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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Monday 31st December
I had seriously considering going to Portland for this evening’s Dan Reed Network reunion. My LA-based friend Caroline ‘Funky’ Gibbons had even said she would pick up the hotel room if I bought a plane ticket out, but in the end I just couldn’t get it together. However, it was fun introducing the lads to Father Ted…
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Sunday 30th December
I’m *finally* into the documents for March 2012, the last month of these confounded receipts. And what better way to see me over the line than a burst of Porcupine Tree’s double-live album ‘Octane Twisted’. Disc two brings back great memories of the band’s show at the Royal Albert Hall, a gig I attended. I’d clean forgotten that they did ‘Arriving Somewhere But Not Here’ to bring things to an epic close – new underwear please, nurse.
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Saturday 29th December
Continued work on my end-of-year accounts prevented the trip to this afternoon’s away game at Nottingham Florist. Annoyingly, Palace were pegged back yet again, not once but twice in a match that finished 2-2. I’m not very happy. Holloway's reign is stuttering: The last five games have seen us take the lead, only to draw or lose. Some new blood is required, I think. I might just have to open a bottle or two…
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Friday 28th December
Well… they said it would never happen but they were wrong! After his ugly matrimonial troubles, Dave Ling has actually been out *on a date*! Last night was spent at the Odeon in Leicester Square with a lovely lady by the name of Sara Harding. Assisted by carefully stashed beverages from Dave’s Mobile Bar & Grill – half a bottle of Jagermeister and some raspberry flavoured vodka – we enjoyed The Hobbit in 3-D. And you know what? I wouldn’t mind betting that we do it all over again before too long. But maybe with a different film… haha.
Survivor, with Jimi Jamison back again on vocals, have just been confirmed to appear at the Sweden Rock Festival in June. With Rush, UFO. Quo, Saxon, Kiss, Accept, Avantasia and Krokus (!) already on the bill, and Europe lined up to play a special one-off 30th anniversary set, I’m really tempted to try and get back over to Sölvesborg for my first visit to the open-air show since 2008.
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Wednesday 26th December
Well, what an utterly miserable Boxing Day. I took an all-too-brief break from the end-of-year- tax return to tune into Palace’s vital away game at Cardiff Shitty. The BBC Radio 5 Live commentators glowed with praise for the Eagles who took the lead via Mile Jedinak’s third-minute volley from an Owen Garvan corner. Alas, as is becoming disturbingly commonplace, Palace conceded a late equaliser as the first half drew to a close and went behind in the 72nd minute. Despite several opportunities of leveling, that’s how it stayed. CPFC supremo Ian Holloway summed things up with the statement: “We started well and ended terribly.” The evening was spent in my office emitting sighs of elephantine proportions whilst poring over envelopes stuffed with receipts, to a soundtrack of all-time classic hard rock albums. I think I could listen to ‘Hemispheres’ by Rush on a loop tape for the rest of my days on earth, ditto Quo’s ‘On The Level’ and ‘Quo’. Their thunderous strains certainly helped to make life bearable again.
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Tuesday 25th December
Yeah, I’m still here in my office working on my fuggin’ accounts… three months in, nine to go!! Am currently playing Aerosmith’s ‘Music From Another Dimension’ as I type – to these ears it’s a bit of a Christmas turkey, I’m afraid. Dad just popped in and we took this rather nice photo of three generations of Ling males.

As I type, nobody has been battered to death with the turkey yet, so I guess that constitutes the best Christmas that anyone could have hoped for since we lost Mum. Happy holidays everyone!
