This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling
will be updated daily - except after nights of excess.
Sunday 31st August
My life is somewhat complicated right now but with Palace away at Leicester on the weekend concerned, I *really* hope to make along again to Minehead in 2015 for the second annual Giants Of Rock Festival. Last year was a complete blast!!! Besides the usual favourites… Magnum, the Quireboys, Bernie Marden and Focus… I've yet to see Family or Colosseum onstage, both of which are big personal attractions, and the 2004 gig that I caught by Manfred Mann's Earth Band was truly memorable. The bill could still do with a Blue Öyster Cult-type band to take the breath away, but I'm sure the organisers still have an ace or two up their sleeve.
Saturday 30th August
What an amazing game up at St James' Park. Having made the trek to Tyneside last season, only to see Palace lose in the 94th minute (after three minutes had gone up on the board), it was only right and just that the Eagles would score their own leveller deep, deep into stoppage time. It also made the stopwatch quibbles of Toon boss Alan Pardew seem a wee bit churlish.
I found an internet stream of the game which was of good quality but ran three or four minutes behind the live action. So imagine my surprise when Eddie came running down the garden path to my office screaming, "Yesssss! Yessss! Dad, we've scored!" It had taken just 29 seconds for Dwight Gayle to put Palace ahead, a position we held twice. But my heart sank when Williams prodded the Geordies ahead in the 88th minute… until Eddie, having been alerted by Jeff Stelling, came screaming back down the path once again, bellowing: "Yessssssssss! Dad, dad! Zaha in the 94th minute!" What a thrilling end to a great game, and how apt that Wilf would score the all-important goal on his return to the club.
Afterwards Eddie and I celebrated the result with a visit to a pop up street market in Lewisham. These giant pina coladas, served in a scooped out pineapple, were, said the lad, "the tastiest thing I've ever known." The food and drink was a bit pricey but the vibe was nice. However, I don't think I'd like to be around the place for too long past sundown though, if you get my drift.
Friday 29th August
Back to the Beaverwood Club in Chislehurst last night where the Tyla Gang threw a launch bash for their new concert release 'Live In Stockholm' (Angel Air Records). The company, including my blues, boogie and booze brothers Andy Beare and Darryl Jupp, was great, as was the entertainment. It was cool to catch up with Neil Bricher, an old friend who used to run the Gillan fan club. Back in 1983, Neil took me as his guest to the NEC Arena in Brum where we were privileged to see the Gillan-fronted 'Born Again' line-up perform a wonderful rehearsal for their now legendary slot at that year's Reading Festival. But I digress. Back to Tyla Gang. The presence on bass of ex-Gillan/Mammoth and current GMT man John McCoy had attracted quite a few friends from the past, including Bernie Torme, ex-Samson drummer Barry 'Thunderstick' Purkis and Rob Grain, who I first met as many years ago a friend and associate of the late, great Paul Samson.
A few days earlier, talking on Facebook, Sean Tyla had addressed the very real possibility of the Tyla Gang calling it a day. "If a lot of people show [up at the Beaverwood] then it may not be [the band's final gig], but if they don't then it probably will be," he wrote. In the end maybe fifty or sixty people came along, many of whom were on the guest list. Worse still, the crowd reaction was unnervingly quiet and reserved, which only seemed to make Tyla appear all the more forlorn. When he enquired: "How many of you own a copy of 'Yachtless' [the band's best-known album, released in 1978]?", just a few hands were raised. "That's five, six… seven of you," the guitarist/frontman calculated sadly. After more than a half-century in the business, it was hard not to feel a certain sympathy for the much-travelled 68-year-old – especially as the music performed by Sean and his band-mates was really, really good. Bruce Irvine played some superb slide guitar at times and, of course, the inclusion of 'The Young Lords', 'Lost Angels', 'New York Sun' and various others ensured that set was based largely around 'Yachtless'. Other highlights included 'Styrofoam', 'Moonlight Ambulance' and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre Boogie'. Besides his usual formidable stage presence, McCoy's droll presence was as entertaining as ever. After Tyla had introduced Irvine with the observation: "Back in the day it used to be quite fashionable to have a Canadian in the band… in fact it still is", the bassist sidled up to the microphone and announced in a low but discernible voice: "Just not that one." Brilliant!
