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 31st July
It's official: I'm a sucker. After all those grumbles about Palace's pre-season games against Brentford and Norwich, last night I gave up my evening to go and watch another. The club's brand new signing,
ex-Brum/Florist/Southampton forward Stern John, made his debut in what could be perceived a narrow victory over Bromley at Hayes Lane. With the Eagles hitting the woodwork several times and enjoying most of the possession, 1-0 was not an accurate reflection of the play, though it was a fairly entertaining game. Save for opting to pass in front of goal when it seemed easier to score Trinidad & Tobago striker John had a decent enough introduction, but for the second successive match I was pleasantly surprised by the contribution of midfielder Neil Danns, also the youngsters who were used as subs during the second half.
Still in the footie world, the passing of former England manager Sir Bobby Robson was extremely sad. I was actually at an Ipswich versus Palace game on the day that he was taken ill, leaving Portman Road in an ambulance. An honest and sincere man, Robson became a hero of mine during England's Italia '90 World Cup campaign. One of those guys who was liked by just about everybody, no matter which team they supported, this great ambassador for the beautiful game will be sadly missed.
P.S. The latest Playlist and YouTube are now up.
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Thursday 30th July
This week I have mostly been playing Megadeth’s new album, ‘Endgame’. Though I’m not sure I can agree with Dave Mustaine’s assessment that it is the best Megadeth release since the celebrated ‘Rust In Peace’ in 1990, in my own estimation 1992’s ‘Countdown To Extinction’ is a superior record, it certainly makes ‘The World Needs A Hero’ (2001) and ‘The System Has Failed’ (2004) seem lame by comparison. Mustaine has formed an impressive partnership with Nevermore/Jag Panzer guitarist Chris Broderick, and the ‘new’ Megadeth seems set to go from strength to strength. And talking of Red-Headed One, Dave has really set the cat among the pigeons with his latest Metallica-related revelation. In a new Rolling Stone interview, he claims that during the late 1980s Scott Ian was informed by none other than Cliff Burton that Metallica were actually planning to fire Lars Ulrich at the end of the ‘Master Of Puppets’ tour. Though Ian quickly refuted Mustaine’s allegations, it’s just about as stellar a piece of hearsay as I’ve ever, um, heard…


I’m waiting for Issue #3 of Classic Rock Presents Prog, which examines the world of prog metal via cover stars Rush, Dream Theater, Queensryche, Opeth, Porcupine Tree and Voivod, to drop onto the mat. I contributed an interview with Michael Romeo of Symphony X which apparently fills four pages, so I’m dying to see how it’s been laid out. There are also brand new interviews with Marillion, ex-Genesis men Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips, The Gathering, War Of The Worlds maestro Jeff Wayne and Ross Halfin and Pete Makowski’s favourite band, It Bites. Talking of IB, it’s fascinating to learn that ex-guitarist/vocalist Francis Dunnery takes his own ‘brand new’ line-up of the group with a set of UK shows that begin on October 22, rivalling the existing incarnation that stars John Beck, Bob Dalton and John Mitchell.
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Wednesday 29th July
Okay, okay, pre-season friendlies are not supposed to be taken too seriously; they’re meant to integrate new squad players and top up the fitness levels after the summer break – or that’s why I attempted to drum into my eldest lad Eddie on the bus home from last night’s disappointing 0-1 defeat to Norwich City (now of League 1, let us not forget). Taking place at a virtually uninhabited Selhurst Park the first half performance was just about passable, but how on earth defender Jose Fonte ended up leading the line for a final 20 minutes of directionless hoofball is plain unfathomable. In the wake of last week’s uninspiring 2-2 draw at Brentford I’m starting to think that the club is going to have massive problems in ’09/’10.
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Monday 27th July
I laughed aloud this morning as the clock radio revealed the European Union’s latest ridiculous directive. From August 1, it is illegal for all paid employees to work for longer 48 hours in a single week – a rule that only a well-paid, expense account-wielding bureaucrat could possibly have conceived. This does not apply to freelance music journalists, of course, though just for a giggle I might even tot up the hours that I spend here at the computer during the next seven days. Then again, maybe I’d better not. I might end up boarding the Eurostar to Brussels and shoving a nuclear warhead right up the backside of some smug Euro MP tossbag.
