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

Monday 28th February
Wow… unsolicited but as welcome as the next Sheffield United defeat comes an email from Mark Clarke, the bassist of Uriah Heep, Mountain, Billy Squier, Ian Hunter and more. Mark wanted to add a tribute to his Colosseum band-mate Gary Moore to those already harvested by Classic Rock, though sadly he was a little too late – they already appear in the newest issue of the magazine (Van Halen cover, dated April). If only I’d known how to have reached him when I was writing my official Heep book, Wizards And Demons, almost ten years ago. Clarke is at least going to send me a copy of his solo album, ‘Movin’ To The Moon’.
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Sunday 27th February
It doesn’t happen too often but sometimes you must simply forget the disappointment of failing to win a particular game of sport and appreciate what you have just seen in pure spectacle terms alone. Crystal Palace really should have won yesterday’s vital home game with Reading, which featured early goals (the Eagles taking a 2-0 lead), a torrential downpour, multiple penalties and wrongly disallowed strikes (Neil Danns’ first-half shot **definitely** crossed the line), often turning on its head without warning. The final score was 3-3 but CPFC could have scored half-a-dozen. All that it didn’t feature was the Crystals Cheerleaders, who declined to perform their normally head-turning routine on the grounds of “inclement weather”. Cheerleaders… getting covered in mud… who’d have thought it??!! Ahem… Luckily, the results of the other struggling teams went our way and my lad Eddie and I were able to walk away from Selhurst Park with a joint exclamation of: “What an entertaining game of football… that’s what we pay our season ticket money for!!”
Amazingly, the same thing has just happened in the cricket. World Cup favourites India got off to a flyer against England, setting Strauss’ men a seemingly unmatchable total of 338. Against the odds, England got their heads down and piled on the runs with a minimal loss of wickets and for a while looked on cruise control to seize victory from the jaws of defeat. The game was eventually tied on the very last ball, but heck – what a thrilling advert for the supposedly obsolete 50-over format of cricket.
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Saturday 26th February
Another frantically busy week comes to an end. My Friday evening was topped off by a fascinating interview with former Metal Church guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof, who is now the brains behind a full-on progressive rock band called Presto Ballet. Their third album, ‘Invisible Places’, has just been released and to my immense surprise it actually lives up to the droolingly positive comments that emanated towards Ling Towers from my esteemed colleagues in the Classic Rock office (indeed, in his album review Geoff Barton described the band as sounding like “Starcastle fronted by Bruce Dickinson” – something that made Vanderhoof’s day when he was informed).
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Friday 25th February
People said it couldn’t be done but the Powerage Records tour rolled into London last night, leaving smiling faces in its wake. Featuring four acts signed to Classic Rock’s imprint of the same name, the trek allowed fans to see New Device, Lethargy, The Treatment and Million $ Reload for the princely sum on no pounds, no shillings and no pence… not even a farthing. Yes folks, admission was completely free. The downside for the bands concerned was that the budget-busting trek involved sleeping in vans, 30-minute sets (apart from headliners New Device who were given permission to hang around for longer), shared equipment and super-rapid changeovers.
Having enjoyed both editions of their recently re-mastered and re-packaged debut, ‘Anthems Of A Degeneration’, I’d been looking forward to seeing Belfast’s Million $ Reload for the first time. Songs such as ‘Freeloader’, ‘Goodnight New York’ and ‘Give It All’ offered a bucketload of commendable Gn’R/Buckcherry-style attitude, but last night’s performance was marred slightly by the fact that lead singer Phil Conalane suffered from a head-cold.
I’ve waffled at length about The Treatment at this site, also in the pages of Classic Rock, so let’s merely say that if the way the Underworld filled out shortly before their arrival and then gradually emptied was any kind of yardstick, the young Cambridge-based rockers were the band that most had paid (or in this instance **not paid**) to see. I lost count of those that came up afterwards and grinned: “Fucking hell, you were right… what an amazing band!”
