This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Sunday 31st December
My emotions are shredded following a dramatic afternoon at Selhurst that saw Palace end Man Shitty's run of 18 consecutive victories. Before the game, the fella that sits next to us proposed a sweepstake - not to guess how long it would take City to score, but how many minutes would pass before the Eagles touched the ball. In the end, Roy's men battled hard deserved their point from a goalless stalemate against opponents that scarcely deserved the status of 'artisans'. Zaha was cut down or pushed over every time he received the ball, largely going unpunished, though the whistle followed when City's megastars toppled over at a passing breeze. The Eagles were the first team to shut out their opponents in the league this season and could have won it at the death... another missed injury time penalty?!?! That felt more like a defeat, though the draw was of course very precious indeed. Keep on playing like that in 2018 and we will stay up - easily.
Anyway, enough talk about footie... it's New Year's Eve and it's time to throw open the drawbridge of Ling Towers and welcome our loony mates for a night of celebration.
Thursday 28th December
Yeah, of course Alastair Cook's 244 not out against the Convicts is a massive achievement, but I'm not going to join the hullabaloo of those queuing up to praise his concentration, skill and patience. It's in the Fourth Test for fuck's sake, and the bloke has played like a hyperactive Stevie Wonder in the previous three. *Fumes*
Meanwhile, it's two years since we lost Lemmy. One of my all-time heroes, and still very much missed in these parts.
Monday 25th December
Festive best wishes from all of the inmates here at Ling Towers. At lunchtime three generations of Ling males gathered around the dinner table. Amanda did us proud with the delicious nosebag and Eddie’s girlfriend Megan has brought presents for everyone!
To top it all, Dad turned up with an M&S hamper. I’m looking forward to the Xmas Pudding with prosecco and cranberry in a few hours. Happy days!
Sunday 24th December
A year gone already? Jeeez. I will never forget the shock and sadness I felt at 3.08pm when the email from Quo's publicist arrived: 'Rick Parfitt 1948-2016'. On top of what had happened a few days earlier to TeamRock it was very hard to take. Christmases will never quite be the same again.
Saturday 23rd December
Swansea 1 Palace 1. Disappointed we couldn't hold onto the lead but the Eagles notch eight games unbeaten and remain 14th in the table. Had you told me that when we were bottom with no goals or points after seven matches, I'd have called you a loony. COYP!
Thursday 21st December
What a fabulous night at Brixton Academy with the Dan Reed Network and a whole host of gig-going buddies. Amanda and I managed to grab a spot in the front row - had I known, I'd have taken a better camera. It was an unusual vantage point, especially when Dan caused a scrum by jumping down into the photographers' pit. With superb sound and lights, I could have listened to the DRN all night long.
Alas, however, Extreme were the headliners. I have a bit of 'previous' with Nuno from the 1990s and consequently find it very hard to be objective about them. Sure, they have a handful of world class tunes but there's also plenty of filler and I hate the wanky solos. We retired to the VIP Lounge above the stage to watch the second half of their show. How lovely to see Dan and his family chilling out. We've known each other for many, many years and amazingly this was our first selfie. Is it me or does he look a little camp here?! Hahaha. What a way to end the gig year of 2017, which was a vintage one in so many ways.
Wednesday 20th December
Hard to believe that almost a year has gone since the shock news of Ricky P's death. I’m loving this charity tribute EP which includes a track featuring John Coghlan (his first single in 30+ years), plus Massive Wagons and an exclusive recording by CJ Wildheart with a cast of thousands. Proceeds go to the children's cancer organisation The Shona Smile Foundation. The video for ‘Christmas Eve (Nanana)’ came second in a recent Tracks Of The Week poll, beating Duff McKagan. It’s available via Barrel And Squidger Records. Check out its video here.
Tuesday 19th December
What did I make of Biters at the Camden Underworld? Well, it began and ended in style but to these ears the show sagged badly in the middle. ‘Low Lives In Hi Definition’. ‘Stone Cold Love’ and ‘Gypsy Rose’ are amazing glam rock ‘n’ roll anthems, and any band that can close out with ‘Heart Fulla Rock 'N' Roll’, ‘Melody For Lovers’, ‘1975’ and a cover of Tom Petty's ‘American Girl’ is going to be a bit special, but there was too much yakkin' and some below-par tunes took their toll.
