’m still sitting here transcribing the poxy interview tape. Grrrr. The Scala is a shithole anyway, so perhaps it’s no great loss.
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Tuesday 13th April
Yay! Alter Bridge will be returning to the UK in October to promote a soon-to-be-recorded third album. Just try keeping me away from the Hammersmith Apollo on the 22nd of that month. I’m also pretty fired up that Roger Waters is set to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s masterpiece ‘The Wall’ with a 35-date tour of North America. Don’t forget to add some UK gigs pls, Rodge!!
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Monday 12th April
I’d like to shoot whoever thought it feasible to stage yesterday’s FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley Stadium as 5,000 rock fans were trying to reach the Arena. It was incredibly frustrating to be within sight of the venue at which Bad Company and the Joe Perry Project were due to play, but to be stuck in traffic. Thankfully, I was misinformed regarding the start time, so I got to see Perry after all. Though he will never make a lead singer, Joe’s 65-minute display was better than I’d been lead to believe by certain reviews from this tour, also by the so-so nature of his current disc, ‘Have Guitar, Will Travel’. His song introductions were also what my kids would probably call ‘random’, for instance, I stifled as giggle as Perry previewed an instrumental titled ‘Wooden Ships’ with the words: “I’m not exactly sure why we called it that, though we did go down to Plymouth the other day and saw a very large wooden ship. That didn’t have anything to do with this song, it just seemed appropriate to go down there and see this thing”. Ah, right. Once a Toxic Twin always a Toxic Twin? Surprisingly, among the best songs of Perry’s warm-up spot was a kick-ass l’il ditty called ‘Lookin’ Petty, Pretty’ that his sons Adrian and Tony Perry had recorded with their group Tab The Band. The Project’s full set-list was: ‘Let The Music Do The Talking’, ‘Walkin’ The Dog’, ‘Slingshot’, ‘We’ve Got A Long Way to Go’, ‘Vigilante Man’, ‘Wooden Ships’, ‘Somebody's Gonna Get (Their Head Kicked In Tonite)’, ‘Rockin’ Train’, ‘Lookin’ Petty, Pretty’, ‘Train Kept A-Rollin’’ and ‘Walk This Way’.
There were also worrying advance reports regarding Bad Company’s headline set – namely that the show was way too short; that Heart’s Howard Leese had been brought in to cover for Mick Ralphs’ declining playing skills; that the whole thing was a bit half-hearted, basically. Well, it’s hard to dispute the Leese-Ralphs accusation – Mick played few of the evening’s lead solos – but London sounded luckier than the rest of the country, though that may have been because their 90-minute set – a good quarter of an hour more than seen by some other audiences – was being filmed for a DVD. Likewise, I can only speak in the most glowing of terms regarding Paul Rodgers’ voice. At Wembley, the 60-year-old sang like a God in human form: rich in timbre, never a note out of place, likable in demeanour. And the front-of-house sound? Just about perfect. I’d rather have heard ‘Good Loving Gone Bad’, ‘Live For The Music’ or ‘Silver Blue And Gold’ than the mundanity of ‘Electricland’ or especially ‘Young Blood’ though that’s just a personal preference, and it **was** an exceptional performance. Here’s the full song-list: ‘Can’t Get Enough’, ‘Honey Child’, ‘Run With The Pack’, ‘Burnin’ Sky’, ‘Young Blood’, ‘Seagull’, ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’, ‘Electricland’, ‘Simple Man’, ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’, ‘Shooting Star’, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy’ and ‘Movin’ On’, with encores of ‘Ready For Love’, ‘Bad Company’ and ‘Deal With the Preacher’.
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Sunday 11th April
I’m hung over and pissed off. Although some of my Crystal Palace-supporting friends had felt that the result of yesterday’s game with QP-Haha was a mere formality, I knew that winless streaks have to end sometime, also never to underestimate a team managed by N**l W***ock. So the result of Eagles 0 Hoops 2 was no real surprise. I can’t help but feel the outcome of this most wretched of seasons will go down to its final game, Survival Sunday, against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in three weeks’ time. I already have my ticket for this match. For supporters of both clubs, the wearing of incontinence knickers is recommended.
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Saturday 10th April
Oh, how I enjoyed last night’s gig from former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe. The Finnish frontman offered an 85-minute trawl through his extensive catalogue, overlooking Hanoi’s reunion albums and 1992’s Jerusalem Slim project, but daring to introduce three new songs (‘You’re Next’, ‘Another Night In The Sun’ and ‘Motorheaded For A Fall’) that bode well for Monroe’s revived solo career. When I say ‘solo’, let’s not forget that these days Michael moves in elevated circles. With Ginger from The Wildhearts on guitar, another ex-Hanoi man, Sami Yaffa, on bass and a current member of the New York Dolls, Steve Conti, as the second axeman, to borrow an album title from the mighty Angel, that’s one helluva band (completed by the brilliantly named ex-Danzig drummer Karl Rockfist).
