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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Saturday 30th April
A portion of yesterday evening was spent engaged in a phone interview with Doug Gray, the lead singer of Southern Rock veterans the Marshall Tucker Band. What a quality bloke! Full of stories, the likable and very talkative 61-year-old is the South Carolina group’s last original member (guitarist Toy Caldwell died in 1993; his bass-playing brother Tommy in a jeep crash seven years later; rhythm guitarist George McCorkle succumbing to cancer in ’07). The band still plays up to 150 shows per year… I was lucky enough to have seen them opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd in Maryland back in 1999 and can report that they still kick up a storm.
With the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs Ling away on holiday for the week and youngest son Arnie at a sleepover with his friends, footie-mad Eddie and I made the most of having the house to ourselves with a sports TV marathon. Our small-screen entertainment included Crystal Palace’s centenary DVD… Ed had never seen the near-legendary 9-0 defeat to Liverpool, or the same season’s epic FA Cup Semi-Final victory over Dalglish’s side at Villa Park. I must confess, even 22 years later Alan Pardew’s winning goal in the 4-3 extra time thriller still makes me weep with joy.
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Thursday 28th April
Thank f**k for that!! My office’s web access has been restored (thanks so much, Mark!). For the past fortnight or so I’ve been forced to surf on a small laptop in the house and either jot down my findings on slips of paper and run down the garden path with them or email them to myself. Fingertip access is what I need, Godammit! And now I have it again. It’s certainly true that you don’t realise what you have till it’s gone (in so many aspects of life).
Amid the pandemonium of the office, I managed to undertake three interviews. Ahead of Chicago’s ‘greatest hits’ show at the Hammersmith Apollo on July 6, keyboardist/vocalist Robert Lamm and trumpet player Lee Loughnane did their best to guide me through the band’s 40-year history. Both are great, natural and warm interviewees. Later that night, once the kids had gone to bed, I called Ricky Warwick for some quotes to be used in the Download Festival programme. It’s slightly odd to consider that Thin Lizzy, with whom Warwick will perform on the fabled Donington Park stage, are doing so for the very first time. It’s always good to catch up with Ricky who, by contrast, has already played there three times before; as a member of The Almighty in ’92, and twice as a solo artist.
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Tuesday 26th April
It was one of the most thrilling and enjoyable football games I’ve ever witnessed. Yesterday’s match at Selhurst Park finished Crystal Palace 1, Leeds United 0. Roared on by an emotionally charged crowd the Eagles took the lead thanks to a deflected Neil Danns strike after just 90 seconds but held out against play-off-chasing opponents to secure a win that makes relegation all but impossible. Should the Eagles pick up one more point from the final two games, or Sheff Utd and Scunthorpe fail to win both of their own fixtures, we will be safe. I’m still not counting any chickens, but… Jesus… what a result!
After the final whistle I expressed consolation to Leeds fan and fellow Classic Rock writer Neil Jeffries. As one of the most sensible and nicest guys I know, Neil had already written off his side’s promotion aspirations, so we got on with what seemed a race against time… was it possible to leave SE25 at five o’clock and be in Southend-on-Sea, where Joe Elliott’s Down N’ Outz were opening for Paul Rodgers, by seven-thirty? Incredibly, thanks to the speed-demon driving of Steve ‘No relation’ Way, we arrived at the Cliffs Pavilion in ample time. My heart went out to Elliott, whose beloved Blades had been all but consigned to League 1 by Palace’s result, but was also suffering from a cold that forced the reduction of his band’s ‘special guest’ spot. “Doctors orders were that I wasn’t supposed to do this,” he explained from the stage, “but I said: ‘No, no, no. We’re gonna give them at least 35 minutes’.” And Joe was as good as his word. I enjoyed the Down N’ Outz anyway, as did the carload of rockers that were with us (including Steve’s missus Kathy and their friend Mick Ambler).