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Monday 24th December
Like many overworked, self-employed individuals I find myself in the regrettable scenario of having to work on my end-of-year tax returns over the Christmas period. Luckily, I have loads of newly arrived CDs to play including Soul Asylum’s ‘Delayed Reaction’, a double of ‘The Best Of Alvin Lee’, another double of Steamhammer (the band that recorded the original ‘Junior's Wailing’), a live Barclay James Harvest album (a 25th anniversary show from the Town & Country Club in 1992) and a brilliant CDr that combines Spider’s Friday Rock Show session in 1981 and the group’s live set at the Kerrang! Weekender in Caister, Great Yarmouth, in October ’84 (mucho thanks to Steve Leslie for the latter). Makes the spreadsheets just about bearable, I guess…
With the kids in bed and the last of the pressies wrapped my Christmas Eve concluded with a much belated debut viewing of Slade In Flame. A definite timepiece, the 1975 movie even mentions Catford Greyhound Track – long gone! As, sadly, is Tommy Vance who plays the moustachioed pirate radio deejay Ricky Storm. The ending was a bit anticlimactic, possibly, but I loved the fact that Stoker… sorry, Noddy… and company would offer cinematic comment on the industry’s dark underbelly as opposed to creating a glossy vehicle for the brilliance of songs such as ‘Them Kinda Monkeys Can’t Swing’, ‘How Does It Feel’, ‘Far Far Away’ and all the rest.
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Sunday 23rd December
With Crystal Palace’s home game against Huddersfield shifted to an evening kick off to accommodate Sky Sports viewers, the cancellation of Asia’s gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire turned out to be convenient – for me, at least. Arriving far later at Norwood Junction for the usual match-day rituals felt slightly strange, but there was some enjoyable banter with a couple of Town fans (Metal Blade Records’ Andy Turner and Dave Wroe of the website www.rockersdigest.com) during pre- and post-match drinkies with Kevin Denman, the Pudney family, Laurence Adams, Steve ‘No Relation’ Way, Teri Weston and Steve Taylor. And the game? Well, probably best to draw a veil over that as it was ruined by inept officials. A final score of 1-1 saw the Eagles, who played most of the match with ten men, losing further ground on the automatic promotion places… grrrrr!
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Saturday 22nd December
I really enjoyed my trip to the Borderline for last night’s gig by Touchstone and Romeo’s Daughter. The event’s special guests had been allotted a full hour onstage, and they used it well, opening with a couple of glistening gems from their wondrous self-titled debut – ‘Heaven In The Back Seat’ and ‘Velvet Tongue’ – following it with the delicious new single ‘Bittersweet’, the distinctly Heart-flavoured newie ‘Talking Love’ (apt, given that the Wilson sisters covered RD’s own ‘Wild Child’ on their ‘Brigade’ album), a track from the overlooked second disc, namely ‘Attracted To The Animal’, and another swoon-inducing new cut, ‘Lightning’. After two more songs from ‘Rapture’ – ‘Alive’ and ‘Trippin’ Out’ – we were into the home strait; ‘Inside Out’, a succulent ‘I Cry Myself To Sleep At Night’ and the aforementioned ‘Wild Child’. As I believe I drunkenly informed a grinning Leigh Matty and Merv Goldsworthy, that was my Christmas, right there.
Having recently completed a successful co-headline tour with The Reasoning, Touchstone just keep on getting better and better. The venue’s intimacy suited the female-fronted proggers. I stood in the bar, nodding enthusiastically and downing drinks with equal fervour. The seeming contrasting styles of the two acts were actually very complimentary; I wish that promoters were more inclined to mixing and matching with genres – the show was a great way to bring 2012’s gig-going activities to a close.
So… our little gang returned to the Crobar where I partook in further refreshment and a long and absorbing dialogue with my ‘hair twin’ Sara Harding. Arriving back at Ling Towers at 4am, I was shocked to discover the back door had been locked. Aaaaag. The ex-Mrs Ling was not best pleased to receive my call requesting admittance to the building. Hahaha!