Regrettably the same could not be said of Welshmen Lethargy, who looked as awful as their unflattering name, played a leaden, stodgy and eminently forgettable set and then left us in glorious peace as we awaited the night’s final attraction. To be brutally honest, I had minimal expectations of New Device, who shortly before this tour had been reduced by one member to a quartet and were introducing a brand new guitarist called KC Leigh. Their optimistically titled album ‘Takin’ Over’ had left me colder than an English winter, but onstage the riff-based sleaze-rock of ‘You’ve Got It Comin’’, ‘Seven Nights, Seven Bodies’ and ‘Peddle To The Metal’ (the latter of which sounded like ‘Suzy Smiled’ had it been written by Ratt and not the Tygers Of Pan Tang) vastly exceeded their recorded counterparts, and the group fully deserved a two-song encore (‘In The Fading Light’ and ‘Heaven Knows’). All in all, then, this inaugural Powerage Records trek was a big success.
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Thursday 24th February
I was thrilled to see the Garage rammed to bursting point for last night’s gig by the Black Spiders. The band’s previous headline appearance in London had taken place at the Underworld, a considerably smaller venue, but if proof was required that they are ready to step up to bigger and better things, well… it was delivered in spades. The Spiders’ long awaited debut album, ‘Sons Of The North’, quite rightly received great reviews across the board and their countless trips to “one horse towns” up and down the nation have fine-tuned them into a stellar, unmissable live act. Pete ‘Spider’ Spiby might be the show’s ringmaster, but it’s hard to tear one’s eyeballs from several other key members, including the genuinely unhinged-looking drummer ‘Tiger’ Si Atkinson. ‘Kiss Tried To Kill Me’ and ‘St Peter’ are both monumentally good tunes, but it speaks volumes of the Spiders’ consistency that their 70-minute set contains almost no weak links. I’ve seen the band several times in the past, but this was the show that convinced me they will become a genuine force to be reckoned with. Here’s the set-list: ‘Sons Of The North’, ‘Stay Down’, ‘Medusa’s Eyes’, ‘D&B’, ‘St Peter’, ‘Man’s Ruin’, ‘Just Like A Woman’, ‘What Good’s A Rock Without A Roll’, ‘Kiss Tried To Kill Me’ and ‘Blood Of The Kings’, plus ‘Si, El Diablo’ and ‘Meadow’.
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Wednesday 23rd February
Joe Elliott was 100% correct about the battle of the basement zone being far from over (see Monday). Last nite Palace made the trip down to Fratton Park and came home without any points, thanks to David Nugent who never fails to score against us. None of the other results went our way (Joe will have been distraught that his beloved Blades somehow lost to relegation rivals Scunthorpe after being two goals up in just seven minutes). The Eagles’ five-point cushion is now slashed to three, with the Bramall Lane crew second from bottom. It’s gonna get ugly…
The postie has just delivered some tasty goodies from Rock Candy Records – the final two Survivor albums in the label’s re-master series (‘When Seconds Count’ and ‘Too Hot To Sleep’ – both hugely underrated), plus a couple of gems from one of the most unfairly overlooked groups of all time; US pomp-rock messiahs Starcastle (their self-titled debut from 1976 and the following year’s ‘Fountains Of Light’)… nurse, the screens!!! I’ve also been playing Whitesnake’s new album, ‘Forevermore’. It’s way, way better than I expected…
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Tuesday 22nd February
England won their first game in the Cricket World Cup, but boy did they make hard work of overcoming the Dutch?! Had Holland been able to bowl as well as they batted, well… England’s fumbled catches, misfields and basic misreadings (which included having too many men outside the circle at pivotal moments) would almost likely have cost them the game. Play like that against India on Sunday and the consequences will be unthinkable.
P.S. What amazing news – Cinderella are to play a one-off UK gig at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on June 25. Don’t miss it!
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Monday 21st February
In the wake of Saturday’s defeat to Crystal Palace, I just received a text from Sheff Utd-mad Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott: “Don’t gloat too much, it’s not all over yet”. He’s absolutely right; CPFC are not yet out of the mire and the relegation issues will probably once again be decided on the last day of the season. Given that the Eagles are at home to Nottingham Florist, that doesn’t bode too well (maybe they’ll already be safely in the Play Offs by then and rest some key players?).