A long day of liquid refreshment was taking its toll as Rodgers hit the stage, so apologies if I’m a little more vague than usual. Suffice to say that save for debuting a brand new song called ‘Mr Midnight’, the former Free, Bad Co, The Firm, The Law and Queen frontman and his group (which featured ex-Heart guitarist Howard Leese and Jason Bonham on drums) stuck largely to a selection of well-honed crowd pleasers. I’m sure you’ll agree that, given Rodgers’ usual economic tendencies, this was a pretty creditable 95-minute set-list: ‘Walk In My Shadow’, ‘Wishing Well’, ‘Mr Big’, ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’, ‘Mr Midnight’, ‘Be My Friend’, ‘Fire And Water’, ‘Running With The Pack’, ‘Bad Company’, ‘Seagull’, ‘My Brother Jake’, Medley: ‘Little Wing’/‘Angel’, ‘Shooting Star’, ‘Rock And Roll Fantasy’ and ‘Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love’, with encores of ‘Ride On A Pony’, ‘All Right Now’ and ‘Call Me The Hunter’.
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Monday 25th April
‘Hope & Ruin’, the new album from The Trews is here. Surprisingly, the rootsy-flavoured Canadian quartet’s fourth full-length studio album received just 6/10 in the new issue of Classic Rock. Me? I’d have given it at least an eight.
Researching an interview with their singer Doug Gray that takes place at the end of this week I’m working my way back through a stack of Marshall Tucker Band vinyl discs. I’ve collected 13 of them in total (the most recent being 1983’s ‘Greetings From South Carolina’). Had almost forgotten how good the MTB were/are (they still perform 100 gigs per year every year in the US). If you’ve never heard them before then the new ‘Greatest Hits’ album on Shout Factory Records is well worth acquiring.
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Sunday 24th April
Last night my friend Harj Kallah and I headed across London to Saxon’s St George’s Day gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Though occasionally restricted by the limitations being of a three-piece band, Manchester’s Fury UK did a better than expected job. Offering a chunky, percussive brand of traditional metal, dosed with bags of energy and riffing power, they’re more enjoyable live than their records might suggest. However, I still think they lack memorable choruses.
The strains of Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf? introduced Wolfsbane’s massively entertaining ‘best-of’ cameo (Set-list: ‘Limousine’, ‘Black Lagoon’, ‘Did It For The Money’, ‘Loco’, ‘All Hell’s Breaking Loose Down At Kathy Wilson’s Place’, ‘I Like It Hot’, ‘In The Temple Of Rock’ and, regrettably, the execrable ‘Manhunt’). To these ears Blaze Bayley was woefully under-qualified as an Iron Maiden singer, but in the dirtier, greasier and more anarchic environs of the reunited Tamworth terrors he’s plain irresistible. A pumped-up Bayley threw an excellent tantrum when a backstage jobsworth told him to announce that his band’s planned meet ‘n’ greet had been cancelled. “No, fuck you, we’re signing autographs!” he thundered, eyes as wide as saucers, before adding: “I’ll get a gun!” Wolfsbane’s first new album in 17 years drops in November… I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had ‘issues’ with Blaze before – indeed he once wrote a somewhat disparaging song called ‘Alive’ about me, claiming I had tried to kill his career in metal by “slagging [him] off in vicious, snide and personal ways” – but as I exited the venue we actually shook hands, so maybe that bad blood is a thing of the past? I hope so.
As ever, Saxon were magnificent. Their rather excellent new album ‘Call To Arms’ was still weeks away from release, so just four of its songs were included in a triumphant two-hour set. I expect we’ll hear more when the band returns for another tour later in the year. With his mane of long white hair and caustic wit, there are few better frontmen than the ever-ludicrous Biff Byford. Equally importantly, guitar combinations don’t come much finer than Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt. In short, Saxon remain among the foremost bands on today’s metal scene, having put their 1990s dip firmly behind them. Don’t believe me? Well, check out the following set-list: ‘Hammer Of The Gods’, ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’, ‘Never Surrender’, ‘Motorcycle Man’, ‘Back In ’79’, ‘I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)’, ‘Dallas 1PM’, ‘Call To Arms’, ‘Attila The Hun’, ‘Demon Sweeney Todd’, ‘Battalions Of Steel’, ‘And The Bands Played On’, ‘Man And Machine’, ‘The Eagle Has Landed’, ‘Play It Loud’, ‘When Doomsday Comes’, ‘To Hell And Back Again’, ‘Denim And Leather’ and ‘Princess Of The Night’, followed by ‘Crusader’, ‘747 (Strangers In The Night)’, Bass Solo, ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’, Guitar Solo and ‘Wheels Of Steel’. Whew!
