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

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Tuesday 31st December
As he already had plans for the days concerned, I just called my dad to enquire about his festive break. Gotta admit, I was a bit worried about him after we lost mum last year. It appears that he got drunk and fell into a Christmas tree at a party in a neighbour's house. The (cider) apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, does it? Seriously, if you knew my dad… he’s the kind of bloke that thinks two pints in an evening is excessive. But on the night in question “people just kept topping up my wine glass” – I almost weed myself as he recounted the tale!
It’s just too wet ‘n’ slippery outside to take a run, so instead I’ve just done 45 mins on the exercise bike to Status Quo’s classic ‘Quo’ album from 1974 – one of those rare releases that’s all but perfect, hardly even a note out of place. Who else agrees with me that ‘Slow Train’ should be in the Frantic Four’s 2014 set-list?
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Monday 30th December
It took me quite a few days (and nights) but I’ve just completed The Man Who Hates Walking (Wymer Publishing), a book written by Overend Watts that details the Mott The Hoople bassist’s walk along the South West Coast Path back in 2003. The 650-mile coastal pathway runs from Minehead to South Haven Point and offers some of this country’s most rugged terrain. Watts was a 55-year-old novice when he attempted to walk along it. Though the book is perhaps a little over-long at 307 pages, his efforts are very amusing at times. Don’t read it expecting rock ‘n’ roll anecdotes, it’s just not that type of a book, but it is endearingly written and contains its fair share of chuckles. Next up: High Stakes & Dangerous Men, Neil Daniels’ unofficial biography of UFO (Soundcheck Books).
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Sunday 29th December
I’m just back from a night out at the Picture House in Greenwich. I took the boys to see Anchorman 2 after they split their sides laughing at the original movie on TV earlier in the festive break. Containing some great lines the sequel every bit as good as its predecessor… possibly even more so. A very pleasant evening.
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Saturday 28th December
Wow, that’s fantastic – Man City’s Billionaires could only carve a slender 1-0 victory over plucky Crystal Palace, whose well-drilled tenacity and attacks on the break ensured that the home side’s goalie Hart was named man of the match. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, admittedly, but I’ve just read that at half-time Paul Merson apparently told viewers of Sky Sports that we’d put Arsenal and Tottenham to shame with our performance at the Etihad Stadium, as Palace became only the second team this season to restrict City to a single goal (the other being Bayern Munich). Yes, things are really looking up; with a couple of canny buys in the transfer window and the return of Glenn Murray, staying up must now be a strong possibility.
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Friday 27th December
Besides nursing a severe hangover, Catford is windy, rainy and cold and I’m stuck in my office working on my accounts. I’ve also eaten way too much crap food over the last coupla days. ‘The Switch’, the excellent debut album from female-fronted Israeli proggers Key Of The Moment has provided momentary cheer but I’m not in the best of moods, if you want the God’s honest truth.
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Thursday 26th December
I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. Just 48 hours after Christ Eve’s horrid pavement-forehead interface my lunchtime was spent notching up five laps of the local park. Tomorrow it’ll be six. Bring on the Shiteon Half Marathon in two months’ time.
As I type I’m drinking a pint of wine – the first of many, I suspect – following a dramatic win at Villa Park that lifted Crystal Palace out of the relegation zone. Substitute Dwight Gale banged in a wonderstrike deep into stoppage time. In fact, I missed the goal due to my web link to the game going down in the 90th minute. As I scrambled desperately for a new connection, next thing I knew Eddie was smashing down the door of my office and roaring like a loony: “Dad, we’ve scoooooooooored!” To all those fellow CPFC faithful who’ve have had to endure all of my blathering about Gale’s unsuitability for the Premier League – I’ll get me coat!
[Edit: I opened a bottle of Moet for Match Of The Day, a leftover from the summer’s Lingfest, and it turned out that Eddie wasn’t too keen. Better drink it all myself then. It’s a tough life…]
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Wednesday 25th December
A slighty squiffy Christmas and a prosperous 2014 to all regular readers of this page from Dave, Eddie and Arnie Ling, plus of course Kayla the CPFC eagle.

