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

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Tuesday 30th April
You know what? I might have to invest in a John McEnroe-style hair band, having just discovered that sweat gets into your eyes during a 10K run in this lovely weather. I wonder whether they’re made in CPFC-approved red and blue stripes (or, failing that, pink)?!
Great news: Thunder are among the 25 new acts added to the bill of this summer’s Download Festival. Mr Bowes and company will play the Second Stage on the event’s Saturday (June 15). Mr Copping… you are spoiling us!! FM have also been added to the bill of the Steelhouse Festival in Wales in late July, joining a great bill that includes Herr Schenker, Saxon and Magnum, plus The Temperance Movement and Snakecharmer. Hand Of Dimes, Nev MacDonald from Skin’s other band, are pretty useful too. Hope I can make it over for the weekend.
Oh yes!! Thanks to those kind folks at Eagle Rock, Rainbow’s RJD-era gig at the Rockpalast in 1977 has just dropped onto my desk in CD and DVD formats – looking forward to watching it!! It’ll have to wait a while though, as it’s almost time to begin boozing in the run-up to tonight’s Palace game against Scumwall.
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Monday 29th April
With the ex-wife away on holiday, it’s just myself and the kids here at Ling Towers for the coming week. Alas, this fact eliminates me from attending tonight’s London gig from Enuff Z’Nuff. Luckily, I’m on top of work, having spent my Sunday compiling the gig guide for the June edition Classic Rock Presents Blues. ‘Prog Rocks!’, a wonderful five-disc boxed set featuring music from the catalogues of Harvest, Charisma, Virgin, Liberty and Inside Out Music, offered an immensely satisfying soundtrack as I edited emails and trawled around the world wide web for the relevant info. Thanks to Jerry Ewing for providing my copy!
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Sunday 28th April
Okay, now I *am* getting worried. Yesterday’s 1-1 draw between Blackburn Rovers and Crystal Palace flattered the home side. According to corner count alone – Blackburn 0, Palace 8 – it sounded like we should’ve won it, but supporting CPFC has never been easy. Tuesday nite’s trip to Scumwall is now bigger than ever. After such a dramatic loss of form, the Eagles seem to have forgotten how to win. My head tells me that clinging onto a play-off place remains possible, though my heart suggests that we simply don’t deserve to be there.
And so, off to Shepherd’s Bush Empire to see Saxon and the Quireboys. Spike might have broken his foot during a footie game with the headliners but he sounded... er, well medicated (!)... and appeared in high spirits. Despite being limited to 40 mins, the special guests previewed two songs from a new album due in June, one called ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’, the other a keyboard-led lighter-waver known as ‘Mother Mary’ (no relation). The rest of their set consisted of: ‘Gypsies Tramps And Thieves’, ‘There She Goes Again’, ‘Misled’, ‘Mona Lisa Smile’, ‘This Is Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Hey You’ and ‘Seven O’Clock’.
Having seen the band dozens and dozens of times since 1980, I can assert that Saxon will never, ever let you down. Keen to feature as many songs as possible from the excellent new album ‘Sacrifice’ as possible (I counted five, excluding the taped intro, ‘Procession’), they nevertheless featured just about everything the sold-out audience wanted to hear. It was nice to see Spike from the QBs hobble onstage to join Biff for a duet during ‘Ride Like The Wind’ – like the audience the band really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Here’s the set-list: ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Wheels Of Terror’, ‘Power And The Glory’, ‘Made In Belfast’, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Gypsy’, ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’, ‘I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)’, ‘Night Of The Wolf’, ‘Conquistador’, Drum Solo, ‘Crusader’, ‘Stand Up And Fight’, ‘Guardians Of The Tomb’, ‘Never Surrender’, ‘Ride Like The Wind’, ‘And The Bands Played On’, ‘Dallas 1 PM’, ‘Denim And Leather’ and ‘Wheels Of Steel’, plus a finale of ‘Strong Arm of the Law’, ‘747 (Strangers In The Night)’ and ‘Princess Of The Night’. Great stuff! Oh, and a lift home from Steve ‘No Relation’ Way, too… even better!
