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 31st December
As it’s my turn to look after the kids, my own New Year’s Eve celebrations took place last night with a few too many refreshing beverages in the company of Malcolm Dome, John Dryland, Jerry Ewing, Xavier Russell, Paul Newcomb, Harj Hallah, Richard Thompson and many, many more Crobar-dwelling reprobates. It was a first-class evening, for which I’m now paying the price.
But what to wear?! I went up to the attic where there are literally hundreds and hundreds of vintage rock T-shirts in storage. Among the rescued goodies that I can now fit into – post-diet I’m Medium, no longer an X Large – are a shirt declaring ‘I Was Caught Rocking With Vardis’ from the NWOBHM’s combo’s video shoot at Shepperton Studios in 1981, a Chariot ‘Burning Ambition’ album shirt, a red garment from Spider’s 1984 ‘Summer Breakaway’ excursion (33 dates – now that's a tour!), a bootleg I bought outside the Rainbow Theater as Rainbow toured ‘Difficult To Cure’ in 1981, a baseball shirt from Quo’s ‘End Of The Road’ jaunt in 1984 and a nice black Lita Ford number from the same year (supporting Twisted Sister) with the ‘Out For Blood’ European tour dates on the back. In the end, however, I opted for a Girl T-shirt purchased last week from Gerry Laffy’s Facebook page. It’s what all the best dressed dudes are wearing, LOL!
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Friday 30th December
I’m still working my way through a pile of Wishbone Ash vinyl (and a few CDs), attempting to prioritise them in terms of quality. The excellence of ‘Argus’ and ‘Live Dates’ is taken as red but ‘There’s The Rub’ is so utterly marvellous, I’d almost forgotten. Released in 1974, the group’s first record to introduce the countrified picking style of Laurie Wisefield is so strong that Martin Turner would later claim that producer Bill Szymczyk used the band’s carefully arranged solos as a blueprint for The Eagles’ seminal ‘Hotel California’ album. By contrast, 1982’s ‘Twin Barrels Burning’, one of the first Wishbone albums to be assimilated into my collection, contained a few more fillers than I recalled. Maybe rose coloured spectacles have clouded the thrilling memories I have of seeing them onstage at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street, then again at the Dominion Theater, during this era (during which Trevor Bolder was the band’s bass player). Then again… at least they are etched into the old grey matter at all. Much to my amusement, I recently learned that my boozing buddy Andy Beare had completely forgotten a road trip we made to the Pink Toothbrush in Rayleigh (Essex) as the band toured the heavied-up ‘Raw To The Bone’, issued via Neat Records in 1985. The Beare really is a senile old soak.
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Thursday 29th December
Aaaaaaaaarg! There I was, lost in enjoyment sifting through the best bits of Wishbone Ash’s enormous catalogue (it’s shocking to realise that Amazon currently lists 123 different releases, including a smorgasbord of live albums and anthologies), when the phone rang. It was the accountant. My blood froze. “Can I have all of your relevant documents for 2010-’11 by the start of the new year?” Just what I needed to hear.
After the kids had gone to bed I tapped into the Sky+ box to watch the Sky Arts Channel’s coverage of this year’s Classic Rock Roll Of Honour, first shown on Boxing Day. In squeezing everything into a 55-minute show the producers did a respectable enough job, though the interviews with the winners and performers were edited so drastically that they soon became annoying. Having been backstage throughout the entire ceremony, where I was conducting my own interviews for Classic Rock’s website, it was good to see Jeff Beck’s event-closing live performance. Beck is a consummate player. Despite all of the commendable modesty displayed in my after-show conversation with him 2011’s Living Legend award couldn’t have gone to a better home.
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Wednesday 28th December
In previous years I’ve been guilty of spending way too much time in my office over the Christmas and New Year period. Almost the entire holiday period of 2009/’10 was given over to a super-detailed 8,000-word essay to accompany Magnum’s five-disc boxed set ‘The Gathering’, and it’s commonplace for me to spend several hours at my workspace on Christmas Day. Not so this year, though I’ve been back at the PC for something approaching regular office hours since yesterday. Most of the morning was eaten up researching a phone interview with Swedish power metal combo Sabaton. Pär Sundström, the group’s bass-playing co-founder, turned out to be a hugely entertaining guy and we laughed a lot over the course of a lively, hour-long chin-wag.
With my youngest son Arnie running a temperature and feeling sick, I quit early and we sat down together enjoy one of my favourite movies. Arnie had never seen The Towering Inferno before, and it had been many, many years since my own last viewing of it. With a stellar cast including Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Astaire and Roberts Wagner and Vaughn, it still holds up rather well considering it was made way back in (ulp!) 1974. Okay, some of the dialogue is a bit naff and the special effects are now way behind the times, but they certainly don’t make films like The Towering Inferno anymore… more’s the pity.
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Tuesday 27th December
Statistics don’t lie and neither does the score sheet. Though I hate to say it, Southampton fully deserved yesterday’s 2-0 victory over my beloved Crystal Palace. Freedman has made the Eagles much harder to beat away from home, using a formation designed to absorb pressure and strike on the counter attack. It has paid off several times so far this season, but the problem with being set up for a 1-0 win is that the team has no answer to going behind – especially against a well-drilled outfit like the Saints.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed my trip to the south coast which began with a breakfast of a Cadbury’s Chocolate Orange and two litres of cream soda laced with vodka. Eddie and I then found a pub close to the ground’s away end and thanks to a misplaced order I nullified the pain of Guly Do Prado’s 34th-minute opening goal by sinking a pint of bitter (ugghhh… not my drink at all!) and a cider during the half-time interval. ’Twas a decent day’s boozing; such a shame the Eagles couldn’t fulfil their side of the bargain.
