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

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Friday 30th January
A fascinating thread at the Crystal Palace message board is claiming with pretty good authority that ‘piped crowd noises’ are now being piped into the (Not So) Happy Valley on match days to compensate for the deathly silences. I can only speculate that Steve Augeri must be a Ch***ton fan. Hahaha…
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Thursday 29th January
How tragic. During the last 24 hours two of my musical heroes have died. Though I saw him onstage many times, I never got to meet Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell. I did, however, conduct a highly memorable interview with him for a Classic Rock cover story in 2003. It was a retrospective piece about the original band’s final album, 1977’s Street Survivors’, and the plane crash that claimed the lives of singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his backing vocalist and sister Cassie, also the band’s assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Powell, who became a Christian in the wake of the disaster, had been relentlessly bullied by Skynyrd’s leader Van Zant. In the interview, with refreshing candour, Billy was willing to transport himself back to the Mississippi swamp in which the group’s private 21-ton, 1947 Convair 240 turbo-prop plane had plunged. Lying dazed and wounded in the twilight, his knee-jerk reaction was pretty darned astonishing.
“You want the truth? I’ve never shared this with anybody,” he told me. “As time went by I’d kinda forgiven Ronnie for [knocking out] my teeth, but right before the plane crash I was getting really fed up with it all. The strangest memory of my life is that when that plane came down, I wasn’t knocked unconscious like all the rest. One of my first thoughts was, ‘Thank God it’s over – I don’t have to get beaten up anymore’.
“Even without asking anyone, I knew in my heart that Ronnie was dead. And it was a relief,” he continued. “It didn’t last long; of course, I wanted the beating to stop, but not like it did. I knew that Steve was dead, too, but I didn’t know about Cassie. It took three years for all the survivors to collect our thoughts and get over the bitterness. Although both pilots [Walter McCreary and William Gray] paid with their lives, it took a long time for me to stop being mad at them.”
Farewell also to John Martyn, a Scottish singer, songwriter and guitarist whose records I’ve been gradually accumulating for quite a while. Given the quality of recordings like ‘Solid Air’ (1973), ‘Grace And Danger’ (1980) and ‘Well Kept Secret’ (1982), it’s a crying shame that his 40-year career seems to be referenced for having worked with Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and David Gilmour. As summed up by a well-wishing poster at the Classic Rock website: “A down to earth guy with more talent in his pinky than all the Lily Allens put together”.
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Wednesday 28th January
Obviously I’m gutted that Palace lost 1-0 in last night’s south London derby, in the process handing Clowntown Pathetic their first league triumph in 19 attempts – that’s four months! Given our own atrocious recent form and the win-less sequence of our opponents, the evening’s result as always on the cards. Aside from the fact that I wouldn’t give Charlton a single sheet of my own used toilet paper, let alone thirty hard-earned notes, it’s why I stayed at home and listened to the web commentary instead. Luckily, all of the other teams involved in the relegation scrap picked up useful points, so the Clowns still look doomed. But a Palace victory would have slammed down their coffin’s lid and banged in the first few nails…
Oddly, I find myself even more choked by the news that Thunder are splitting up again due to the pressure of “various activities outside of the band”. A farewell tour takes place in July. Frontman Danny Bowes tells the Classic Rock website: “I was pretty much fried at the end of last year. I came to the conclusion I can’t continue to sing in the band, run the label, manage the band, the online shop, oversee the website, and work as an agent.” I’ll be there at Shepherd’s Bush on July 11 to wave a fond farewell.
There’s at least one ray of sunshine: Lemon Recordings have just furnished me with finished copies of the Heavy Metal Kids’ first two albums, neither of which I’ve owned on CD before. These new editions of a self-titled debut from 1974 and the following year’s ‘Anvil Chorus’ contain bonus material and feature sleeve notes written by yours truly. The live version of ‘The Cops Are Coming’ that’s added to ‘Anvil Chorus’ is especially riotous.