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Saturday 27th April
Last night I accepted an invite from blues guitarist Larry Miller to attend a launch show for the new ‘Live & Outlawed’ double-CD at the Borderline. Bowled up to the box office at the Borderline only to find my name wasn’t on the list and I wasn’t going in. “Oh well…”, I thought once the shock had worn off, “back to the Crobar a few doors away in Manette Street.” Didn’t expect to leave there in the small hours and end up getting the night bus home… hardly what the doctor ordered with loadsa work piled up for the weekend.
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Friday 26th April
I’ve finally found the time to play the advance CD of Status Quo’s new single, ‘Bula Bula Quo!’. Managed to endure 68 painful seconds before it was hurled across the room. How long can *you* last??!!
A similar posting of the above at my Facebook page drew amusing results. “It’s heavier than the new Megadeth album at least!!” quipped producer Andy Sneap, with Paradise Lost guitarist Aaron Aedy musing: “I thought Black Lace had got a new singer for a minute!” Amazingly, Ginger Wildheart responded: “I actually liked it. And although i can't stand Megadeth I didn't mind their new one. What is wrong with me?” Answers on a postcard!
Talking of Megadeth, how hilarious! Back from an interview with Dave Mustaine, Classic Rock’s Grant Moon has just sent the following email: “Dave sends his regards. The first thing he asked was how you were, and whether you’d gone grey yet. (I said you hadn’t, of course.)” Cheers, Grant… I do like a man who can be economical with the truth when occasion demands!
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Thursday 25th April
Wow… I really enjoyed last night’s phone interview with Carlos Santana – with 90 million record sales worldwide and ten Grammies to his name, Santana is one of two acts in Billboard history to score Top Ten albums in each decade from the 1960s onwards (the other being the Rolling Stones). So no wonder when you ask how he is, he replies: “Happy and grateful.” Lovely fella, and way less humourless than I’d imagined.
After watching Sunday’s coverage of the London Marathon I’ve finally plumped up the courage – some might say brazen stupidity – to enter a half-marathon. Just registered for the one that takes place at that Unmentionable Place On The South Coast on Sunday 16 February, 2014, which gives me 299 days in which to train. Ulp!
I’ve just been sent a copy of a beautiful, beautiful book on Deep Purple’s legendary appearance at the California Jam in 1974. Literature and art collide in one weighty, authoritative tome: It’s almost worth investing in a coffee table on which to place it! (And mine’s just the ‘standard edition’, apparently!). Check it out here.
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Wednesday 24th April
During yesterday’s phone interview for Prog magazine I was scolded like a schoolboy by Fish for daring to ask whether his forthcoming album, ‘Feast Of Consequences’ (available to pre-order at fishheadsclub.com from May 13), will be a little more optimistic than its predecessor, ‘13th Star’. “Optimistic? Fakkin’ optimistic?!” he echoed in disbelief. “How could anything in this life possibly be optimistic? It has a five-suite song [the 30-minute ‘High Wood’] about the First World War.” Okay, I’ll get me coat...
Just been playing ‘The Mouths Of Madness’, a new album by san Franciscan doom-rock quartet Orchid – what a shockingly good record! I will *definitely* be going to check them out a the Underworld on May 21. Check them out here.
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Tuesday 23rd April
I was all alone last night at Ling Towers, my two boys having been taken by their mother to the O2 Arena for the WWE wrestling. Settling down for a nice, peaceful evening catching up on shows backed up on the Sky+, I enjoyed a tasty meal (salad and Be Good To Yourself smoky paprica chicken – how can the latter contain a mere 279 calories?!) and the historical documentary The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople, recorded a few weeks ago (at only an hour long, the version I saw has gotta have been edited), and the movie of The Runaways, with a convincing portrayal of Joan Jett by Kristen Stewart, sourced from Film4. The latest episode of Dexter rounded off a supremely satisfying solo soiree.
Oh, and talking of Mott The Hoople, check this out. O2 Arena, here I come!