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Friday 21st December
Am feeling a bit delicate after a few too many evening drinks with my CPFC-supporting buds, Kev Denman and Mark Cousins, at a riverside boozer in the East End of London. Mr Cousins bailed early but in the absence of a decent curry-house Kev and I went for a super-hot pizza and hit another boozer on the way to the tube station, only departing when our money ran out on the verge of last orders. A fun night…
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Thursday 20th December
How great it was to see Noddy Holder on BBC Breakfast Time promoting tomorrow's Slade night on BBC4. I shall be out at the Borderline watching Touchstone and Romeo’s Daughter but have already set the Sky+ to record everything.
Oh look, there’s yet more great reading matter: the new ish of Fireworks magazine (thanks, Bruce!) A Jason Bonham interview on the cover, plus chats with Ling Towers faves Lionville, Steve Hackett, Steve Lukather, Halestorm and many more. I didn’t even know there was a new Jackdaw4 album – I need it now!!!
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Wednesday 19th December
Wow… well done, Jerry Ewing. The new issue of Prog is here. Dated December it has King Crimson on the cover. As most fans will know, Robert Fripp is one of rock music’s most spiky and reclusive individuals. Incredibly, Fripp has not only invited Prog to his house in Dorset (where interviewer Sid Smith shared slices of Christmas cake baked by RF’s spouse Toyah Willcox) but actually writes a fascinating preview to the 11-page story, which covers the years 1963-’73. Peppered with additional observations from Ian McDonald, John Wetton, Jamie Muir, David Cross and Keith Tippett, it’s an extremely fine read.
I’ve also been enjoying the latest issue of Classic Rock Presents Blues (#4, with Rory Gallagher as cover star). Gavin Martin is allotted ten pages to tell the story of the G-Man’s film and album ‘Irish Tour ’74’, plus a further two pages of tribute quoteage from über-fan Joe Bonamassa. Again, it’s a fantastic piece of prose that does full credit to writer, editor and above all the story’s subject.
Whenever people ask about the worst part of my job, the sheer tediousness of tape transcription is an obvious contender. However, I type this whilst sat at the PC, having wasted a chunk my evening in fruitless anticipation of a call from an American rock star. I won’t name or shame the muso concerned but you’d be surprised by the frequency of such events, also the casual way they are handled by PRs. “Oh well, we’ll re-schedule…”, and you’re expected to do it all over again. Earlier this year, when a German guitarist stood me up twice, the artist’s representatives tried to assure me it would be third time lucky. Well, no, I’m sorry… I’ve got better things to do with my life than sit here twiddling thumbs. Anyway, rant over – I’m off for a late supper.
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Tuesday 18th December
A very happy birthday to David Leslie Walls – you’ll probably know him better as Ginger Wildheart – who last night turned 48 years old in the company of several hundred fans, past ‘n’ current band-mates, musician friends, loved ones, a guest list of London’s ligging elite and of course a film crew. Oh yeah, I was there, too!
A spectacularly successful Pledge Music campaign has transformed Ginger’s career. As recently as 2003 he told me in a Classic Rock interview of how he was “considering calling it a day in terms of being a competitor.” Now, as Paddy McGuinness would say on Take Me Out, the power is in Ginger’s hands… Whoosh!
“This was the year that everything changed for me,” he smiled whilst cruising though a selection of solo tracks and Silver Ginger 5 tunes during a solo support spot. Only somebody as contrary as Ginger would opt to begin with a tune he doesn’t like playing (‘Just Another Song About Someone’) and follow it with another he’d never performed live before (‘How I Survived The Punk Wars’). And only at a Ginger birthday bash would someone – in this instance Alex Kane of Anti-Product – fly in from the States without prior warning, and then be excused for forgetting the words to Cheap Trick’s classic ‘Surrender’ – not once but twice!