Dave Ling Online

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Tuesday 24th December
Oouuuuch! Goddamit! I’ve just suffered my first running injury. I slipped in the wet a mere 500 yards from home... banged my head onto the concrete path – glasses are broken, there’s blood everywhere and I’ve skinned both knees. But will I let it stop me...? Those that replied ‘yes’, how wrong you are though this little setback will certainly slow down my preparation for the half-marathon in February. And there’s worse news still... my local optician is shut till Jan 2nd! On the bright side, however, Eddie was so upset to see me at the front door covered in crimson... I’ve a season ticket to as much tea as I can drink for the next few days!
I’ve extremely mixed feelings over the news that Ron Noades, Crystal Palace’s chairman for 17 years, has lost a battle with cancer. Noades, 76, brought glamour and the most amazing times to Selhurst Park, appointing Steve Coppell as manager and helping to assemble the Wright/Bright-fronted side that reached the 1990 FA Cup final and came third in the First Division the following year. However, Noades was also guilty of lining his own pockets and, finally, shafting the club in its hour of need by selling to Mark Goldberg when it was all too apparent that the guy was a spiv. Personally, I will never forgive Uncle Ron for a particular incident that happened under his stewardship in 1994/95 – i.e. waiting till the last possible moment to buy Iain Dowie for the cheapest possible price. The Elephant Man’s six goals in 19 games goals *almost* kept us in the Premier League – had he been a Palace player for a month or two longer then we almost certainly would have avoided relegation, thereby changing the club’s history as a yoyo outfit.
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Monday 23rd December
Well, it seems that the Christmas break is finally, officially underway. This fact didn’t prevent me from conducting a quick interview with Bernie Marsden at lunchtime, nor from spending most of the day stuck at my desk. Sadly, my posterior will be in the same leather office chair for most of the so-called holidays as yet again I must complete my accounts before the rest of Classic Rock editorial team returns to the grindstone. Can’t wait for that…. NOT!!!
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Sunday 22nd December
What an anticlimax. Crystal Palace 0, Newcastle United 3. Luckily, I’d drunk enough alcohol to anaesthetize a school of rhino since arriving at our social club at Norwood Junction some three hours prior to KO. Afterwards I returned to the place and stayed to sup a few more consolation beverages. Had I been inclined to don my rose tinted spectacles I’d point out that the Toon’s goals came a from a deflection, an OG and penalty… the truth is the visitors were by far the better team on the day. However, they also enjoyed the benefit of some shockingly bad decisions from a Godawful referee. How many 50/50 decisions did he give Palace’s way? Almost none, I’d say…
Managed to sober up, shrug off the hangover and take a quick park run before my father turned up to take myself and his two Linglet grandsons for a Christmas dinner at the local Harvester. The grub wasn’t up to its usual standard, in all truthfulness, and I couldn’t even look at a beer but the company was good.
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Saturday 21st December
How I adored yesterday’s road trip to the midlands for Thunder’s Christmas show (night #1). Though we managed to lose two of our number prior to embarking from Euston a fine ol’ inebriated time was had onboard the train, followed by libations in the hotel and in various drinking dens around Wolverhampton city centre with Reuben and Lauren Archer. Once inside the Civic Hall I dumped into my pals Jeff and Phillipa, who provided further excellent company.
Thunder broke down their show into two halves – a comparatively sedate unplugged segment, followed by the more familiar electrified, jump up and down frenzy. Choice cover versions of songs by Ling-friendly artists such as The Who, The Doobie Brothers and Bob Seger abounded during a 150-minute display that totalled a whopping 26 songs! I could never claim to be a fan of Neil Young or the Beatles but ‘Heart Of Gold’ and ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ both worked magnificently in this context, and those show-closing renditions of Elton’s ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ and the perennial ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ sent an already delirious Black Country crowd into full blown festive meltdown. Here’s the set-list: Set 1 – ‘Long Way From Home’, ‘Pinball Wizard’, ‘Robert Johnson’s Tombstone’, ‘Heart Of Gold’, ‘Carol Ann’, ‘Can’t Live Your Life In A Day’, ‘Long Train Runnin’’, ‘A Love Worth Dying For’, ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘When I’m Dead And Gone’ (originally by McGuinness-Flint). Set 2 comprised: ‘She’s So Fine’, ‘Everybody Wants Her’, ‘Pilot Of My Dreams’, ‘In A Broken Dream’, ‘Hollywood Nights’, ‘Fly On The Wall’, ‘Empty City’, ‘Fade Into The Sun’, ‘Dreaming’, ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’, ‘Just Another Suicide (You Wanna Know)’, ‘Don’t Wait For Me’ and ‘I Love You More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll’, followed by ‘A Better Man’, ‘Saturday Night’s Alright…’ and ‘Merry Xmas….’. For those who’ve never attended a Thunder Christmas knees-up, I can only recommend them in the most emphatic possible terms. The live album recorded across both nights will be fantastic!