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Monday 26th January
Jeeeezus, what a sensational voice. Last night was spent at the Borderline, marvelling at the charisma and singing power of a fascinating lady called Beth Hart. I last saw Miss Hart at the Fly three months ago, and it’s hard to elaborate upon my ravings following that show (see Diary, 7.10.08). This time around there was no Led Zeppelin cover (at the Fly she had belted out ‘Whole Lotta Love’), but seeing her on a bigger stage, commanding the attention of a larger audience, only served to reinforce my suspicion that Hart is destined to become a major star. She sings with an almost unparalleled raw emotion. She swears like a trooper. And when she leaps up from her keyboard – few artists would have the bravery to introduce themselves with an unaccompanied version of a song they’d written the week before – to seize the microphone and gyrate at the front of the stage, it’s easy to see why Hart is so frequently compared to Janis Joplin.
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Sunday 25th January
[Sighs deeply]. Crystal Palace are out of the FA Cup… again. Despite his promise to name a strong side for the trip to Watford, I feel that boss Neil Warnock must shoulder some of the blame for the Vicarage Road debacle. Matt Lawrence once again had an **awful** game, and after gifting the home side the opening goal things went from bad to worse. The Eagles, who somehow made a dismal Watford side look like world-beaters, didn’t even start to compete till they were 4-1 down. That the game finished 4-3 flattered the visitors; had Warnock changed things around earlier, and the lineman not ruled out what looked like a perfectly legit Palace goal, the outcome might have been very different indeed. Then again, conceding eight goals in two games suggests there is a very big problem indeed.
P.S. Twatford have just rubbed salt into the wound by drawing Chelski at home in the next round of the Cup. Bollox.

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Saturday 24th January
Aw, listen, I don’t know if this is true… but I kinda hope so. It’s being reported that David Bowie is to revive his Ziggy Stardust character, so famously killed off (without informing his Spiders From Mars band-mates) at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973. We already know that Bowie is working on new material in Berlin, the where he created the ‘Low’, ‘Lodger’ and ‘Heroes’ albums. Is it possible that Ziggy might play guitar again? I hope so!
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Friday 23rd January
Yesterday was pretty productive. During the afternoon I took a train to Surrey to met Jeff Scott Soto for an interview. As anyone that saw my Classic Rock review of his latest album, ‘Beautiful Mess’, will know, it’s a sensational, daring record. Over a tasty flavoured vodka mixture of some kind we discussed what the rock fraternity will make of an album as funky and soulful as ‘BM’, also his controversial departure from Journey. Still smarting from the latter, JSS said more on the subject that I had expected he might and was extremely funny on the subject of working with Yngwie Malmsteen – clearly not an experience he relished, though the liaison did fulfil its goal of getting Soto noticed.
After the JSS interview I headed to Camden for a gig by King’s X. In an email, Phil Ashcroft of Fireworks magazine had called the previous night’s performance in Wolverhampton “the best gig I’ve seen in years.” With perfect lights, sound and connection between band and audience, the Texan trio’s performance at the Electric Ballroom was similarly inspiring. Deep, dark and hypnotic – though sometimes feverishly uplifting – King’s X has the chemistry than only a band that has been together for three decades, through good and bad, is capable of summoning; it’s really possible to close your eyes and get lost in their intoxicating grooves. “I’ve been bugging our management for 20 years to do a DVD in London – it’s my favourite place to play,” bassist Dug Pinnick told the enthusiastic gathering. You’ll see the cinematic results when they’re released later this year.
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Thursday 22nd January
Floridians Shinedown are among the best new(-ish) bands out there right now, so having been unable to attend last year’s well-received support slot with Disturbed there was no way I would miss the band’s European debut as a headlining act. In London, demand for tickets had been so extreme that the show was upgraded from the Underworld to the Islington Academy – a wise call as the place was packed.
A publicist working for opening act The Crave had asked me to check out her charges. ‘Good but not great’ was my verdict. There are a lot of young bands out there playing the music of their parents, and though the Sussex-based combo seem to have a decent repertoire, it sorely lacks something that might constitute a hit song. My appreciation of them wasn’t helped when the guy next to me turned to his girlfriend and said: “These guys are like a poor man’s McFly” before heading to the bar. Ouch! As low blows go, that’s pretty hard to beat.