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Monday 22nd April
Eddie and I spent some of Sunday morning on the sofa watching the brilliant, inspirational scenes of the 33rd London Marathon on the tellybox. Not sure that I could ever manage to run the full 26 miles and 385 yards, but the images concerned impressed upon me how much I’d love to try my hand at a half-marathon at some point in the future. I can do a 10k (6.214 miles) with ease but a half-marathon is twice as far again. Time to start planning, methinks…
Anyway, London is basking in sunshine – at last. I made the most of the glorious weather with a sun-baked run in the local park followed by various album reviews. The rest of my Sunday was spent emailing various band members, manager and PRs, requesting interviews for the Download Festival programme. My old friend Steve McTaggart, the poor individual responsible for trying to keep those DragonForce rascals in line, responded to my plea for a phone chat with guitarist Herman Li, saying he was “dispatching one of our Power Metal carrier pigeons immediately”. Um… I think that means it’s happening! Haha!
As evening drew nearer I spent some time on the patio, leafing through the new issue of Classic Rock (Deep Purple cover, dated June). I’d love to believe the contents of a fascinating interview with ex-UFO bassist Pete Way, who after decades of death-defying antics (“I didn’t see it as self-destruction, I saw it as a lifestyle. My job”) claims he is *finally* seeking sobriety, going to the gym and generally getting his shit together. He certainly looks good in the new photographs. Keep it up, Pete. It was nice to revisit Uriah Heep’s trip to Russia in 1987. And I felt myself agreeing with the cantankerous grumblings of Alice In Chains. I was a little disappointed that somewhere along the way, the opening line of my review of Status Quo review from Manchester Apollo – “Led Zeppelin at the O2 Arena? Pffft”, also mention of the support act, The Treatment – were both edited out, but I suppose you can’t have everything.
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Sunday 21st April
How else was one to have spent Record Store Day except by joining Jimmy Page among those thumbing through the racks at yesterday’s Earl’s Court Music Fair? Sadly, this time I didn’t manage to unearth too many bargains, though I did pick up a reasonably priced, mint-quality vinyl of Strawbs’ 1973 album, ‘Bursting At The Seams’, that had been missing from my collection.
Crossing the Thames from West London back to its Southern counterpart, it was time for several hundred pints before Crystal Palace’s play-off showdown with Leicester City. Though the game was entertaining enough, the result of 2-2 did neither team too many favours. And given that the Foxes twice came from behind to grab their share of the spoils, it felt more like a defeat than a draw. Humph. I am rapidly going off football right now… (*Did I really just write that??!!*)
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Saturday 20th April
Having visited the same subterranean venue a mere 24 hours earlier, not to mention twice the week before (and with a visit to see the Larry Miller Band in the pipeline), these days I seem to spend half of my life at the Borderline. But it’s no problem… there’s a nice, friendly l’il rock bar a few doors away (*winks knowingly*).
As somebody that refuses to step over the threshold of London’s Scala (the sound at that place is always diabolical!), I missed out on the UK debut of San Diego prog-psych-rockers Astra back in 2010. Inspired by the likes of King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Genesis and Yes, the band make fantastic music, no doubt about it. Sorry to say, however, that singer, guitarist and Mellotron player Richard Vaughan has all the charisma of a small plastic garden gnome. Nobody expected him to fly around the Borderline on a surfboard David Lee Roth-style, but surely he could do much better than: “Thank you all for coming out… this is our first song”, and: “This is our last song”. It would be foolish to suggest that staying home and listening to Astra’s two studio records might have been equally satisfying – you’d certainly have missed out on all that wonderful improv - but there needs to be something extra besides the fantastic musicianship. And given the quintet’s proclivity for procrastination, I certainly expected them to have played for longer than an hour and 20 mins. Naaaah, to my way of thinking this was an anticlimactic night. I was back at Chateau Ling, feet up and watching Mad Men by 11.30… must be getting old.