Thursday 28th August
Three more CDs that include my sleeve notes – Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Free Bird: The Essential Collection', 'Stories: The Singles Collection' by Therapy? and 'The Sky Is Crying', a reworking of Elmore James by Erja Lyytinen, Finland's own Queen Of The Slide Guitar – have just dropped onto the mat. How strange that they'd all arrive on the same day! Methinks it could be Skynyrd o'clock! Yee-haw!
And yet more great news – Night Ranger are to augment their headlining spot at next year's Hard Rock Hell AOR Festival with a date at London's Islington Academy on March 12, 2015. That's a gig I shall not be missing!
I can't believe that Joe Lynn Turner has gone public with the news that a reunion of Rainbow is – or perhaps *was* – being considered by Ritchie Blackmore . Er… what part of "not being allowed to talk about it" has JLT misunderstood?!? Back to the drawing board…
Wednesday 27th August
Oh sweet Jesus. Neil 'Colin Wanker' Warnock is back as manager of Crystal Palace. I didn't see that coming. Steve Clarke, the ex-WBA boss, was the bookies' favourite, until suddenly ruling himself out of the running. So this is the young manager, blessed with considerable recent Premier League experience, promised to us by Steve Parish? I shall never forgive Warnock for the way he left the club four years ago in the midst of administration. Why doesn't just fuck off to Jurassic Park where he belongs? The useless old c**t will already be preparing a list of excuses to blame the officials, all the while telling the fans how they are the best supporters on God's green earth (just like he did at Leeds, Blades, QP-Haha and every other club he's been at). The pill has at least been sweetened by the return of Wilfried Zaha on a season-long loan from ManUre, with an option to buy. This afternoon's listening soundtrack will include the Marillion album 'Clutching At Straws'… 'nuff said.
To lighten the mood a little, here are some silly pix taken during this morning's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Tuesday 26th August
Oh my Gawd, I've been nominated to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, thanks a lot Nick Workman of Vega (not!!!). Like most people, I suspect, I'm getting a wee bit bored of going onto Facebook and seeing people getting soaked to the skin but it's for a good cause and I'm always up for a laugh (unless Palace have lost). Here's the best Ice Bucket Challenge that I've seen so far – Jason Becker, the ex-Cacophony/David Lee Roth guitarist who has suffered from the disease concerned, nominating Edward Van Halen, David Lee Roth and John Mayer. No longer able to speak, the 45-year-old now communicates with his eyes via a system specially developed by his father. If you watch this and don't feel moved beyond words then there's something very wrong with you.
A first half hat trick from young striker Dwight Gayle enabled Palace to storm into the third round of the league cup earlier this evening, overturning the home side, Walsall, with ease. Given the amount of Premier League sides to slip up against lower league opposition in the competition, that's good news – a rare commodity at SE25 right now. Gayley has an eye for the net and must start against Newcastle on Saturday.
Monday 25th August
UFO have begun recording their new album at the studio of Chris Tsangarides (Black Sabbath/Thin Lizzy/Gary Moore, etc) down in deepest, darkest Kent. A few piccies have begun to surface on Facebook. I love this one taken by bass player Rob De Luca which shows Phil Mogg apparently engaged in a deep, meaningful lyric-writing session. What a reassuring sight… a six pack of Special Brew must be just out of shot… hahaha.
With gigs somewhat scarce at the moment, I've been catching up on some telly. The older I become the more I find myself enjoying shows such as BBC1's Who Do You Think You Are, in which celebrities are invited to dig into their family trees. The episode starring Brian Blessed was little short of superb. Such a heartwarming tale. When he discovered his great, great, great grandad, once a pauper, went on to live a full life and have 13 children, Blessed roared: "There was nothing wrong with him, eh? He didn't need the purple pill! What a randy man... he served his country well! Marvellous!" I was lucky enough to conduct a short interview with Brian at last year's Metal Hammer awards, where he stole the show. Just like his public persona, the bloke is louder than Motörhead, Slayer and Metallica put together… a natural treasure to be sure!
Sunday 24th August
It's an accounts day… chasing unpaid invoices, adding up and checking totals, cross referencing with old issues – apart from a da of tape transcript or listing to an Ugly Kid Joe album, nothing could be worse.