I remain astonished that Biters attempt to pass off 'So Many Nights', a laughably transparent steal of 'The Boys Are Back In Town', as an original tune, and let's not get into the debacle of the acoustic guitar that refused to function for 'Going Back To Georgia', leaving frontman Tuk Smith alone, forlorn and angry on the stage for five painful minutes. (A word of advice to Tuk, who sniped at the sound man: in such situations use of verbal provocation will rarely work... the dude manning the faders holds all the power). Smith is a fairly young buck and he will learn, and Biters can and will be a great band. But last night was a bit of a misfire.
Well, that's the final interview of 2017 in the can. 30 minutes of phone chat with the lovely Doro Pesch for the pages of Metal Hammer magazine. What a fabulous lady... if only it were possible to bottle that positivity and effervescent enthusiasm of hers!
There's no gig for me this evening. Dio hologram at the Islington Academy? No thanks, I value both my self-respect and those precious memories of yesteryear.
Monday 18th December
This evening I'm off to see Biters at the Underworld for what will most likely be my penultimate gig of 2017. Here's a little piece I did a few weeks back with their frontman Tuk Smith... his all-time 1970s UK glam Top Ten. There are some great choices here; good job, Tuk… it's educational and celebratory.
Sunday 17th December
I’ve always struggled a little with the edgy bleakness of ‘Clutching At Straws’, Fish’s swansong with Marillion, but as the singer and his band revisited said album in its entirety at Islington’s Assembly Hall, its full beauty was unmistakable. ‘Sugar Mice’ presented a genuine goosebumps moment, and Fish’s lively banter with the sold-out crowd (one of three – the run concludes this evening) was worth the price of entry alone. Explaining a lack of promised new material he shrugged: “Sorry, but as you can see for the last year and a half I’ve done fuck-all except eat pies” to roars of laughter. Fierce back pains forced Fish to perform seated on a stool singularly fail to puncture a celebratory ambiance - “I’m the Val Doonican of prog,” he quipped - and he left the stage for the last time looking pained, but the atmosphere was buoyant. Indeed, off this back of Palace’s terrific triumph at Leicester this felt like the perfect Saturday night.
For those that care about this stuff, here's the set-list: 'The Voyeur (I Like To Watch)', 'Emperor's Song', 'Circle Line' and 'State Of Mind', followed by 'Clutching...' in its original running order, and encores of 'Tux On', 'Perfume River (Excerpt)' and 'The Great Unravelling'.
Saturday 16th December
That's what I call a deserved awayday victory against Leicester, one of the league's form teams (let's not forget that last year the jammy bleeders actually won the bleedin' title). Son Of The Devil picks the ball out of his net three times, and Big Ben(teke) brings his dry spell to an end with the opener. That's seven games unbeaten - a new club record in Prem. Another clean sheet for Jules. Palace up to 14th. #wearestayingup
Friday 15th December
Just home from Sweet's gig across town at Nells Jazz & Blues in Kensington, and to say that I’m still buzzing would be an understatement. The place was full to the rafters and even before the lights dimmed the cry began, ‘Teenage Rampage’-style… “We want Sweet! We want Sweet!” Two numbers in, a beaming Andy Scott came to the microphone: “Are you sure this is London? This is fucking fantastic!" Check out the set-list, people, and ask yourselves how many other acts could play a 20-song show in which every tune bar ‘AC/DC’ and the drum solo was a hit in some territory or other? But then Sweet are the consummate pop-rock band.
It was a pleasure and privilege to stand three or four feet away from a childhood hero and observe his artillery of guitar tricks from such close range.
Such was the mood of bonhomie that, having dedicated the set as usual to fallen heroes Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker, Andy added: "And let's all say a merry Christmas to Steve Priest,” chuckling as he turned away from the mic: “Maybe he'll start replying to my emails."
Towards the show’s conclusion, Scott suggested that this may have been Sweet’s greatest ever performance in the UK’s capital city… “though 1978 at Hammersmith Odeon was pretty good.” No doubt whatsoever, this was among the finest concerts I saw in 2017, and the band have a good chance to better it next year with plans being laid for a 50th anniversary party at the Royal Albert Hall. "There will be many special guests,” Scott predicted. “I'm in conversation with people like Joe Elliott, so you never know.” That sounds bloody fantastic!!
Thursday 14th December
Throwback Thursday: The day in 1995 that my old mate Mark 'Barney' Greenway of Napalm Death and I visited Asia at their studio in Wandsworth during the recording of the album 'Arena'. Both of us fell in love with its awesome title track. Such great memories.
