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)

Back to the Diary Archives

Sunday 28th February
Well, it was a long old haul up to Doncaster for my first visit to the Keepmoat Stadium, but with Palace staging a second half rally to claim a point that took them out of the relegation zone, the return journey (in the company of my friend Mark Kentfield and his ‘other half’ Caroline) was a relieved and drunken one. On board the London-bound train a rumour began to spread that Neil Warnock had ‘officially’ joined QP-Hahaha. It turned out to be premature, though I fully expect the game against Rovers to be his swansong. Throughout the match, which ended at 1-1, the Palace faithful declined to sing the usual “Neil Warnock’s Red & Blue Army”, opting instead for “South London’s Red & Blue Army”. Obviously, I am not privy to what goes on behind closed doors, and any number of things could have caused Warnock to make the journey across London. Although I despised him when he arrived in SE25, that opinion was very quickly reversed. I didn’t have him down as a quitter, though. NW will, of course, take his loyal backroom staff, which lands the club even deeper in the shit. Should he lure away any of the Eagles’ players, which seems inevitable, expect my remaining goodwill towards him to dissipate quicker than it takes to utter the words ‘Colin Wanker’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 27th February
What a difference an Aday makes. Much of yesterday was spent Loafing around, in one form or another. In the morning I attended a playback party for Meat Loaf’s new album, ‘Hang Cool Teddy Bear, details here, before returning home to transcribe an interview with his daughter Pearl, whose debut solo album, ‘Little Immaculate White Fox’, is issued through Classic Rock’s own Powerage Records on May 24.
In the evening I attended a local gig at the Dartfordonians Rugby Club in Bexley, Kent. I’d been meaning to check out the Billy Walton Band since their highly impressive album, ‘Neon City’, dropped onto my desk. Guitarist/frontman Walton is now a member of Southside Johnny’s band, and there’s a definite New Jersey flavour to his own group’s music. Annoyingly, thanks to the railway timetable, I could only hang around for the first half of their set. The BWB were really good but it was the night’s opening act, Virgil & The Accelerators that **really** blew me away. A frighteningly young three-piece from Wales, V&TA have only been together for 12 months or so but already display awesome potential. Fronted by 18-year-old Virgil McMahon, a true guitar hero in the making, their covers of material by Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Bluesbreakers and Jimi Hendrix are nothing less than stunning. Of course, the band’s future also depends upon an ability to compose their own tunes. I hope to get a better handle on that before too long by catching a full-length gig.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 26th February
For the past few days the streets of London have been pounded by rain, the temperature just above freezing. I’m so glad that I braved the weather to check out last night’s gig from Bigelf and Priestess. The former band, a group of metalheads from Canada, have improved out of all recognition since my last sighting of them, opening for Megadeth in the summer of ’07. Marrying huge fuzz-toned riffs to flashy twin-guitar duels, their 50-minute stay seemed to whiz past in the mere blink of an eye. Compared to their last gig in London at Barfly back in October, at which they hung around for a mere hour and a quarter, at the Underworld the headliners turned in a performance that was epic in every way. During a two-hour display that passed right by the curfew, the US-based retro-heads played just about everything the fans could have wished for. For a prog-rock gig, the crowd was unusually boisterous. In fact, during the drive home my friend Andy Beare and I discussed the possibility that keyboard-playing frontman Damon Fox was starting to become a little irked by their cat-calls. “Take your shirt off!” demanded a decidedly male-sounding voice. “Hmmm, that’s an interesting proposition,” mused Fox, before adding: “What are you going to take off?” The reply of “Everything!” brought the house down. Later on, following a demand for a Rush song, Damon appeared to completely lose his rag. “RUSH??!!” he exploded. “What??!! Don’t you fuckin’ dare say Rush at my fuckin’ show… seriously, I hate Rush!” With the other band members fooling around with the riff to ‘Cygnus X-1’, he then sulked: “I’m going to have a cup of tea in the back and you guys can fuck around with Rush all you like.” Was he yanking our chain? I’m really not sure. Anyway, here’s what was played: ‘The Evils Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Neuropsychopathic Eye’, ‘Pain Killers’, ‘Sunshine Suicide’, ‘Blackball’, ‘Disappear’, ‘Madhatter’, ‘Hydra’, ‘Burning Bridges’, ‘Bats In The Belfry I’, ‘Money, It’s Pure Evil’ and ‘The Money Machine’, plus ‘Gravest Show On Earth’, ‘Superstar’ and ‘Counting Sheep’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 25th February