Saturday 23rd August
"You are my Palace, my only Palace, you make me happy while skies are grey!" Though the result was less than satisfactory, it was great to be back at Selhurst for the first home game of the 2014/'15 season. The day began with an early start as the usual gang gathered at the Victory Club at Norwood Junction, my favourite pre-match haunt, and inside the ground the atmosphere was nothing short of electric. Check out these photos of the colourful welcome given to the team as they took to the pitch. Unbeaten by the Eastenders at Selhurst in 23 years, and having had the upper hand several key games, including the play-off final in 2004 and a crucial home and away double last term, CPFC's record against the Hammers had been extremely impressive. But all good things come to an end and although the final score of 3-1 was a little flattering, Fat Sam's men took their chances and deserved the points. We really need to appoint a manager… and soon.
Friday 22nd August
I hope that you like this website's long overdue makeover. Personally, I think it now looks extremely bloody impressive. Many, many thanks to webmistress Batttttty for her hard work, enthusiasm and patience – and please note: it's NOT her fault that I only seem to find the time to update the diary once a week (or worse… hehehe). There just ain't enough hours in the day. Over the coming months I shall add a few more stories to the Articles page, some with additional unread content. Keep the comments and suggestions for further improvements coming please, folks.
Thursday 21st August
Blow me down, the Crystal Palace FC soap opera continues. Mackay is now out of the running and, under pressure of being sacked by the club, sporting director Iain Moody has tendered his resignation following a series of "racist, sexist and homophobic" texts exchanged with Mackay during their time together at Cardiff. What an ugly mess, especially with Saturday's game against Wet Sham in mind and the imminent closure of the transfer window. Can't help but think we dodged a bullet with the Makay business – he sounds like a nasty piece of work, and better the controversy takes place now than mid-season.
And talking of controversies, I'm staggered that Andy Powell and Martin Turner have been at one another's throats again – in public. It's hard to believe the vicious nature of the things they have said in a new rumpus. Powell, who having won last year's court case re: ownership of the name, now seems to be ridiculing Turner for going bankrupt. Read his blog here. Turner's response – here's the link – is equally forthright. "I would suggest that Mr Powell regards Wishbone Ash as little more than a cash cow"… I'm saddened that they would think it's okay to wash their dirty linen in such a manner.
Wednesday 20th August
Having knocked off work a little I'm back at the Crobar again, this time for a release party for the new Orange Goblin album, 'Back From The Abyss'. There are loads of peeps here and lots of good conversation so I had to wrench myself away from the bar and stand at the far end beneath the speakers to get a decent listen to the music. Even in this trying scenario it sounded great, but my friend Malcolm Dome's piece at the Classic Rock website says it better than I ever could.
This morning Francis Rossi gave me yet another fascinating and at times hilarious interview for the Classic Rock story. When I asked him what Quo's new album might tell us about the group that we didn't already know, FR fired back with: "Er… that we're all homosexuals?" I guffawed with laughter and he replied: "Oh, you already knew that, right?"
Tuesday 19th August
If the rumours are true then welcome to SE25, Malky Mackay. The former Baaaadiff boss is certainly the best of the candidates; his teams play a similar style of footie as those of TP, a disciplinarian and good man manager - plus there's no need to worry about faith healers (hello Glenn Hoddle!). Never liked him till now but then again I despised Flat-Nose Bruce, 'Colin Wanker' Warnock and Pulis, so what the f**k do I know? Let's re-sign Wilf and get on with the job!
I've just conducted a great phone interview with Rick Parfitt, who sounded chirpier than I had expected following his recent heart attack. Rick insists he has *finally* given up the ciggies and booze. "I feel fantastic, and if I keep on taking the tablets I should live to about a hundred and thirty," he told me. Full details of our conversation will appear in the next issue of Classic Rock.
Monday 18th August
Check out this quality video of Brian Blessed collaborating with Hawkwind on a new version of 'Sonic Attack'! Do not panic!!!!
Sunday 17th August
Today I'm with my friend Kevin Denman at the Oval for Day Three of the test match between England and India. Here's my view of the pitch – cool, eh? This shot was taken as Joe Root scored a century in what turned out to be a fairly straightforward victory for the home side. We have also discovered a new drink! White rum mixed with lemon iced tea… delicious!
Saturday 16th August
As I type the big kick-off approaches – the first game of the season, Arse vs Palace. Had I been faster off the mark I could've paid £70-odd quid for Eddie and I to have been at the Emirates (as we were in 2013/'14) but right now every penny counts and with the game being live on Sky, it made better sense to spend a chunk of that money on booze instead. Given the drama of the last few days – stand-in boss Keith Millen leads the team – I suspect we will need a few of these Sambuca shots!