Afterwards it was back to the event’s meet & greet till the closure of its bar, (joined in the accompanying photograph by partners in grime Jerry Ewing, Harj Kallah and Malcolm Dome) followed by a taxi ride to Thunder’s hotel to slurp down the final droplets of available alcohol and talk further drivel about Crystal Palace’s Premier League survival prospects with Sir Harry of James.

Dave Ling Online

Speaking of which… my next stop was Wolvo station and a 7.59 train back to London in time to top up those booze levels prior the Eagles’ home game with Newcastle – Strongbow Pear and a bacon bap for breakfast… now *that’s* how to start the day!
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Friday 20th December
Phew… my Rush story is completed at last, I managed to squeeze in a park run and I’m showered, packed and ready for today’s road trip to Wolverhampton for the first of two Christmas shows from the mighty Thunder, followed by tomorrow’s clash between Palace and Newcastle. I am really looking forward to a couple of days away from Ling Towers.
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Thursday 19th December
Save for a short cameo some 24 hours earlier as part of Ginger Wildheart’s birthday show, it had taken 37 years for Starz to appear on a British stage – talk about a bucket list moment for those connoisseurs among us that cherished the band’s albums for all of this time in an apparently vain hope of an in-the-flesh sighting.
There were some set-list grumbles. Apart from the instrumental track of the same name (which served as a teaser for ‘Boys In Action’) the ‘Coliseum Rock’ album was completely ignored, and even though the crowd shouted, roared and stamped their feet in their request for ‘Subway Terror’ that choice from ‘Violation’ also went unplayed. It was later pointed out that ‘Coliseum…’ selections ‘Last Night I Wrote A Letter’ and ‘So Young, So Bad’, also ‘Sing It Shout It’, were all included in an earlier unplugged meet & greet performance and the band decided against duplicating them. Humph! Despite such fairly trivial grievances: the night did *not* disappoint.
With a line-up competed by the aforementioned Ginger on bass duties and Alex Kane of AntiProduct fame on rhythm guitar, vocalist Michael Lee Smith, guitarist Ritchie Ranno and drummer Joe X Dubé delighted a surprisingly large and vociferous crowd at London’s Garage with a 95-minute display. Rehearsal time had been minimal for obvious reasons but barring sporadic moments of unfamiliarity the makeshift group carried off the night with consummate ease. Sporting a Starz bandanna the alarmingly hefty Lee Smith for all of the world resembled the dad of Suicidal Tendencies singer Mike Muir, but his voice still sounded fine and there were one or two choice raps. “Take a trip with us back to 1976, when guitar players were guitar players – plugged in on a wire like God intended. None of this soulless , wireless bullshit,” he cried as the band took to the stage. A few songs in he grinned: “Lots of people have wondered why we haven’t been here before. [It’s because] you people hadn’t been born yet – we were waiting for you!” And best off all, MLS got the crowd whooping wildly with the first part of his statement when he challenged us: “Make some noise. We’re recording this for a live album. Well, not really…!” I loved the fact that Ginger’s own ‘Loveshit’ was included as part of a three-song encore.
Okay… any further negatives? Well, how about that gratuitous and highly offensive onstage namecheck of Scumwall for a start (“No! That’s a violation!!!”) and the fact that, as wonderful as the show undoubtedly was, it left me wishing that I’d been able to see the group at their peak. Here’s the set-list: ‘(She’s Just A) Fallen Angel’, ‘Tear It Down’, ‘Detroit Girls’, ‘Monkey Business’, ‘Live Wire’, ‘Night Crawler’, ‘Violation’, ‘Cherry Baby’, ‘Pull The Plug’, ‘She’, ‘The Third Time’s The Charm’ and ‘Coliseum Rock’/‘Boys In Action’ (inc Drum Solo), followed by ‘Loveshit’, ‘Rock Six Times’ and ‘X-Ray Specs’.
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Wednesday 18th December
I am making good progress on the transcript of my recent face to face interview with Alex Lifeson of Rush, which is cool as the finished text needs to be submitted to Prog magazine by the week’s end.