Offering an 80-minute set largely culled from their third and latest disc ‘The Sound Of Madness’ (an album that featured in my own Best Of 2008 list), Shinedown arrived to send the Academy barmy. With staring, make-up enhanced eyes and floppy dark hair, Brent Smith looks for all the world like a young version of Ozzy Osbourne. Though his overbearing attempts to curry favour with the audience soon become irksome, he’s a likable, engaging frontman that really knows how to work a room. Having slimmed down to a four-piece shortly before the tour when ex-Silvertide guitarist Nick Perri departed, Zack Myers coped manfully with the extra demands. This is without doubt a band that could become humongous stars in Britain… should it decide to spare the time for the roadwork. Here’s the set-list: ‘Cry For Help’, ‘Heroes’, ‘Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide’, ‘If You Only Knew’, ‘Left Out’, ‘Burning Bright’, ‘The Crow And The Butterfly’, ‘Sound Of Madness’, ‘Save Me’, ‘45’, ‘Devour’ and encores of ‘Second Chance’ and ‘Fly From The Inside’.
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Wednesday 21st January
Several emails have arrived following my mention of the Michael Schenker Group’s London instore signing session for the ‘One Night At Budokan’ album. Dave Clark, an ex-pat Brit who now resides in Canada, wrote to point out that Graham Bonnet was present at the Virgin Megastore bash, adding that the ex-Rainbow singer “quickly legged it out of public view when a punter threatened him saying that he wanted Gary Barden back in the band.” I don’t remember that, but it was a hectic event with fans queuing down Oxford Street to collect their signatures. Signings at the Virgin Megastore were always vastly over-subscribed. I was lucky enough to be fourth in the line for the famous one thrown by Kiss for the ‘Creatures Of The Night’ album. Other especially memorable instores I attended include Bon Jovi, Queensrÿche, Manowar and W.A.S.P. at the much-missed Shades Records in St Anne’s Court. Great days indeed…
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Monday 19th January
Most of my past 24 hours have been spent with the office death deck volume levels set at ‘stun’ as the new Michael Schenker Group re-masters blare. I love writing sleeve notes but it was extra special to have been commissioned for ‘Michael Schenker Group’, ‘MSG’ and ‘One Night At Budokan’, all of which now come with a slew of audio extras. The classic first album has been bolstered by a five-track demo recorded before a formative line-up hooked up with producer Roger Glover, the second one adds six live songs from Manchester Apollo in 1980, while the compilers have rummaged through the vaults and relocated ‘Tales Of Mystery’ and Cozy Powell’s drum extravaganza for ‘…Budokan’, thus restoring the show’s original running order. And a re-mastering from Pete Mew of Abbey Road has fattened out and honed the sound like never before. Hearing ‘One Night At Budokan’ again brought back hallowed memories of the original band at its peak, including the first gigs at Hammersmith Odeon and a London in-store signing session for the double-live record’s domestic release. My gatefold vinyl edition still bears its prized signatures of Messrs Schenker, Powell and Chris Glen, vocalist Gary Barden and rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond having fled for pastures greener and less stressful. Conversely, hearing Barden – who, let us not forget, hails from Tunbridge Wells – declaring his love for “the best football team in the world… UNITED!” at the Apollo during an intro for ‘Feels Like A Good Thing’ very nearly turned my stomach.
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Sunday 18th January
After the ignominy of watching Palace capitulating at home to Ipswich Town – the final score of 4-1 hugely flattering the visitors, to be fair – I needed to be cheered up. A gig by John Otway at a London venue I’d never visited before – the Half Moon, in Putney – was just the cure. One of the last great English eccentrics, Aylesbury-born Otway is still basking in the glory of his 1977 novelty hit ‘Really Free’, a 45 vinyl of which yours truly purchased as a kid. His concerts are notoriously riotous. “Welcome to the last show of my 2008 tour,” he announced to get things underway, adding with a grin: “I’ve still got some T-shirts to sell.” Amazingly (and at the time, I thought, foolishly), the music began with ‘Really Free’, quickly followed by its only marginally less celebrated B-side ‘Beware Of The Flowers ‘Cos I’m Sure They’re Gonna Get You, Yeah’. It all goes downhill from here, I wrongly assumed. Otway isn’t the greatest of singers but he is a court jester and raconteur par excellence, with a neat line in rapier-like self-deprecating wit. After a version of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band-popularised ‘Delilah’, which had made him the face of breakfast cereal Weetabix in a nationwide advert campaign, he cheerfully deadpanned: “[That one got to] Number 186 in the charts – you put it there.”