Just like Nazareth, whose own ‘Not Fakin’ It’ was adopted as the title cut of an album in 1989, Monroe has never been too fussy about sticking to his own material. So besides such Hanoi standards as ‘Motorvatin’’, ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’, ‘Back To Mystery City’, ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Malibu Beach Nightmare’ the set touched upon ‘I Wanna Be Loved’, recorded by Demolition 23 but penned by Johnny Thunders, and the Dead Boys’ ‘Ain’t Nothin’ To Do’. He also ploughed through a medley of The Damned’s ‘Love Song’ and ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, while ‘Endangered Species’ was performed with its co-composer Charlie Harper, of the UK Subs. The final song of the night, The Stooges’ ‘I Feel Alright’, was merged with a snippet of ‘Radar Love’ by Golden Earring. Superb entertainment, every step of the way. Here’s the set-list: ‘Nothin's Alright’, ‘Motorvatin’’, ‘Hammersmith Palais’, ‘You’re Next’, ‘Not Fakin’ It’, ‘Dysfunctional’, ‘Another Night In The Sun’, ‘I Wanna Be Loved’, ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’, Medley: ‘Love Song’/‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, ‘Motorheaded For A Fall’, ‘Back To Mystery City’, ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Dead, Jail Or Rock ‘N’ Roll’, with encores of ‘Endangered Species’, ‘Ain’t Nothin’ To Do’, ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘I Feel Alright’.
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Friday 9th April
It’s a production deadline week for Classic Rock, which always keeps me busy. But for the last thing I’ve thought of each night, also the first the following morning, is tomorrow’s relegation derby with QP-Hahaha. Yes, I know that’s pretty tragic. But should Palace overturn the Hoops, we would go above them in the table – sending former Eagles boss N**l W****ck down down deeper ‘n’ down into the mire. From what I can establish, the Rangers fans have already decided they don’t like their 297th manager of the current season, nicknaming him Mrs Doubtfire. I’ve gotta admit, the resemblance is uncanny. Given some of W****ck’s comments since leaving my beloved club (“[This job] feels almost like winning the pools, I just wish I'd [walked out on Crystal Palace] a few weeks earlier”), I will despise him for ever more. The guy is a disloyal, conniving douchebag. Tomorrow’s appointment at Selhurst is more than a game of football – it’s war.
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Thursday 8th April
For the past few days I’ve been reading Suzi Quatro’s autobiography, Unzipped – a reference to the leather jump suit she used to wear, which enthralled me so as a nipper. It started off slowly, very slowly, but gradually gained momentum when focussing on the all-important Top Of The Pops years. I had no idea that ‘48 Crash’ was written about the male menopause! Quatro’s consistent misspelling of Bob ‘Segar’ (sic) really annoys me, though, especially as she comes from Detroit, just like the genius that wrote ‘Hollywood Nights’, ‘Against The Wind’ and ‘We’ve Got Tonight’. Sack the proof-reader! As the book reaches the part where her marriage to guitarist Len Tuckey falls apart and her career hits the skids, I’m appreciating Suzi’s honesty; it makes a rare change.
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Tuesday 6th April
I’ve a new good luck routine so I’m sticking to it. In the pub before the away game with Watford I ordered a triple Baileys, and Palace went on to claim all three points. Drank a bottle of the stuff during game at Boro, and yesterday – at home to Preston North End – the charm paid off once more. Palace came from behind to win 3-1. And as my son Eddie and I prepared to depart the ground, Sky Sports revealed via the Whitehorse Land end’s jumbotron that West Brom had levelled against Twatford in added time. The cheer that greeted this development was as seismic as any for our own goals. Palace are out of the bottom three!!! With four more games to go, the club’s fortunes are once again in its own hands.
With a skip in my step (and a bottle of cider in my bag), I headed across London to the Royal Albert Hall where Opeth were due to play a 20th anniversary show. Like band leader Mikael Åkerfeldt, I’d harboured secret doubts that the Swedish band’s oeuvre would translate fully onto such a hallowed stage, but any such fears were shot down within minutes of the show’s start. Despite my friend Mark Cousins and I being on guitarist Fredrik Åkesson’s side of the stage, just seven or eight rows back, the sound-mix was sublime. As the gig unfolded over five minutes short of three hours, my jaw – and those of everyone around me, including Lee Barrett, the man that signed the band to candlelight Records, who sat nearby – got slacker and slacker (and slacker still).