Yikes! The ‘in box’ contains another reminder email from the Shiteon Half Marathon people – there now just two months to go till the big day. For the last coupla weeks I’ve been bunged up with cold or to too rammed with work to escalate my training. I’m *really* gonna have to pull my finger out and rack up some serious mileage. There’s no running today, though, as it’s the Christmas lunch for the Classic Rock / Metal Hammer / Prog / AOR / Blues magazines, followed by Starz’ UK debut at the Garage. It’s a ridiculous statement to make but I shall really have to exercise some self-restraint if I want my bring home some precious memories of this long overdue event.
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Tuesday 17th December
What’s that you ask? Can I do a phone interview with the co-founding ever-present of Yes, bassist Chris Squire? Okay, I’d love to. And can I do it today? In a couple of hours??!! Blimey, there’s nothing like being thrown in at the deep end is there? Luckily, I’ve got know Squire pretty well and he was in talkative mood as we discussed the decision to perform three of the band’s classics – ‘The Yes Album’, ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘Going For The One’ – in their entirety during April and May’s UK tour. Put me down for a ticket for the Royal Albert Hall please!
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Monday 16th December
I really enjoyed yesterday afternoon’s lengthy phone chat with Bernie Marsden, whose forthcoming solo CD ‘Shine’ is a regular at my office Death Deck. As someone who has played with just about all of rock musics top names at one point or another, Bernie is one of the ‘good guys’, always with an anecdote and a friendly laugh, but never managing to sound smug or in the least but conceited. A top bloke in my book…
As part of a some craze doing the rounds on Facebook my Californian friend Charrie Foglio has invited me to select 10 books “that have stayed with you in some way”. I found it an interesting challenge. Couldn’t list them in any particular order but here are the ones I chose:
    Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, Dee Brown
    Fluke, James Herbert
    Pet Cemetary, Stephen King
    The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty
    The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
    We All Follow The Palace, various authors
    Shogun, James Clavell
    The Dirt, Mötley Crüe with Neil Strauss
    Walk This Way, Aerosmith with Stephen Davis
    Dear Boy: The Life Of Keith Moon, Tony Fletcher
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Sunday 15th December
My Saturday afternoon was spent glued to a weblink as Palace headed across London for a perilous away game at Stamford Bridge (well, I certainly wasn’t gonna pay £55 for a match ticket – even assuming I could beat the club’s Premier League gloryhunters). Our legion of faithful fans sang: “Is this a library?!”, followed by a shock statement from co-commentator that the Eagles followers are the noisiest and best in the Premier League, home and away. Well said, that man! I winced as Chelski took the lead, only for Chamakh to go down to the other end and equalise! Though the home side won the game 2-1 they were on the back foot throughout the second half, only a goal-line clearance from J**n T**ry preserving their lead. It was a great performance on the pitch and off it. Indeed, this morning there are some surprising words of praise from Jose Mourinho for the Red & Blue Army: “Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic fans. They support their team till the end, they pushed them all the time. I was impressed with Crystal Palace today and I wish them well.” I still think Jose is a smug, conceited twat, but it’s nice to see him take a day off. Hahaha!
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Saturday 14th December
I’m still recovering from an almighty end of tour party for Airbourne, Orange Goblin and The Treatment at London’s Forum. At one point I was alternating between three different drinks; cider, neat vodka and champagne - and quite probably talking in several different languages, including Swahili.
With Jake Pattinson deputising for the departed Ben Brookland, The Treatment were first up, showcasing a tweaked image of shorter, punkier hairstyles (with the exception of bassist Rick Newman) and leather jackets. Like I said on this page a coupla days ago, the band’s second album takes some large creative steps so nobody could blame them if four of its tracks (‘Don’t Look Down’, ‘I Bleed Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Running With The Dogs’ and ‘Emergency’) outnumbered old favourites ‘Drink! Fuck! Fight!’, ‘The Doctor’ and ‘Shake The Mountain’. It’s been a great year for The Treatment and 2014 will only get better! Here’s a photo from the party of a spontaneous meeting of the Crystal Palace Supporters’ Club (Treatment Branch), with fellow sufferer Rick Newman.

Dave Ling Online

The venue filled out massively for Orange Goblin who were playing the last of 160 gigs in 28 countries over the last 12 months. They’ve always been complete gentlemen whenever I’ve met them socially but I couldn’t claim to be a great student of the band’s catalogue, nor a particular exponent of their worth. I liked them best when they didn’t try too hard to sound like Kyuss. Meanwhile, the Forum was becoming so rammed it felt I ended up wearing more beer than I actually drank.