Apparently unhindered by an obligation to perform his own material, Otway also riotously covered The Osmonds’ ‘Crazy Horses’, ‘You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet’ by Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Eddie & The Hot-Rods’ ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’. Only somebody this delightfully incongruous could have used an experience like helping his daughter with her chemistry homework to re-write The Trammps’ ‘Disco Inferno’ as a tribute to the Bunsen Burner, notching another even bigger hit in the process. Other highlights included Otway careering around the stage using a bent coat-hanger as a hands-free microphone holder (anything Madonna can do, John achieves on a gazillionth of the budget), a well-scripted audience call and response during a Stylophone-enhanced rendition of The Animals’ ‘House Of The Rising Sun’, plummeting babies (a la Michael Jackson) during ‘Rumpelstiltskin’, the use of a step ladder as a stage prop (!!!!) and a series of marvellous gags that I suspect might become tiring in the long run (though my friends Steve Way and his missus Jan, regulars at the man’s gigs, assure me they do not). You owe it to yourself to see John Otway – at least once.
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Saturday 17th January
I’ve just been reading Metal Hammer’s coverage of the Hard Rock Hell festival and chortled aloud at its mention of Tigertailz. Fan Jennie from Stoke told Hammer’s reporter: “Tigertailz were up there with the best glam bands of the 80s. Well, they didn’t top Poison – I told them that, but they didn’t mind signing my T-shirt anyway.” That’s a conversation I’d love to have overheard! Jennie from Stoke: “Okay, you ain’t as good as Poison, but can I have your autograph anyway…?” I love it when fans meet their idols and end up burbling a load of nonsense. It reminded me of the occasion when an old girlfriend and I attended a show by Winger in the glamorous city of Peterborough. Spotted in the crowd during Kiss Of The Gypsy’s support spot by Kip’s tour manager, we were invited into the dressing room to say a quick ‘hi’. The first thing my starstruck companion could think of to say was: “I liked your photos in Playgirl…”. Cue end of our spontaneous meet ‘n’ greet, hahaha.
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Friday 16th January
Something for the weekend, sir? Well, how about this (excuse me as I leap about the room)… The original, fabled line-up of Mott The Hoople – frontman/keyboard player Ian Hunter, guitarist Mick Ralphs, organist Verden Allen, bassist Overend Watts and drummer Dale Griffin – has officially announced its intention to play two special reunion shows, at London’s Hammersmith Apollo on October 2/3. The dates will be the band’s first gigs together in more than 35 years. I’m absolutely stunned, not to mention thrilled.
Only marginally less surprising, this morning I received an email from Jim Lyttle. With the help of the guys from GMT the erstwhile Rogue Male leader has recorded an album called ‘Nail It’ and is in the process of assembling a new line-up with a view to hitting the road. I saw the feisty, punk-metalheads several times at the Marquee back in the mid-80s; this could be interesting…
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Thursday 15th January
Football has finally stepped over the line. Not only are Manchester City trying to sign Brazilian ace Kaka for a world record transfer fee of £100 million, they want pay him £500,000 per week – yeah, you read that right – to play for them. Frankly, such a deal would be obscene. Whatever happened to small boys in the park, jumpers for goalposts, etc? Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth my beloved Crystal Palace progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup after strolling past a disappointing Leicester City side in last night’s replay at Selhurst Park. An awayday to Twatford now awaits. Gosh… I can barely contain my expectation.
P.S. I had to laugh at something I’ve seen on the internet: Morrissey has hinted he is set to quit music. That’s absolutely priceless. I wasn’t even aware the talentless oaf had ever actually made any.

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Wednesday 14th January
How on earth does Steven Wilson do it? The singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer always has something or another on the go, whether it’s Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Blackfield or his other projects. Last night I attended a playback party for Wilson’s solo debut, ‘Insurgentes’, exiting Metropolis Studios in a state of disbelief at the man’s sheer levels of consistency. Several months before beginning the sessions Wilson – who is known for appreciating various diverse strands of music – informed me in a Classic Rock interview that he would most likely tap into his post-punk heritage. Conceived with a cast list that includes King Crimson/Peter Gabriel bassist Tony Levin, Dream Theater’s keyboardist Jordan Rudess and PT sticksman Gavin Harrison, alongside Japanese Koto player Michiyo Yagi, British guitarist Sand Snowman, jazz flautist and saxophonist Theo Travis, ‘Insurgentes’ does touch upon some of those elements but it’s w-a-a-a-a-ay more diverse. At one extreme it’s edgy and dark, characterised by echo-laden, clanking guitars. Its other dense, industrial-flavoured moments are juxtaposed by blasts of ambient noise and orchestral and acoustic interludes. Although ‘Insurgentes’ has already gone on sale in limited edition format (its 3,500 pieces now fetching anything up to £250 on eBay), I’d resisted the temptation to check it out before the playback session. I’m glad I did so: Hearing in it an astonishingly clear 5.1 mix, glass of dry white wine in hand, was absolutely perfect.