You may already know this as it’s been a very poorly kept secret, but Leppard are to headline the first night of the Download Festival (Friday June 10). With Twisted Sister, Down, Cheap Trick and others newly added to the weekend’s bill – which already features, Mr Big, Thin Lizzy, Alter Bridge and the mighty FM – I may have to head up to Derbyshire for a few days.
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Sunday 20th February
The result from yesterday’s relegation six-pointer at Selhurst Park: Crystal Palace 1, Sheff Utd 0. A moment of genius from Darren Ambrose was enough to enlighten a tense, fiercely contested game. Apart from carving a five-point gap between the Eagles and the bottom three clubs, the victory means that Dougie Freedman's side have also not let in a goal at home for more than 12 hours.
Still floating on Cloud Nine and in a state of disbelief, I celebrated with some Tillington Hills Premium Cider whilst travelling to Europe’s gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. What a show from Joey Tempest and the boys. Sadly, the promise of a few special guests did not materialize and at a mere 100 minutes the gig was perhaps a little on the short side, but there was faulting it musically or presentation-wise. Tempest loves lobbing the mic-stand around and throwing shapes, and the Empire cheered every last note, including a brand new song (destined for the band’s next album) called ‘Doghouse’ and, as a part of John Norum’s guitar solo, a rendition of Gary Moore’s ‘The Loner’. What a fantastic tribute. If you cannot wait for the DVD that was being filmed, here’s what was played: ‘Last Look At Eden’, ‘The Beast’, ‘Rock The Night’, ‘Scream Of Anger’, ‘Leave No Stone Unturned’, ‘Carrie’, ‘The Getaway Plan’, Guitar Solo/‘The Loner’, ‘Seventh Sign’, ‘New Love In Town’, ‘Love Is Not The Enemy’, ‘More Than Meets The Eye’, Drum Solo, ‘Always The Pretenders’, ‘Start From The Dark’ and ‘Superstitious’, plus encores of ‘Doghouse’ and ‘The Final Parpdown’.
The Tillington Hills Premium Cider had taken its toll by the time my friend Andy Beare and I reached the after show party. I remember spending quite some time engaged in a debate with one of the top dogs of Planet Rock Radio, bemoaning the fact that we hear too much s**t by U2, REM and various others on his station, also complaining about Alice Cooper’s show being moved from its breakfast spot. Never one to let sleeping dogs lie, I also pointed out that that Planet Rock really should have a devoted melodic rock show. If you are reading this, Malcolm, many apologies for chewing off your ears. I feel bad about it now…
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Saturday 19th February
Their sound having been derived from two acts that I cannot abide (step forward REM and Pearl Jam), I was never the greatest fan of Pennsylvanian post-grunge combo Live, though I did grow to appreciate their second album, ‘Throwing Cooper’, which was played with alarming regularity in the office of RAW Magazine back in the mid-1990s.
Fast forward several years and with Live’s singer Ed Kowalczyk working as a solo artist, guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer and drummer Chad Gracey have hooked up with vocalist Kevin Martin and guitarist Sean Hennesy – both of Candlebox – to form a surprisingly excellent new unit called The Gracious Few. Even on a Friday night, the opportunity to witness five musicians of such a fine calibre at a venue as miniscule as the Barfly in Camden (official capacity: 220) was too good to miss. The band played their self-titled album in its entirety – even (sadly) its reggae-tinged hidden track, ‘All I Hear Is…’, which was right load of old (Peter) tosh. We were also treated to ‘Labour Of Love’, a brand new tune, and a decent-sounding cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘It’s No Good’. It was great to be so close to the stage that you’d have seen the whites of their eyes had Kevin Martin removed his shades even for a minute. Onstage TGF rock even harder than their album suggests, ‘Honest Man’ and ‘Appetite’ revealing an unexpected Zep-like swagger. It was, as the band’s publicist Chris Hewlett so rightly observed, a bit like watching a Yank supergroup playing in a toilet. Here’s the set-list: ‘Closer’, ‘The Few’, ‘Tredecim’, ‘Silly Thing’, ‘All I Hear Is…’, ‘Crying Time’, ‘The Rest Of You’, ‘Guilty Fever’, ‘Labour Of Love’, ‘It’s No Good’, ‘Honest Man’, ‘Appetite’ and ‘Sing’.