Three years after revisiting their seminal full-length debut ‘Earth Vs Wildhearts’, The Wildhearts were back for one night only. You missed it?! Well… shame on you. Teasing the sold-out Forum crowd from behind a safety curtain with the intro to ‘Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes’ the band’s shadows were visible… then the sheer of material descended and a burst of tickertape welcomed the audience to the show. With a set-list culled predominantly from a glorious 1990s-era heyday (of its originals, just ‘Someone ‘That Won’t Let Me Go’, ‘Mazel Tov Cocktail’ and ‘Vanilla Radio’ were released in the current millennium), the band pulled out all the stops. Playing ‘Caffeine Bomb’ and ‘Suckerpunch’ back to back threatened some serious damage to our lug-’oles, and a glorious ‘Beautiful Thing You’ reminded us why the Wildies were once famously called a cross between Metallica and the Beatles.
As well as a huge birthday cake (a smiling Ginger removed a chunk of its decorations and announced: “They’re all actual lumps of crack”), a raft of special guests arrived at encore time, including Warner E Hodges of Jason & The Scorchers for his band’s own ‘White Lies’ (“The greatest song ever written!” according to Ginger), Kavus Torabi of the Cardiacs and my Metal Hammer colleague Dom Lawson. Movingly, Ginger’s 12-year-old son Jake strummed some geetar to a version of ‘Vanilla Radio’ but what made me feel *really* ancient was the sight of Jef Streatfield, a fresh-faced lad during his spell with the group, having become a man. Anyway, what a great end to a fantastic night. The Wildhearts set-list ran as follows: ‘Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes’, ‘TV Tan’, ‘Sick Of Drugs’, ‘Red Light, Green Light’, ‘Girlfriend Clothes’, ‘Dreaming In A’, ‘Someone That Won’t Let Me Go’, ‘Mazel Tov Cocktail’, ‘Caffeine Bomb’, ‘Suckerpunch’, ‘A Geordie In Wonderland’, ‘Beautiful Thing You’, ‘29 x The Pain’ and ‘Love U ’Til I Don’t’, followed by ‘Nita Nitro’, ‘Vanilla Radio’, ‘Is This the Life’, ‘White Lies’, ‘My Baby Is A Headfuck and ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’.
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Monday 17th December
I’ve very little recollection of my journey home from The Treatment’s ‘after-show’ bash at the Black Heart. Amazingly, I made it back to Ling Towers without losing my Vega T-shirt, too. Result…
After writing some album reviews and consuming actual solid, warm food (though it’s tempting to try, man cannot live on crisps, peanuts, cheese pasties and Tesco wine pouches alone!), it was time to head back into town for the reunited Little Angels at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. First up, The Temperance Movement were the best support act I’ve seen in yonks. The Anglo-Scottish combo have a lot of different influences; Little Feat, the Crowes and some early Thunder, while vocalist Phil Campbell came on like a jaw-dropping cross between Joe Cocker and Jimmy Barnes. Do yourself a favour and pick up their five-song EP; it’s great. The only turn-off was Campbell’s stage presence; alternating between standing on one leg and leaping around politely seemed… well, quite fey.
The night’s special guests were so excellent that Monsewer Beare and I both agreed the headliners would have to be a bit special to avoid being upstaged. Although new dad Dicki Fliszar was replaced on the drum stool by (I think…) Shay Beresford, Skin pushed Little Angels every inch of the way. Neville MacDonald’s vocal display during ‘Shine Your Light’ was little short of remarkable (for the record, their hour-long set also included ‘I Was Born To Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Money’, ‘How Lucky You Are’, ‘House Of Love’, ‘Stronger’, ‘Tower Of Strength’, ‘Take Me Down To The River’, ‘Perfect Day’ and the singalong ‘Look But Don't Touch’).
Back for their first tour in 18 years, the Angels had a replacement sticksman of their own, Dom Greensmith from Reef taking the place of Skunk Anansie’s Mark Richardson. If you saw them in the summer then you knew what to expect; Toby Jepson’s voice has blossomed – he sounded fabulous on ‘Don’t Prey For Me’, dedicated to the late Michael Lee – and the group had picked an extremely strong selection from their repertoire. I found the cover of Bryan Adams’ ‘Kids Wanna Rock’ a tad gratuitous, especially when ‘Do You Wanna Riot’ and ‘Big Bad World’ were mysteriously dropped from the Download warm-up show that I caught in Oxford in June. Personally, I hope they do it all again sometime. Although guitarist Bruce John Dickinson has publicly mused: “Is the world really screaming out for another Little Angels album?” I’m sure there’s creative mileage in the band yet.