Whether it’s Nightwish previewing ‘Dark Passion Play’ before the European press at Abbey Road, PT’s own playback of their last album, ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ at the same legendary studio or the London premiere of Opeth’s ‘Watershed’, when a group invites you to experience their new record in 5.1, it speaks volumes. The message it sends out is: ‘This is more than something we’ve banged together in our bedrooms on ProTools; what we’re making here is an artistic statement’. Christ, I’m beginning to sound like a pseud, so let’s leave it there. All I’ll say is that ‘Insurgentes’ (available through Kscope on March 9) is a fascinating, multi-layered piece of music that only Steven Wilson could have created.
And, yes, I did ask the obvious question – whether there will be any live dates. “There’s a window in my schedule,” Steven told me, shortly before heading off to play guitar on some dates with Blackfield partner Aviv Geffen. Work on a new Porcupine Tree album is also underway. “It would involve finding other musicians to be in my band,” Wilson continued. “I’d like to do it, but it will all depend on how the album is received and whether or not the demand is there.”
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Tuesday 13th January
This afternoon, once the Classic Rock news pages are done ‘n’ dusted, I shall head to central London to hear Steven Wilson’s debut solo album, ‘Insurgentes’. Haven’t had a drink in more than week, so might even allow myself a glass or two of white wine.
On a domestic note, youngest son Arnie has now populated the aquarium that we bought for his recent birthday. Benevolently, he gave all the other members of Clan Ling their own fish (secretly, I believe this was a ploy so we would take over the task of feeding them). Mine is red and a shade of black that looks blue (in the right light). I have taken the liberty of naming him after Waysted’s very own one-man off license, Fin.
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Monday 12th January
Just home from the Record & Tape Exchange, and I’m worried. Should a doctor or psychiatrist happen read this (yeah, that’s likely!), maybe they could email me privately to recommend a cure for my own bizarre form of obsessive compulsive disorder. Not too long ago, during a phase of appreciating singer-songwriters, I picked up and enjoyed Carly Simon’s ‘Greatest Hits’. One thing lead to another and this afternoon as I file away Miss Simon’s ‘Greatest Hits Live’ I discover that I now own 14 of her records. Woaah… how did that happen?! Less shamefully, I’ve also accumulated a half-dozen by her ex-husband, James Taylor, and one by their son Ben. Dare I even count the Joni Mitchell ones? Probably not. Most worrisome of all, a year after Zakk Wylde recommended Elton John’s 1973’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ to me, my collection is now clogged up by 31 LPs and CDs bearing Reg’s name. WTF?!
Today’s other purchases include an album by a band called The Wage Of Sin. I bought it because it had been produced by GN’R guitarist Bumblefoot, a top fella who I had the pleasure of interviewing last year, failing to realise the band was all-female; not that it mattered when I pressed ‘Play’ and a bunch of At The Gates-influenced dervishes assaulted my eardrums!! Also picked up Chuck Berry’s The Autobiography for a modest sum, on the grounds that Time Out had called it “the pop book of the decade”, and of course for the fact that Berry claims to have invented rock ‘n’ roll.