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Monday 26th December
My Boxing Day is to be spent travelling to and from St Mary’s for Crystal Palace’s game against Southampton. The form book suggests a fairly easy home win for the Championship’s table toppers, but with the Eagles one never knows. It’ll be nice to spend some quality time with my eldest lad Eddie, and I’ve a good book to read in the shape of The Twang Dynasty – From Memphis To Merthyr, Guitarists That Rocked The World. It’s by Deke Leonard of the Welsh group Man, whose first two tomes were side-splittingly hilarious, so I’ve high hopes for this one. Either way, a break from sitting at the PC is gonna be most welcome. Come on you Eagles!!!!
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Sunday 25th December
To be honest I’d been dreading Christmas day, but it has seemed to go pretty well. I compensated for tucking into a huge pile of tasty nosebag by running two complete laps of Crystal Palace Park with Thunder’s High Voltage Festival set blaring away on the headphones, after which we sat and watched Series One of The Inbetweeners, which I myself had never seen before but contained some extremely funny moments. My two boys seemed to have a hugely enjoyable day, which is the main thing. After the annus horribilis of 2011, all else is a bonus.
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Saturday 24th December
I’ve just conducted a couple of interesting phone interviews. The first was with long-time Uriah Heep associate Ashley Howe, who as a nervous teenager manned the tea urn for the group’s first album, 1970’s ‘Very ’Eavy... Very ’Umble’, before ascending the organisation to co-produce the ill-fated ‘High And Mighty’ six years later, then helming the sessions for ‘Abominog’ and ‘Head First’ – two of the band’s most splendid and underrated records, in my opinion – during the early 1980s. Having also worked with Ted Nugent, Motörhead, Gary Moore and Hawkwind among others, Howe had some good anecdotes. He’s currently producing a new band from Aberdeen called Estrella, whose manager is none other than John Sinclair of Heep/Heavy Metal Kids/Ozzy Osbourne fame. On the evidence of some tunes thrown my way, their debut album should be worth hearing when it drops in the New Year.
Thanks to some sterling detective work from Andrew McNeice over at www.melodicrock.com, who was able to track down the guitarist’s current contact details, I’ve also spent 40 minutes in conversation with Craig Chaquico. The talkative and extremely likable Craig was happy to spill the beans on ‘Freedom At Point Zero’, an extremely popular album by Jefferson Starship that, of course, introduced the hit single ‘Jane’ back in 1979. Expect a newly re-mastered version to emerge via Rock Candy Records sometime in 2012.
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Friday 23rd December
Having missed their recent stop-off at the Underworld due to a clash with Uriah Heep’s date at Shepherd’s Bush, I decided to trek up to Cambridge for the final night of The Treatment’s first ever headline tour. Despite having imbibed a few Tesco wine pouches during the journey, I found the venue without any problem and promptly hit the bar. It’s been quite a year for The Treatment, who in addition to issuing one of the finest debut records of 2011 in ‘This Might Hurt’ and making appearances at the Sonisphere and High Voltage festivals recently gigged their way across Europe in the company of Alice Cooper. About 80 punters were crammed into a small pub called the Portland Arms as the group brought what has been a triumphant year to a hot, sweaty close. I’ve a suspicion that 2012 will only see them become bigger than ever before.
Some gigs had been postponed due to Matt Jones’ Laryngitis so a few vocal wobbles were perfectly understandable but Matt gave it his best shot, at times resorting to David Coverdale’s trick of holding the mic out into the crowd and demanding: “You guys sing it”. No one really cared, and the gruffer than usual vocals were well suited to an encore of Slade’s ‘Take Me Bak ’Ome’. With test tubes of Jägermiester being passed around by the band’s manager Laurie Mansworth and the bar next door kept open for an after show party, I had a fine ol’ time. Luckily there was a lift home in the company of my pals Jeff Gilbert and Phillipa Douglas, which sealed an absolutely wonderful evening, topped off with an unexpected Christmas pressie of a bottle of Jäger… Yay! Anyway, here’s the set-list: ‘Drink Fuck Fight’, ‘Shake The Mountain’, ‘I Want Love’, ‘The Doctor’, ‘I Fear Nothing’, ‘Roadrocket’, ‘Winter Sun’, ‘Just Tell Me Why’, ‘Departed’, ‘Killer’, ‘Nothing To Lose But Our Minds’, ‘Way Of The World’ and ‘Take Me Bak ’Ome’.
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Thursday 22nd December
Lordy, I’ve gone and done it again. Headed out to the shops to buy some Christmas presents and came back with an item for myself, in this instance a DVD of It Might Get Loud, the documentary starring Jimmy Page, The Edge of U2 and The White Stripes’ Jack White. Now that’s worth three squid of anyone’s money. And talking of the Pagemeister, I arrived home to find an extremely welcome festive gift from Dave Lewis of Tight But Loose fame. Tucked into his Christmas card the estimable Mr Lewis had sent a double-disc bootleg of Zeppelin’s rehearsals at Shepperton for the O2 reunion gig… nice! Ta very much, Dave. The new issue of Classic Rock Presents Prog, with Kate Bush on the cover, is also here. It offers plenty to read, as ever.