[Edit: Having taken the lead thanks to a first-half header from newcomer Hangeland, Palace were extremely unlucky to lose – the winner coming in stoppage time. We deserved a point, even my Arse-obsessed mate Paul 'Gooner' Elliott said so. Anyway, booze is flowing and I'm playing Quo's 'Hello!' out here in the office in an attempt to get over the disappointment… almost put my neck out to 'A Reason For Living'… ouch! Yeah, it's rocking at Ling Towers!]
Friday 15th August
I’m sitting here at 12.40am, just got in from a gig, reading comments at the Palace bulletin board and still trying to take it all in. So the speculation is true – Pulis, the manager that did such an amazing job of keeping us up last time out, is no longer at the helm. It beggars belief. What an utter, utter kick in the teeth.
Given what was going on during their set it’s a tribute to Black State Highway that I managed to enjoy their gig. A young, multi-racial, female-fronted band from the South Coast (I won’t mention the exact location!), they play what they call “bluesy, riffy, stinky rock”. Thunder/The Union’s Like Morley was part of a large crowd for the launch of their self-titled album. There’s no doubt that Latvian-born Liva Steinberga has a huge future ahead of her. Mixing their own material with ‘Fortunate Son’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival and a tell-tale snippet of Zeppelin’s ‘Heartbreaker’ during ‘Trouble’ there’s discernible potential here, but the talent of Steinberga stands out beacon-like amid a bunch of songs that at present run the gamut from above average to the simply functional. Time will tell, I guess, but luckily it’s still very much on Black State Highway’s side.
Thursday 14th August
There are worrying rumours at SE25, with boss Tony Pulis locked in ‘crisis talks’ having leaked his unhappiness at a lack of transfer budget. The season tix arrived just a few days ago and I was really looking forward to the 2013/’14 campaign, which begins against the Arse on Saturday. It’s all very unsettling.
Meanwhile, I’m flummoxed by the news that Rick Parfitt is to sit out Status Quo’s upcoming gig at Clumber Park – the first time he’ll have missed one of the group’s shows since joining them in 1967. That’s just wrong, if you ask me. Borderline sacrilegious, even… why not just cancel the fucking show, like the other continental ones that got pulled when the rhythm guitarist/singer became ill??!!
Wednesday 13th August
Last night was spent at a preview of Scintilla, a ‘science fiction thriller’ movie for which Saxon’s Biff Byford wrote the soundtrack. The party took place at the Mayfair Hotel, a plush establishment in Green Park, with the Biffster and Andy Sneap, the soundtrack album’s producer and guitar player, on hand among the usual wine-guzzling revellers who included Mark Taylor, Tony Wilson, Praying Mantis’ Tino Troy (accompanied by the lovely Ash Moore), Tim Jones and Tyrina Gallagher. Though the music is pretty interesting, allowing Byford to step away from his usual comfort zone, I didn’t really rate the movie at all. In fact, afterwards when Biff wandered across to ask my opinion of what we’d seen, I had to bite my tongue. “Er… it’s a bit of a slow burner, isn’t it?” was all I could think of to say. He saw immediately through my bullshit, smiled politely and walked away with a shake of that magnificent grey mane of his. Haha. Once the bar tab had expired we ducked out to a pub. Overall, it was quite an amusing night.
Oh, look what’s just dropped into the ‘in’ box. A listening link to the new Vega album, ‘Stereo Messiah’, due for release on October 17. Crank it up!
Tuesday 12th August
Goodbye and thanks for the laughs Robin Williams. How awful to be so unhappy that you’d take your own life, especially with a family to consider – I really can’t fathom it. Nanu nanu, Mork over and out…
Monday 11th August
Due to a late night party in Noel and Mark’s room, my Sunday at the Cambridge Rock Festival began a little later than intentioned, so much so that breakfast consisted of a plate of Chinese food purloined at a nearby shopping mall. I was nibbling on pancake rolls for the rest of the day – lovely!