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Friday 18th February
Last nite was spent at the Jazz Café in London’s Camden, where the Von Hertzen Brothers (see Diary, Wednesday) made their debut on a UK stage. Idled away some pre-gig time over the road at the R&T Exchange, picking up a mint-condition vinyl of Stevie Nicks’ best-of ‘Time Space’, a Dave Edmunds LP that was missing from the collection, ‘Choosing Death – The Original Soundtrack’ (featuring tracks by Napalm Death, Opeth, Repulsion, Morbid Angel, Nile and Arch Enemy among others) and, fascinatingly, an album on EMI titled ‘David Courtney’s First Day’, recorded in 1975 by an associate of Roger Daltrey, which features a guest appearance from David Gilmour. Not too a bad little selection.
After a short but extremely sweet warm-up set from female-fronted proggers Touchstone, whose brisk 30-minute stay was enhanced by superb sound, the Von Hertzens arrived to a proverbial hero’s welcome. I’ll be honest: I’m only familiar with the Finnish band’s forthcoming disc ‘Stars Aligned – their fourth full-length record so far – from which they aired a solitary song; ‘Angel’s Eyes’ (not to worry, the band reckon the rest of their catalogue is to be awarded UK availability before too long). It took a few numbers for the sound to come together and for yours truly to get a handle on their rather unique vibe, but the last half of the 80-minute set was absolutely sublime. By the end the group were as emotional as the crowd, who didn’t want them to leave after an encore of the title cut from their debut album, ‘Experience’. They’ll be back. And here’s what was played: ‘Disciple Of The Sun’, ‘River’, ‘Brother’, ‘Endlessly’, ‘Let Thy Will Be Done’, ‘In The End’, ‘Angel’s Eyes’, ‘Kiss A Wish’, ‘Freedom Fighter’, ‘Willing Victim’ and ‘Experience’.
P.S. Wow… Vicious Rumours have confirmed a date at the Camden Underworld on May 24 – I’ll be there!
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Thursday 17th February
Have just received approval from guitarist Andy Boulton for my sleeve notes to accompany two Tokyo Blade double-pack re-issues; ‘Blackhearts And Jaded Spades’ (1986) and ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ (’87) – both of which I bought as a fan – and ‘No Remorse’ (1989) and ‘Burning Down Paradise’ (’95). Both will be available by Lemon Recordings next month.
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Wednesday 16th February
It’s early evening and I’m home from a face-to-face interview with the Von Hertzen Brothers, a trio of siblings from Finland. Classic Rock Presents: Prog has fallen in love with the band’s new album, ‘Stars Aligned’ (released on March 14), claiming it sounds like “Transatlantic with Styx/Damn Yankees’ Tommy Shaw on vocals”. The guys – Mikko (vocals, guitar), Kie (guitar, vocals) and Jonne (bass, vocals) – were rather amused, and indeed flattered by, that description. Their Facebook page prefers the soundbite of: “Foo Fighters playing Pink Floyd’s greatest hits after spending years in India singing to Beach Boys tunes”, but you get the drift… it’s colourful rock music with a prog twist. The interview went so well, I dropped by the Record & Tape Exchange and treated myself to some albums, one of which – ‘No Prisoners’, a 1980 rarity from US band Ozz – I’d been after for years. Am playing it now; it’s bloody superb!!! Great songs from start to finish. Hearing it made me wonder what became of Gregg Parker. I interviewed the guitarist circa his cover of Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’ in the late ’80s… a cursory surf reveals nothing – if anyone knows his current whereabouts, please share?!
[Edit: My CR buddy Rich Wilson just sent a link which reveals that Parker now plays the blues].