Wednesday 13th December
As you'd expect, quite a few adult beverages were consumed in the Red & Blue Bar at Selhurst Park after last night's dramatic win over Twatford that lifts the Palace out of the dreaded bottom three for the first time this season. The visitors had led fort pretty much the entire game, but as the clock ran down Bakary Sako bundled in an equaliser and, two minutes later, James McArthur side-footed home from Wilfried Zaha's cross to claim all three points. From a state of resigned desperation, Selhurst went bananas. After that disastrous start to the season, the great escape could be on.
Tuesday 12th December
I've just been thumbing through my archive of old programmes of 'coming attractions' at the Marquee Club from the years 1980 to 1991. A few sheets are missing so I was thrilled to find exactly what I was looking for - 3.6.85... the Yng's UK debut show, reviewed by yours truly in the pages of Kerrang! Yeah, the one that so many people assumed was a secret gig by Springsteen! #itpaystobeahoarder
Monday 11th December
Oh gosh, Keith Chegwin has died at the age of 60. Thanks to Swap Shop and breakfast TV (remember when he would run down people's streets knocking on doors and demanding entry to living rooms?), Cheggers was a big part of my childhood and adolescence. His enthusiasm was always so contagious.
Sunday 10th December
Saturday night was spent at the Electric Ballroom at the birthday party of a very good mate - hi Jeff! - and trying to forget about that Goddamned extra time penalty miss against Bournemouth. With the score locked at 2-2 why on earth did Benteke grab the ball from regular spot lick specialist Luka and whack it straight at the keeper? Those two missed points could be crucial. AAARRRRGGGGGGGGGG!
Still, the Gun gig was superb... the Glaswegians rarely disappoint, well... not since the pitiful and now 20-year-old set '0141 632 6326', which was inexplicably produced by INXS keyboard player Andrew Farriss. A guest appearance from Lauren Harris on 'Steal Your Fire' was a nice little extra!
Saturday 9th December
Don't look now but the December updates for the Playlist and YouTube pages are up. Wonders will never cease, huh?!
Friday 8th December
I spent a big chunk of this evening at Hammersmith where Cats In Space absolutely nailed it on the last night of their UK tour with Quo. That I'm back here by 11.30pm tells you I didn't hang around too long for the headliners; indeed, I was outta there and heading South by the first of the show's medleys. Rhino singing 'Rain'? It’s a ‘no’ from me. And Richie Malone singing 'Little Lady'. Twice no. If the band are going to continue playing songs written by Rick then they should at least hire a musician capable of delivering them with a degree of style.
Thursday 7th December
Back in the 1990s when I worked on RAW magazine we had an occasional psycho-analysis feature which posed deep and meaningful questions to rock stars. One of which was something along the lines of: ‘Your band is threatened with extinction but can save itself by wiping out a rival. Nobody will know your course of action. What do you do?’ When I posed said teaser to Lars Ulrich of Metallica, he grinned nervously and replied: “Hey, didn’t we already do that to Diamond Head?”
Decades on, Metallica continue to bestride the globe’s stadiums but Diamond Head – in the form of guitarist Brian Tatler – remain stuck in poky dives, stubbornly refusing to die. And why should they? The presence of livewire lead singer Rasmus Bom Anderson has lit a fire beneath the band’s creative posterior. If you asked which gig I enjoyed more; Metallica at the O2 Arena a few months ago or last night’s Diamond Head show for a couple of hundred diehards at the Islington Academy’s smaller hall, well… I’d have to think long and hard before answering. And David would most likely leave Goliath with one hell of a black eye.
And on a much more sombre note, I'm currently writing a final bunch of mini-obituaries for 2017 (I hope!): DikMik from Hawkwind, Chuck Mosley, Paul Buckmaster, David Cassidy, Charles Manson and Johnny ‘The French Elvis’ Hallyday… what an unusual collective.
Wednesday 6th December
I’ve just bought an early Christmas present to myself. Unbelievably, despite my double-gatefold vinyl being somewhat well-worn I have never owned 'Seconds Out' on CD before, though it was the first Genesis album that I heard. As a young lad I taped it on loan from the audio section of Bromley Library, but it was quite impossible to fit onto a C90. From memory, the best I could do put the first and third sides on one side of a cassette, followed by two and four. Even then 'Supper's Ready' would cut out during its conclusion 'As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)' with the words, 'Just like the river...'. Each time I would cry, 'Aaarrrrrrrrggggggg!'