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Saturday 23rd April
I was gutted that Crystal Palace failed to secure three points in yesterday’s game at Doncaster Rovers. To have done so would have seen the Eagles leapfrog the home side and all but preserve safety in the league. According to reports, during the game’s final frantic conclusion Neil Danns hit the inside of the post and Steffan Iversen ballooned a sitter over the bar from just five or five or six yards. Aaaargh. A point apiece does nobody any good. The Eagles never make life easy for themselves.
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Friday 22nd April
Happy Easter! My Bank Holiday weekend began with an enjoyable interview and a great gig. Bathed in glorious sunlight I set off to central London for an interview rendezvous with Airrace’s singer Keith Murrell and guitarist Laurie Mansworth. The pair had agreed to chat for a story that will appear in Issue #3 of Classic Rock Presents AOR on July 6. I’ve heard a big chunk of their second album, ‘Back To The Start’ (due via Frontiers on August 29th), and can only speak in the most glowing terms. Monsewer Mansworth was sporting his drinking head and we sank a pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea during the interview, followed by two more of the same before I left them in the Crobar for the Borderline, a subterranean venue located a few doors further down Manette Street.
This was my first sighting of Blood Ceremony, a fine female-fronted Canadian band whose combination of Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull and horror movie influences has caused them to be dubbed “flute-tinged witch rock”. BC were promoting their excellent second album, ‘Living With The Ancients’, on Rise Above Records. They performed just about all of it except maybe three tracks, plus a selection from their cult-favourite self-titled disc. I thought they were fantastic! Here’s the set-list: ‘The Great God Pan’, ‘Hop Toad’, ‘The Rare Lord’, ‘Return To Forever’, ‘My Demon Brother’, ‘Oliver Haddo’, ‘I’m Coming With You’, ‘Night Of Augury’, ‘Children Of The Future’ and ‘Coven Tree’, plus an encore of ‘Daughter Of The Sun’.
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Thursday 21st April
Like the rest of the rock music world I'm agog that KK Downing has quit Judas Priest. I've had the pleasure of interviewing Ken on several occasions, and he's a top bloke - a real plain-speaker and great to deal with. To tender his resignation on the eve of the band's farewell tour seems a little extreme. I find myself hoping it's not due to a health issue.
[Edit: KK has posted an explanation at his website in which he reveals "an ongoing breakdown in the working relationship between myself, elements of the band and the band's management". Wow, after 40 years that's a pretty shocking revelation].
Am I alone in deriving merriment from the news that Status Quo's new album, 'Quid Pro Quo', is to be sold exclusively through the supermarket chain Tesco? The band's explanation - "This is another example of Quo teaming up with a great British institution. Following our innovative pairings with Coronation Street and the Armed Forces, it seems only natural to now team up with the institution that is Britain's biggest high street retailer" - is so self-serving and presumptuous, it's plain amusing. Not April 1st, is it, lads?
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Wednesday 20th April
Amazing news… In December, Ace Frehley is to perform his eponymously-titled 1978 solo album in its entirety at this year’s Hard Rock Hell Festival. I’m not the biggest fan the facilities at Prestatyn, but festival organiser John Davis assures me that the place is currently undergoing a 25 million quid refurbishment, so might just have to high-tail it over there to see the Spaceman performing his masterpiece.
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Tuesday 19th April
My blood is boiling with anger at British Telecom’s failure to supply me with a new internet router for my PC. It’s almost impossible to function as a news/listings editor without full web access, but this is a situation I’ve now endured for almost two weeks. This morning I spent the best part of four hours on the phone; each time I was either cut off at a crucial point or somebody said they would call me back, and then reneged on their promise. AAAARRRGGGGGGGH!!!
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Monday 18th April
Massively hung over and still trying to come to terms with yesterday’s setback at Selhurst, I attempted to cheer myself with a visit to Chislehurst’s Beaverwood Club for a first-time sighting of Chantel McGregor, a feisty but immensely likable young guitar player from Yorkshire in the north of England. Her debut album, ‘Like No Other’, on which she is backed by Robin Tower’s band (and which was helmed by Tower’s producer, Livingstone Brown), has just been issued by her own label Tis Rock Music.