The day was to feature a proggier-based spectrum of bands than Saturday. Sadly, Credo had been and gone by the time our entourage returned to the site. Next up on the Main Stage, the female-fronted symphonic-metal of WINTER IN EDEN hit the spot. The band have received the approval of Threshold/Headspace frontman Damian Wilson, who guests on the new album, ‘Court Of Conscience’, which is produced by Within Temptation’s Ruud Jolie. They sounded great but it was about this time that my hangover really kicked in so I sought some air, listening to the set’s conclusion from outside the tent. The resumption of thunderstorms had been threatened, and it was with a sense of awe at nature’s power and beauty that I sat, nursing a pint of scrumpy, as some of the darkest thunderclouds I’ve ever seen rolled ominously towards us. When she hit… wow, Hurricane Bertha (as she had been named) was truly impressive to behold.
As I wasn’t reviewing the event for any of the magazines that employ me, it was time to get down to some serious drinking. CLOUD ATLAS, a band with strong connections to Mostly Autumn (guitarist Stu Carver was an early member of that band, and Heidi Widdop had sung with spin-off group Breath Space) acquitted themselves well, performing tunes from a sedate yet very creditable debut album titled ‘Beyond The Vale’, as did MR SO & SO, whose combination of male and female vocals (courtesy of Shaun McGowan and Charlotte Evans) was at times bewitching.
MOSTLY AUTUMN have almost become to house band here at the CRF. I’ve been a little dismissive of them in the past but no bones about it, I rate the new album, ‘Dressed In Voices’, as their best work yet. Olivia Sparnenn (pictured) has stepped into the role of fronting the group with a mix ice queen calm and pop star looks. Her drama-fuelled delivery of the haunting ‘Questioning Eyes’ was little short of superb – yet another highlight of a weekend rammed with quality.
A little frustratingly, the sets of the Main Stage’s special guest, JØRN LANDE and ROADHOUSE overlapped. We had planned to watch as much as possible of Lande’s set and head over to the Rotary Rocks Blues Stage to catch the beginning of Roadhouse. Alas, Jørn was late arriving onstage – something to do with demanding a full-sized mirror for his dressing room, I was told by another of the groups on the bill – so we cut our losses and made sure of grabbing some more drinks in time for what turned out to be a superb set display from Roadhouse (not to be confused with the short-lived act formed by Pete Willis on his expulsion from Def Leppard). No disrespect intended to the band, whose arrival at 8pm happened to coincide with the optimum ‘refreshment levels’ of just about everybody on site… which isn’t to say one must be bladdered to enjoy them, but it certainly helped! The contrasting vocal techniques of Sarah Harvey-Smart and Mandie G were used to maximum effect on ‘The Big Easy’ and ‘Blues Motel’, and just about the whole tent boogied along, drinks in hand, to the likes of ‘Too Tired To Pray’, ‘Hell On Wheels’ and ‘Telling Lies’, ‘Preacher Man’ ending things on a rousing, ‘Freebird’-type note. I’ve seen Roadhouse on several previous occasions and this was by far the best. Yes, my old mate Danny Gwilym of Tokyo Blade/Shogun fame is one of their guitar players but that has Sweet FA to do with this assessment. Their latest album, ‘Gods & Highways & Old Guitars’, is a great start-off point for those of an inquisitive nature.
To my enormous sadness, this hugely enjoyable weekend was almost at an end. I suspect that WISHBONE ASH were also troubled by the curfew issue. Their set coming in a little on the short side (for them) at 85 minutes, though 16 of those minutes were taken up by my all-time fave song, the immortal ‘Phoenix’. Given that this was a festival environment and his band were potentially exposing themselves to quite a few new punters (not literally!), it was brave of guitarist/leader Andy Powell to have included three selections from the admittedly excellent new album ‘Blue Horizon’, and another from its 2011 predecessor ‘Elegant Stealth’ (namely ‘Can’t Go It Alone’), but the band played like demons all the same.
I’m often asked which of the two rival versions of Wishbone is my favourite; the Powell-run line-up we saw last nite, or bassist/vocalist Martin Turner’s counterpart. It’s hard to answer conclusively as they both have strengths and weaknesses. As I know for sure is that, as I realised standing in that tent, eyes closed and pint of Pickled Pig scrumpy in hand, to see the same song performed by the iconic Powell, Turner, Turner (or Wisefield) and Upton is surely among my dying wishes. Meanwhile, check out this set-list: ‘The King Will Come’, ‘Sometime World’, ‘Can’t Go It Alone’, ‘Heavy Weather’, ‘Blue Horizon’, ‘Persephone’, ‘Engine Overheat’, ‘Blowing Free’, ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Deep Blues’.