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Sunday 16th December
My second consecutive Saturday afternoon turned to merde as Palace were pegged back and held to another 2-2 draw. Had Brum failed to level (at one point the Eagles actually held a 2-0 lead at St Andrews), we’d have returned to the top of the league. It’s all very annoying. Then again, back in the summer had you told me we’d be occupying an automatic promotion place at Christmastime I’d have ordered you a straightjacket.
My Saturday night was filled by the swigging of too much cider and Jägermiester in the fine company of The Beare, Debbie Shaw and Tina Edmonds as an impressive three-band bill rocked London’s Camden Underworld. Four Wheel Drive began a raucous set with a pair of lively-sounding newies (‘No Money Down’ and ‘Let The Trouble Begin’), before bringing things to the boil with a tried ‘n’ trusted bunch that included ‘Hammered Again’ (title cut of their new EP) and the perennial ‘High Roller’. Playing before a crowd that probably hadn’t seen them before – Debbie and Tina included – they deserved the applause. Special guest stars Vega did themselves no harm at all, cruising through a mixture of songs old and new, including the God-like ‘White Knuckle Ride’. The unveiling of their second album, ‘What The Hell!’, cannot come soon enough for your truly. Mid-March seems an awful long way away.
The Treatment’s tour-de-force headline display concluded with a massed stage invasion. Especially in terms of presentation, the Cambridge band have improved markedly since this summer’s massive US jaunt with Kiss and Mötley Crüe. Their 75-minute set now incorporates several freshly penned tunes (including ‘Don’t Look Down’, ‘She’s Too Much’, ‘World On Fire’, ‘Get The Party On’) as well as the likes of ‘Drink, Fuck, Fight’, ‘Departed’, ‘I Fear Nothing’, ‘I Want Love’, ‘Just Tell Me Why’, ‘The Doctor’, ‘Hake The Mountain’ and ‘Nothing To Lose But Our Minds’. Throw in encore renditions of Saxon’s Motorcycle Man’ and the Slade stompalong classic ‘Get Down And Get With It’ and the results were downright irresistible.
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Saturday 15th December
What a pleasure it was to hear Steven Wilson’s new album in 5.1 sound over at Air Studios. Uplifting, intoxicating and daubed in layers of glorious Mellotron (the original King Crimson MKII ’tron, to be precise), ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)’ features some superb lead guitar work from former Asia man Guthrie Govan. It’s timeless-sounding music made by a master craftsman. SW has even penned a moving tribute to my boozing buddy Malcolm Dome entitled ‘The Holy Drinker’ (“The holy drinker and his curse/In constant serfage to unquenchable thirst”). What an honour for the Malcoholic.
How exciting, my copy of the comeback ish of Classic Rock Presents AOR is here. Besides my own stories on Jeff Scott Soto, FM and Impera, Boston – “the world's most secretive band” – are on the cover. Derek Oliver’s well written piece reminded me of a very candid interview I did a few years ago with John Kalodner. Talking about Tom Scholz, JK said: “When we worked together, each day Tom would pick me up in his stupid Honda car and drive me to the studio, and drive me back to the same shopping centre again in the evening. He was so paranoid that he didn’t want me to know where he lived.” Loony alert!!
You want the details of my lunchtime meet with Brian May? Okay, click here.
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Friday 14th December
I made it home safely from a drink sozzled, hugely entertaining Christmas lunch in the company of Messrs Malcolm Dome, Jerry Ewing, Steve Hammonds, John Dryland, Hugh Gilmour, Jonathan Richards, David Gulvin, Curt Evans and Andy Pierce. A vindaloo and mushroom pilau washed down with plenty of goss, followed by an evening visit to the Crobar. My poor ol’ liver must be in tatters. The same time next year then, fellas?