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Sunday 26th July
Clan Ling has just returned home from the 25th anniversary of the Rock And Blues Custom Show, a two-day bash that celebrates motorcycles, rock music and booze. The event was cancelled last year, so the 2009 show was a ‘Let’s get back on our feet again’ type of affair, with a more low-key bill than usual. Arriving on site on Friday afternoon Stray were into their stride, having taken Shy’s place after illness to guitarist Steve Harris. Beholder delivered a raucous, metallic display and I enjoyed a lively set from GMT, which included a version of Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Mr Crowley’, a song that guitarist Bernie Tormé had first played when he deputised for the late, great Randy Rhoads). Being disinclined towards AC/DC UK – sorry, I just don’t see the point of tribute bands – and flagging from a long car journey we also passed on headliners Skinny Molly for a few too many drinkies at the home of DL Online webmistress Kate, who lives a short drive away and had kindly (better make that ‘foolishly’) offered to put up myself, Mrs L and the Linglets and even Bob The Dog for the weekend.
The hospitality of Kate and the alcohol-pouring skills of her daughter Zoe were such that we didn’t surface again at the site till late the next day. Regrettably, Wolfsbane were already winding up their set (and the crowd), Blaze Bayley leering: “Thanks so much. Considering we’re only here for the money, you fuckers are making us feel really great”. Outside of the environs of Iron Maiden, Bayley is a quite superb frontman and the Tamworth Terrors’ rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’ was a moment of the true comedic genius. Next up were Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, featuring the former Georgia Satellites duo of guitarist/frontman Baird and drummer Mauro Magellan. Despite starting in a low-key manner, the lead guitar of Jason & The Scorchers man Warner E Hodges (a lookalike for my Classic Rock chum Phil Wilding) helped it to build to a joyous climax via the Satellites’ own ‘Keep Your Hands To Yourself’ and ‘Railroad Steel’. With a typically rowdy display, the Quireboys arrived under cloak of darkness to ensure that RBCS ’09 ended on a high note. Here’s hoping that it comes back bigger, better and back to normal next year.
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Friday 24th July
I suppose it was preordained. Going to an album playback party in Soho on a Thursday night, where are you bound to end up? So I made the trip to the West End to hear the new album from Alice In Chains and materialised… yeah, you guessed it… pissed as a fart in the Crobar. With ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’ not scheduled to drop until September 28, EMI had put an array of security measures in place; there were metal detectors at the door and you had to leave your bag outside the main room, but the event was thrown at a classy gaff – the Sanctum Hotel – and not only was there as much delicious-tasting white wine as you could guzzle but waiters came round and topped up your glass if it looked like you were going thirsty.
The album? Oh yes... the album. Well, my expectations were ramped up even before the button marked ‘play’ was pressed when Metal Hammer editor Alex Milas announced that ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’ is likely to be his album of the year. Likewise, Classic Rock’s Siân Llewellyn, who’d also sampled the record in advance, could be seen almost purring with satisfaction at hearing it again. And why not? The album was about fifty times better than I expected it to be. With newcomer William DuVall of Georgia-based band Comes With The Fall on vocals, replacing the seemingly irreplaceable Layne Staley (RIP), AIC has managed to tap back into its edgy, sometimes deliciously harrowing signature sound without resorting to mimicry. To be honest, I was left utterly gobsmacked by the record’s quality.
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Wednesday 22nd July
What the hell is going on with Anthrax? On the way home from Crystal Palace’s pre-season game at Brentford I received a text from Metal Hammer ed Alex Milas informing me that the band have parted company with their singer Dan Nelson. Given that Nelson had recently been declared by the band too ill to perform, something he now publicly refutes, this latest regrettable development is not exactly shocking. After the debacle of their reunion with Joey Belladonna and resultant sidelining of John Bush – who will now be performing with them at the Sonisphere Festival – I had really hoped that Nelson’s appointment would provide a little stability. So now the band has an album, ‘Worship Music’, ready for release with a singer that is no longer around. With Bush agreeing to help them out at Sonisphere, something I **did not** expect, they also face the uncertainty of who will front the group long-term. Word has it they hope Bush will re-commit to the job, fitting in around his Armored Saint commitments. Whatever, the situation is one massive clusterfuck. To a certain extent, Anthrax have been architects of their own demise, but I would not wish this mess upon them.