Sunday 9th August
Okay, so here’s a small précis of my weekend trip to the Cambridge Rock Festival. The Crobeare swung by to pick me up in the Bearemobile mid-to-late-morning on Saturday and a box of wine was opened (by the occupant of the passenger seat!) as we made good, speedy progress up the M11 to our hotel. Being a £30 taxi ride away from the site we stocked up on vital provisions whilst awaiting the arrival of Messrs Noel Buckley and Mark Taylor. All plans to head straight to the festival were scuppered when Noel produced a bottle of Honey Jack Daniel’s… ah well, on that particular day there were only two bands I wasn’t going to miss, so with time on our hands we lounged around, cracked a few gags, checked out the footie results and sipped politely at few tumblers of Tennessee’s finest. Heaven.
We arrived on site to the closing strains of Welshmen FIREROAD, a shame as the guys later gave me a CD that sounded pretty good in a Black Crowes-y type of way. Besides the attraction of live music and a wonderful, friendly atmosphere, the CRF is also a beer and real ale fest and, caught up in the excitement of finally arriving at the bar, the Beare and I made the mistake of going straight to the strongest cider. It packed quite a kick – a little too much considering we head the whole weekend ahead of us.
Anyway, the band I’d been waiting to see, PEARL HANDLED REVOLVER, were up next. Two rather fine albums of “psychedelic heavy blooze-rock” (their own term) had caused me to fall under the spell of this fine UK-based group. After a couple of numbers I began to wonder why Andy Paris’ guitar was so low in the mix and then, finally, it dawned upon me – PHR are a band in the spirit of the Doors… the swirling keys of Simon Rinaldo are *supposed* to be the lead instrument. It also explained the slightly Jim Morrison-esque presence and gravelly voice of Lee Vernon. Right… no problem. On with the show. After a cautious welcome – I wasn’t the only one to be confused! – the crowd got behind the band, “See! The cider’s kicking in!! grinned Vernon, who were confident enough to preview a handful of tunes from a third album that’s due at towards the year’s end (their titles may have been ‘Help Me Down From The Trees’, ‘Into The Blue’ and ‘Loverman’). ‘Rattle Your Bones’ and the sprawling, ten-minute-plus finale of ‘Peace By Piece’ went down remarkably well as part of what was one of the weekend’s finest and best received performances.
Alas, if PHR were to prove Rolls-Royce-like, LEON HENDRIX was a motorised skateboard at best. The younger brother of you-know-who was an utter embarrassment, carried along by his backing band and rescued by cameos from Chantel McGregor and Ben Poole – not that I witnessed either of the latter; a few numbers from Leon were enough to send Mark taylor and I scuttling off to the dressing room of the show’s headline act in search of quiet and refreshment – in that order. I’m willing to bet that Jimi was doing 78 RPM in his tomb.
Though hardly the fault of the organisers , who put themselves through the mill each year to make it happen, perhaps the only negative aspect of the CRF is the strictness of its curfew. I later learned that despite going onstage on time FM had been forced to pull some numbers from their set, so there was no ‘Frozen Heart’ (Booooo!!! Hisssssss!!!), though the group were on top form whilst barrelling through a 75-minute, career-encompassing repertoire. I’ve seen them so many times during the past three decades that I’ve almost become accustomed to and indeed been spoiled by the band’s quality levels. It’s always cool to see them in slightly unusual environments and keep a discreet eye on those around me, just watching the smiles grow. Last night was no different and besides the welcome yet unexpected inclusion of ‘Cold Hearted’, it was great to see Bernie Marsden joining them for a rousing send-off of the Whitesnake standard ‘Here I Go Again’ (check out this great post-show dressing room snap of us all together… thanks to Mr Buckley) . The set-list ran as follows: ‘Tough Love’, ‘I Belong To The Night’, ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘Cold Hearted’, ‘Let Love Be The Leader’, ‘Closer To Heaven’, ‘That Girl’, ‘Wild Side’, ‘Tough It Out’, ‘Bad Luck’, ‘Metropolis’/‘Over You’, ‘Crosstown Train’, ‘Burning My Heart Down’ and ‘Here I Go Again’.