A very busy afternoon is lined up. Tea and scones at lunchtime with Brian May as he gives a demo of the new Queen ibook, 40 Years Of Queen, penned by my former Metal Hammer boss Harry Doherty. Then over to North London for a playback of Steven Wilson's newie, ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)’. It’s a tough old life…
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Thursday 13th December
I’ve finally finished wading through Steven Tyler’s autobiography, Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? – some great drug stories make it worth reading but I fear for the guy’s sanity. Seriously, what planet does he come from?
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Wednesday 12th December
Okay... after more than two months of growth I’ve realised that I’m not really liking the beard, so tomorrow it comes off. Probably a good thing with Christmas approaching fast!
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Tuesday 11th December
I’m very happy at the news that that Rush will be inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in next April’s star studded ceremony (and I suspect that my pal Neil Pudney shares this same viewpoint). For Deep Purple, on the other hand, it’s a case of ‘back to the drawing board’. That’s pretty hard to fathom. Might have to play the classic ‘Permanent Waves’ and ‘2112’ albums this morning, I think... Check out the story here.
Just been asked my Album Of The Month for the Classic Rock staff masthead. Had to go with Hawkwind’s ‘Levitation’… on blue vinyl (but of course they won’t be able to add that last bit!)
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Monday 10th December
Yikes! I’ve just been looking at the set-list for Status Quo’s festive UK tour. ‘Marguerita Time’ *and* ‘Burning Bridges’?? Plus versions of ‘Walking In A Winter Wonderland’, ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ and ‘It’s Christmas Time’… how utterly ghastly. I may well have some socks to darn on the night that they play at the O2 Arena… even if it’s just down the road.
On the other hand, the line-up of the Firefest tenth anniversary show was announced last night on Steve Price’s ARFM Radio show: Work Of Art, Von Groove, Trixter, Shooting Star, Eden’s Curse, Eclipse, The Magnificent and more??!! I’m in!! For details of the full line-up nip across to www.firefestofficial.com.
This evening I’d planned on attending Redd Kross’ intimate gig at the Borderline. Unfortunately I’ve got a seriously bad cold… runny nose… spluttering… watery eyes. I’ve had to bail out on my ticket in favour of an early night. Grrr.
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Sunday 9th December
Frustration at the football: Until an 89th minute equaliser from Nouha Dicko, Crystal Palace had seemed likely to take all three points from yesterday’s home game against Blackpool. Given that the away side had taken the lead in the first half, also their share of the game’s possession, a draw was probably a fair result. But it was still pretty hard to take.
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Saturday 8th December
I was honored to be invited to this year’s Christmas party thrown for Future Publishing’s music group titles. What started as a sedate sit down meal for the writers, designers, publishers, ad teams and support staff of Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog turned wilder with the arrival of each flagon of white or red wine. Not sure who threw the first ice cube, or how that turned into a slice of lemon, then into a chip or a sopping wet serviette but before too long the occupants of two trestle tables were volleying projectiles across the room in hails of laughter. Great fun.
Naturally, as tongues loosened so the goss also began to flow. For instance, which two staff members of Classic Rock were guilty of auditioning for Sigue Sigue Sputnik (yes, really…)? The usual fee in unmarked fivers will protect the identities of Messrs Fortnam and Henderson – oops, that’s blown it!
One piece of very, very sad news served to counter the party mood. Huw Lloyd-Langton has lost his battle with cancer. Another major talent lost. I last saw Huw opening for Hawkwind and jamming with them at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in December 2011. My condolences go to his wife/manager Marion and former band-mates.
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Friday 7th December
It’s always nice when an artist smiles and says: “Thanks a lot for the interview – great questions, man.” I was glad that Keith Nelson from Buckcherry enjoyed the conversation as much as I had.