McGregor’s sound is a sturdier than average fusion of hard rock and blues, her choice of covers – Richie Kotzen’s ‘High’, ‘Lenny’ by Stevie Ray Vaughan, ‘Voodoo Chile’, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’, a full-length rendition of Trower’s ‘Daydream’ and an audience request for Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ – rarely less than impeccable. This, of course, would count for nothing if her own songs such as ‘Like No Other’ and the hard-hitting ‘Caught Out’ were mediocre, but that’s not the case.
Afterwards, my friend Andy Beare and I chatted to Chantel. None too enamoured by the label of blues-rock that follows her around, or indeed the record labels that had expressed an interest in moulding her into something she isn’t before deciding to go down the independent route, McGregor thrust copies of ‘Like No Other’ upon us, explaining that Livingstone Brown had used all manner of techniques and unusual instrumentation to make the record sound contemporary. “Wait till you hear the version of ‘Fabulous’ that opens the album,” she chirruped brightly. “It sounds like Lady Gaga.” And you know what? She’s right. This is one interesting artist. I shall definitely be keeping tabs on her. So should you.
P.S. Just been on Chantel’s website for the first time and was shocked and amused to discover that Steve Helliwell (AKA Emmerdale’s Zak Dingle) is one of her biggest fans – strange but true!
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Saturday 16th April
Today has offered a double dose of disappointment. I arose with the lark in time for a previously arranged 7am interview with Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, only to switch on the PC and learn that the guitarist was stuck on a flight in mid-air at the appointed time and needed to reschedule. Aaaarg.
Crystal Palace’s home defeat to relegation rivals Scunthorpe United was more frustrating still. To be honest, I’d feared the worst upon arriving at Norwood Junction and reading manager Dougie Freedman’s comments in the Croydon Advertiser. “If we can come through [the next] two games [against Scunny and Doncaster] unbeaten, I think our Championship status will be all but secured,” reckoned the boss. FFS… talk about sending out the wrong signal! If such smugness had set alarm bells ringing, the Eagles’ lacklustre display confirmed my worst fears. Palace were out-prepared and out-fought by a team scrapping for its last breath, eventually losing 2-1. I am now **extremely** worried about the very real possibility of dropping into League 1.
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Friday 15th April
Most of yesterday was engaged in the writing of a 2,000-word sleeve essay for the Terraplane anthology that I spoke of here not too long ago. The project has already attracted some interest over at the Thunder Forum, so let me spill some beans. Entitled ‘The Singles Collection’, it’s a two-CD set that unites all of the band’s 45s, from March 1983’s independent debut ‘I Survive’ (issued via City Records) to ‘Moving Target’, the final ‘official’ single for Epic Records in August 1987, with all of the B-sides and extended mixes – 18 tracks in all at the last count. When I find out the release date I’ll pass it on.
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Thursday 14th April
Phew… ’scuse the wheezing… I’m just back from a run around the local park. If I’m gonna be young, free and single again (well… two out of three ain’t bad!) then I should probably look my best for the summer festival season. To that end I’ve been out jogging every other day of the past fortnight. My friend Steve ‘No Relation’ Way and I have also signed up to Crystal Palace’s new male health initiative, Eagles Fit Fans. It’s a free ten-week course held jointly at Selhurst Park and the CPFC training ground in which the participants get to train like the players, learn about physical techniques for getting fit, diet and nutrition and meet Palace legends and current players in Q & A sessions. Can’t wait for it to begin.
When you’re out running, playing some decent music on the Discman is a distinct help. I was taken unawares by the arrival of a promo of Def Leppard’s long-awaited double-live set, ‘Mirrorball’, which doesn’t drop till June 6. Ending with three brand new studio tracks – ‘Undefeated’, the Queen-flavoured ‘Kings Of The World’ and ‘It’s All About Believing’ – it’s really, really good. I’ve also been administering a right ol’ blasting to ‘Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea’, the newie from the excellent Black Stone Cherry, which includes a splendid cover of the Marshall Tucker Band’s ‘Can You See’. ‘BTDATDBS’ is out on May 30 – don’t miss it!