The Brentford versus Palace game was a 2-2 draw. Apart from a wonder goal by Myles Weston that briefly gave the home side the lead, it was largely forgettable. West Ham loanee Tom Sears showed some nice flashes and a willingness to have a shot, former Clowntown arrival Darren Ambrose also faring pretty well (his deflected free kick resulted in the Eagles’ opening goal; the other came late on via defender Jose Fonte), but on this evidence I fear that many of last season’s inadequacies remain worryingly intact.
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Tuesday 21st July
Excuse me while I exhale a sigh of relief. Australia’s hoodoo at Lord’s is finally over, yesterday’s five-wicket haul from Flintoff sealing a 115-run victory as England triumphed at the home of cricket for the first time since 1934 to take a 1-0 lead in the Ashes series. What drama! What excitement! What elation! How dare people say that test match cricket is a boring game, there really is no other sport like it. And so the physios do their best to patch up Flintoff and Pietersen’s battered bodies before hostilities recommence at Edgbaston in eight days.
England’s victory wasn’t my only reason to express satisfaction. Yesterday’s workload included four phone interviews. Past experience tells me that when you line up as many phoners in such a short space of time, at least one must fail to happen. On this occasion, however, everything went swimmingly. I spoke to Buzzcocks guitarist Steve Diggle and Nektar mainman Roye Albrighton, then Mr Big frontman Eric Martin and finally former Toto guitarist Steve Lukather. The latter two conversations were especially enjoyable. In my days as a writer for RAW Magazine, Eric and I used to indulge in playful wind-ups, but I’m pretty sure we hadn’t spoken since the demise of Mr Big 13 years ago. Uncertain whether he would remember me, I introduced myself simply as Dave from Classic Rock magazine in London. There was a moment’s pause, then hesitantly he replied: “So… is this Dave Ling?” When I replied in the affirmative, the singer erupted with laughter: “I still have nightmares about you!” Worse still was to come. When I called Monsewer Lukather half an hour later, his greeting was a lusty exclamation of: “Dave Ling, you old shirt-lifter, you. How are things?” Um… same as ever, thanks. Same as ever.
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Monday 20th July
Most of the past weekend was spent working, either on interview transcriptions or albums reviews. Among the package of CDs that Metal Hammer had asked me to cover was the debut from an all-female, Swedish metal combo called Hysterica. Like Geoff Barton, who gave the Peter Tägtgren-produced ‘Metalwar’ 9/10 in Classic Rock, I really enjoyed it – despite its flaws. The sleeve’s reverse artwork shows five grimacing ladies; all cleavage, fishnets, leather boots and attitude, wielding daggers, broadswords and even a crossbow (!). And while Anni De Vil is just 19 years old, she delivers a blood vessel-burstingly intense vocal performance to match the band’s Judas Priest and Pantera-influenced instrumental roar. At times the lyrics are so bad you feel compelled to add an ‘L’ to the end of the group’s name, but if Joey De Maio had worn a push-up bra, you know darned well he’d have written a song called ‘Girls Made Of Heavy Metal’.
It’s the final day of the Second Test and I’ve already gnawed my fingernails down to the quick. From a position of outright superiority England have let Australia back into game. Very shortly batsmen Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin will continue their 185-run partnership, resuming on 313-5 and chasing a world-record victory target of 522. But for their stubbornness England would’ve won the game yesterday. Just like the First Test, I’ve a nasty feeling this will go right down to the wire.
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Saturday 18th July
With the Convicts commencing today’s play at 156-8, England appear to be in control of the Second Test. 269 runs behind England’s first innings total and with Nathan Hauritz and Peter Siddle at the crease, the tourists will do well to avoid the follow-on.
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Friday 17th July
The Second Ashes Test has got off to a lively start with Australia attempting to extend an unthinkable 75-year unbeaten run at Lord’s. Although England captain Andrew Strauss notched a heroic 161 NO at the end of the first day’s play, the tourists edged back into contention by taking six wickets for 364 – most annoying as England had looked comfortable at 222-2, before the inevitable collapse.