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Tuesday 15th February
My working week got underway earlier than expected with a Monday morning text from Davy Vain. The lead singer of enduring SF glam combo Vain and I had been playing message tag for the past few days, but he was up and ready to talk at 12.30am local time (for him). Just before I picked up the office land-line my mobile trilled again with another message from the frontman, offering a weblink to a photograph. “What on earth could this be?” I mused. Aware of his image as a lothario, the possibilities were endless. So after inserting the code I was astonished when a photo of a green gecko appeared onscreen. “Yeah, sorry man…” said Davy sheepishly upon picking up the receiver. “It was a cool photo, but I sent it to the wrong guy.” As opening shots go, that one’s hard to beat. We had a really great conversation about Vain’s first UK tour in 1989, opening for Skid Row. If you’re as old as me, you’ll know that both Lemmy and Steve Harris jammed with the Skids at its now legendary Hammersmith gig. But Davy also told a great tale about Robert Plant stopping by Vain’s dressing room. I wish I had more space for the story, to be honest. As he signed off, the singer quipped: “Now don’t go downloading too many more of those gecko photos… the first one’s free, but they’re addictive; you’ve gotta pay for the rest.”
As you’ll probably know, Thunder are getting back together for a one-off date at this summer’s High Voltage Festival. Although guitarist Luke Morley remains committed to his current band The Union, this is surprising news given that their farewell tour ended in the summer of 2009. But I won’t be alone in receiving it with glee, surely?
Given the vocal issues suffered by David Coverdale on the band’s last tour, I’ve been harbouring strong reservations about Whitesnake’s imminent new album, ‘Forevermore’. Gotta say, though, its first video – which can be viewed here – is surprisingly tasty.
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Monday 14th February
Amazingly, it had been almost four years since my last sighting of an entire set from Evile. My, how the UK thrashers have improved! I was also rather impressed by a short, five-song warm-up display from Suffolk five-piece Elimination, who laid down some rather tasty molten thrash-metal riffs. I must track down a copy of their debut album, ‘Destroyed By Creation’, the title cut of which closed their part of the show in fine, marauding fashion. Evile have gone up several gears since I saw them last, and from where I stood just behind the moshpit (naturally!) the Underworld welcomed them like conquering messiahs. The Huddersfield combo began life playing covers by the likes of Metallica, Sepultura, Exodus, Annihilator and Slayer, and there are still one or two originality issues to be ironed out; two songs in, ‘Enter The Grave’ (the title cut of their debut album, from 2009) sounds uncannily Slayer-esque, right down to the way rhythm guitarist Matt Drake spits out its lyric of “Violent premonitions of the death” with machine gun-style rapidity, an echo of the way that Tom Araya delivers “Monarch to the kingdom of the dead” during ‘Angel Of Death’. If it’s meant as satire, well… okay, you got me with the piss-take. On the whole, though, it was a great show. A brand new song, ‘Bitch’, which is about to be recorded for the group’s third album, sounded great and despite the long haul across London, I was glad to have made the effort on a Sunday night. Here’s the set-list: ‘First Blood’, ‘Enter The Grave’, ‘Plague To End All Plagues’, ‘Metamorphosis’, ‘Thrasher’, ‘Bitch’, ‘We Who Are About To Die’, ‘My Parasite’, ‘Infected Nations’ and ‘Killer From The Deep’.
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Sunday 13th February
My throat is sore from singing after yesterday’s fruitless but hugely enjoyable trip to the Ricoh Arena. I’m still unsure how Palace contrived to lose 2-1 to a thoroughly mediocre Coventry Shitty side, but with the teams around us all sharing defeat (with the exception of Sheffield Utd, who drew) the situation is bearable. Returning home to find a pile of packages lightened the gloom a little more. It’s great to have ‘Manifest Destiny and ‘Bloodbrothers’, the second and third albums by The Dictators, as a two-on-one CD thanks to Floating World Records. The same company has also sent ‘Refugee’ and ‘Refugee Live In Concert 1974’ as a two-disc set. I didn’t already have the live segment, so that’s also rather welcome. Later on I shall have a look at the DVD of Francis Rossi’s ‘Live At St Luke’s London’… see whether I can spot myself boogying like a loon in the crowd.