So… Crystal Palace are out of the FA Cup at last and can now concentrate on the far more important task of halting their slide into League 1. Many, many pints of cider were consumed during the trip to Villa Park and our fans were in terrific voice. After being outplayed throughout the first half and leaking a goal from **yet another** unfairly awarded corner, the Eagles bounced back following the break and equalised through a Darren Ambrose penalty. For a while Palace fans dared to believe, but when Matt Lawrence’s senseless fouls awarded the hosts two spot kicks of their own the dream withered and died. Over the balance of the 180 minutes, the result of Villa 3 Palace 1 seems unduly harsh. Maybe Lady Luck will be a little more kind on Saturday when we visit Doncaster? I flaming well hope so.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 24th February
I will be leaving for Palace’s FA Cup replay at Villa Park before too long. Before doing so, I’ve just been playing a CD of snippets from ‘Sting In The Tail’, the new album from the Scorpions, ahead of a phone interview with their lead singer Klaus Meine. Though the disc contains less than a minute of each track, the quality of songs like ‘Raised On Rock’, ‘No Limit’ (which is based upon a riff not dissimilar to ‘Big City Nights’), ‘Let’s Rock’ and ‘The Spirit Of Rock’ is extremely impressive. Save for the nostalgic ballad ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’, which was penned before the band decided to call it a day, they are good ‘n’ heavy, also blessed with monster hooks…
The interview with Klaus went really well. It was obvious that Meine doesn’t want the Scorps to end, but as he pointed out “the time to pass on the flame has arrived”. Before hanging up, just in case our paths don’t cross on the tour, I thanked him for giving me so many great interviews and releasing so many equally splendid LPs. It probably sounded stupid and naff but you know what? It was heartfelt.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 23rd February
What the heck… Richie Hevanz has left Heaven’s Basement. Oh dear, this development spells huge trouble for the UK rockers. The band are planning to continue touring with a stand-in singer before the search begins for a full-time replacement, but those are mighty big shoes to fill. Meanwhile, UFO, Transatlantic, Venom, the Quireboys and The Union (Luke Morley’s post-Thunder group) are the latest additions to the bill of Classic Rock’s High Voltage Festival. Jeez… it’s starting to look very tasty indeed.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 22nd February
The bill of this year’s Firefest was announced last night on ARFM Radio. I’m thrilled that Nelson will be headlining the second night, with stellar support from former Survivor frontman Jimi Jamison and the reunited Strangeways. But aside from the show’s big-hitters, I’m happy that the likes of Newman, whose new album ‘The Art Of Balance’ is terrific, and Grand Design have been catered for. The full line-up for Saturday 30th October is: Lynch Mob, Dare, Bonfire, Saraya, Bangalore Choir, Beggars & Thieves and Grand Illusion, with Nelson, Jamison, Pretty Maids, Strangeways, Stage Dolls, Newman and Grand Design all confirmed for 24 hours later.
Much of today has been spent writing the sleeve notes for a new Thunder release. ‘Live At The BBC’ is a six-CD set that collates vintage live performances from the now sadly defunct South Londoners, including Hammersmith Odeon 9.12.90, Wembley Arena 20.1.91, Monsters Of Rock 22.8.92, Don Valley Stadium 6.6.93 and Shepherd’s Bush Empire 8.12.94, a final disc rounding up various session appearances. The audio quality is wonderful. It’s due out in May, I believe. Fans will love it.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sunday 21st February
Although Palace had been in dire need of points against Coventry from yesterday’s game at Selhurst, the visitors left victorious. After the Eagles had most of the pressure, even a goal-bound shot cleared off the line, the final score of 0-1 felt like a real kick in the teeth. Luckily, Joey Tempest and Europe were on hand to lift the gloom with a top-drawer concert at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I arrived at the venue in time to see Diamond Head deliver a tight and well-received warm-up slot. Granted, vocalist Nick Tart sounded slightly wobbly during the opening song, ‘It’s Electric’, but the rest of the 50-minute set (‘Give It To Me’, ‘To The Devil His Due’, ‘In The Heat Of The Night’, ‘Alimony’, ‘Fever’, ‘Sucking My Love’, ‘Mine All Mine’ and ‘Am I Evil?’) was first-rate.