The headliners were in no mood to piss about. Taking swigs from a bottle of Motörhead Shiraz, guitarist/frontman Joel O’Keeffe was carried triumphantly by a roadie through the crowd after just three songs and the crowd roared along to every last lyric and powerchord. Though the Australians are justly proud of their third studio album, ‘Black Dog Barking’, they didn’t force-feed us with its tracks. I kinda liked ‘Ready To Rock’ as an opener, while ‘Back In The Game’ was a marvellous fist-in-the-air anthem. Later on O’Keeffe went walkabout again, upstairs and down, and upon his return to the stalls climbed the railings to access the wheelchair section, where he made a point of handing guitar picks to those that he passed – a lovely gesture. “We’ll see you at Sonisphere in the summer!” he roared as the band exited the stage. You certainly will, fella. Here’s the set-list: ‘Ready To Rock’, ‘Too Much Too Young Too Fast’, ‘Girls In Black’, ‘Back In The Game’, ‘Diamond In The Rust’, ‘Black Dog Barking’, ‘Cheap Wine And Cheaper Women’, ‘Hungry’, ‘No Way But The Hard Way’, and ‘Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll’, plus encores of: ‘Live It Up’, ‘Raise The Flag’ and ‘Running Wild’. The best bit of the night arrived at the after-show bash When Joel O’Keeffe clambered up onto the bar to announce that there was free bubbly! Top man, great band, wonderful company, fantastic night…
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Friday 13th December
Progress with Rock Goddess’ reunion album, ‘Unfinished Business’, continues. According to her Facebook page, Tracey Lamb is in the country laying down her bass parts, I quote: “14 backing tracks finished and I’m feeling fantastic. It sounds brill. Just listening to playback and this is gonna be huge”. Really looking forward to hearing the finished results!
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Thursday 12th December
Coool! My advance CDr of The Treatment’s second album, ‘Running With The Dogs’, is here. Due on February 3rd via Spinefarm Records it’s a right l’il corker. The band have shown some artistic growth without betraying their roots which is always the name of game. Its penultimate track, ‘Unchain My World’, is a bit of a shock… in a nice way!
Anyway, despite spending much of yesterday on the sofa wrapped up in a duvet, I have somehow roused myself from my sickbed to head off to central London for the annual festive lunch/knees-up shebang with Malcolm Dome, Jerry Ewing, John Dryland, Steve Hammonds, David Gulvin, Curt Evans, Jonathan Richards and Andy Pearce. Given the form of previous events, much juvenile silliness is likely to abound. When Eddie asked: “Dad, what time will you be back?” I replied: “It all depends on the date!”
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Wednesday 11th December
I was among a handful of media types to make it into the O2 Arena for last night’s Black Sabbath gig after the band axed all review tickets and photopasses – no idea why; it was all a bit strange.
A bunch of hairy, scruffy gits from Cambridge with an armoury of grimy, detuned but intensely listenable riffs, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats represented a fine choice of opening act. Mixing heroic stoner-boogie shuffles with twin guitar-enriched doom-rock their music translated surprisingly well into an arena situation and they should sell their Rise Above Records label boss Lee Dorrian quite a few albums as a consequence of such a creditable showing.
I’d gone along to the O2 with very minimal expectations that Sabbath could still deliver the goods, despite the undoubted quality of their chart-topping comeback disc ‘13’. However, as things turned out I was happy to be proven wrong. Sure, Ozzy’s voice was flatter than a witch’s tit for the first few numbers, faltering badly again during ‘God Is Dead’ but, musically speaking the band – particularly guitarist Tony Iommi – sounded absolutely incredible, something that for the most part wallpapered over any criticism of the vocals. WTF, the guy is 65 years old, and from my vantage point there was no sign of a teleprompter to help him with lyrics.
The 02 went apeshit as a disembodied but oh-so familiar voice roared: “Let me fucking hear you!”, as the lights dimmed and a siren began to wail. The one and only ‘War Pigs’ – what a way to enter the stage!! Iommi’s intro to ‘Into The Void’ sounded genuinely evil and, touchingly, given the guitarist’s ailing health, midway through the same song Ozzy shuffled over to Tony and gave him an enquiring thumbs up. Yes, since reaching pensionable age things have changed a great deal in Sabbath’s world. Ozzy introduced ‘Snowblind’, their paean to cocaine with the words: “We don’t do that anymore”.