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Wednesday 21st December
As I’ve discovered over the course of three decades and hundreds of their concerts, Saxon never, ever let you down. Last night Biff Byford and his colleagues were back in London for the final instalment of a tour to promote ‘Call To Arms’, their biggest selling album in many years. “There’s nowhere else in the world we’d rather be than the UK’s capital city,” an emotional Byford told a rammed-full Koko as the band delivered an excellent two-hour set that focused heavily upon their new album as well as revisiting the 30th anniversary of their third release, ‘Denim And Leather’. I’ll be frank; although it houses some of Saxon’s best tunes, ‘D&L’ isn’t one of my favourites by the Big Teasers from Barnsley. The manner in which they rushed through ‘Fire In The Sky’ and ‘Midnight Rider’ seemed to suggest that the group weren’t completely comfortable with idea of presenting the album in is entirety. Furthermore, ‘Rough And Ready’ and ‘Out Of Control’ are more filler than killer, but what the heck… the crowd loved it. I myself had absolutely no problem with the inclusion of six songs from ‘Call To Arms’, an album that to these ears is comparable to the hugely influential and important work that the band created in their 1980s heyday – I’m pretty sure that I awarded it 9/10 in Metal Hammer UK at the time of its release back in June – certainly not when the band balance things out with a set-list as mighty as the one that follows: ‘Hammer Of The Gods’, ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’, ‘When Doomsday Comes’, ‘Chasing The Bullet’, ‘Motorcycle Man’, ‘Back In 79’, ‘Solid Ball Of Rock’, ‘Never Surrender’, ‘Fire In The Sky’, ‘Midnight Rider’, ‘And The Bands Played On’, ‘To Hell And Back Again’, ‘Call To Arms’, ‘Rock The Nations’, Drum Solo, ‘Mists Of Avalon’, ‘Broken Heroes’, ‘Play It Loud’, ‘Rough And Ready’, ‘Out Of Control’, ‘Denim And Leather’ and ‘Princess Of The Night’, plus an encore of ‘Crusader’, Guitar Solo, ‘The Power And The Glory’, ‘747 (Strangers In The Night)’, Bass Solo, ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ and ‘Wheels Of Steel’.

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Tuesday 20th December
And lo, the confounded terrace tongue-twister rang out around Selhurst Park: “One Kagisho Dikgacoi, there’s only one Kagisho Dikgacoi! One Kagisho Dikgacoi, there’s only one Kagisho Dikgacoi!” Last night the South African Crystal Palace midfielder, who likes to be known as KG, nodded in a winner against Birmingham with six minutes to go, sending three sides of the famous old football ground into meltdown as the Eagles notched their second win in 10 days, elevating the club to within two points from the play-off positions.
The evening had begun with a couple of my near-legendary Tesco wine pouches as my lad Eddie and I joined footie buds Kev Denman and his sister Kate for an extremely pleasant sit-down Christmas meal in Speroni’s Restaurant in Selhurst’s Main Stand.
As you’ll see from the state of my rosy-red face, quite a few too many Palace Ales were consumed!!
Following several post-match beverages my already buoyant mood escalated thanks to the discovery of a package of re-mastered re-issues from Rock Candy Records.

Dave Ling Online

I was thrilled to receive ‘Warhead’, the debut from More. The London-based metalheads were one of the very first bands that I ever witnessed live, as an opening act for Angel Witch at London’s Marquee Club way back in July of 1980 (hard to believe… admission cost a measly quid!). Time has been less benevolent to ‘Blood & Thunder’, their second album, which now sounds a bit of a mess – understandable considering the trying standards of its birth. But look… there’s also a copy of my favourite Gamma CD, ‘2’ (originally released in 1980)… that’s a bit bloody special. Le Roux’s 1980 record ‘Up’ is also included, plus a Suterian-approved Harlequin album (‘Love Crimes’, also dating back to 1980) that till now I only possessed on vinyl. That’s a tidy little haul, especially Gamma ‘2’; now please excuse me, I’m off to throw some air guitar shapes to ‘Mean Streak’ and ‘Four Horsemen’…
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Monday 19th December
It was with extreme reluctance that yesterday I joined the throng of last minute Christmas shoppers in Lewisham. It didn’t take long for my blood to reach boiling point. It wasn’t so much the size of the queues that pissed me off, more the lack of variety on the shelves. In the end I bought as many things for myself as the kids, but f**k it – I’ve had a bit of a shit year, too! I was happy to find a stylish pair of Gucinari boots marked down from £120 to a far more affordable price – one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to dress a little more presentably in 2012 (now **there’s** a comment that’ll surely come back to bite me!) - also a copy of When Giants Walked The Earth, Mick Wall’s biography of Led Zeppelin, for a modest £2.99. There are still a few more things I need to pick up for the lads, though, to ensure they have the enjoyable Christmastime that they deserve.
P.S. FFS… Next year’s gigs are already starting to pile up, also to overlap. Bit my lip whilst entering Anthrax’s March 15 show at Islington into the desk dairy; very frustrating that it clashes with The Union at the Electric Ballroom. Ditto Girlschool at the Garage on March 10, though that one’s easier to call as it happens to fall on the same day that FM perform ‘Indiscreet’ at Shepherd’s Bush Empire… no need to go tossing a coin there!