Europe’s ‘Last Look At Eden’ was among the very finest releases of 2009, so I was delighted that the Swedes elected to air a huge chunk of it – no less than five tracks, in fact. Overall, though, they got the mix of vintage and contemporary material, also heavy rock numbers and poppier hits, absolutely right. From my vantage point in the balcony the sound quality was magnificent, and with a grinning Tempest shadow boxing, high-fiving the front rows, and twirling his microphone stand around, the group appeared to be having just as much fun as the packed Empire. I could have listened to Europe all night, to be truthful, and for 105 glorious minutes I completely forgot that Palace had slipped into the relegation zone. Here’s the set-list: ‘Last Look At Eden’, ‘Love Is Not The Enemy’, ‘Superstitious’, ‘Gonna Get Ready’, ‘Scream Of Anger’, ‘Let The Good Times Rock’, Keyboard Solo, ‘No Stone Unturned’, ‘Carrie’, ‘Always The Pretenders’, Guitar Solo, ‘Seventh Sign’, ‘Sign Of The Times’, ‘New Love In Town’, ‘Start From The Dark’, ‘Ready Or Not’, ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Rock The Night’, with encores of ‘The Beast’ and ‘The Final Countdown’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 20th February
I've only just regained my composure following last night's debut UK gig by The Devil's Blood, a truly superb female-fronted occult-rock ensemble from Holland. I say it was a 'gig', but though the Underworld was a little over half full it felt more like an 'event'. The band, who performed the entire 85-minute show caked in fake blood, prefer to call it a 'ritual', and with no stage props to speak of inside the dimly-lit venue - just row upon row of scented candles perched atop their amplifiers (Ross Halfin would have done his freakin' nut!) - there was a definite feel of otherness to proceedings. Sporting a low-cut red leather dress and known simply as The Mouth, their frontwoman simply stood at the mic and sang, spurning all verbal interaction with the audience, either staring motionless into space or retreating to the drum-kit and turning her back on them as the instrumentalists veered off during the jammed-out segments - of which there were many. The Devil's Blood have three guitarists; one to sit back and play rhythm whilst the more creative pair weave back and forth, enhancing the group's more retro, spacey-qualities. Imagine a glorious subterranean mix of Coven, Jefferson Airplane, Mercyful Fate, Wishbone Ash and Roky Erickson and you're headed in the right direction. During the first 15 minutes I remember thinking, 'If this is all they've got, it's more than enough. but I kinda thought there'd be more'.
Then slowly but surely the gaps in the music began to open up and a very good gig became a breathtaking one. In years to come, this is a show that many will pretend to have attended. Those of us that were **really** there will be able to nod sagely and say, "I told you so". Here's the set-list:
'Come, Reap', 'River Of Gold', 'I'll Be Your Ghost', 'The Graveyard Shuffle', 'Evermore', 'A Waxing Moon Over Babylon', 'Rake Your Nails Across The Firmament', 'The Heavens Cry Out For The Devil's Blood', 'House Of Ten Thousand Voices', 'White Faces', 'The Anti Kosmik Magick', 'Voodoo Dust' and 'Christ Or Cocaine'.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 19th February
‘Where on earth do the years go?’ is something that I ask myself with increasing regularity. It’s impossible to believe that Ronald Belford Scott – you probably know him as AC/DC’s Bon – died three decades ago, in East Dulwich… just a few miles from where I type. I think myself extremely lucky that I got to see AC/DC performing with Bon, at London’s Hammersmith Odeon during the final stages of the ‘Highway To Hell’ tour. To state that the records the band made with Bon have stood the test of time would be a little like saying Katie Price has been known to enjoy being the centre of attention. Today I shall spin as many Bon-era AC/DC LPs as possible and will raise a glass in his honour before, during and after this evening’s debut UK gig from The Devil’s Blood. RIP, Bon… gone but not forgotten.