The three new songs ‘Age Of Reason’, ‘End Of The Beginning’ and ‘God Is Dead’ were all worthy of their place in the two-hour set but, inevitably, it was the oldies that drew the loudest cheers. My own highlight of the evening was ‘Black Sabbath’, the song that started the entire genre – a trip back to year zero, baby!
Beyond a short solo that heralded ‘NIB’, Geezer Butler didn’t really get too involved beyond keeping those bass riffs pumping, his mind seemingly 117 miles away as 22 imaginary men kicked a ball around at his beloved Villa Park. Tommy Clufetos played the songs simply and with respectful feeling. His showcase spot was well above average though at seven minutes perhaps a tad over-long – if you like drum solos (does anybody?) He’s no Bill Ward, but the fact that he’s here and Bill ain’t really isn’t his fault. Ozzy was Ozzy, closing around and throwing buckets of water (including an intentional drowning for a security guard!) and doing that peculiar frog-leap of his. For all his shortcomings, he’s still one of the best rock frontmen out there. Sabbath have confirmed a few festival dates for 2014 but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that that was probably going to be the last time I’d see them onstage. I hope not. Here’s the set-list: ‘War Pigs’, ‘Into The Void’, ‘Under The Sun’, ‘Snowblind’, ‘Age Of Reason’, ‘Black Sabbath’, ‘Behind The Wall Of Sleep’, Bass Solo, ‘NIB’, ‘End Of The Beginning’, ‘Fairies Wear Boots’, ‘Rat Salad’/Drum Solo, ‘Iron Man’, ‘God Is Dead’, ‘Dirty Women’ and ‘Children Of The Grave’ with an encore of ‘Paranoid’.
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Tuesday 10th December
I managed to behave myself during last night’s meal and despite a few nightcaps in the Crobar my head feels okay this morning. Phew! Just did a phone interview with Benji Webbe from Skindred. What a great bloke. He knows exactly what a journalist wants and doesn’t pussyfoot around. Answered all of my questions in 12 or 13 mins when some artists would’ve strung things out for twice or three times as long – and his responses were fabulous!
Okay, transport and accommodation are both booked for the first of Thunder’s Christmas gigs at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. Then an early train back to London and the boozing continues before Palace’s home game against Newcastle. Sounds like a plan… though perhaps one that I may live to regret!
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Monday 9th December
It’s a Classic Rock production deadline day; I’ve got obituaries to write, a detailed news surf to conduct and a huge pile of CDs to wade through before this evening’s Monday Night Supper Club in the West End of London. Must also try to squeeze in a park run…
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Sunday 8th December
Another victory for Crystal Palace?! This is getting boring! Hahaha! Yes, thanks to goals from Cameron Jerome and Marouane Chamakh, the Eagles dumped on the Bluebirds of Cardiff from a great height, claiming back-to-back Prem wins for the first time since October 2004 as the team from SE25 ascend to 18th in the table!
After a few celebratory flagons of mead I jumped aboard a Southbound train to meet my friend Harj Kallah at Sutton, where following the relative disappointment of 24 hours earlier Uli Ron Roth’s tour arrived at the Boom Boom Club. I’m so glad we made the decision to take another look. Two gigs – the same band, almost identical set-lists, but each as different as night and day. A crystal clear PA allowed us to savour every last flamboyant, exquisite connection ’twixt pick and string as Roth turned in another masterclass. Audible at last, the voice of ex-Persian Risk/Geezer Butler Band frontman Carl Sentance was a revelation of similar proportions. Understandably, Uli seemed less fraught than the night before and after the baroque majesty of ‘Fly To The Rainbow’ he announced an attempt at the same album’s ‘Speedy’s Coming’ (“Here’s something a bit less serious”), though his drummer clearly didn’t know how it went and the song fell apart before its intended conclusion. At encore time Roth went for something a little different, namely some guitar/keyboard improv based around Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto de Aranjuez (Theme From The Second Movement), followed by a wonderful rendition of Jimi’s ‘Little Wing’. Goosebumps arose as the final notes rang out – the perfect end to a truly inspirational evening.