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Friday 19th April
Congratulations to Rush, who last night were among the acts inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. There’s some truly hilarious YouTube footage of Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters (joined by producer Nick Raskulinecz) dressed as the Canadian group in make-up, wigs and costume of the era performing ‘Overture’ from the all-time great ‘2112’ album during the ceremony in Los Angeles. It’s well worth a look, as is this clip of Alex Lifeson mocking the event with a brilliant ‘acceptance speech’, and Dave Grohl’s wonderfully warm, straight-from-the-heart introductory preface.
At lunchtime I headed down to Croydon for an enjoyable and long-overdue catch-up with the ever-lovely though perpetually stressed-out Wendy Campling, getting soaked to the skin by a sudden torrential downpour on the way home… great.
After several invitations to check out Bad For Lazarus, a band comprising ex-members of Nine Inch Nails, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and UNKLE, I agreed to go and take a look at them at the Borderline. Considering that all I knew of the band was an entertaining promo video for the song ‘My Muddle’, it turned out a wise decision. They burst onto the stage with something called ‘Bad Stallion’, accompanied by an exaggerated display headbanging and shape throwing that suggested a mischievous groupie had perhaps poured itching powder down their strides. Luckily it wore off, and I quickly warmed to them. ‘Burnt’ was a thunderous slice of blues-rock with an edgy, nervous twitch, while a forthcoming single entitled ‘Disco Biscuits’ paired histrionic vocals with hard-driving rhythms and a subtle yet persistent undertone of keyboards/samples. There was always something interesting going on; you can rock out to Bad For Lazarus, they’re danceable (if you’re so inclined) and commendably weird. I shall be keeping an eye on them.
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Thursday 18th April
Well, that’s another great moment to tick off: Last night I completed a phone interview with Rick Springfield to promote his gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on June 4. As a longtime fan, I can’t wait to see him onstage at last! Check out this excellent YouTube clip of Springfield performing the classic ‘Jessie’s Girl’ with Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players.
Wow... there are some great bands at the Cambridge Rock Festival in August: Magnum, the Quireboys, Caravan, Pat McManus, Praying Mantis, The Temperance Movement, Mostly Autumn (who are almost becoming the event’s house band!), the reunited Persian Risk, Pearl Handled Revolver... And over on the second stage, Voodoo Vegas, Landmarq, Del Bromham & his Blues Devils, Laurence Jones, Roadhouse and more. I hope that I can make it over there again this year!
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Wednesday 17th April
Oh. My. God. Last night Crystal Palace’s exasperating win-less run was extended by a further game as the Tractor Boys of Ipswich Town exacted their revenge for a 5-0 stuffing at Selhurst Park earlier in the season. The game had looked perfectly winnable and according to Sky Sports News, the Eagles were performing adequately enough till a cringeworthy gaffe by keeper Julian Speroni gifted the home side the lead. A 30-yard wonder goal doubled the advantage before a shellshocked Palace conceded again in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time. Though CPFC dominated after the break, substitute Phillips whacking the post, the game was already done ‘n’ dusted. With confidence in shreds and a shrinking goal difference, the stats speak for themselves: 5 games, 4 defeats, 0 goals scored and 11 conceded, just a single point collected from the possible 15 – that’s relegation form. I’m now very, very worried that we may now slip out of the play-off places.
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Tuesday 16th April
What a fantastic evening spent in the company of Willie Dowling. I had arranged to meet Dowling to discuss the release of a final album from his current group Jackdraw4 (see Diary, April 11) and a farewell show which takes place at London’s Borderline in June. “Just popping up to town for a couple of hours to do a quick interview”, I told the kids whilst heading out the door for a 7pm rendezvous, adding: “Will be back by the time your mum puts you to bed.”