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Sunday 11th January
What about Charlton losing 2-0 at home to Nottingham Florist, eh? Oh, how I laughed. It’s hard to see the Clowns avoiding relegation now…
My first live experience of 2009, last night’s Edguy gig, was a lot of fun. In fairness I was really tempted to the Islington Academy by their highly-rated support act, H.E.A.T. from Sweden, who despite a stupidly early start that I almost missed due to guest list queue confusion, did a first-rate job of warming up an enormous crowd. Absent at last year’s Firefest appearance for health reasons, Kenny Leckremo is an excellent frontman and the sextet’s rousing seven song set – ‘There For You’, ‘Late Night Lady’, ‘Straight For Your Heart’, ‘Cry’, ‘Feel It Again’, ‘Never Let Go’ and ‘Keep On Dreaming’ – simply whizzed by. Had it not been for the hefty price-tag of £20 I’d have even invested in a H.E.A.T. T-shirt… are those things stitched with gold cotton or something??!! Moving upstairs to regain my breath, an abysmal front-of-house sound ruined my appreciation of ex-Angra vocalist Andre Matos. With the other instruments completely swamped by double-kick drums the Brazilian singer’s tunes were rendered all but indistinguishable from one another, save for a cover of Journey’s ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’.
Yoiks! A German with a sense of humour, whatever next?! Yes, Edguy singer Tobias Sammet is pretty much one of a kind. Also the brains behind the symphonic metal opera Avantasia, the hilarious Sammet is a self-mocking and engagingly likable frontman. At times it sounds like his voice has been Gaffer taped together to withstand the last few days of a tough tour, but three nights into Edguy’s newest bout of roadwork it’s obviously meant to be this rugged. Whatever… for 95 minutes Sammet rules the stage, cracking jokes and helming a first-rate set of party-friendly melodic hard rock. Edguy might have shed a few fans by slowing down and broadening out their sound – indeed pockets of exaggerated cheers erupt when Sammet precedes golden oldie ‘Until We Rise Again’ by asking: “Where are the people that thought our last album was crap and we should play some fast stuff?” – but the decision to base this show on the last couple of albums is a no-brainer.
As befitting the composer of a ridiculous song called ‘Lavatory Love Machine’, Sammet doesn’t give a damn about making a fool of himself. Later on, during a bout of audience baiting, the frontman challenges the crowd: “Tomorrow we leave for France. What do you think about France?” [Cue chorus of boos, obviously].
“What do you think about Bayern Munich?” [This time a bemused silence].
Undeterred, Tobias continues: “What did you think about the third goal at Wembley?” [The disputed ‘Russian linesman’ one that tipped the 1966 World Cup final in England’s favour – cheers from those that understood what he meant].
“What do you think about driving on the wrong wide of the road?” [Bemused silence once again].
“Okay… what do you think about Scotland?” [The loudest response of all… vociferous booing]. “Hahaha,” guffaws a grinning Sammet. “I know how to make friends.”
Indeed he does. Edguy are a whole lot of fun live; I hope they will return before the year’s end, as predicted from the stage. Meanwhile, here’s the set-list: ‘Dead Or Rock’, ‘Speedhoven’, ‘Nine Lives’, ‘Until We Rise Again’, ‘The Pharaoh’, ‘Ministry Of Saints’, Drum Solo, ‘Pride Of Creation’, ‘The Headless Game’, ‘Save Me’, ‘Superheroes’ and encores of ‘Out Of Control’, ‘Lavatory Love Machine’, ‘King Of Fools’.
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Saturday 10th January
With today's fixture postponed due to a frozen pitch, I’m relieved to have declined my pal Steve Way’s kind offer of a lift to Palace’s game in Plymouth. That’s a long way to travel for a non-game of football (as a CPFC supporter I should know; I’ve seen a few of those). So I’m becoming a Nottingham Florist fan for the day instead. With Edguy and HEAT due to play at the Islington Academy tonight, I couldn’t have gone anyway. Yes… My name is Dave, I am a gigaholic, and it has been 21 days since my last fix (Angel Witch at the Underworld, to be precise).
Thanks to Mik Gaffney of Proper Music Distribution for helping me through this period of detox with a promo of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Still Dangerous’ album (see Diary entry for 4th January). It’s as good as Malcolm Dome suggested. Sound quality is great, with a performance to match. My initial thought of: “This sounds like a radio broadcast” set mental bells tolling. After cross-referencing on my bootleg list I was dismayed to find I already had a King Biscuit Flower Hour recording of a gig at Philadelphia’s Tower Theater which took place on 26.11.77. Fortunately, Messrs Dome and Gaffney were quick to put my mind to rest; ‘Still Dangerous’ is sourced from a second show at the same venue – they got this fact from guitarist Scott Gorham’s mouth, so it must be so. The better news still is that, according to Mik, his company has “lots of exciting, officially-endorsed, previously unreleased new Lizzy stuff in the pipeline”.