The Heavy Metal Kids have parted company with John ‘Nasty Nick’ Altman. After seeing him performing with the Kids twice, I can’t say that I’m too surprised. The band’s guitarist, Justin McConville, is to take over the role.
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Wednesday 13th April
I was happy to accept an offer from Classic Rock Presents: Prog to interview Dug Pinnick about his love of progressive music. The bassist and I sat deep in discussion in the dressing rooms of the Electric Ballroom before a gig by his band King’s X. Pinnick was lucky enough to have seen Genesis and Yes in their prime and expressed his deep love of UK and Kansas; he certainly knows his music – not just progressive rock and hard rock… everything.
With a while to go before the show, I met up with my buds Neil Jeffries and Mark Taylor down by Camden’s canal route. The drink and company was good but it was tough to endure being sat in a boozer among Cockney Reds celebrating ManUre’s goals against Chelski. I wanted to get up and smack the tragic gloryhunters right in their mouths. Champions League Schmampions League – to me, it just ain’t real football. I bet the celebrations went on into the night down in Teignmouth. Yawn.
King’s X were back at the Ballroom, where the US trio filmed their ‘Live Love London’ in 2009. Last night’s crowd was a little smaller than previous time around, but the band played superbly as ever and the audience sang along with real gusto to old favourites ‘Summerland’, ‘Goldilox’ and ‘Over My Head’, the former of which must have lasted for almost 10 minutes. Here’s the set-list: ‘Welcome To The Groove Machine’, ‘Last Time I Board The Train’, ‘What Is This’, ‘Complain’, ‘Black Flag’, ‘Alright’, ‘I’m The New Age’, ‘Pillow’, ‘Pray For Me’, ‘Dogman’, ‘Go Tell Somebody’, ‘Summerland’ and ‘Born To Be Loved’, followed by encores of ‘Goldilox’, ‘Over My Head’ and ‘Visions’
During the gig my eldest lad Eddie was updating me by text with the football scores. Against the odds, my beloved Crystal Palace actually took the lead away to Leicester thanks to a wonder strike from Shaun Scannell but were unable to hold on. A 1-1 draw was more than I’d hoped for, to tell the truth, and with Sheffield United and Scunny both losing, and Doncaster and PNE both sharing the points, the Eagles head into the final five games with a six-point lead over the bottom three and an advantageous goal difference. Saturday’s showdown with Scunny now becomes more crucial than ever before.
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Monday 11th April
When you’re down in the dumps, what else but a night of cheesy Swedish heavy metal to generate a smile or two? Enforcer and Bullet were at the Underworld, so I nipped along to investigate. It was well worth making the effort – if only a few more rivet-heads had bothered; the place was almost empty. Enforcer literally charged out of the dressing room onto the stage to crash into the night’s opening power-chord – a sweat-charged explosion of leather pants and waistcoats, white Flying V guitars, headbands and an obligatory Napalm Death T-shirt. Helpfully, they had also brought along backdrops on either side of the stage, one proclaiming the word ‘heavy’, the other ‘metal’, just in case we had mistaken them for an over-amplified calypso troupe. It was hard not to notice that ‘Black Angel’ borrowed the riff to Angel Witch’s ‘Sweet Danger’, and there was much amusement/puzzlement as the band left the stage for an encore, returning despite the fact that the audience thought their part of the show was over, but if melodic-tinged old-school metal floats your boat, Enforcer are the dog’s bollocks.
My suspicion was that Bullet – not to be confused with the Germans of the late 1970s – would struggle to follow such a terrific support act (though, technically, this was a co-headliner). Not so. In fact, the group from Växjö, a small town in the south of Sweden, who grew up playing classic metal covers before opting to go down the original route, sounded like an enthusiastic hybrid of Accept and AC/DC, with a liberal dollop of Krokus thrown in. Dag Hell Hofer is a great, terrier-like frontman in the Udo Dirkschneider vein and I enjoyed Bullet sufficiently to go in search of an album the following day. Here’s what they played: ‘Highway Pirates’, ‘Back On The Road’, ‘Turn It Up Loud’, ‘Stay Wild’, ‘Down ‘N’ Out’, ‘Rambling Man, ‘Roadking’, ‘Heading For The Top’, ‘One Deal With The Devil’, Instrumental (including guitar and drum solos) and ‘Dusk Til Dawn’, with a parting shot of ‘Pay The Price’ and ‘Bite The Bullet’.