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Friday 11th February
There’s not too much to report (not that I’m **allowed** to report, anyway!!), save for last night’s enjoyable phone interview with Diamond Head guitarist Brian Tatler. I have hardly stopped playing ‘Scheepers’, a seriously good solo record Ralf Scheepers that includes a version of Priest’s ‘Before The Dawn’ which fits the Primal Fear singer like a metal glove. If rampant, melodic, tuneful, Teutonic meta-a-a-a-a-a-al is your bag, this record (due via Frontiers Records on the 18th of this month) will leave you drooling.
Don’t expect any updates over the weekend. Tomorrow is the inaugural Palace On Tour Day, and I will be among several thousand Eagles faithful making the journey to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. All sorts of celebrations are planned, including red and blue balloons, fedoras and cigars (as a tribute to ‘Big’ Malcolm Allison) and even fancy dress. I’ve decided to go along as a drunken rock journalist… how’s that for originality? The coach I’m booked onto leaves Selhurst at 7am, with several stops planned along the way. Given that I shall be in the company of Mr Paul Newcomb, another rock-worshipping Eagles nutcase with a perpetual thirst for alcohol, this one could get messy…
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Thursday 10th February
In preparation for last night’s phone interview with Dug Pinnick, some of yesterday morning was spent watching ‘Love Live In London’, an excellent three-disc set that chronicles a January 2009 gig by King’s X. Having been present among the sold-out crowd at the Electric Ballroom, I can affirm that it’s a well-shot souvenir of a terrific show. It’s always a pleasure to talk to Pinnick, who has an excellent self-mocking sense of humour. My only difficulty was that he wanted to be called at 7pm London time… a mere 15 minutes before the kick-off of England’s game in Denmark. That meant no boozing – hey, I’m a professional! – and setting the Sky+, then fast forwarding through the adverts and dead segments of play in a bid to stay as close to real-time as possible (I hate it when mates send texts proclaiming: “What a goal!’ or “the referee should’ve gone to Specsavers!” and I’m still lagging behind real-time). In the end, everything was fine. Pinnick was as entertaining as usual, and despite slipping behind to a decent-looking Danish side within the first seven minutes, Capello’s younger than usual and highly efficient England line-up ran out as winners by two goals to one.
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Wednesday 9th February
Yesssssssssssssss! The new, deluxe editions of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak’, ‘Johnny The Fox’ and ‘Live And Dangerous’ are here at last. Like many rock fans of my age group I know every last lick, lyric, ad-lib and fade-out of these records, so it’s pretty unbelievable to think that I’ve never owned any of them on CD before. They will be treasured: My old mate Steve Hammonds at Universal has done a fabulous job of updating them with bonus tracks and lovingly compiled sleeve essays (courtesy of Derek Oliver, Neil Jeffries and Malcolm Dome respectively).
I must also give the thumbs up to Scott Gorham and Joe Elliott’s much-discussed 2011 remixes of certain tracks from each of the studio albums; they’ve been cleaned up very nicely!
I’m in a bit of a Thin Lizzy-friendly mood anyway, having spent a chunk of yesterday on the phone to Brian Robertson, Vivian Campbell and Neil Carter.
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Tuesday 8th February
Beware: this diary entry will self-destruct in ten seconds. Yesterday’s interviews were conducted in top secret fashion, wearing a disguise and using a device to distort my voice. No, I’m kidding. But I did grille two reclusive characters. In the morning I took my life in my own hands by calling Andy McNab, the former SAS soldier-turned-bestselling author whose book Bravo Two Zero was something of an avid page-turner here at Ling Towers (Mrs L and I both read and enjoyed it). McNab is about to go out on a charity motorcycle ride across North America called England Rocks – Hands Across The Water, an experience he will share with former Thunder members Danny Bowes, Luke Morley, Chris Childs and Ben Matthews. With proceeds going to Childline Rocks, Morley and Childs are to perform with their current band The Union as part of a special concert at the Sun Valley Pavilion when the 700-mile trek ends in Ketchum, Idaho, on July 11. McNab, who due to security issues conceals his identity everywhere he goes, sounded casual about the whole thing. “The idea came up at a Christmas party while I was talking shit at eleven o’clock at night, and it snowballed from there.” He spoke with the firm conviction of a man you wouldn’t mess with, and Bowes later told me that his presence on the ride fills him with confidence. “We should be OK in the bars,” he laughs. “I’m just wondering whether he’ll have a pixelated crash helmet to cover his face.”