Saturday 9th August
Just off for a welcome weekend away from the misery of Ling Towers at the Cambridge Rock Festival, where FM are set to perform a headline show as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations. Before hitting the road I thought I’d share a top secret dressing room snap leaked from yesterday’s rehearsals. Oh, okay… you got me. This piccie was actually taken prior to the band’s gig at the Firefest in 2009 and the FM-impersonating culprits are none other than (from L-R): a certain resident of Catford as Merv Notworthy, Kieran Dargan AKA Steve Overweight, Didge Miserable (Phil Ashcroft), Chris Overworked (Tony Marshall) and Pete Juggs (Sue Ashcroft). Christ, what a motley crew!!!
Friday 8th August
What a great evening I had last night at the Garage, watching a band that I thought I’d never, ever see. “The last time we were here was back in 1977, when we opened up a tour with the Stranglers,” roared frontman Handsome Dick Manitoba as they took to the stage. “It’s fucking great to be back in London, I love this city. We are the Dictators from New York City, and the party starts now!”
This exclamation was apt as the band burst into the song of the same name, one of a pair to be lifted from ‘...And You!’, a 1990 album from the singer’s post-Dictators outfit Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom (the other being ‘New York, New York’). The absence of Andy Shernoff, the guitarist responsible for writing most of the proto-punk band’s best-known anthems, was regrettable, but with Ross The Boss on guitar and JP ‘Thunderbolt’ Patterson, the band’s drummer from the 1990s, joining Manitoba, who had previously informed me that rhythm guitarist Scott ‘Top Ten’ Kempner “gives the reunion his blessing”, there could be few complaints.
Instead of relying so heavily upon the ‘Bloodbrothers’ and ‘D.F.F.D.’ albums (released in 1978 and 2001 respectively) the set-list could really have done with a few more vintage songs – maybe that had something to do with Shernoff’s lawyers, I don’t know (tellingly, the suffix of ‘NYC’ is now also a part of the group’s name), but ‘The Next Big Thing’ and ‘Two Tub Man’ still sounded as vital as they did in 1975, and an encore version of the MC5’s ‘Kick Out The Jams’ kicked some serious butt. A cover of ‘Slow Death’ by the Flaming Groovies showcased some nice guitar work from the team of Ross The Boss and Daniel Rey (once a producer of the Ramones), but Manitoba was the show’s star, launching into a series of rock ‘n’ roll-themed rants and voicing loud and genuine exasperation at the barrier that separated the band and crowd (“What am I, fucking Gene Simmons?! I am a big rock star and you are puny little people, I’m so much greater than you! NO! That’s not the way Handsome Dick Manitoba works. Believe me, before the end of this show I will feel your sweat and we will be dancing together”.)
To prove this point he delivered ‘Baby Let’s Twist’ from a mob frantically trying to take selfies on their mobiles for Facebook. Clambering back onstage Handsome Dick beamed: “Now maybe my son will be impressed?!” As well he should… Dictators NYC remain a truly amazing band. Here’s the set-list: ‘The Party Starts Now’, ‘The Next Big Thing’, ‘Avenue A’, ‘The Savage Beat’, ‘Who Will Save Rock ‘N’ Roll?’, ‘Pussy And Money’, ‘I Stand Tall’, ‘Slow Death’, ‘Baby Let’s Twist’, ‘Faster And Louder’, ‘New York, New York’ and ‘Stay With Me’, with encores of ‘Two Tub Man’ and ‘Kick Out The Jams’.
Thursday 7th August
I’m working on a Buyer’s Guide to the Dream Theater albums for a future issue of Classic Rock. It’s great to hear ‘Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory’ again… my own personal fave DT record… at top volume here in the office! They’ve made such consistently wonderful music, it’s going to be very tough to break them down into differing echelons of greatness. And of course, in which ever order you make those selections it’s inevitable there will be a flurry of reader emails and letters calling you a clueless dickhead!
Wednesday 6th August
For quite some time Mr Neil Pudney and myself had been promising ourselves a night on the ale and with Mrs P away in Lanzarote, we made the most of our window. Pudders and I both enjoyed the debut album from Lifesigns, so we headed off to see them at the Borderline, starting first with a few cheeky libations at the Crobar (natch!).
We dived into the Borderline nice ‘n’ early as I wanted to take a look at Jump, a band whose albums I’ve collected since 1994’s ‘…All The King’s Men’ but had never actually seen perform live. Though the show was in an unplugged trio format John Dexter Jones was to prove a charismatic and personable frontman and the colour and excellence of songs such as ‘Down Three Times’ and the singalong ‘Free At Last’ were simply undeniable, the wonderful ‘Bethesda’ offering not-so-distant echoes of Fish-era Marillion. Pudders was compelled to buy a CD and we both agreed it would be great to see them in an ‘electric’ scenario before too long. For those who’ve never heard of Jump before, try checking out this rather splendid video for ‘Down Three Times’. I bet that my mate Paul Gillooly will love them!