I’ve just been listening to Helloween’s 25th anniversary album, ‘Unarmed’. Like many, I suspect, I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the ’Weenies. At the moment I’m in the ‘love’ side. The Hamburg-based speed-metal combo have shown remarkable bravery in re-recording many of their best-known songs with the 70-piece Prague Symphonic Orchestra and a choir of London-based Gregorian singers. Including a symphonically-enhanced three-song medley of ‘Halloween’, ‘Keeper Of The Seven keys’ and ‘The King For A 1000 Years’, these new arrangements are pretty radical, but I’m enjoying them. More worrying still, I’m actually starting to ‘get’ the quirky humour of guitarist Michael Weikath, who spends seven lines of the booklet’s ‘special thanks’ section explaining why he doesn’t thank anyone. A few years ago I’d have thought ‘What an arse’; now I actually chuckled. So no more ‘Are you the Victor Meldrew?’ comments pls.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 18th February
I type this diary entry with a heavy heart. With Crystal Palace returning to league action, last night’s comedown from the weekend’s FA Cup heroics was swift and brutal. At a f-f-f-freezing cold and graveyard-quiet Selhurst Park, the Eagles played well for 20 minutes then shipped a poorly defended goal to visitors Reading, before going to pieces. Facing another side struggling against the drop, the final score of 1-3 is very, very hard to take. In a recent match day programme interview, defender-cum-striker Danny Butterfield stated: “A ten-point deduction switches your attention from chasing the teams in the top six to [those] in mid-table, but so long as [our] performances continue, relegation is not a worry.” Such talk is, of course, ridiculously smug and the harsh reality is that Palace are well and truly in the messy brown stuff. To think I missed Vinnie Moore’s solo gig at the Underworld to watch such utter tripe. If we play anywhere near as badly in next week’s Cup replay, the Villa will have no problems running up a cricket score.
With good cheer in desperately short supply, it’s lucky that the postie just delivered a bumper sack of mail. A taster for their second album, ‘Freedom Rock’, which is due to be released in mid-April, H.E.A.T.’s new three-track EP is superb – especially the super-contagious anthem ‘Beg Beg Beg’. Savatage have a two-disc anthology called ‘Still The Orchestra Plays – Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2’, and I’m thrilled to learn that the Floridian band’s entire 14-album catalogue, from 1983’s ‘Sirens’ to Poets And Madmen’ (2001), is about to undergo an expanded, re-mastered re-issue campaign. When I can find the time, I’m also looking forward to watching Skin’s DVD, ‘Reunited’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 17th February
Wonderful news for fellow SMFs… Twisted Sister have been added to the bill of this year’s Bloodstock Festival, joining Ross The Boss on the Friday night. Haven’t been to Bloodstock for a couple of years so I might have to get my ass up to Derbyshire for that one. However, having witnessed their show in Pittsburgh before Christmas (see Diary, 17th December, 2009) I’m gutted to learn that Trans-Siberian Orchestra have postponed their inaugural visit to Europe, which was due to take place in a month or two, “due to logistical difficulties and the desire to put out the best production possible”. They are now looking at making the trip in March 2011.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 16th February
Nazareth are a band whose London concerts I try never to miss. Last night they played the Garage, with John Bonham’s sister Deborah as their support act. Although her material isn’t always the greatest, Bonham has an agreeable blues-rock voice in the vein of Maggie Bell. A 50-minute set gathered momentum during its latter stages with songs such as 'The Old Hyde’ and ‘Duchess’, ending on a high note with a belting cover of ‘Stay With Me’.