Silly, silly me. With beer flowing just as speedily as the conversation, as 9pm chimed I *still* hadn’t switched on the tape machine. In fact, less than 15 minutes were spent in any sort of official working capacity – chewing over Dowling’s history with The Grip, Cat People, Honeycrack and of course his role in The Wildhearts, plus the reasons for the sad demise of J4, and of course his plans for the future – though this fact didn’t prevent me from stumbling out of the Shaftesbury Avenue members-only club in which we’d met, scampering back with all possible haste to Charing Cross Stn for my last train at ten to midnight. Until then, music, life, family, politics and mutual acquaintances had all been hotly debated. If only all rock stars were as quotable, easy-going and eminently likable as Dowling, a man who could, and should, have become a huge, huge star had the chips fallen differently. But as we all know… whoever said life was fair?
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Monday 15th April
How interesting that Uriah Heep are temporarily replacing Bernie Shaw with former frontman John Lawton for some shows in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland whilst Shaw undergoes what’s being described as “a routine medical procedure.” According to Mick Box, the set-lists for these dates will apparently be “skewed to songs reflecting John’s original tenure with the band” (1976-’79). To hear them revisit songs from ‘Firefly’, ‘Innocent Victim’ and ‘Fallen Angel’ would be a rare treat. I’m very inquisitive about this. Wonder whether it might be possible to take a look at one of those gigs??!!
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Sunday 14th April
With no game this weekend for the mighty Palace, Eddie and I have found ourselves at something of a loose end. Yesterday, purely on the grounds that Hibernian are the club supported by a certain Derek William Dick, also that it happened to be on as we were channel surfing, we watched the Scottish Cup semi-final between Hibs and Falkirk. What a match! Falkirk took a three-nil lead within 30 mins, but Hibs came back to win 4-3 in extra time. As I type we are preparing to take an early lunch as Tyne & Wear derby between Toon and Sunderland takes place… always feisty and entertaining! Gotta have a footie fix!
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Saturday 13th April
It had felt a bit like déjà vu. Last night I took the same train up to London as 24 hours previously, walked to the same pre-show destination (the Crobar – where else?), before travelling a few doors down Manette Street to the Borderline for another show scheduled to run from 9.10 to 10.30… a bit spooky!
Based around ex-Georgia Satellites bassist Dan Baird and Jason & The Scorchers guitarist Warner E Hodges, the Bluefields are a four-piece from Nashville, Tennessee. Their 2012 debut album, ‘Pure’, has been a favourite here at Ling Towers for several months, and I was a little surprised to learn they already have a follow-up entitled ‘Ramshackle’ on the market. Of course this meant that I was unfamiliar with a large chunk of the show, which from my own perspective only came fully to the boil during an encore of four songs that the band members had played with their high school bands; AC/DC’s ‘Sin City’, ‘California Man’ by The Move, ZZ Top’s ‘Jesus Just Left Chicago’ and ‘I Fought The Law’ by The Clash. Which isn’t intended to denigrate the group’s own material (‘If Not Now When’, ‘Nobody Loves You’, ‘Bad Old Days’ and the shit-kicking Flat Out Gone’ were superb, with the shimmering ‘Sweet Medusa’ among the best of the newer material), their classy musicianship or indeed the easy, unpretentious stage manner of Baird and Hodges, who exchanged banter like two old dudes sitting on a porch as the sun went down. Great fun!
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Friday 12th April
It’s pretty shocking to think that three years have flown by since my last live sighting of the Swedish melodic hard rockers H.E.A.T, then still with their previous singer Kenny Leckremo, in a Holloway boozer called The Gaff. I admit, their decision to appoint Erik Grönwall, a former Swedish Idol winner in Leckremo’s place, had aroused scepticism though all such reservations were blown out of the water by the unadulterated magnificence of last year’s ‘Address The Nations’.
No great surprise, then, that H.E.A.T. focussed attention of their third album, overlooking just two of its selections (‘The One And Only’ and ‘Need Her’). The biggest shock was Grönwall’s own outstanding contribution. With short, spiky blond hair and a pipe cleaner physique, Erik imbues the sextet with a real edge that wasn’t there before. They still have all of the ‘woah woahs’ and hooks of before, plus the natural vivacity that comes with such youthfulness, but H.E.A.T. Mk II are a vastly improved beast – imagine a fusion of Bon Jovi, Europe, Whitesnake and Dokken and then add a zest that screams out 2013. Last night the blew the doors off the Borderline; put them on tour with a band like Daughtry and we’d *really* be talking. (BTW, for the trainspotters out there… there was insufficient time to perform the final song on this set-list, ’Keep On Dreaming’).