“We figured we’d be spending our 20th anniversary in a pub, not being filmed [for DVD] at the Albert Hall. The problem with this film is that metal people are so fucking ugly,” retorted Åkerfeldt, who to be fair himself looked like somebody that had been dragged through a hedge backwards. But what the heck. The man was on fire. “We are bringing death-metal into the halls of fine culture,” he continued proudly to a tumultuous roar, before adding: “This is the first time that blast-beats and death-metal growls have been heard [in this venue].” I’d also wager that a Royal Albert Hall audience has never been called “c**ts” before, however affectionately.
The first part of the marathon show comprised all of 2001’s breakthrough album ‘Backwater Park’, and after a short break the quintet returned to play a song apiece from each of their other studio discs, in chronological order and with Mikael’s track-by-track commentary. From the debut album ‘Orchid’ we got ‘Forest Of October’, ‘Morningrise’ threw forth ‘Advent’, followed by ‘April Ethereal’ (from ‘My Arms, Your Hearse’), ‘The Moor’ (‘Still Life’), ‘Wreath’ (‘Deliverance’), ‘Hope Leaves’ (‘Damnation’), ‘Harlequin Forest’ (‘Ghost Reveries’) and last but definitely not least ‘The Lotus Eater’ (‘Watershed’). Although I know for sure that ‘Backwater Park’s producer Steven Wilson, whose own Porcupine Tree also play the Albert Hall in October, was definitely in the house, the show simply didn’t require special guests. Indeed, not even a glitch with Åkesson’s guitar during ‘The Lotus Eater’ could detract from the perfection of what was definitely 2010’s best gig so far. It’s hard to imagine it being surpassed, either.
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Monday 5th April
Though there’s no such thing as a Bank Holiday weekend for humble foot soldiers such as myself, I did manage to spend some of yesterday morning at the monthly record fair in Orpington – the first time I’d gone down there in quite a while. Returned home clutching a few goodies such as a live album from Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco DeLuca (‘Friday Night In San Francisco’), a Dave Mason solo disc I didn’t own (‘Old Crest On A New Wave’, which actually features Michael Jackson on vocals – ulp!) and something on Island Records by Jess Roden (self-titled, released in 1974) that I took pot luck on, merely for featuring Simon Kirke on drums and the keys of John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick. Also bought Joe Perry’s eponymous solo album from 2003 and wished I hadn’t – what an utter pile of steaming excrement!
During the evening I went to the Islington Academy for the final night of Winger’s UK tour. With hindsight I wish I’d gone into the venue slightly earlier, as certain tracks at the MySpace site of warm-up act Furyon offer plenty of potential – their guitarist Chris Green would also help out by holding down the low notes during Winger’s set when Kip was stuck at the piano. Shame I only caught their last song, as they got the place buzzing.
Next up, Airrace delivered another excellent ‘special guest’ display. Unlike their previous spot at the Academy, opening for Tesla last June, they arrived to a hearty response and by the final chords of ‘Brief Encounter’ had won over pretty much everybody. Although Kip Winger’s voice initially sounded a bit raw he sang through his problems, repeating the set-list the band played in Bristol (see Diary entry for March 23rd), though adding an additional encore jam of The Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter’ which saw Furyon and Airrace return to the stage, drummer Rod Morgenstein handing his sticks to Steve Strange, the former Fastway drummer that had booked the tour. It felt like a triumphant night, with both musicians and audience grinning like loons throughout.
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Sunday 4th April
I'd love to have attended yesterday's clash between Middlesbrough and the mighty Palace, as the Teesside club's current home of the Riverside is a 'new' ground to me; I've only ever visited Ayresome Park. Sheesh, how old does that make me? The Riverside opened in 1995. Anyway, despite having taken the lead due to Scott McDonald's blatantly offside opener, Boro's slim play-off hopes were dented on the stroke of half time by a bullet header from Palace's Alassane N'Diaye - or as Sky Sports' Dean Windass called the gangly young Frenchman, 'Alison Desire' (how on earth this insult to halfwits, who makes Paul Merson look like a brain surgeon, holds down a job is utterly beyond me). The game finished 1-1, which would have been a fabulous result had all the other relegation-threatened sides not taken at least a point from their own fixtures.