My heart went out to the headliners who, having arrived to a dramatic intro tape, were a few bars into ‘Telegram’ when Jimmy Murrison’s guitar amp exploded. “There were flames and everything,” singer Dan McCafferty exclaimed in disbelief, as Nazareth returned after a short interlude, adding: “I’ll be having a severe word with Mr Marshall in the morning.” Even in his sixties, McCafferty is not the type of guy to cross. He still drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney, and it doesn’t affect his performance one single bit. Having received a few disgruntled, mildly threatening texts from the band I can confirm that Nazareth were disappointed that Classic Rock was the only major magazine to have panned their most recent studio album, 2008’s ‘The Newz’. What hurt them most of all was Geoff Barton’s claim that McCafferty’s “trademark gravelly” qualities had deteriorated into “a hollow rasp, which makes you wince on occasion”. It was a description that most fair-minded Naz fans found risible. Close your eyes and this is **not** the voice of a pensioner. Neither do Nazareth perform like a bunch of decrepit, bus pass-wielding old fossils. 46-year-old Murrison, their guitarist since 1994, plays slide like he was born to do so. Aged just 38, Lee Agnew, the son of co-founding bassist Pete, who claimed the drum stool after Darrell Sweet’s demise in 1999, keeps things loose and powerful. You know all about it when the group lets rip with a dizbuster like ‘Bad Bad Boy’, ‘Hair Of The Dog’ or ‘Razamanaz’, but the show’s more bombastic moments are juxtaposed by the touching melodies of ‘Hearts Grown Cold’ and ‘Love Hurts’. After the farce of the evening’s false start, instead of being derailed, Nazareth soaked up the audience’s moral support and proceeded to turn the concert into a real treat. Here’s what they played: ‘Telegram’, ‘Turn On Your Receiver’, ‘Miss Misery’, ‘Bad Bad Boy’, ‘The Gathering’, ‘My White Bicycle’, ‘Hearts Grown Cold’, ‘Shanghai'd In Shanghai’, ‘Hair Of The Dog’, ‘Holiday’, ‘Love Hurts’ and ‘Broken Down Angel’, with a three-song encore of ‘See Me’, ‘Razamanaz’ and ‘This Flight Tonight’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 15th February
Wow… what a fantastic advert for English football, the FA cup, and (more importantly, for me anyway) Crystal Palace FC. Thanks to a thunderbolt free kick from Darren Ambrose, the Eagles were three minutes away from progressing to the last eight of the world’s oldest and most famous footie competition. Aston Villa’s second equaliser was frustrating, but… shit… what a great cup tie. Our players and fans were fantastic, and given that the corner that presented Petrov’s last-gasp leveller was actually a Palace goal kick, CPFC were unfortunate not to have won the game. On home turf, Villa **should** have the quality to win the replay, but to assume Palace will just lie down and die would be a grave error, and Martin O’Neill – a proper British manager, who buys English players – ain’t a stupid bloke. But being a midweek replay before their League Cup final, I wonder how many first-teamers he will risk? The best news of all, though, is that cash-strapped Palace will pocket £500,000 if the second game is screened on TV, which seems probable. And speaking of which there’s an interesting rumour that Villa chairman Randy Lerner donated his club’s half of the attendance money to Palace… if true, that’s an incredible gesture.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 13th February
Some extremely worrying rumours are emanating from Selhurst Park. With QP-Hahaha having apparently made a bid to lure him away, it seems that Neil Warnock’s days as manager of Crystal Palace FC are fast ticking away. Should there turn out to be truth in this speculation, with Warnock and his excellent backdrop staff heading across London, I dread to think of the consequences. The only possible solution would be sending out an SOS to CPFC’s greatest boss of all time, Sir Steve Coppell, who performed miracles to stave off relegation the last time the club was in administration, a decade ago. Will it come to that? Who knows? But Warnock is unlikely to be in the hotseat come next season – if the club hasn’t been liquidated by then, that is.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 12th February