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Sunday 18th December
With no game for Crystal Palace till tomorrow evening (when the Eagles face Birmingham at Selhurst for the Sky cameras), my Saturday was spent like a lost soul. At this time of year the shops are full of mugs trying to buy last minute Christmas pressies and the pubs rammed with part time weekend warrior drinkers. Unlikely to make it up to Nottingham to see Thunder, I’ve just one more gig left in 2011 – Saxon revisiting their ‘Denim And Leather’ album at Koko on Tuesday night. And to make matters worse my assignation down in Br***ton was also postponed. What was a man supposed to do? Crack open a bottle of something strong and watch the final of Strictly Come Dancing, I guess…
P.S. What about those photos of Journey’s Neal Schon flashing his ‘bits’ on the internet? Absolutely disgusting! I almost became reacquainted with my breakfast.
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Saturday 17th September
Okay, here’s something of which I’m deeply ashamed. Although it was released some three months ago, I’ve only just acquired a copy of Anthrax’s new album, ‘Worship Music’. Its omission from my Albums Of 2011 lists in Classic Rock and Metal Hammer is a major oversight but better late than never, I guess. Many thanks to the kindness of Markus Wosgien of Nuclear Blast Records, who agreed to my request of compiling a nice little package of finished CDs. In addition to the excellent new ’Thrax disc, this weekend I shall be listening to Gotthard’s ‘Homegrown – Alive In Lugano’, Graveyard’s ‘Hisingen Blues’, the most recent Sepultura album (‘Kairos’) and another that I didn’t actually request but was grateful to receive; Sabaton’s ‘World War Love – Battle Of The Baltic Sea’.
Talking of Sabaton – how about that for a seamless link? – though I’d love to have attended the Swedish band’s show in London last night (especially as they were supported by Hell), I ended up doing something **very** different instead. My eldest lad Eddie has an all conquering passion for TV game shows. So having received an email invitation to witness the filming of a 2011 edition of Play Your Cards Right, with Vernon Kay replacing the former host Sir Bruce Forsyth, we found ourselves queuing outside ITV Headquarters on the South Bank in almost Antarctic-like conditions. Kay is a bit of a plum, of course (if you had a wife like Tess Daly at home, how many of us would risk everything for a few grubby moments of phone text sex?!), but what the heck. Contrary to my expectations, just like Eddie I really enjoyed myself bellowing out: “HIGHER!”, “HIGHER!”, “LOWER!”, “LOWER!” and, appropriately, “FREEZE!” at key moments. It certainly made a nice change from the rigors of rawkenrawl…
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Friday 16th December
That I managed to safely negotiate yesterday’s Christmas party, also attend The Pineapple Thief’s gig at the Borderline, remains a subject of complete bafflement. Lashings of vodka, cider, wine, lager, black sambuca and sake were consumed over the course of an almost 12-hour bender. En route to the rendezvous point of The Ship – a corner of Wardour Street’s legendary Bermuda Triangle (the others being the ‘old’ Marquee Club and after-hours den the St Moritz Club) – I rummaged through the bargain racks of the Record & Tape Exchange. Aware of the carnage ahead, I hesitated in picking up that mint vinyl copy of Jim Capaldi’s 1984 album ‘One Man Mission’, but guest appearances from Carlos Santana, Steve Marriott, Simon Kirke and Snowy White convinced me that it was too good to leave behind. There were premonitions … thankfully unrealised… of toppling over and crushing the thing into a thousand pieces.
With Steven Wilson looking on from the bar area, The Pineapple Thief proceeded to break in some material intended for their ninth studio album, which leader Bruce Soord revealed is to be recorded in January, with strings added in Prague the following month, leading into a September release. ‘Stop Struggling’ (a working title, apparently) was nice ‘n’ heavy, while ‘Reaching Out’ was dedicated to the writers of Classic Rock Presents Prog – most apt, given the prominence of Mellotron-esque sounds at its core. Before I nip off for some Alka Seltzer and a bacon sandwich, here’s the full set-list: ‘Wake Up The Dead’, ‘3000 Days’, ‘Preparation For Meltdown’, ‘Stop Struggling’, ‘My Debt To You’, ‘All The Wars’, ‘Snowdrops’, ‘Reaching Out’, ‘Show A Little Love’, ‘The Burning Pieces’ and ‘Too Much To Lose’, with a two-song encore of ‘So We Row’ and ‘Nothing At Best’.
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Thursday 15th December
As if having to miss Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe at Wembley wasn’t annoying enough, uproar has been caused by a new official posting at the High Voltage festival’s Facebook page. I quote:
Long time no speak Volters! We’re sorry to say that unfortunately due to the Olympics, we’re unable to bring you the full on High Voltage experience at Victoria Park next year. However, we are busy trying to work out something special for 2012 to keep the home fires burning... Watch this space. We’ll bring you news as soon as we have any.