Before attending a launch party for The Treatment’s debut album, I visited a central London hotel for a chin-wag with Aviv Geffen of Blackfield. Son of renowned Israeli poet Yehonatan Geffen and nephew of military leader and politician Moshe Dayan, Geffen was once described to me by Steven Wilson as “the David Bowie of Israel”. Having been the last person to embrace Prime Minister Rabin, who was gunned down only moments later, and offered a series of provocative political statements, a series of death threats mean that Geffen requires bodyguards whenever he appears in public at home. Besides discussing Blackfield’s excellent new album, ‘Welcome To My DNA’ (Kscope, March 28), we touched upon his feelings about hitting the road to promote said disc, and the undercurrent of personal danger that touring must bring. I’m paraphrasing here as I’ve yet to transcribe the tape, but his reply of: “I don’t care, if necessary I’m willing to die onstage for my beliefs” struck me as incredibly bold.
After such a seriousness, The Treatment’s party was just what I needed. Vodka and Diet Cokes flowed as the sound of ‘This Might Hurt’ (the first finished copies of which were handed out) filled the Crobar. Rounds after round of apple slammers were sunk in honour of Gary Moore, and in the end I was mightily relieved that my good friend Steve ‘No relation’ Way was on hand to get me home safely in his car. A great night!!
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Monday 7th February
I’d chosen to spend my Sunday afternoon working on a sleeve essay for the soon-come re-issue of Strangeways’ ‘Native Sons’ alum. Suddenly, my mobile phone began to chirrup with a flood of text messages. Oh no, I realised: Gary Moore has died. Given the euphoria of the previous 24 hours, I found the news tremendously upsetting. The former Skid Row/Colosseum II/Thin Lizzy/BBM guitarist had a reputation for being a bit prickly, and during one memorable interview he got the arse with me for asking about he got his famous facial scar. But mostly, though, we got on just fine. I once had the great pleasure of visiting him at his home down on the South Coast (in that Sussex town that Crystal Palace fans dare not mention) to conduct a story for Classic Rock, and the Irishman couldn’t have been more charming or entertaining. Moore was only 58 years old… blimey, that’s no age, is it? RIP, Gary. I shall miss you.
[Edit: Glenn Hughes just sent a lovely email: I'm devastated to hear of Gary's passing. A truly great British rock and blues hero. I shared many wonderful musical and personal experiences with him. He was a ferocious player, and had no fear of his instrument. I'm glad that Gary and I got to mend our relationship. Rest In Peace...]
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Sunday 6th February
Yesterday’s 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough brought Crystal Palace three points – all the more priceless given that our rivals at the table’s foot (Preston, Scunny and Sheff Utd) all suffered heavy, demoralisingly emphatic defeats. Making my way from Selhurst to Pallas’ gig at the Peel, I bought a huge vat of gut-rot cider with which to celebrate. The concert was magnificent, marred by a single, glaring flaw – the omission of arguably the Scottish band’s best-known song, ‘Eyes In The Night (Arrive Alive)’, from an otherwise glorious two-hour set. With new Paul Mackie seems an extremely talented discovery the quintet cruised through their current album, ‘XXV’, in its entirety, pausing only to take a breather via some older tunes at around the halfway mark. A two-song encore culled from ‘The Wedge’ and ‘The Sentinel’ was very special indeed. With crystal clear sound and Prog’s Nick Shilton acting as my beer roadie, safe in the knowledge that I had a lift from Lisa Bardsley, who works for the band’s label Mascot Records, I couldn’t have been happier. If you are at High Voltage in the summer, do yourself a favour and check out the new-look Pallas. Here’s what they played: ‘Falling Down’, ‘Crash And Burn’, ‘Something In The Deep’, ‘Monster’, ‘For The Greater Glory’, ‘Rat Racing’, ‘Ghostdancers’, ‘Midas Touch’, ‘The Alien Messiah’, ‘XXV Part 1 (Twenty Five Good Honest Men)’, ‘Young God’, ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Blackwood’, ‘Violet Sky’ and ‘XXV 2 (The Unmakers Awake)’, plus ‘Sanctuary’ and the vintage ‘Cut & Run’.