Headliners Lifesigns were also a bit special. Okay, there was no Nick Beggs, who’d played bass on the album, but Mr Jon Poole from Cardiacs was a superb replacement. It was nice to see mainman John Young, supplier of keys and vocals for a list of bands as long as your arm in his element, especially when he said: “All my life I’ve been fortunate to work for lots of great artists in enormodomes around the world but my dream was always to play a gig where the crowd knew the words to my songs” – aw, bless. If pastoral neo-prog with high quality musicianship is your thing, this is a band you should already be on first name terms with. Most of the ‘Lifesigns’ album was played, including ‘Lighthouse’, ‘Fridge Full Of Stars’, ‘At The End Of The World’, plus the encore of ‘Carousel’, and the set also introduced a couple of tracks lined up for its successor, one of which was might have been called ‘Voice In My Head’ ( you want more details? C’mon, it was a boys night out, I can’t be sure). ’Twas a superb evening tho’!
Tuesday 5th August
Over the past several months we’ve started something called Monday Night Supper Club; a sit-down meal that attempts to draw its participants away from the vortex of the Crobar for an evening of (comparatively) sedate culture ‘n’ conversation. Gotta say, French cuisine has never really appealed to me – in fact, it’s hard to think of anything Gallic that doesn’t nauseate me, but the boeuf bourguignon at Brasserie Zédel in Leicester Square was delicious. And of course we ended up back in the Crobar again afterwards! Here’s a shot of myself, Aaron Aedy from Paradise Lost and my pal Tyrina Gallagher indulging in one last cheeky nightcap!
Monday 4th August
Oh dear. It’s that awful, Pete Townshend-esque ‘lock the office door moment’ when you’re writing a review of the new American Hi-Fi record and have to visit Miley Cyrus’ website to find out whether Stacey Jones is still her drummer and ‘musical director... oh, the shame! The album concerned, ‘Blood & Lemonade’, is rather nifty. Wish I’d have known that A H-F played the 100 Club a few months ago, as I’d have gone. Here’s their new video, filmed at that same London show.
Sunday 3rd August
This time next week I shall be recovering from a monumental, FM-inspired hangover, as the band celebrate their 30th anniversary at the Cambridge Rock Festival. Sadly, I cannot make it across on Friday night but with a Sat/Sun bill that also features Wishbone Ash, Mostly Autumn, Jørn Lande, Roadhouse (featuring my old mucker Danny Gwilym), Mr So & So, Laurence Jones and Pearl Handled Revolver, I really can’t wait for what’ll probably be one of my last blow-outs of 2014 (Firefest excepted, obviously!)
Saturday 2nd August
Football is back, football is back, ’allo, ’allo! Eddie and I are just home from a day out at Griffin Park where Palace played Brentford in a sun-soaked pre-season friendly. Tickets in the away end were sold old – Goddamn those Premier League gloryhunters! – but thanks to my friend Chris Gers, who is actually a Hartlepool fan, but took up supporting his local team to prevent his kids from following ManUre, Chelski or some such, we had tickets among the Bees fans. Lucky that I am a master of tact and diplomacy, eh? *Ahem*. I’d forgotten how difficult it can be to stand among the opposing supporters, especially when their team raced into a deserved 2-0 lead. Glenn Murray and Marouane Chamakh pulled things back to 2-2 but new Bees signing Moses Odubajo scoring a wonder-goal winner, the result seemed pretty fair. I don’t place a great deal of importance in these games, they’re really for fitness and integration of the new faces but CPFC’s side was a very strong one, and the performance wasn’t great. At all. Oh well…
My condolences to anyone that knew Jess Jaworski, who played keyboards for the pre-Status Quo bands The Scorpions and The Spectres, who has died after a two-year battle with cancer. Yeah, another one… *sighs*…
Friday 1st August
Last night was spent at Kettners in Soho, with a gang of fellow loonies, celebrating the 50th birthday of the lovely Annick Barbaria, the godmother of my two kids and one of the most splendid people I know. Happy birthday Unique One! Here’s to many more!
Look out for the usual updates at the Playlist and YouTube pages…
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