With time to kill before the show and the local (Camden) version of the shop now sadly defunct, I zoomed across to Notting Hill Gate for a mooch around the Record & Tape Exchange. Annoyingly, I couldn’t find a single thing to buy so headed back to the World’s End for a few quiet pints of pre-show cider. Made a point of watching the support act, Kobra & The Lotus. I’m a fan of the female-fronted Canadian rivetheads though there was no denying they were out of their comfort zone with Buckcherry’s audience. ‘Welcome To My Funeral’ and ‘Fifty Shades Of Evil’ are great songs but save for a few lone fists in the air towards the front even ‘Sanctuary’, a keys heavy ballad (performed with no keyboard player onstage), was received without enthusiasm.
Many, many years had passed since I last saw Buckcherry onstage. I’d kinda forgotten the party-friendly power of their live show but also how similar to Guns N’ Roses they can be. A stray dog-eared guitar lick here, a familiar vocal melody there… over the course of an hour and 20 minutes it all added up. No wonder Nelson and singer Josh Todd were members of a project that eventually morphed into Velvet Revolver. Though his voice seemed to require a few songs to warm up, the beanpole-thin Todd is a great, charismatic focal point for the show and if you can listen to a song like ‘Next To You’ and ‘Lit Up’ or ‘Gluttony’ – the latter previewed from Buckcherry’s new record ‘Confessions’ – without wanting to move your feet, well… maybe try getting somebody to check your pulse. The set-list ran as follows: ‘Ridin’’, ‘Rescue Me’, ‘All Night Long’, ‘Fall Or Fail’, ‘Everything’, ‘Sorry’, ‘It’s A Party’, ‘Next To You’, ‘Lit Up’, ‘Gluttony’, ‘Slammin’’, ‘Carousel’ and ‘Crazy Bitch’, plus ‘Bliss’ and ‘Onset’.
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Wednesday 5th December
It’s been fun to write a new press release / biography for the forthcoming album from the fine Norwegian band Audrey Horne. Set to be released in the UK in February via their new home of Napalm Records, ‘Youngblood’ is an excellent piece of work. Mark my words.
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Tuesday 4th December
Nice… have just been commissioned to conduct a face-to-face interview with Josh Todd and Keith Nelson from Buckcherry before the band’s gig in London on Thursday evening. Was planning on attending anyway… it’s been quite a while since I last saw them live.
Gigs are rather thin on the ground right now, and some that I’d planned to see have been scuppered by the sheer volume of work. This evening I’d just slumped into the armchair when the BlackBerry chirruped. It was a text from my Classic Rock colleague Paul ‘Gooner’ Elliott. “Watching FM in Brizzle and thought of you! Another AOR masterclass”, he wrote. What a gloating git!!!! Gutted that I won’t be seeing Thin Lizzy, FM and The Treatment on tour together… now that’s a Catford-friendly package if ever there was one.
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Monday 3rd December
I’ve been unbelievably busy, as you might’ve deduced by the dearth of recent Diary updates. However, I did find the time to revise the Playlist and YouTube pages.
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Sunday 2nd December
Aw listen, Saturdays just don’t come any better. My afternoon was spent at Selhurst where Palace played their biggest game of the season – a hate-fuelled, nail-biting showdown with deadly rivals Broken & Homo Albion (spit!). Nothing was left to chance in the build-up to the big KO. I had a cheeky glass of rose with my breakfast and bought lucky wine gums *and* lucky jelly babies en route to the ground: Defeat was simply not an option. What happened? Well, I couldn’t explain it any better than one insightful poster at the CPFC bulletin board: “A most excellent afternoons entertainment at Selhurst Park with Palace bludgeoning the Seagulls in a beautifully one sided affair.” Or a Tweet from club legend Mark Bright: “The teachers gave the pupils another lesson today, when will they learn? Palace 3-0 Brighton.”