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Saturday 7th December
Despite the advice of Uli Jon Roth, I didn’t bother taking earplugs to yesterday’s gig at Mothers Live, a basement dive in London’s Old Street. The soundman might well have been wearing a pair of them, though. For whatever reason – the sheer volume of Roth’s guitar, the ineptitude of the PA, yadda yadda yadda… – the show might as well have been all-instrumental. Lead vocals were almost inaudible until about three-quarters of the way through, and there was nothing the band could do about it. “It’s a bit of a drag,” shrugged frontman Carl Sentance a few songs into the set, “I can barely hear myself but it’s rock ‘n’ roll… I’ll use sign language instead.” The music was absolutely incredible; Roth has an excellent band, including a home-grown 17-year-old co-guitarist called Ali Clinton whose ultra-fashionable haircut suggested he should be a member of the Black Veil Brides, yet who stands toe-to-toe with the maestro during some of the show’s more demanding moments and even takes the mic to deliver ‘I’ve Got To Be Free’. (The rest of the line-up comprises bassist Owen Davidson, keyboard player Paul Rahme and drummer Richard Kirk).

Dave Ling Online

Rammed full of early Scorps classics, the set-list was amazing: ‘All Night Long’, ‘Longing For Fire’, ‘Crying Days’, ‘The Sails Of Charon’, ‘Life’s Like A River’, ‘Sun In My Hand’, ‘In Search Of The Peace Of Mind’, ‘In Trance’, ‘Fly To The Rainbow’, ‘I’ve Got To be Free’, ‘Hell Cat’, ‘Pictured Life’, ‘Catch Your Train’, ‘Polar Nights’ and ‘Dark Lady’. Yeah, it *should* have been an excellent show but call me Mr Picky, the absence of vocals kinda ruined things for me and when ‘Fly To The Rainbow’ ran aground due to a faulty bass socket my patience pretty much snapped. However, the frustration only seemed to light a fire under the posterior of Uli, who roared out: “There’s a curfew but we’re going to play till the police come!” as the band launched into a good half-hour of Jimi Hendrix worship by way of an encore.
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Friday 6th December
Very cool – I’ve just been hired to write a new biography for Bernie Marsden’s upcoming solo album, ‘Shine’. Not sure how much is generally known about the album, save for the fact that David Coverdale is a special guest, but the label has just sent me a pre-release listening link, and it’s rather good! Plenty of variety and some strong tunes ‘n’ playing.
I’ve been blasting out my vinyl gatefold of ‘Tokyo Tapes’ by the Scorpions as a warm-up for tomorrow’s gig by Uli Jon Roth, based upon that band’s first five albums. In fact, this afternoon I had the pleasure of talking to Uli by phone. When I mentioned that I am coming along to the apparently tiny Mother Bar he chuckled and advised: “Bring your earplugs!”
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Thursday 5th December
There’s not much to report for the last few days as my post-Wet Sham hangover gradually subsided. I had lunch in Croydon with Wendy Campling, which was lovely, but important phone interviews prevented me from attending the Michael Monroe gig at Islington Academy, and Eddie’s college parents evening has scuppered a plan to see Uli Jon Roth this evening at the Beaverwood. No matter, a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ football weekend is on the way. Can’t wait!
And talking of alcoholic excess, I’ve just found out that the Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, AOR, Blues xmas lunch shebang is on December 18th – the same day as Starz roll up for their UK debut at the Garage. Ulp! Apologies in advance for any regrettable behaviour on my part!
Oh look, some new UFO dates have been announced. I sense a road drip coming on. Set the Satnav for Southampton, cap’n! And stock up at Oddbins along the way!
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Wednesday 4th December
The following entry from my Facebook page should tell you a little about this morning’s fragility: “Palace 1 Wet Sham 0. Off bottom of the table again. Drinking a very large bottle of pina colada something-ish. Might be a bit ill in the morn but WTF, gotta enjoy these moments!”
Ahem… no matter what Fat Sam says – is there a more ungracious prat in the game? – the Eagles deserved the victory, thanks to a well taken glancing header from Marouane Chamakh (oh, the irony!). Eddie and I have just finished watching it all again on BT Sport with tea ‘n’ toast – it was a great performance, especially in second half! The commentators kept saying how amazing the CPFC fans were, and how we can play a role in this season's outcome. They are so, so right.
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Tuesday 3rd December
The first names for next summer's Sonisphere line-up are out… Iron Maiden and Metallica on a British bill together for the first time ever? That’ll do nicely!!!