Dave Ling Online

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Thursday 11th April
Wonderful… The Wildhearts have added six further shows to their current tour, which marks the 20th anniversary of one of the finest and most ensuring debut albums of (relatively) recent years, ‘Earth Vs The Wildhearts’. I shall be at the Forum in London’s Kentish Town on June 22 to see them revisit said disc.
In related news, I’ve finally received a copy of ‘Dissecticide’, the final album to be released by the hugely underrated band Jackdaw4. A former member of the Wildies (also of The Grip, Cat People and HoneyCrack), Willie Dowling recently revealed that the Jackdaw4 are to call it a day with a farewell gig on June 6. See his YouTube announcement here. The decision seems ludicrous in the light of the album’s vivacity and diversity. I’m particularly fond of the histrionic ‘Why Don’t You Come And See Me When She's Not Around’, which sounds like Sparks fooling around on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’!
Yikes... a promo of the much maligned ‘Bula Quo’ double album also arrived in today’s post. I’ve not had such a sinking feeling since the receipt of my divorce papers! I’m really looking forward to hearing that Fijian-style remake of ‘Living On An Island’ referred to in the press release (NOT!).
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Wednesday 10th April
Isn’t it funny how receiving an unexpected phone call from someone special can cheer you up? The weather’s getting warmer (which means I can go out running again!) and the new season of Mad Men starts tonite. You know what? Things might just be looking up!
And hey… the day just gets better and better. A phone interview with Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson to be used in the Download Festival programme? Well, yes… I think I can make time in my busy schedule for that…

Dave Ling Online

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Tuesday 9th April
Unexpected happiness is… opening a book (in this instance Run To The Hills, the authorised Iron Maiden biography) to check a fact and discovering that you once used a crisp £20 note as a bookmark! The trouble is that I will have to go through the rest of the cabinet to see whether there more!!!
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Monday 8th April
This is not the place to discuss politics, so I won’t bother to add my voice to those reflecting upon the demise of Margaret Thatcher. All I’ll say is that it speaks volumes that the ‘Wizard Of Oz’ classic ‘Ding Dong The Witch is Dead’ by Judy Garland is doing so darned well on the iTunes chart.
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Sunday 7th April
I’ve absolutely no idea how Palace failed to claim all three points from yesterday’s home fixture with Barnsley. The stats – 23 shots (12 of which on target) compared to the Yorkshiremen’s paltry three directionless efforts – confirm the match as being among the most one-sided draws I’ve witnessed; the visitors didn’t even win a corner till the 81st minute! Fortuitously, the rest of the promotion-chasing pack also suffered slip-ups but although with five games to go it looks as though Palace should just about limp into the play-offs, it’s still possible to f**k things up.
From Selhurst to Camden Town to see Jeff Scott Soto armed with a big bottle of cider for the journey and my trusty Music For Nations hip-flask full of cherry brandy (it’s the new Tesco wine pouch!) to sip during the show – I have no shame.
Backed by a first-rate group that included whizz-kid Jorge Salán on guitar, JSS was very good indeed. Advisedly, he has abandoned the so-called ‘funky medleys’ that have always wound me up in the past, though fusing Seal’s ‘Crazy’ with ‘Frozen’ by Madonna was pretty near the knuckle. On the other hand, the inclusion of a mouth-watering Talisman medley and ‘One Love’ by W.E.T. were most welcome, bolstering a muscular and enthusiastically despatched guide through the US singer’s solo career. Apart from a seemingly spontaneous acapella version of Steel Panther’s ‘Community Property’ that rounded off the performance, the funniest moment of the night came as the music dipped into a polite shuffle during ‘Livin’ The Life’ (one of a pair of Steel Dragon songs from the Rock Star movie, the other being ‘Stand Up’) and JSS limbered up for another crowd participation moment. Suddenly, he spotted yours truly slumped against the side of the mixing desk and grinned: “London… what a lovely sight, over there – Mr Dave Ling… hello sir! He’s the only guy I can see down there at the far end of the room, even in the dark!” How embarrassing!