Some serious celebration was called for. Europe at Shepherd’s Bush Empire?! That’ll do nicely. To these ears the Swedes’ most recent two albums, ‘Last Look At Eden’ and ‘Bag Of Bones’, were almost genre-defining statements in classic hard rock. So why not base the show on them? What followed was a masterclass in pacing and meticulous presentation… bands such as Mötorhead, who churn out the same songs year after year, really should pay attention. The night had everything, including an apparently successful marriage proposal before ‘New Love In Town’, a song that Joey Tempest described as “An emotional little ditty”. I’m one of those guys that could live without hearing ‘The Final Countdown’ ever again but as the band romped through its chirrup-tastic strains, the look of joy on every last face in the auditorium was truly something to behold. Mr Tempest, an adopted Londoner, looked around him and just grinned: “Unbelievable”. Here’s the song-list: ‘Riches To Rags’, ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’, ‘Firebox’, ‘Superstitious’, ‘Scream Of Anger’, ‘No Stone Unturned’, ‘New Love In Town’, ‘Demon Head’, ‘Blues (Acoustic)’, ‘A Drink And A Smile (Acoustic)’, ‘Open Your Heart’, ‘Girl From Lebanon’, ‘Love Is Not The Enemy’, ‘Carrie’, ‘Sign Of The Times’, ‘The Beast’, ‘Doghouse’ and ‘Rock The Night’, plus ‘Prelude’/‘Last Look At Eden’ and ‘The Final Parpdown’.
With Palace rightfully back at the top of the league, all seemed perfect with the world. The only blight came in the form of a text from Colin Harkness who revealed that the original members of Mersey boogie machine Spider had a spontaneous reunion at the 50th birthday party of our friend Debra Long. Back onstage together for the first time in 26 years they ran through five songs (‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Forever Will Last’, ‘All The Time’, ‘So Sorry’, ‘Midsummer Morning’ and ‘Did You Like It Baby’)... and I friggin’ well missed it!!! Aaaaaarg!
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Saturday 1st December
After wracking my remaining brain-cells I’ve just arrived at the conclusion that my last sighting of the Norwegian band TNT was at London’s Marquee Club on a tour for the ‘Tell No Tales’ album in 1987… unbelievable. Said show, which took place at the venue’s Wardour Street sweatbox, was among the loudest and most enjoyable that I ever attended. So the chance of a repeat viewing at a small club like the Underworld was a bit of a no-brainer, especially with Stampede confirmed as the support act.
Apart from the fact that ex-Shy singer Tony Mills now fronts things in place of Tony Harnell, little had changed. Once again the volume levels were well and truly in the red zone, guitarist Ronni Le Tekrø throwing his axe around with wild, attention-grabbing gusto. I was happy to see Mr Mills, who dedicated the melodic rock classic ‘10,000 Lovers (In One)’ to his fallen Shy band-mate Steve Harris, looking so physically fit and with the full range of his voice intact. In his place would I have used quite as much vibrato throughout as Mills? Well, no… not really… isn’t it supposed to be an extra addition to the armoury? But you couldn’t have blamed Tone for thinking, ‘If you’ve still got it, flaunt it…’.
The 80-minute display paid scant attention to the band’s three Mills-fronted records, its wondrous final run-in of four tunes drawing a discreet veil over the grim cheesiness of ‘Harley-Davidson’ and ‘U.S.A.’, both recorded when the band still wrote lyrics in Norwegian and pidgin English. Here’s hoping they’ll come back someday, though given the size of a Friday night crowd I wouldn’t go betting my mortgage on it. Here’s what was played: ‘Invisible Noise’, ‘Substitute’, ‘Listen To Your Heart’, ‘Break The Ice’, ‘As Far As The Eye Can See’, ‘Downhill Racer’, ‘Harley-Davidson’, ‘U.S.A.’, ‘Caught Between The Tigers’, Instrumental Jam/Guitar Solo, ‘My Religion’ and ‘10,000 Lovers (In One)’, plus ‘Everyone’s A Star’, ‘Intuition’ and ‘Seven Seas’.