P.S. My heart went out to Cr***iano Ro***do upon hearing he’d been involved in a nasty car accident a few days ago. Eyewitness reports say the ManUre fuckbag was only lightly tapped by a car from behind, causing his own vehicle to flip over and roll ten times. It then span around on the spot for two minutes before all the wheels fell off and it caught fire. All joking aside, it’s a shame that Ro***do didn’t suffer more damage than a prick of his über-inflated ego and the small matter of £200K for a replacement 200 MPH Ferrari 555 GTB Fiorano. That’s the trouble with allowing mental imbeciles to have expensive toys.
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Thursday 8th January
I wish that Peter Mensch would make up his mind. The past 24 hours, for those that can still be bothered with the will-Zep-tour-or-won’t-they? merry go round, have been very confusing. First Mensch, who manages Jimmy Page, informs the BBC’s 6 Music that “John Paul Jones and Jimmy enjoy playing with each other, Jason Bonham is a really good drummer so why not [take things further]? We just need to find a singer.” Clearly on a roll, he continued: “Jimmy Page has been playing guitar professionally since he was 16 years old. Jimmy Page likes being a musician. That’s what he does! He doesn’t want to be a race car driver or a solicitor.”
Logging on this morning, the whole thing seems to be off. “There are absolutely no plans for them to continue. Zero,” barks Mensch. “Frankly, I wish everybody would stop talking about it,” he tells MusicRadar. There can be no way of knowing the time-frame in which these interviews were conducted, but the tone of the second one seems to supersede anything that’s gone before. "Led Zeppelin are over! If you didn't see them in 2007 [at the O2 Arena], you missed them. They tried out a few singers, but no one worked out. It’s done. I can’t be any clearer than that.” I wonder what changed in such a short space of time?
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Wednesday 7th January
You join me as a punch the air with joy. Tickets for Palace’s FA Cup replay with Leicester having already been purchased, I had resigned myself to missing a listening party for Steven Wilson’s debut solo album, ‘Insurgentes’, that takes place next Tuesday. So imagine my delight at the fixture being moved back by 24 hours due to the iciness of the Selhurst Park playing surface (it’s f-f-f-freezing cold in London right now). Cinders, you shall go to the ball…
I’m equally chuffed by the news that FM have lined up a gig on March 19, though the sting in the tail is that I must trek to Wigan – somewhere Ooop North, I believe – in order to witness it. The show takes place at Winstanley College, where the band’s webmaster is employed. So far I’ve no news as to who (if anyone) will replace departed guitarist Andy Barnett, but I’m reliably informed they are planning to preview some material from their nervously awaited (by me, at least…) reunion CD, possibly even reviving some vintage tunes. The event is to be recorded and filmed for possible release. Tix will soon be available from the official website, here. Um… now where did I put that pink cloak?
By the way, happy tenth birthday to my youngest son Arnie. You should’ve seen the look of delight on his face when he came into the living room to find his wish of owning a fish-tank, albeit still with no fish, had come true. Better still, he seemed to believe me for a moment when I claimed the tank actually contained an expensive and highly prized new aquatic phenomenon… invisible fish. Sadly it didn’t work, and he will choose his own after school. Aaaah.