Tuesday 5th December
Well, that was quite a birthday party - last night the Electric Boys celebrated the 25th anniversary of their second album, 'Groovus Maximus', at the Camden Underworld. I've always loved this hugely underrated Swedish band. They played the album in its entirety, natch, tweaking the running order for the sake of continuity and throwing in the rarely performed 'When Love Explodes' in the early stages. A three-song encore introduced the brand new number 'Dishes' along with funk-o-metal party faves 'All Lips 'N' Hips' and 'Electrified' (the latter introduced by a teaser of Frank Zappa's 'I'm The Slime' on the latest anniversary of this death and also 'Tom Sawyer' by Rush). It was all too much for the excitable pair of ladies stood to my right who let out squeals so loud that Conny Bloom could hear them from the stage above the music. I'm looking forward to the next album. Last night the turnout was pretty sparse; I hope it's because there are so many gigs during the build up to Christmas. The Electric Boys deserved far, far better.
Monday 4th December
It's another pink 'n' fluffy AOR Monday and I'm writing my latest melodic rock column for Classic Rock. Ammunition (Erik Mårtensson and Åge Sten Nilsen) is rocking my world... big time!!! Ditto Tony Mills' 'Streets Of Chance' (released via his own label, Battlegod Productions). Unlike so many contemporaries from those days, The ex-Shy/TNT frontman can still sing as though it’s the 1980s. It's an exquisite slice of melodic hard rock.
The revamp of Selhurst Park has been confirmed at a press conference!!! The plans look bloody amazing!! And we are NOT leaving SE25! I am so happy I could almost burst!
A few months ago I did an interview with Rhino Edwards, Status Quo's current bass player, touching upon his career, the years with Quo and his 'outside band', Rhino's Revenge. It appears to have caused a bit of a shitstorm over at the Unofficial Quo Message Board. Read it here. I must say, I really like Rhino as a guy. My dealings with him have always been good and positive, even though John knows my stance on the band since he replaced Alan Lancaster. And I fully respect his right to the opinions he voices during the story. However, I was more than a little shocked by some of its comments – was there really any need to bad-mouth Nuff and Spud? Nope.
Sunday 3rd December
Oh, what a night at the Underworld. Lionheart and Airrace pulled a decent-sized crowd, and the reaction to their music was simply joyous. I was too busy jumping around and, I admit, quite a few ciders had been sunk. And I failed dismally to scribble down any notes on the faithful BlackBerry. Thus I cannot sum up the evening any better than my fellow Palace-supporting writer, Andy Nathan. Check it out here. The scribe that Andy mentions "headbanging away with a grin borne of disbelief on his face" during ‘Towers Of Silver’ was, of course, yours truly. Check out the excellent dressing room photo!
Saturday 2nd December
Damn! Palace didn't win away against the Baggies, but thanks to a fairly ugly goalless draw at least we're off the bottom of the table.
Anyway, I've been looking forward to this one since it was announced several months back: Lionheart and Airrace at the Camden Underworld. Air keys set to stun for a night of high quality pomp-meets-AOR… Bring it on!!!
Friday 1st December
Nuclear Blast Records have hired me to write a biography for Michael Schenker’s new album, ‘Resurrection’ (released under the handle of Michael Schenker Fest on March 2 and featuring a guest appearance from Metallica's Kirk Hammett). The phone interview we did together was superb, full of laughs and great comments from Michael. He willingly discussed the scaling down of his career after leaving UFO and the Scorpions - "I decided that I only wanted to do small stuff – I needed to be comfortable. It didn’t work out that way because Peter Mensch [his manager of the era] took me to [audition for] Aerosmith, and then Ozzy Osbourne wanted me to join his band.” But now, no longer stricken with the stage fright that has plagued his entire career he "wants to do big things again".
Joining him in Michael Schenker Fest are lead vocalists Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley, all of whom went out on the most recent tour, plus Doogie White from his current live and studio band, Temple Of Rock. But Schenker is thinking big. "Maybe in the future we could call it The Ultimate Michael Schenker Fest and have Klaus [Meine of the Scorpions] and [UFO’s] Phil Mogg sing on an album with me?" he says. "Right now that seems far-fetched but in the future, who knows? Time is running out very fast; let’s make the most of everybody being alive.” Hmmm… I suspect Moggie might have something to say about such a suggestion!
In the meantime, check out the video for the track ‘Warrior’, which airs today.