Whether the above means the event will take place at an alternative venue (Milton Keynes Bowl, maybe), or if some sort of smaller scaled indoor show is being organised remains unclear (so please don’t pester me for details…). Anyhow, my contribution to Classic Rock #167 is done and dusted and with my contributions for the following issue up to speed I shall throw myself with all known exuberance into today’s Christmas lunch with my esteemed (and in some cased ‘steamed’!) industry buddies Malcolm Dome, Jerry Ewing, John Dryland, Steve Hammonds, Hugh Gilmore, Jon Richards, Dave Gulvin and Cürt Evans. Gossip, rumour, innuendo, bad jokes and of course booze shall flow. Festivities are due to begin at 1pm… I’m just hoping to be in a vertical position by the time that The Pineapple Thief’s gig at the Borderline comes around in the evening. Yeah, right!!
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Wednesday 14th December
Bah humbug. I wasn’t able to attend last night’s Uriah Heep gig in Milton Keynes due a last-minute phone interview with Nikki Sixx (I was in Catford, the Sixx-ter was in Sheffield). Annoyingly, I’ve also ruled myself out of this evening’s Def Leppard/Mötley Crüe show at Wembley Arena thanks to two further phone ints. Oh well, it’ll be nice to get a couple of early nights before the run-in towards another hectic weekend.
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Tuesday 13th December
An amazing 11 years had passed since my first and last sighting of Molly Hatchet at the now defunct LA2 in London. So despite last night’s show being my fifth in as many days (Christ, I need a night in…!) I was pumped for another opportunity to witness them again. The early signs weren’t good. Though it filled up just before the band **finally** took the stage, almost an hour after their support act had cleared the stage, the Islington Academy had looked worryingly empty. As the wait dragged on, the audience started to get nasty. All was forgiven as the band burst out of the traps with ‘Whiskey Man’, ‘Bounty Hunter’ and ‘Gator Country’, but a set that lasted for just 85 minutes seemed a tad miserly, and a sound mix that took turns to mute guitarists Dave Hlubek and Bobby Ingram also left much to be desired. I must confess, the Jacksonville band’s most recent studio release, 2010’s ‘Justice’, had passed me by till their publicist Roland Hyams handed me a beautiful double gatefold vinyl copy after the show, but I was impressed by the four selections that they chose to air; ‘American Pride’, ‘Justice’, ‘Been To Heaven – Been To Hell’ and especially ‘In The Darkness Of The Night’. Their insistence upon performing a shortened version of ‘Fall Of The Peacemakers’ remains bloody annoying, doubly so when Bobby Ingram dares to suggest there’s simply insufficient time to include everything that the audience wants to hear – well… try playing for a wee bit longer, then!!! – but it was great to hear a decent selection of golden oldies; ‘Beatin’ The Odds’, ‘The Creeper’, ‘Jukin’ City’, ‘Dreams I’ll Never See’ and an electric, twin-barrel encore of ‘Boogie No More’ and ‘Flirtin’ With Disaster’.
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Monday 12th December
Among the most disconcerting aspects of the passing of time is when the sons of musician friends follow in the footsteps of their dads.

Last night I trekked over to Romford to see my old muckers Chariot backed by a band called Dïrty Excüse, whose bass player Michael is the lad of the headliners’ own John Smith.
Their spirited barrage of teased-up hard rock mixed covers of ‘Live Wire’, ‘Nothing But A Good Time’ and the Village People’s ‘Y.M.C.A.’ (!) with a selection of original toons which, somewhat puzzlingly, tended to be inspired by prostitutes.
Kids of today have too much money on their hands. In their minds Dïrty Excüse were playing at Wembley Arena and not in the front room of a small pub in Essex, and they certainly offered great entertainment.
“We’re called Chariot, have some of this!” announced Pete Franklin by way of introduction. His vocals were a little low in mix, but when you’ve got a singer that leaps off the stage to shove his Flying V in your face, and with guitarist Paul Laine laying down some sizzling solos, it mattered very little.
With Chariot there’s always a smattering of humour, too.
I laughed aloud when, introducing ‘Cold Hard Cash’ with a rant about financers “spunking away our money” Franklin suddenly remembered: “My wife works for the Royal Bank Of Scotland”. Completed by an encore that included a cover of AC/DC’s ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be’ and an additional unplanned ‘Shut It Out’, this show was well worth the distance that I travelled in order to see it.
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Sunday 11th December
Has anyone else noticed that Tesco have started selling 25cl sachets of wine? These little pouches fit perfectly into handbangs (not that I have one of those…!) or better still the inside pocket of a Manowar leather tour jacket. After Crystal Palace’s magnificent victory over Nottingham Florist at the City Ground, I left home for Hawkwind’s gig at the Brixton Academy with a spring in my stride, and a couple of said pouches secreted away for the journey – so forgive me if this Diary entry is a little less detailed than usual!
I enjoyed the warm-up set from the Huw Lloyd Langton Group. Indeed, my drinking buddy Andy Beare and I both felt that now would be a good time for Huw to return to the Hawkwind Mother Ship; can we read anything into the fact that he appeared with the band during their encore? With Hawkwind, who knows. Like I say, I’d imbibed a few wine pouches en route to Shepherd’s Bush, then sunk more drinks in the pub next door – that cad Mr Beare returned from the bar saying: “They don’t do large white wines, so I got you two medium ones instead!” – so my memories of the show are a little groggy. They **did** play ‘Silver Machine’, I remember that. LOL! And the group’s presentation was as excellent as ever, with dancers and various additional performers making the concert into a real spectacle. A Hawkwind gig is never boring, that’s one thing for sure.