I’m still a bit flummoxed that JSS feels the need to include so many covers, such as Ozzy’s ‘Shot In The Dark’, and the kickabout encore snippets of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Run To The Hills’ and then moans about why the plug always getting pulled on him (“Especially in England!”), but such silliness didn’t detract from the show’s enjoyment factor. As you’ll have gathered I was a wee bit tipsy but I think the set-list ran something like this: ‘Take U Down’, ‘21st Century’, ‘Damage Control’, ‘One Love’, ‘Look Inside Your Heart’, ‘Soul Divine’, ‘Tears That I Cry’, ‘Broken Man’, ‘Afraid To Die’, ‘Eyes Of Love’, ‘Risk’, Medley: ‘Break Your Chains’/‘Day By Day’/‘Give Me a Sign’/‘Dangerous’/‘Just Between Us’/‘Mysterious (This Time It's Serious)’, Medley: ‘Frozen’/’Crazy’, ‘I'll Be Waiting’, ‘Shot In The Dark’ and ‘Livin' The Life’, followed by ‘Give A Little More’, ‘Stand Up’ and ‘Community Property’.
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Saturday 6th April
Regrettably, for a number of reasons, I won’t be at the HRH AOR/Prog festival this weekend. However, for those that are attending here’s a tip – don’t miss the Von Hertzen Brothers, whose gig last night at Islington Assembly Hall was little sort of stupendous.
My drinking partners and I – Mr Andy Beare and Prog magazine’s Nick ‘Mine’s A Shandy’ Shilton – arrived just as support act Haken began their penultimate number. They went down well with those that already knew them but probably didn’t win too any new fans. Standing at the urinal during the changeover I overheard some fella proudly telling his mate: “I’ve been to 35 gigs by Haken and they’ve only played 47 [in total].” Bit of a superfan, then…
A trio of Finnish siblings, the Von Hertzens – vocalist/guitarist Mikko, guitarist/backing vocalist Kie and bassist/backing vocalist Jonne – arrived in London to promote their fifth and finest album so far, ‘Nine Lives’, somewhat taken aback by the weather. “It’s ridiculous, I just can’t believe the fucking cold,” Mikko winced. “We’ve come all the way from Finland and it feels like the North Pole.”
This was my fourth sighting of the VHBs, and they just get better and better. Tonight there was no need for ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’, which they covered at the Borderline a couple of years back – their own songs shimmered like finely cut jewels. You couldn’t call the band pop, prog or metal… they’re doing something completely unique; music of depth, epic grandeur and glacial quality, overlain with the most immaculate three-part vocal harmonies. Save for ‘Flowers And Rust’ (one of *the* tracks of 2013), the amazing new song ‘Coming Home’ offers a perfect summation of their oeuvre; frenzied yet beautifully controlled. Anyway, here’s the set-list: ‘Insomniac’, ‘Writing’s On The Wall’, ‘Flowers And Rust’, ‘Coming Home’, ‘Angel’s Eyes’, ‘Always Been Right’, ‘Lost In Time’, ‘Separate Forevers’, ‘I Believe’, ‘Freedom Fighter’, ‘Gloria’ and ‘Prospect For Escape’, with a stunning encore of ‘Miracle’ and ‘Let Thy Will Be Done’.