Nashville Pussy can be relied upon to deliver almost indecently riotous, salacious, kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll excitement. No, they are not the most verbose people you will ever meet. Likewise, their music will never win prizes for subtlety or intelligence, but when it comes to throwing a party the Pussies have few serious rivals. At the Underworld last night, guitarist/vocalist Blaine Cartwright was quite literally off his head, ranting incoherently and in foul-mouthed fashion of the merits of booze, drugs, sexual intercourse, fried chicken and… er… Winston Churchill as his wife of 17 years, the babe-tastic Ruyter Suys, delivered an incendiary performance on the lead guitar, coming perilously (yet intentionally) close to a wardrobe malfunction on several titillating occasions. It was, in short, the kind of gig you couldn’t look away from for more than few seconds. Here’s the set-list: ‘Snake Eyes’, ‘Shoot First And Run Like Hell’, ‘High As Hell’, ‘Speed Machine’, ‘Ain’t Your Business’, ‘Good Night For A Heart Attack’, ‘Come On, Come On’, ‘Hate And Whisky’, ‘I’m So High’, ‘Late Great USA’, ‘Nutbush City Limits’, ‘Struttin’ Cock’, ‘Piece Of Ass’, ‘Drunk Driving Man’, ‘Keep On Fuckin’’, ‘Go Motherfucker Go’ and ‘You’re Goin’ Down’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 11th February
‘David Ellefson back in Megadeth??!! No way! It just cannot be!’ That was my first reaction to the news that Megadeth’s co-founding bass player was once again in cahoots with Dave Mustaine, just in time for a 20th anniversary US tour for the ‘Rust In Peace’ album. So much water has passed beneath the bridge since Mustaine overlooked Ellefson when resurrecting Megadeth for the 2004 album ‘The System Has Failed’. On the press trail for that album, in the wake of a controversial lawsuit, in addition to claiming he wished he’d taken the advice of his band-mates and producer Dann Huff and sacked the bassist many years earlier, a seething Mustaine told me: “Fuck David Ellefson. He’s been a professional ass-licker for his whole career.” Six years later we’re lead to believe everybody’s older and wiser, and that getting back together is not about money. Hmmmm… I’d like to believe it but I’m older and wiser, too. However, it’s very cool to see Ellefson wearing an Angel Witch T-shirt in the group’s new photos.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 10th February
It had to be Shefki fuqquing Kuqi, didn’t it? To be fair, the script was written long in advance as the hapless former Eagles ‘striker’ Kuqi returned to Selhurst Park, ending Palace’s fine run of recent results by nudging home the only goal of last night’s game against promotion-chasing Swansea. CPFC were outplayed in the first half but did enough to have taken a point during the second 45. The experiment of playing Butterfield as a striker seems to have run its course, especially with Stern John sitting around unused and back from his loan spell at Ipswich. Given the emotional stress of the past few weeks and the way they have battled on against all the odds, the team looked utterly exhausted. And to be honest, as the final whistle blew, I felt likewise.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 9th February
I’ve been busy playing an advance CD of Treat’s new album, ‘Coup De Grace’, which drops on the 22nd of next month. With scarcely a bad song to be heard, this is Scandi-AOR at its best… definitely a case of buy or die for lovers of brilliantly crafted melodic hard rock.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 8th February
Why oh why did I go so far over the top on a Sunday night? After a bus journey across London (the Charing Cross rail route was closed for “essential repair work”), I bought home some chips, then proceeded to stumble and drop them, smashing the plate and smearing the kitchen floor with barbecue sauce… Mrs L was **not** amused. It’s apparent that cider, vodka and lager do not mix. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… the fallout from another FM gig!!
The band were previewing their new album ‘Metropolis’ with a gig at the Roadhouse in Covent Garden. Given its quality, I was quite surprised that just three songs featured in the ensuing live set (four if you happen to include ‘Metropolis’, a guitar showcase for newcomer Jim Kirkpatrick). I’m still finding it hard to stop one of these tunes, ‘Over You’, from rattling around my head. But the show was quite superb from start to finish. The cherry on the cake was seeing the band grinning like kids as they were joined by Mick Ralphs for a sublime encore of Bad Company’s ‘Feel Like Making Love’. FM have been in no hurry to force their reunion down anyone’s throats; ‘Metropolis’ was made at their own sweet pace and even 15 years away they remain among the best live bands this country has produced. Here’s hoping they get a better rub of the green this time around. Meanwhile, here’s the set-list: ‘Wildside’, ‘Face To Face’, ‘That Girl’, ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘Metropolis’/‘Over You’, ‘Flamingo Road’, ‘Only The Strong Survive’, ‘Blood & Gasoline’, ‘Dangerous’, ‘Hard Day In Hell’, ‘Burning My Heart Down’ and ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, with encores of ‘Frozen Heart’ (nurse, the screens!!!), ‘Bad luck’ and ‘Feel Like Making Love’.