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Sunday 10th April
Though I had a match ticket and my travel was booked, I was unable to attend yesterday’s game between Ipswich and Crystal Palace at Portman Road. Once again the Eagles returned to Selhurst with heads bowed in defeat, though the results of the club’s fellow strugglers were mostly satisfactory. The palatial hallways of Ling Towers have been echoing to the sound of Lemon Recordings’ new expanded edition of David Byron’s 1975 solo album, ‘Take No Prisoners’, with sleeve notes from yours truly. The two-disc deluxe edition of ‘Moving Pictures’ by Rush is also here – can’t wait to give that one a blast! – and Metal Hammer have asked me to review Saxon’s newie, ‘Call To Arms’ (available on May 23), which I’m happy to say continues the band’s recent purple patch.
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Saturday 9th April
Regular visitors to these pages will already be aware of my affection for Blackfield, the band that unites the considerable talents of Porcupine Tree’s leader Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen, the outspoken singer and musician sometimes known as the David Bowie of Israel (recently described to me, in his own words, as an “epic icon”). Well, last night saw Blackfield playing London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire and I was in the crowd – naturally! To say that the gig was a complete blinder would be a serious understatement. For Wilson, Blackfield represents an outlet for the more succinct, pop-based side of his alter-ego. However, Geffen is the one that appears to drive the band, penning the bulk of their songs and, for the most part, fronting the show. The Empire shuffled with uncomfortable laughter as Geffen dedicated a song from the new album ‘Welcome To My DNA’ to his parents. Said tune began with the lines: “Fuck you, oh fuck you”, ‘Go To Hell’, repeating the ‘F’ word 16 times… but my, what an infuriatingly addictive little ditty. ‘Welcome To My DNA’ was well represented in the 90-minute display, with all but one (‘Far Away’) of its 11 tracks making the set-list. I was a little disappointed that 2007’s ‘Blackfield II’ was largely overlooked in favour of the group’s self-titled debut, though the rousing ‘Once’ fully deserved its slot. If yours truly were ever to invest in an iPod – sorry, Steven! – then ‘Once’ would be among the very first tunes I’d put onto it. This was one of the finest gigs of 2011, and no mistake. Here’s what was played: ‘Blood’, ‘Blackfield’, ‘Glass House’, ‘Go To Hell’, ‘On The Plane’, ‘Pain’, ‘DNA’, ‘Waving’, ‘Rising Of The Tide’, ‘Glow’, ‘Once’, ‘The Hole In Me’, ‘Miss U’, ‘Zigota’, ‘Oxygen’, ‘Where Is My Love?’ and ‘Dissolving With The Night’, plus a quite brilliant encore of ‘Hello’, ‘End Of The World’ and ‘Cloudy Now’.
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Friday 8th April
It’s the third beautiful spring day in a row, so what better way to limber up for the weekend than an early morning walk in the local, newly renovated park with Bob The Dog? My Thursday evening was spent engaged in full-on interview mode; three of the buggers in quick succession. The law of averages suggests that when as many phone interviews are arranged, at least one of them must fail to happen. Well, not so on this occasion. Pepper Keenan from Down, done. Cinderella’s Tim Keifer, done. And finally… the one and only Alice Cooper, done. We are not worthy!! Alice has some surprises lined up for Donington. Wish I could tell you about them but I’ve a fear of guillotines and deadly snakes, so the mouth shall remain zipped.
And talking of the Download Festival, horns aloft for the addition of The Rods to the bill. I used to worship David ‘Rock’ Feinstein and company back in the good old days, having seen them open for Iron Maiden on the ‘Number Of The Beast’ tour and also perform a now legendary gig at the Marquee in Wardour Street. Roll on the weekend of June 10-12!!!!