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Friday 2nd April
My verdict on yesterday’s Airbourne-headlined date at the Hammersmith Apollo – three great bands, one great night. To be honest, given that Taking Dawn are the great white hopes of Roadrunner Records, also label-mates of the headliners, I was taken aback to see the young combo from Las Vegas not only opening the show but humping their own gear. Sound-wise, they were also given no favours. Opening numbers ‘Like A Revolution’ and ‘Save Me’ were swamped in mud, robbing the band of its scintillating guitar work. By the time they played the album’s title song and standout cut, ‘Time To Burn’, things were sounding **okay**, but guitarist Chris Babbitt had taken things into his own hands, cajoling what was still a fairly small crowd with his cries of: “You can do better than that, baby – this ain’t Bristol, this is London!”, even teasing some audible respect from the balcony. Babbitt is an inspiring motormouth frontman in the Sebastian Bach mould – apt considering that ‘Fight ’Em With Your Rock’ is a rhythmic blast of Skid Row-esque hard rock – and the band ended things on a high with their adaptation of ‘The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac. Soundmen-permitting, Taking Dawn should do well opening on Kiss’ UK dates in May.
Black Spiders were up next. With an album still being completed, this fine band has built things up on the road via sheer ‘wow factor’ alone. Running through a now well-drilled repertoire that included ‘Woman, ‘St Peter’, ‘Stay Down’ (which saw Pete Spiby inviting the audience to bellow: “Fuck you Black Spiders!”), ‘Blood Of The Kings’ and the quite brilliant ‘Kiss Tried To Kill Me’, the band’s energetic, groove-laden set simply reeked of charisma.
With six Marshall cabs lined up either side of Ryan O’Keefe’s kit, the headliners were beautifully, indecently loud, but with a sound as clear as a (Hell’s) bell. The Australian combo’s homage to AC/DC and Rose Tattoo is undoubtedly sincere and just over two years after playing the 275-capacity Borderline they can now deservedly headline at Hammersmith. Known for short, explosive performances, with a second album (‘No Guts, No Glory’) in the racks, Airbourne needed to step up a gear in terms of presentation. And that’s exactly what they did. Okay, some of their songs copy AC/DC riffs – ‘Chewin’ The Fat’ sounds like about half a dozen of the buggers stapled together into one sweat-stained Frankenstein’s monster – but Joel O’Keefe is gradually learning to establish a rapport with an audience beyond mere platitudes, and towards the end of the band’s set they began adding light and shade to their songs (albeit in the form of extended song intros). When Joel went walkabout around the hall, even headbanging over the edge of the balcony, the all but sold-out crowd roared its approval. Airbourne still don’t have a ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ or a ‘Highway To Hell’, which isn’t to say they won’t write one, but in 2010 they are twice the band they were last time around. With mentors AC/DC still out on what’s apparently a swansong, it would be foolhardy to set up **anyone** as heirs to that particular throne, though should Airbourne continue to improve at the current rate, well… nothing’s impossible. Here’s the set-list: ‘Raise The Flag’, ‘Hellfire’, ‘Chewin’ The Fat’, ‘Diamond In The Rough’, ‘Back On The Bottle’, ‘Get Busy Livin’’, ‘Girls In Black’, ‘Steel Town’, ‘Born To Kill’, ‘Cheap Wine And Cheaper Women’, ‘Heartbreaker’, ‘No Way But The Hard Way’ and ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’, with encores of ‘Runnin’ Wild’, ‘Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll’ and ‘Blackjack’.
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Thursday 1st April
Jim Peterik has not only approved my sleeve essay for the new Rock Candy Records edition of Survivor’s ‘Vital Signs’ album, but actually added some extra detail to the original text. Nice one, Jim! I think that the finished document does a good job of re-telling the record’s story. For instance, I asked Peterik whether, given the relative underachievement of the group’s previous album, ‘Caught In The Game’, he was relieved by the reaction to ‘Vital Signs’. “I suppose that I was, but I wasn’t surprised,” he admitted. “As ‘Vital Signs’ was being cut I had told my manager, ‘Order the Porsche’ and I can still see him laughing.”
Today’s postbag haul included expanded, double-disc editions of Black Sabbath’s ‘Heaven And Hell’, ‘Mob Rules’ and ‘Live Evil’, the former of which feature a revised version of the notes I wrote for a boxed set called ‘The Rules Of Hell’ two years ago. And speaking of sleeve notes, I’ve just been given an exciting sneak preview of the booklet for Magnum’s upcoming six-CD set. Crammed with ticket stubs, programmes, adverts and various forms of collectable trivia (mostly supplied by the group’s fans), let me tell you it looks bloody amazing.
P.S. The Playlist and YouTube sections have been given their monthly overhaul.