I’ve finally finished To Live Is To Die, Joel McIver’s biography of Metallica’s late, great Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. Though it’s a quality piece of literature, it made me quite sad. I never actually got to interview Burton – he preferred to leave talking to the press to Messrs Hetfield and Ulrich – but I met him several times, and my opinion of the man tallies with those expressed so forcefully in McIver’s text. Besides his obvious talents as a player, Cliff was modest and pragmatic, not something that could have been said of all his band-mates (James Hetfield once spat beer in my face at the Marquee for something Metal Hammer had written about him, wrongly believing it my handiwork), and immensely likable. Reading the account of the band’s horrific crash, also an interview Burton conducted by writer Jörgen Holmstedt mere hours before the group’s bus skidded from the road in Ljungby, Sweden, brought back chills of disbelief. I still recall receiving a call from Shades Records boss ‘Modest’ Mike Shannon to inform me of the disaster, also partying with the band – including Cliff – and members of Anthrax at an after-show do at the Forum Hotel in Cromwell Road following their now legendary performance on the ‘Master Of Puppets’ tour at Hammersmith Odeon on 21st September, 1986 – just six days before the accident that so saddened the world of metal.
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Wednesday 15th July
Oh wow… that’s hardly a bad crop of new releases, is it? I’ve just received advance promos of Megadeth’s newie, ‘Endgame’ (due via Roadrunner in September), also ‘Last Look At Eden’ by Europe (Sept 14) and Gong’s comeback disc, ‘2032’ (Sept 21), which continues the band’s famous ‘Radio Gnome’ album trilogy.
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Tuesday 14th July
Until last night I had never attended a gig at Somerset House, a picturesque open-air courtyard set by the banks of the Thames in central London that dates back to the 1550s, which makes it almost as ancient as photographer Ross Halfin. Compared to the last time I saw the band, at Brixton Academy last March, frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala was unusually talkative, chattering away to the audience and even surreally dedicating ‘Iilyna’ to actress Helen Mirren. The band’s sound is an exhilaratingly futuristic fusion of so many different styles, it almost leaves you breathless. And I’m happy to say that material from the latest album, ‘Octahedron’, worked really well. However, like many of the crowd around me (who rudely began chatting or making calls on their mobile phones), my interest waned as guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López led them off on several extended jam sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a bit of improv though only if it adds something interesting to the song. And as five or six minutes became nine or ten, then 11 or 12, I found my gaze fixing the large hand of a clock way off to my left, wondering how on earth it could possibly be moving so slowly. But when the show was good – for about 90 minutes of its two-hour duration – it was truly excellent. Here’s the set-list: ‘Goliath’ , ‘Cotopaxi’, ‘Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)’, ‘Viscera Eyes’, ‘Halo Of Nembutals’, ‘Cygnus... Vismund Cygnus’, ‘Desperate Graves’, ‘Iilyna’, ‘Teflon’, ‘Drunkship Of Lanterns’, ‘Luciforms’, ‘The Widow’ and ‘Wax Simulacra’.
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Monday 13th July
The climax of the first Ashes Test Match reminded me why I love cricket so much. England had played poorly throughout but their tail-enders James Anderson and Monty Panesar ended up defying the Aussie bowlers for agonising 69 balls and 40 minutes to cling on through the final few overs, claiming an unlikely draw. Absolutely amazing stuff!
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Sunday 12th July
Gruuhhhh. For the second time in 24 hours I got to bed at 5am. But in stark contrast to yesterday, I had also supped several drinkies at Thunder’s farewell London gig (and indeed at their after-show party), so the head stings twice as badly. As someone that has followed Thunder since the very beginning, also the band’s precursor Terraplane, interviewing them on many occasions and seeing them onstage more times that I would care to admit, the show at Hammersmith Apollo was a bitter-sweet experience. The group played really, really well, and a sold-out auditorium did them proud, roaring them to the finish line and across it with astonishing levels of noise and emotion. I was overjoyed that they included ‘She’s So Fine’ for the first time on the tour, honouring those promises to rotate the set-list. Taking place at a hotel a short walk from the Apollo the post-show bash was restricted to families and friends, the invitation declaring: “Numbers are strictly limited so if you have a pass we love you!” I’ve a vague recollection of meeting Peter Shoulder, the guy who will work with Luke Morley in a new band, but cannot remember a word of our conversation. Yes, it was one of those nights! And now it’s one of those mornings…
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Saturday 11th July
Apart from crawling groggily into my pit at 5am, after grabbing a lift back to London with Gong and taking two night busses across town, yesterday was a lot of fun. During the afternoon I ventured down to Canterbury in leafy Kent for the Lounge On The Farm Festival. Arriving backstage, Steve Hillage introduced me to Daevid Allen, Gong’s co-founding frontman/guitarist, whose greeting of “Your eyebrows are magnificent” caught me completely off guard. He made such a fuss of my slightly bushy forehead furniture that I made a promise to trim them back. “No, no, no,” exclaimed the eccentric Melbourne native, “if anything you should make a feature of them!” Okay, Daevid… if you say so.