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Saturday 10th December
I’d intended to attend the Earache Records Christmas party, in conjunction with a sneaky trip to Pentagram’s gig over at the Garage, but the news that my old mucker Colin Harkness, former guitarist/singer of the band Spider, was around in London for the weekend was cause to forego the first-named pleasure in favour of a few glasses of el vino collapso with Mr Harkness. Better still, Col turned up in the pub with Debbie, who used to do the band’s merch back in the day. Cue many old stories on different subjects, including tea drinking (I kid you not!), chipped teeth and the injustices of no longer being in the first flushes of youth. Following the recent release of ‘The Singles Collection 1976-1986’ on Lemon Recordings, I would love it were Spider to play a reunion show or two. Odder things have happened at sea…
Talking of which, how many of us realistically foresaw the possibility of Pentagram, who (on and off, admittedly) have made quality doom-rock since 1971, ever gracing the shores of the United Kingdom? Well, at last it has finally happened. The body language of frontman Bobby Liebling let us know that he shared the sold-out audience’s incredulous glee at being on a British stage at last. “This is real, right?” he enquired, slapping himself around the face disbelievingly before the Virginia-based quartet lumbered into ‘Death Row’, a track from their classic self-titled debut album. Liebling is quite a character. With his exaggerated stage posture, bug-eyed stare and scarecrow hair, he looks a like a cross between Ian Anderson, Marty Feldman and Catweazle after a failed blow dry experiment… yet no matter how old or eccentric he might be, the voice is still there. And with Victor Griffin churning out those rumbling, unstoppable riffs, Pentagram turned in a display of revelatory proportions. They simply have **got** to come back again in the new year. Here’s the set-list: ‘Treat Me Right’, ‘Forever My Queen’, ‘Review Your Choices’, ‘Sign Of The Wolf (Pentagram)’, ‘Vampyre Love’, ‘Into the Ground’, ‘Death Row’, ‘All Your Sins’, ‘Call The Man’, Medley: ‘Relentless’/‘Nothing Left’ and ‘Dying World’, plus an encore of ‘Wartime’ and ‘When The Screams Come’.
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Friday 9th December
How annoying – The Treatment and Uriah Heep playing in London on the same friggin’ night. There was no way I was missing Heep, however. I limbered up for the occasion with a particularly enjoyable lunch date in Croydon, where I happened to spot this brilliant sign. Also dropped by the Selhurst Park box office to book my seats for the League Cup semi-final home leg on January 10. Can’t wait!
I enjoyed a few more pre-show liveners with Stefan Johansson, a Swedish pal who happened to be in London for a few days (along with his missus Anette), before gaining entry to Shepherd’s Bush Empire to watch Heep soundcheck. After a quick natter with Trevor Bolder and Phil Lanzon, also some SE25-based banter with fellow Eagle-worshipper Harry James, it was time for… guess what? More booze! Yesssss!
I’m not the greatest lover of tribute bands, and when one considers the wealth of musical and vocal talent that nestles within the ranks of support act Snakecharmer – Micky Moody and Laurie Wisefield on guitars, Neil Murray on bass, keyboardist Adam Wakeman and the aforementioned herbert Harry James on drums, with Chris Ousey (Virgin Wolf, Heartland) handling the microphone – I expected more than an hour’s worth of vintage ‘blues-era’ Whitesnake. There’s no doubting that the band plays songs such as ‘Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues’, ‘Ready An’ Willing’, ‘Ain’t Gonna Cry No More Today’ and ‘Slow ‘N’ Easy’ in a super-proficient manner, but I’d like to have heard some original material along the way. A bit like X-UFO in a way, I just don’t see the point.
Call me biased… Ross Halfin **undoubtedly** will!… but Heep were absolutely bloody magnificent. Mixing the finest four songs from their current disc ‘Into The Wild’ with a selection of timeless classic rock gems, the quintet offered a seemingly effortless reminder of their catalogue’s strength, stretching out through ‘Look At Yourself’ and inviting members of the audience and their family members to headbang, loon around and party onstage with them during a ferocious ‘Free ‘N’ Easy’. Here’s the full set-list: ‘I’m Ready’, ‘Return To Fantasy’, ‘Stealin’’, ‘Rainbow Demon’, ‘Money Talk’, Drum Solo, ‘Nail On The Head’, Acoustic Guitar Solo, ‘The Wizard’, ‘Into the Wild’ ‘Gypsy’, ‘Look At Yourself’, ‘July Morning’ and ‘Lady In Black’, with encores of ‘Free ‘N’ Easy’, ‘Bird Of Prey’ and ‘Easy Livin’.
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Thursday 8th December
What an absolutely great night out – dinner and a few bottles of red wine at Brown’s restaurant in St Martin’s Lane, followed by a ‘nightcap’ at the Crobar, in the company of my mates Malcolm Dome, John Dryland of Cargo Records, Kylie Olsson of the Sky Arts channel and Fiona Flanagan, the US melodic rock songstress whose comeback disc ‘Unbroken’ has been receiving rave reviews for the last few months. Flanagan loves the British sense of humour and after hearing one of my anecdotes about Pete Way she giggled and joked about changing her Facebook status to: “Off my tits!” She’s a lovely lady, but for a self-confessed ‘soccer mom’ Fiona has much to learn of the full diversity of the sport’s teams. When I showed her the tattoo of the CPFC crest that adorns my left arm she guffawed: “Crystal Palace? That’s not a football club. How can that be a football club? A football club is Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona…”. I await the opportunity of reviewing Ms Flanagan’s 6th album. I shall have my revenge.