P.S. In yesterday’s televised draw, England were paired with Switzerland, Bulgaria, Wales and Montenegro in Group G of the European Championship Qualifiers. That’s kinda tough, I guess, but it could have been a lot worse. There are just 122 days till the World Cup begins… tic toc, tic toc. Can’t wait!!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sunday 7th February
Last night I was entertained by Todd Rundgren’s Johnson. That’s not something you get to say too often, unless of course you happen to be Mrs Rundgren. Todd opted to be his own warm-up act for a UK premiere of the 1973 album ‘A Wizard, A True Star’, adding his own personal twist to ten Robert Johnson standards that have been recorded for a new studio album which arrives this year. Speaking in advance of the show, Todd had suggested it would be “a theatricalisation rather than a note-perfect   performance of [‘AW,ATS’]”, and that’s exactly what we got. For reasons that only Rundgren will know, the original running order was messed around with, transposing ‘When The Shit Hits The Fan’/‘Sunset Blvd’ and ‘Le Feel Internacìonále’ to the end of the set proper. There were also numerous costume changes, the singer/guitarist hamming it up as an astronaut, a clown, a portly chef and a rocker in a shiny silver suit - for pix go here. In the gig’s early stages, as he pranced around the stage using a microphone headset it all threatened to become a little pantomime-esque, but backed by a band that included a member of The Tubes (drummer Prairie Prince), a Car (keyboard player Greg Hawkes) and the near-legendary bassist Kasim Sulton, there was no denying the stellar quality of the music. Although Rundgren is in his early 60s he went for every note and delivered each time. Being at the Hammersmith Apollo to see such a historic show felt like a real privilege. My one real problem was its brevity – it’s excessive to charge £50 for a show that lasts for less than 70 minutes (exclusive of the Robert Johnson segment). Anyway, here’s what was played, starting with the Johnson set: ‘Dust My Broom’, ‘Stop Breaking Down Blues’, ‘Walkin’ Blues’, ‘Love In Vain’, ‘Sweet Home Chicago’, ‘Red Hot’, ‘Come In My Kitchen’, ‘Hell Hound On My Trail’, ‘Travelling Riverside Blues’ and ‘Crossroads’, followed by: ‘International Feel (In 8)’, ‘Never Never Land’, ‘Tic Tic Tic It Wears Off’, ‘You Need Your Head’, ‘Rock And Roll Pussy’, ‘Dogfight Giggle’, ‘You Don’t Have To Camp Around’, ‘Flamingo’, ‘Zen Archer’, ‘Just Another Onionhead’/‘Dada Dali’, ‘Sometimes I Don’t Know What to Feel’, ‘Does Anybody Love You?’, Medley: ‘I’m So Proud’/‘Ooh Baby Baby’/‘La La Means I Love You’/‘Cool Jerk’, ‘Hungry For Love’, ‘I Don't Want To Tie You Down’, ‘Is It My Name?’, ‘When The Shit Hits The Fan’/‘Sunset Blvd’ and ‘Le Feel Internacìonále’ and a stirring, triumphant encore of ‘Just One Victory’.
Earlier in the day, following a humiliating home defeat earlier in the season, Crystal Palace exacted sweet revenge over Scunthorpe United, a 93rd minute goal from Neil Danns allowing the Eagles to leapfrog their opponents in the table. But for the Rundgren gig I’d have been at Glandford Park – a ground that remains on my ‘to visit’ list. All the same, a third win in a week is just what the doctor ordered.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 6th February
I’m glad that John Terry was relieved of his captaincy of the England football team. Terry might be very gifted footballer but, from what I’ve read about him this past week, he’s also a pretty rubbish human being. I agree with former CPFC legend Ian Wright’s verdict that this whole affair must teach him that “he breathes the same air as us mortals”. Boss Fabio Capello is known for a low tolerance threshold when it comes to off the field indiscretions. Had he let off Terry with a rap on the knuckles, I’m sure others besides myself would’ve lost enormous respect for the England boss. I do, however, dispute the logic of handing the armband to deputy skipper Rio Ferdinand, whose own sins include drunk-driving and an eight-month ban for ‘forgetting’ to turn up for a drugs test. Third-in-line, Steven Gerrard, also has a charge sheet of his own. What a bunch of nauseating ne’er-do-wells seems to play the beautiful game these days. And before anyone points out the fact: It speaks volumes of my own desperate hypocrisy that I shall cheer their every last kick in South Africa this summer.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 5th February
Martin Turner’s manager Martin Darvill has been in contact regarding my allegations of disrespect towards Turner’s Wishbone Ash co-founder Andy Powell (see diary, 30th January). Though it was conducted in a friendly bout of texting that went on to talk about football, Leeds fan Darvill, who also represents Uriah Heep, Asia, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Focus and Curved Air among others, seemed mildly perplexed, believing that I misinterpreted the situation. “I’m sure MT had a glint in his eye when he paused, but it was too dark to see the twinkle,” suggests Darvill, whose own idea it was for Turner to request a round of applause for the original line-up on each night of this tour. Darvill assures me: “MT has done this without the pause since the 100 Club.” So now we know…