The monthly updates at the Playlist and YouTube pages are up.
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Monday 2nd December
Back in the 1980s Pat McManus declined an approach to leave Mama’s Boys and join Whitesnake. Careers crumble or flourish upon such decisions, but whilst the Irish guitarist was flattered says he “didn’t consider the offer for two seconds – mum and dad might have something to say had I left my brothers.”
It speaks volumes of the man. In 2013, with Mama’s Boys having fizzled out a decade ago, and following a left-field reinvention as the equally ill-fated Celtus, McManus is out on the road again. His solo band are blues-based but distinguished by dazzling arena-rock-based guitar heroics.
Last night I braved London’s shoddy Sunday transport to attend his gig Upstairs At The Garage in North London. From the ZZ Top-ish ‘S Before X’ to the sumptuously delicate and decidedly Hendrix-flavoured ‘Cold Town’, the newly released album, ‘Dark Emerald Highway’, is McManus’ best yet. Elsewhere there’s strength in depth and plenty of variety. The instrumental ‘Juggernaut’ comes on like a Riverdance adaptation of Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’ and McManus pays acoustic tribute to his hero Rory Gallagher with ‘The Return Of The G Man’. We get two Mama’s Boys songs; ‘Runaway Dreams’, complete with fiddle climax, and the brilliant ‘Needle In The Groove’. A saunter through ZZ Top’s ‘La Grange’ ends things on a high. Pat smiles like a loon from the first note to the last. He’s clearly having a ball. And though last night’s crowd was sparser than expected (Dan Baird was playing across town), there’s a livelihood to be carved from his current direction and DIY approach. A third bite at the major league cherry is not out of the question – for any A-listers in search of a guitarist you won’t find a more sincere, decent, loyal and above all gifted human being on the planet – though with equal honesty, the recruitment of a specialist lead vocalist is essential should he prefer to take the Pat McManus Band further.
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Sunday 1st December
“If you know this song then you’re as old as we are,” smiled Kim McAuliffe last night as Girlschool prepared to play the title cut of an album called ‘Hit And Run’ that was released a whopping (ulp!) 32 years ago! It was wonderful to see Kim and the girls onstage again; they don’t seem to play as often as they used to and I miss their mix of great songs and scatty, seemingly spontaneous banter about guitar straps, shopping, bunny rabbits and drummer Denise Dufort’s pussy (Kim: “Cat! Cat!”). Save for ‘I Spy’, from their 30th anniversary album ‘Legacy’, which featured both Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi, the set focussed largely on their glory years of the 1980s. Possibly with one eye on getting to the pub before closing time Dufort powered them through a thrash-metal rendition of ‘Yeah Right’, and at encore time, even though they didn’t know the song concerned, Mark and John Gallagher of support act Raven joined in on ‘Take It All Away’, which was hugely entertaining! The set ran as follows; ‘Demolition Boys’, ‘C’Mon Let’s Go’, ‘The Hunter’, ‘Hit And Run’, ‘I Spy’, ‘Never Say Never’, ‘Screaming Blue Murder’, ‘Future Flash’, ‘Breakout (Knob In The Media)’, ‘Watch Your Step’, ‘Nothing To Lose’, ‘Yeah Right’, ‘Race With The Devil’, ‘Emergency’ and ‘Take It All Away’.
Due to time constraints, equipment problems and the presence of a dire opening act, Raven played for just 45 minutes, which I found extremely annoying. The combination of breakneck rhythms (dubbed ‘athletic rock’ back in the day), the slashing guitars of Mark Gallagher and sibling John’s screaming banshee vocals was little short of mesmerising. What they *didn’t* play was just as crucial as the songs that *did* get heard – viz ‘Take Control’, ‘Live At The Inferno’, ‘All For One’, ‘Rock Until You Drop’, ‘Speed Of The Reflex’, ‘Mind Over Metal’, ‘On And On’ and a version of ‘Break The Chains’ that integrated snippets of Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’, the Quo’s mighty ‘Caroline’, ‘In For The Kill’ by Budgie and Judas Priest gem ‘Genocide’
I was left disappointed in the afternoon’s Crystal Palace result but took encouragement by an improved performance that deserved a point against Norwich at Carrow Road. Cameron Jerome fluffing that sitter right at the end was plain embarrassing, but after his winner last week Barry Bannan is gonna be an important player for the Eagles. And it’s great to have l’il Joniesta back from injury too!