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Saturday 5th February
The weekend is here at last… time for some fun. Palace’s home game with Middlesbrough comes first, then off to see Pallas at that far-flung outpost of prog rock, The Peel in Kingston-on-Thames. Can’t wait!
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Friday 4th February
Great news for London-based fans of John Waite. The Rover makes a Return to the nation’s capital with a freshly announced gig at the refurbished Borderline – one of my favourite venues – on Sunday May 8. Coincidentally, Crystal Palace’s relegation-haunted 2010/’11 season ends that same afternoon with a home game against high flying Nottingham Florist. Whatever the outcome, it’s fairly certain that I shall be having a drink or fifty-three.
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Wednesday 2nd February
I’ve been to a few Crystal Palace matches in my time, but never seen – or rather **not** seen – anything like last night’s game at (T)Watford. What a surreal, exhilarating 90 minutes of football. Last season’s victory at Vicarage Road turned out a milestone in the club’s eventually successful bid to avoid relegation. Although I was praying for the same this time around, the Eagles went behind to a silly early goal. Did the team or indeed the fans simply capitulate? Not on your nelly. Instead we roared them on to a priceless equaliser, the point from which actually took the club out of the relegation zone for the first time since Dougie Freedman took over as manager.
The game’s second half descended into farce as a thick fog trickled over the top of the stand and onto the pitch, doing its best to conceal the action. This YouTube clip confirms both the weather’s extremity and the sheer unremitting volume of the Palace faithful. We became completely reliant upon those at Watford’s end of the ground: Each time their players missed a chance, the groans of their fans would generate a huge, relieved cheer. After the game, the club’s Chairman went online to praise the 1,650 that made the journey: “Absolutely awesome support tonight. Brilliant. Constant noise all the way through, especially when Jules was lost in the fog! Onwards and upwards. We are staying up!!”, a sentiment echoed by midfielder Neil Danns, who Tweeted: “Have 2 say the support 2nite was the loudest away support I think I’ve heard, well done eagle supporters, that was the way to support a team.
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Tuesday 1st February
I was a little surprised by today’s revelation that Gotthard have expressed a wish to continue as a band, following the awful death of Steve Lee. “Gotthard is not a job for us – GOTTHARD IS OUR LIFE!!” they say in a newly issued statement. As a singer, and indeed as a bloke, Lee was one of a kind. The Swiss band had also just completed a run of first-rate albums. But if they find the right guy as a replacement then I’m happy to give them a fair chance. That’s a fairly large ‘but’, however…
Talking of frontmen, there are few finer than Chris Babbitt of Taking Dawn. Last night I was present at a band’s sold-out gig at the Barfly… by all accounts the first time the Las Vegas combo have achieved such a feat in their admittedly short career. Babbitt was like a man possessed, cajoling the crowd to make animal noises, propositioning ladies in the front rows and, at the show’s climax, jumping from the stage, tearing through the audience and climbing onto the bar and headbanging like a man possessed. The guitarist/frontman is certainly a livewire character. Having told me during a recent Classic Rock interview that former touring partner Gene Simmons had hypocritically busted their balls for covering Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ because “it made [them] look cheap” (“this came from a man whose own show includes three cover versions,” observed Chris, not unreasonably), it might have served as poetic justice that Taking Dawn threw a version of Kiss’ ‘Black Diamond’ into last night’s performance – preceded by a pitiful impression of Paul Stanley by bassist Andrew Cushing. Anyway, the show ruled. Here’s what they played: ‘Save Me’, ‘Like A Revolution’, ‘Endlessly’, ‘Never Enough’, Drum Solo, ‘Time To Burn’, ‘Fight ‘Em With Your Rock’, ‘Black Diamond’, ‘Godless’, ‘Take Me Away’, ‘V’, ‘So Loud’ and ‘The Chain’.
P.S. Look out for the usual monthly updates at the Playlist and YouTube pages. As a tribute to the late, great Phil Kennemore I’ve also posted an extended version of a Y&T feature that appeared in the October 2005 issue of Classic Rock.