Before Gong performed, Hillage offered an excellent 50-minute reprise of his rock years (none of your dance music tripe). As a long-time fan, never having seen Hillage onstage before, I was almost beside myself with excitement. Despite overlooking my own personal favourites ‘Hello Dawn’ or ‘Light In The Sky’ he played magnificently and at times during the eight-song display (‘Octave Doctors’, ‘Palm Trees’, ‘Searching For The Spark’, a segment of ‘Aftaglid’, ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’, ‘The Salmon Song’, ‘It’s All too Much’ and ‘Solar Musick Suite’) I almost had to pinch myself to check I was not dreaming.
In a nice personal touch, Daevid Allen dedicated Gong’s headline set to his recently deceased “musical brother” and former Soft Machine band-mate, Hugh Hopper. With the dream team nucleus of Allen, Hillage, Steve’s partner Miquette Giraudy (synths) and Gilli Smith (space whisper and poetry) back together in its 40th anniversary year, the veteran space-rock band previewed a handful of tunes from the forthcoming ‘2032’, Gong’s first album to feature both Allen and Hillage since 1974’s ‘You’. I liked what I heard, especially ‘Digital Girl’, an observation regarding 21st Century females, and ‘Wacky Baccy Bankers’, which featured a sensational glissando solo. Mostly, though, the excellent two-hour set was culled from the classic Gong albums. Daevid Allen is such a great frontman, it’s hard to believe he is now 71 years young. He might look a little like a slimmer versions of Grandpa from The Waltons but that bon viveur stage persona of his reminded me more of Leslie Phillips. On the journey home I found him to be excellent company.
P.S. Almost forgot, here’s the Gong set-list: ‘Escape Control Delete’, ‘You Can’t Kill Me’, ‘Tic Toc’, ‘Dynamite: I Am Your Animal’, ‘Digital Girl’, ‘Yoni Poem’, ‘Dance With The Pixies’, ‘Wacky Baccy Bankers’, ‘I Niver Glid Before’, ‘Flute Salade’, ‘Oily Way’, ‘Outer Temple’, ‘Inner Temple’, ‘She Is The Great Goddess’, ‘Master Builder’, ‘Tri-Cycle Gliss’ and ‘You Never Blow Your Trip Forever’ and an encore of ‘Tropical Fish/Selene’.
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Friday 10th July
Jeez, things don’t look good for England in the Test Match. With their bowlers thoroughly impotent after the lunch break and one of Australia’s batsmen already having notched a century, the other about to do likewise, it was almost a blessed relief when the radio commentary diverted into the shipping forecast with a couple of overs to go before close of play. There is, I feel, a grim feeling of inevitability about this.
In the evening I went to see the Electric Boys at the Underworld. The recently reunited Swedish band put on a decent enough show for a medium-sized crowd, but very quickly reminded me why I had such a mixed opinion of them first time around. Sure, they have a handful of Premier League quality tunes (notably ‘Psychedelic Eyes’, ‘Mary In The Mystery World’, ‘Electrified’, ‘Rags To Riches’ and the fiery final, bump ‘n’ grind encore of ‘All Lips ‘N’ Hips’), though things sagged during the middle of their performance. The band’s predilection for clichéd song titles – ‘Freaky Funksters’ (ULP!) and ‘Bad Motherfunker’ (DOUBLE ULP!) – is also a little hard to stomach, even for a connoisseur of la belle fromage such as my good self.