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Wednesday 7th December
Just a few hours before last night’s away game with Barnsley, CPFC manager Dougie Freedman was lecturing The London Standard of the importance of maintaining a clean sheet (“Keeping the back door closed will be the key to this club’s success”). So it was inevitable that the Eagles would concede an early goal up at Oakwell… but **seven seconds into the game**??!! (which ended 2-1 to the home side)...??!! FFS, Dougie!
I’m cheered greatly by the revelation that Planet Rock Radio have appointed a new presenter for their breakfast show. Bye-bye loser Lucio, Producer Joel and the irksome backing room cast… please welcome my old mucker (and fellow FM fan) Paul Anthony, who joins the station on January 3rd. Several months ago I gave up on Planet Rock and tuned instead to Alan Brazil’s show on Talk Sport. It’s time to turn back, I think.
Quo’s publicist Chris Hewlett has tweeted this excellent photograph from the day that I interviewed Francis Rossi and Roy Wood over at Status Quo’s management office. If only the unimaginative set-list that Quo have been playing on the early stages of their current tour, or the ghastly festive medley that closes the show, could make me crack anything approaching as radiant a smile.

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Tuesday 6th December
How could I possibly have declined Myke Gray’s kind offer to nip over to the Forum, where his new band Red White & Blues were opening for Whitesnake? The ex-Skin guitarist and Matti Alfonzetti, his vocal foil from the days of the band Jagged Edge, have crafted a rather fine debut album. Entitled ‘Shine’, it's full of high quality commercial hard rock anthems. In a recent interview he told me: “We have tried to get back to the vibe of Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Mötley Crüe and AC/DC – the type of bands that made you feel joyous as kids.” And you know what? They achieved it. It’s still very early days for the group, but having interrupted a tour with The Quireboys to do these gigs with Whitesnake, also performed at the Download Festival and on a bill headlined by Bon Jovi at Hard Rock Calling in London’s Hyde Park, also having bagged the opening spot with Chickenfoot in January, I suspect we shall hear lots more from RW&B. The classy ‘Counts For Nothing’, which breaks with the band’s formula thanks to a slow, gentle intro, reminds us that Alfonzetti still has a great set of bluesy pipes, and the band’s up-tempo songs – ‘Shame On You’, ‘Girls And Guitars’, ‘Rescue Me’, ‘Shine’, ‘Red White And Blues’ and ‘Stand Up For Rock N Roll’ – are right on the money.
Alas, the same couldn’t be said for the headliners. As much as I’ve loved the work achieved in a glorious almost four-decade career, it really is time for David Coverdale to hang up the microphone… instead of passing it down into the crowd for the audience to sing for him, or filling out the set with interminable instrumental solos to allow his larynx a hard-earned rest. I’d only intended to stay for a few numbers but, aware that this was probably my last sighting of the ’Snakes – only a reunion with Messrs Moody and Marsden and a return to the band’s hallowed ‘blues-rock era’ could now make any sort of sense – and gripped by the car-crash nature of what was unfolding, I managed to hang on till a pitiful rendition of ‘Still Of The Night’. I gather that Jimmy Page was in the upstairs VIP section… would love to have seen the reaction to an impromptu rendition of ‘How Many More Times’ during the band introductions section. Put it this way: I’m certainly not expecting ‘Coverdale/Page 2’ to follow anytime soon…
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Monday 5th November
Still sniffling and snuffling from a cold, the last thing I needed was to stand around at an icy bus stop, trying in vain to get across South London to the Brixton Academy. And yet that’s exactly what befell me last night. I’d been told that Rise To Remain, featuring Bruce Dickinson’s son Austin on vocals, were onstage at 6.55pm. Despite allowing plenty of time I arrived at the venue with five minutes to spare, only to hear an ominous rumble from within the building… yes, they’d already begun – grrrrrr! I caught the last five songs of the band’s set, which included ‘This Day Is Mine’, ‘Nothing Left’ and ‘City Of Vultures’, the latter the title cut of the Londoners’ critically acclaimed, Colin Richardson-helmed debut album. At times it felt a little surreal: Austin talks to the crowd just like his dad, supreme levels of confidence peppered with a generous helping of expletives, at one point leaping into the audience and being carried above their heads. The mixture of clean vocals and growls won’t be for everyone but by the looks of their reception – all the more rapturous for an act second on a bill of five (headlined by Trivium) – only a buffoon would’ve failed to twig that a rosy future awaits.
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Sunday 4th December
I was disappointed that a nasty dose of ‘man flu’ ruled me out of a trip down to that unmentionable place on the South Coast, where I’d been supposed to attend a gig by Uriah Heep and also conduct a pre-show interview. Couldn’t go coughing and spluttering all over that nice Mr Box, now could I? Oh well, there are still gigs to come in London (on Thursday) and Milton Keynes (on December 13).
By way of consolation I treated myself to a trip to the Orpington Record Fair, where among the goodies I picked up were a couple of CDs by In This Moment, a mint condition ‘very best of’ collection by Asleep At The Wheel, Jimmy Buffett’s ‘Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes’ (1977) and ‘So Long Ago The Garden’, a 1973 obscurity from Larry Norman, the late, great Texan-born Christian rocker responsible for quite a few records in my collection.