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Tuesday 6th January
Thanks to site regular Adrian Smith (no relation) for bringing my attention to an entertaining article on the 30th anniversary of the NWOBHM that appeared several days ago in the Guardian. It’s worth reading for the revelation that Saxon used to turn up at their earliest gigs in a van still bearing the trademark of its previous owner: Sid Cummings – Tripe Dealer. No, I won’t make the obvious gag. And fair play to Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler for the admission: “I didn’t make any money from our albums. I lived with my parents until I was 33. Then the money from Metallica let me put a deposit on a house. It was the only way I could’ve done that. God bless Metallica – and God bless the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.” Cheers also to Stephen Robinson, who saw my recent rant regarding the closure of the Astoria and sent a relevant link that I can no longer locate, but which claims that the venue is actually to be replaced once work on the Crossrail project begins. Oh well, I’ll stop moaning then. Just for a while…
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Monday 5th January
Anyone else catch Prog Rock Britannia: An Observation In Three Parts, a BBC4 documentary that was screened on Friday evening? Last night, having recorded it on the Sky+, I found the time to sit down and catch up. To be honest, I was left disappointed. Sure, some cool vintage footage had been exhumed and the show managed to touch upon prog’s humour without labouring the point. But attempting to tell the history of such a prodigious and fascinating genre in 90 minutes is, of course, quite pointless. The programme’s makers managed to obtain interviews with many of its biggest stars, including Mike Oldfield and Arthur Brown, plus members of Genesis, Yes, ELP, Tull, Crimson, Soft Machine and… er… Egg. That’s right, Egg – a band that I’m personally very fond of, but whose words hardly carry a great degree of resonance. Conversely, the show barely mentioned Pink Floyd, arguably its flagship act. It was almost as though Van Der Graaf Generator, Barclay James Harvest, Gentle Giant, Camel, Atomic Rooster and Supertramp never even existed. Equally glaring, the ‘second wave’ of prog (Marillion, Pallas, IQ, Twelfth Night, Pendragon, etc) and the plethora of relative youngsters that are currently breathing new life into the music (including Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta, Coheed And Cambria, Spock’s Beard, Frost and Muse) were completely overlooked. To me, the show smacked of the Beeb dabbling in something it didn’t really understand, nor care about.
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Sunday 4th January
January 4 is a date that I’ve never been especially fond of, well… not since at least 1986, when Philip Parris Lynott ended up departing this mortal coil. This afternoon I’ve been playing some of Lynott’s best work, including Thin Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak’ ‘Bad Reputation, ‘Johnny The Fox’ and ‘Black Rose’ albums. Some of the songs on those records still give me goosebumps, even though I’ve hear them countless times. On a Lizzy-related note, I’m dying to get hold of ‘Still Dangerous’, the much-trumpeted, overdub-free release from 1977’s ‘Bad Reputation’ tour that insiders have dubbed “the real Live And Dangerous”. It’s due on March 2nd. My good friend Malcolm Dome has already heard it and gives an emphatic thumbs-up. The fact that it features ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ and ‘Opium Trail’ in addition to the group’s catalogue standards is enough to set me salivating.
P.S. Dammit. Should Palace manage to overcome Leicester in their Cup Replay, an awayday to Twatford in the Fourth Round awaits. How utterly underwhelming.
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Saturday 3rd January
Brrrr…. I’m just back from freezing me nuts off during Palace’s FA Cup trip to Leicester City. To be honest I’d expected the Foxes, who are taking League 1 by storm, to have given the shot-shy Eagles a sterner test, but although Warnock’s men upped the ante towards the end a goalless draw was a fair result for what was a sometimes horrendously dull game. With hindsight our party probably should’ve stayed in the friendly village pub we discovered en route to the Walkers Stadium, soaking up the delicious heat of an open fire. Given CPFC’s dismal recent record at this particular stage of the competition, and some of the day’s more outrageous giant-killing exploits – notably by Nottingham Florist and Hartlepool – it’s a relief to be in the hat for the Fourth Round.
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Wednesday 1st January
You’ve gotta love Kip Winger’s attacks on Lars Ulrich and Joe Elliott. In a new interview at Metal Sludge, Winger was recently asked about drummer Ulrich, famously seen throwing darts at a poster of Kip in a Metallica promo video. “Lars is not really that talented,” shrugs Kip in a bout of seasonal good cheer, “He’s got a lot of fucking money, though, so I’m sure he’s happy.” He goes on to say: “I actually felt sorry for him in Some Kind Of Monster, seething with unmoved emotion over things that were still unresolved. It was kind of sad to watch. But I do like Metallica, they’re a good band.” And, responding to last summer’s outburst from Elliott, in which the Def Leppard frontman vilified such acts as Winger and Poison, Kip threw down the gauntlet, declaring: “If Joe wants to meet me at an LA club of his choice with an acoustic guitar, leave the Pro Tools at home and I’ll open up a can of whoop-ass on him!” Utterly priceless stuff!
Sadly, it looks like Mott The Hoople’s 40th anniversary reunion won’t be happening after all. In a posting at his website, Ian Hunter responds to a question from fan David Crisfield by cryptically stating: “I just had a look on the fridge door [where some people keep their ‘to-do’ lists] and I’m afraid it’s no longer there.” What a shame.
P.S. The brand new Playlist and YouTube Of The Month are now up.