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 4th February
Wow, oh wow. My jaw remains slack, the dull buzzing in my ears a reminder of last night’s Saint Vitus gig. Although many of their records reside in my collection, I had never seen the Californian doom-metal masters onstage before – excusable, as despite reuniting in 2008 they’d been absent from the UK for 20 years. With three members of their best known line-up on board, namely guitarist Dave Chandler, vocalist Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich and bassist Mark Adams (the fresher-faced Henry Vasquez filling the drum stool), demand for this one-off UK show had been so huge they moved it to the Academy from my least favourite London venue, the Scala. Chandler seemed like quite a character and his between-song banter was amusing. “These days there’s a whole bunch of cute girls at our shows, it’s bizarre but we love it,” grinned the wizened six-stringer, who also dedicated ‘Clear Windowpane’ to Blue Cheer’s late, great Dickie Peterson. Pace-wise, the 80-minute display veered from the turbo-charged ‘White Stallions’ to the deep, ominous, lumbering doom of ‘The Troll’, which Chandler revealed was being played on tour for the very first time. With members of support crew Orange Goblin cavorting side-stage, the two-song encore of ‘Dying Inside’ and ‘Born Too Late’ was strung out for mesmerising 20 minutes – a fantastic way to finish a stellar show. Here’s the set-list: ‘Living Backwards’, ‘I Bleed Black’, ‘Clear Windowpane’, ‘The War Starter’, ‘Look Behind You’, ‘The Troll’, ‘White Stallions’, ‘Mystic Lady’ and ‘Saint Vitus’, with those encores of ‘Dying Inside’ and ‘Born Too Late’.
P.S. I’ve updated the Playlist and YouTube sections. Yes, yes, yes… I know, this month’s Playlist should probably have been sponsored by Frontiers Records, but the fact remains they are releasing some quality stuff right now.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 3rd February
It was the type of night that doesn’t come along too often in football. A cash-strapped second-tier side facing Premier League opposition in an FA Cup Fourth Round Replay, under the floodlights and with all the passion that such encounters can provide. With defender Danny Butterfield forced to play up front and the Selhurst faithful roaring on their heroes, what happened next was a bit like a fairy story. In the course of six glorious minutes, Butterfield, who had scored a single goal in the past six seasons, notched a ‘perfect’ striker’s hat-trick (a left-foot shot, a right-foot shot and a header) to secure a lucrative home tie with Premier League team Aston Villa. For 90 minutes, a small corner of SE25 rang out with drunken cries of ‘Cay sera sera, whatever will be will be, we’re going to Wem-berley’, and its newly revised equivalent (sung to the same tune):

Shaun Derry, Derry
He's better than Steve G
He's better than John Terry
Shaun Derry, Derry

A truly unforgettable experience. I’m so glad my eldest lad Eddie, whose passion for the Eagles is growing to rival my own, was there with me to savour the moment instead of merely watching it on the box. Funnily enough, this morning there were no emails from Glenn Hughes… Hahaha!
P.S. Fair play to Cloven Hoof bassist Lee Payne, another Wolves supporter, who sent a nice sporting message that said: “Palace thoroughly deserve to be in the next round, you even out-played us at Molineux, too.” Top fella.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 2nd February
What the buggering flip is going on with Aerosmith?! With its eye-catching cover line of “We can’t wait around for Steven” (a quote from Joe Perry), the new issue of Classic Rock offers all sorts juicy tidbits on the group’s current predicament, revealing how they approached both Paul Rodgers and Bill Idol with a view to becoming the group’s new frontman. Now, on top of revelations that Tyler auditioned to replace Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin, the increasingly unpredictable singer’s solicitor has sent the band a four-page letter calling for a meeting of all ‘Aerosmith shareholders’ on February 9, effectively warning of legal action that could prevent the band from continuing without him. To quote one of the band’s own songs: Crazy.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 1st February
The transfer window has slammed shut. Incredibly given Palace’s fiscal plight, with defender Nathaniel Clyne spurning an approach from Wolves and reserve goalie Darryl Flahavan going out on loan to Oldham for the rest of the season, the only player actually sold was wonder-kid Victor Moses, whose own departure was very much expected (though, it must be said, I envisaged him moving to a far better club than Wigan, who are fast becoming a graveyard for unsuccessful CPFC cast-offs). Call me a scaremonger but whilst I’m ecstatic that the squad has stayed together, the financial repercussions are terrifying. The administrators will have sought to raise more than £2.5 mill. There had better be a buyer in the wings or the club might not last out for the rest of the season.