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Thursday 7th April
Time can play funny tricks on the memory. Until today I’ve never owned any of the classic-era Warrant albums on CD. The first two, ‘Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich’ and ‘Cherry Pie’, still get the occasional spin on vinyl. But I hadn’t heard the LA group’s third album, ‘Dog Eat Dog’, for many, many years… until a new double-CD package from IronBird Records dropped onto my desk, that is. And you know what? ‘Dog Eat Dog’ isn’t the flea-bitten mongrel of my recollection. Not at all. How odd. I’ve also been spinning SPV Records’ 25th anniversary expanded double-disc edition of Virgin Steele’s ‘Noble Savage’… another hugely enjoyable record that the dim mists of time had done their best to discredit.
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Wednesday 6th April
For the second successive year I’ve been asked to contribute to the official programme of the Download Festival. That’s very pleasing, as I enjoyed interviewing the likes of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Lemmy Kilmister, Saxon’s Biff Byford, Taking Dawn, The Blackout and top-dog Andy Copping for the 2010 edition, as well as writing a 30-year timeline that charted the event’s history at Donington Park. With all that’s going domestically here at Ling Towers, it’s good to keep as busy as possible.
Thanks to Reading’s 2-1 victory over PNE, my beloved Crystal Palace are now seven points clear of the drop-zone, with seven games left for all of the relegation candidates. That’s a position that those beneath us in the bottom three must envy, but I’m not counting my chickens just yet. Nothing in life ever goes smoothly where the mighty Eagles are concerned. However… fingers crossed X 10,000.
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Tuesday 5th April
My Monday evening was spent in a public house on the borders of Kent and South London, sharing a few beverages with Messrs Danny Bowes and Luke Morley. The pair had kindly agreed to revisit their past with the pre-Thunder band Terraplane for the benefit of a set of sleeve notes that I’m engaged in writing for Cherry Red Records. We had a right ol’ hoot, and better still as I poured the drinks down their throats – I was paying the bar tab in exchange for their anecdotes – my mobile phone kept chirruping with news of QP-Haha doing the mighty Crystal Palace a huge favour by planting three goals past Sheffield United. After the work was done we sat around for a few more libations and some goss… yes, I had a great ol’ time.
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Monday 4th April
Just received my copy of Classic Rock’s new Whitesnake fan pack, or ‘fang pack’ to use its punningly titled alternative name. Besides a special edition of the band’s rather splendid new album, ‘Forevermore’, it includes a 132-page magazine, a double-sided poster and pin-on badge. Thus far I’ve only had time to speed-read the best bits but there seems to be plenty of meat to Steffan Chirazi’s interviews with the five band members (the mag went to press before the appointment of new keyboardist Brian Ruedy), while a Top 20 Of Whitesnake’s Friskiest Moments by Alison Joy (now Rye) generated a giggle or three. In his Q&A conversation with Chirazi, guitarist Reb Beach spoke with unflinching candour of Winger’s crash at the hands of grunge, Beavis & Butt-head and Metallica (see Diary, March 30). It takes a brave man to admit: “I went from making 180 grand to ten grand that next year [after the release of the ‘Pull’ album]. I had to sell my house. I sold 15 guitars.”
The magazine can be ordered here.
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Sunday 3rd April
As usual my Saturday was spent at Selhurst Park as my son Eddie and I cheered on Crystal Palace FC in a must-win game against Barnsley. The ground was packed and three points generated by a 2-1 victory were utterly priceless, especially with relegation rivals Scunthorpe losing by six goals at Norwich. For a while – only momentarily – those chilling domestic crises were despatched to the back of my mind.
Look out for the monthly revisions of the Playlist and YouTube pages.

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Saturday 2nd April
Just to mention that my wife and I have decided to call it a day after 16 years of marriage. Where does one go to seek cheer after addressing such a wrist-slittingly depressingly scenario? A gig by Yorkshire misery-meisters Paradise Lost… obviously. Luckily my beer buddy Andy Beare kept the drinks coming and put up with all manner of self-pitying boorishness (thanks Andy…). Paradise Lost were extremely good from what my beer goggles tell me, though some of their show, which revisited the classic ‘Draconian Times’ in its entirety, was spent propping up the bar. Matt ‘Tuds’ Archer, the band’s drummer from 1988-’94, walked past and witheringly stated: “I hope you are not reviewing this gig, mate. You’ve barely watched it.” Well, look… I wasn’t there in a professional capacity and my excuse was valid, I reckon…