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Friday 5th April
Danny Vaughn’s gig at the Underworld was great fun. The Tyketto frontman still has a wonderful, evocative voice and a stage presence full of warm camaraderie. The focus of his 95-minute display was a selection of songs I’d seen performed many times on this very stage, recorded with the band Vaughn on a pair of albums called ‘Soldiers And Sailors On Riverside’ (2000) and ‘Fearless’ (’01), now available as the double-set ‘Reprise’, plus a smattering of Tyketto songs and other catalogue gems thrown in. Being the tour’s opening night, certain of these were being played onstage for the first time, though you’d never have guessed it. I never knew that the heavy-hitting ‘The Warrior’s Way’ (from 2007’s ‘Traveller’) had been written with Bob Catley in mind. For me, two of the evening’s best songs – Tyketto’s sensitive ‘This Is How We Say Goodbye’ and the uplifting ‘The Voice’ (from ‘Soldiers & Sailors…’) – popped up towards the night’s conclusion, but if you thought Vaughn was building up toward an encore of Tyketto’s most popular tune, ‘Forever Young’, then you were wrong – somewhat bravely he chose to leave it out. Ultimately, its omission meant little in the grand scheme of things. Here’s what was played: ‘Bad Water’, ‘Badlands Rain’, ‘Meet Me In The Night’, ‘Just Like That’, ‘Light Years’, ‘Restless Blood’, ‘Fly Away’, ‘Battle Lines’, ‘Seasons’, ‘Always’, ‘Was There A Moment’, ‘Carry Me Home’, ‘The Warrior’s Way’, ‘Lifted’, ‘This Is How We Say Goodbye’ and The Voice’, followed by ‘Wings To Fly’ and ‘Is That All There Is’.
Oh dear, it looks like I’ll never get to see Bob Seger onstage now. According to reports, the Detroit legend is likely to make one more album before retiring. A follow-up to 2006’s ‘Face The Promise’ is currently being completed, after which the 68-year-old will consider what he calls his “swansong.” Read the story here.
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Thursday 4th April
I’ve been feeling a bit down in the dumps with the snow ‘n’ all of life’s latest tribulations. Might need to head over to the Underworld for a solo gig from Danny Vaughn and a hip-flask of Cherry Brandy to cheer/warm me up.
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Wednesday 3rd April
Yikes! I fear a geyser of excitement in St Mary’s Cray! My good friend Andy Beare will be ecstatic that, after a couple of false alarms, the original line-up of Rock Goddess, featuring vocalist/guitarist Jody Turner, bassist Tracey Lamb and drummer Julie Turner, are back together again. The trio are currently plotting an album with a provisional title of ‘Unfinished Business’.
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Tuesday 2nd April
As a footie-related gloom settles upon Ling Towers, I’m grateful for the news of a tour featuring Alter Bridge, Shinedown and Halestorm in the Autumn – or rather I would’ve been till jotting down the London date (at the Wembley Arena on October 18) in the Desk Diary and realising with horror that it clashes with Firefest Friday… FFS!
The day also began unnervingly with the shock news – to me, anyway! – that Classic Rock and Metal Hammer magazines have been sold by Future Publishing to new owners called Team Rock Ltd. Later in the day the London Evening Standard, no less, reported the £10.2 million deal. How times change. When we launched CR back in November 1998, all that just about everyone did was laugh their socks off at us, insisting how there was no market for the music that we still loved (except Rod Smallwood, to be fair). Um… WRONG!
P.S. This month’s updates of the Playlist and YouTube pages are up.
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Monday 1st April
Thank the Lord I was unable to make the trip to Bloomfield Road for yesterday’s game against Blackpool. I’d been planning to head on up there for a boozy weekend with some of my Palace mates… stay in a B&B, raise some hell, get away from Ling Towers for a while…
Fun as that sounded, it would’ve been money wasted. Having found a BBC commentary link I spent the entire first half grinding the wheels of my office exercise bike. With Barry Ferguson red carded in the 42nd minute the Eagles had the luxury of playing against ten men after the interval. Nevertheless, they made hard work of it and Holloway should’ve brought on fresh legs much sooner than he did. The air at Ling Towers turned blue as the relegation-threatened Tangerines scored on the break to steal the points. That’s 276 minutes of football without scoring, five games without a clean sheet and a whopping, unforgiveable 12 goals leaked during this Godforsaken spell. Am still trying to make sense of it all. I’ve managed to lay off the bottle so far… which is a positive.