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Saturday 3rd December
Once again I find myself nursing a hangover after a trip to Selhurst Park – what a spooky coincidence! Last night the Eagles took on Derby County, covered again by the Sky Sports cameras. After the heroics at Old Trafford the players looked tired to be out there again within just 48 hours. They nevertheless took the lead and went into the break very much on top, so I allowed myself a foaming half-time pint of the new, improved Palace ale… Mmmmm… lovely. Sadly, however a combination of exhaustion, a tendency to defend too deeply in their own half and an improved performance from the visitors served to divvy up an equal share of the points, though the only way County could find their way past Speroni was yet another own goal from skipper Patrick McCartney… FFS, Paddy!!!!!
P.S. The Playlist and YouTube pages have been given their monthly update.
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Friday 2nd December
I’m a long-time fan of the US shock-metal band Lizzy Borden, who last night made a rare UK appearance as part of their Death Takes A Holiday tour. Once again, the turnout at the Underworld was pretty depressing but despite having stood impatiently through one of the most abysmal support acts I’ve had the misfortune to endure – step forward the woeful Martyr – I really enjoyed seeing LB again (having caught them at the Marquee Club in ’87, again at the Reading Festival in that same year and at Sweden Rock three years ago).
As befits a man with a song called ‘Master Of Disguise’, LB’s show involves numerous mask and costume changes. It’s patently obvious that he works with a miniscule budget, and as ever I was left wondering what might happen if some beneficiary should come forward and allow him the chance of staging the performance that **really** lurks within that twisted mind of his. Certainly, Lizzy Borden have killer songs in abundance (notably ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’, ‘Red Rum’, ‘Visual Lies’, ‘Voyeur (I’m Watchin’ You)’, ‘American Metal’, ‘Master Of Disguise’ and the ever-fantastic ‘Me Against The World’), though having gone onstage way later than advertised and played well past the 11pm curfew, the decision to leave out the classic ‘Give ‘Em The Axe’ whilst retaining various instrumental solo spots (bass, guitar, drums) was a little hard to stomach. However, I did like a brand new song called ‘You Bring Me Poison’ that was aired midway through the 85-minute display.
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Thursday 1st December
Oh, how I regret my decision to stay away from last night’s League Cup Quarter-Final between ManUre and Crystal Palace. To my way of thinking, a trip north during the midweek was simply impossible, and the news that the Eagles were to follow the example of the home side by fielding a below-strength thanks to another game against Derby County on Friday had threatened to force a highly important game into the realms of farce.
So I accepted the offer of attending Deep Purple’s orchestral show in London, preceded by a floating drinks reception with the band members and their families and friends, departing from the embankment at Big Ben, down the Thames and on to the O2 Arena. It had been billed as HMS Smoke On The Water. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking: ‘Let’s hope there’s no need to use a flare-gun!!’.
We arrived at the O2 a few minutes after support act Cheap Trick had taken the stage so there was no alternative but to seek out a bar which might be showing the football, and bingo… we were in luck! The Eagles played extremely well in the first half, taking the game to a ManUre side that featured nine international players. It was almost with a sense of reluctance that I found my seat inside the venue. Given the erratic state of Ian Gillan’s vocals, Purple shows have become a bit of a lottery in recent years. However, both Gillan and Purple were on cruise control at the O2, the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt Orchestra offering a far better complementary backing than I’d expected. Okay, the numerous instrumental solos are a bit gratuitous… but you accept them by now. The set-list ran as follows: ‘Highway Star’, ‘Hard Lovin’ Man’, ‘Maybe I’m A Leo’, ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’, ‘Rapture Of The Deep’, ‘Woman From Tokyo’, ‘Contact Lost’, Guitar Solo, ‘When A Blind Man Cries’, ‘The Well Dressed Guitar’, ‘Knocking At Your Back Door’, ‘Lazy’, ‘No One Came’, Keyboard Solo, ‘Perfect Strangers’, ‘Space Truckin’ and ‘Smoke On The Water’, with encores of ‘Hush’, Drum Solo, Bass Solo and ‘Black Night’.
I’d been keeping an eye on the score at Old Trafford via my BlackBerry, but two-thirds of the way into the show a flurry of around thirty texts arrived. Palace had taken the lead thanks to a 40-yard screamer from Darren Ambrose, then been pegged back by a penalty. After Glenn Murray notched a second goal in extra time, the Eagles braved wave after wave of pressure to seize a place in the Semi-Finals. It was hard to describe the sense of stunned euphoria I felt, exchanging texts, emails and phone calls with other long-suffering Palace fans. Arriving home, two bottles of wine were consumed whilst watching the Sky coverage, and it took me till mid-morning to sober up and approach anything like a fit state in which to work. I’m prouder than ever to be an Eagle. And with the news that Steve ‘Mr Loyalty’ Bruce has been sacked by Scumderland, a wonderful day was complete. Bring on the sheepshaggers of Cardiff Shitty in the Semis!!!!! I hope that we get to Wembley for the sake of my son, who is so thrilled he’s almost bursting. He couldn’t wait to get to school and ‘have a word’ with the London Mancs in his class! Go Eddie!