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Thursday 8th July
And so England’s cricketers grapple again with the Old Enemy. I type this at the close of a gripping first day’s play in the First Test in er… Cardiff (yes, that’s Cardiff). England, who won the toss and chose to bat, finished with 336-7. Though they’ll be happy to have those runs on the board, the Aussies’ wicket haul is worrying. Honours just about even at this stage, I guess…
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Wednesday 7th July
With side attractions that included a beer tent and barbecue, last night’s friendly Twenty20 cricket game between Beckenham CC and an XI from Crystal Palace FC had seemed like the perfect hors d’oeuvres for the Ashes series, which begins tomorrow, and a chance to catch up on some pre-season CPFC gossip. Sadly, it was scuppered by some of the worst rainstorms in recent memory. My Eagles-mad mates Kev and Marc had exchanged hopeful texts all afternoon as the thunder clouds hovered. In a display of blind optimism, we met in Beckenham anyway… just as the heavens opened and began hurling down hailstones. So vicious was the weather, we abandoned hope of reaching the game’s venue in Foxgrove Road to take refuge in a local boozer, where we remained for the duration. So imagine my annoyance to log on this morning and read that Neil Warnock had been walking around the club house all evening in cricket whites having brought the full squad with him, including Clint Hill, Julian ‘No Ponytail’ Speroni, Shaun Derry, Danny Butterfield and new signing Darren Ambrose. What a pisser!!!
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Tuesday 6th July
Yesterday evening I got to reacquaint myself with the new Porcupine Tree album, ‘The Incident’, during a special press playback session at London’s Air Studios. Having been hired by Roadrunner Records to write the biography ahead of its September 21 release date, I’d already heard the album in less salubrious surroundings, so it was enjoyable to savour its delights in the company of the band, accompanied by a 5.1 surround mix and with the benefit of a lyric sheet. I especially liked its Pink Floyd-flavoured epic ‘Time Flies’ (which clocks in at more than 11 minutes long) and the terrific ‘I Drive The Hearse’, my knee-jerk reaction being that the second half of ‘The Incident’ – the main body of which is a 55-minute, 14-track, interlinked song cycle – is more consistent than the first. The consensus among those I spoke to tallied with my own verdict; it’s a less heavy album than the band’s last, ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’, but its blasts of intensity are used to cunningly brilliant effect. Got a feeling it’s going to be a grower…
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Monday 6th July
Last night my friend Steve ‘No Relation’ Way and I shot up the M11 to Cambridge for a show on Thunder’s farewell tour. Aside from hideous traffic at the Dartford Tunnel which jeopardised our arrival in time for special guests Airrace, my trip as a passenger was a smooth one, lubricated by some ghastly Caribbean rum punch that I can still taste this morning (might have something to do with all that cider I sank at the venue). With Jason Bonham back on drums after missing the band’s last gig with Tesla, the new six-piece Airrace line-up just gets better and better. Although many inside the rammed-full Corn Exchange seemed to have no prior knowledge, their brand of pomp-infused AOR went down a storm.
Thunder, though, were absolutely untouchable. Roared on by a crowd that Danny Bowes had hanging from his every utterance, they said goodbye to Cambridge in style with one of the finest performances I’ve ever seen the band give. It appears that, for obvious reasons, they are mixing up the set-lists each night of the tour, so there’s little point in complaining about the songs they played. The only thing I would say – and this might seem churlish given the delight they cause – is that I sometimes wish Bowes would moderate the amount of singalongs and crowd participation elements that he brings to the show, especially when last night’s version of ‘Dirty Love’ lasted for a full 15 minutes – and they omitted to play the classic ‘Back Street Symphony’ among others. Hate mail to the usual e-address; please mark them ‘You Are Such A Sodding Old Grouch’, so I know to hit the delete button right away. Meanwhile, here are the songs Thunder **did** play: ‘Loser’, ‘Welcome To The Party’, ‘Higher Ground’, ‘Low Life In High Places’, ‘Gimme Some Lovin’’, ‘Moth To The Flame’, ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’, ‘Love Walked In’, ‘Stand Up’, ‘You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down’, ‘Don’t Wait For Me’ and ‘I Love You More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll’, with encores of ‘A Better Man’, ‘Just Another Suicide (You Wanna Know)’ and ‘Dirty Love’.
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Sunday 5th July
Okay, I’m going to admit something embarrassing. Until last night I had never seen Jeff Beck onstage before. So I was thrilled to accept the offer of a spare ticket for Beck’s performance at the Royal Albert Hall from my good friend Paul Newcomb (thanks, matey!!). We sank a few pre-show pints at Victoria station which turned out a wise course of action as besides being a bit of a sweatbox on this occasion, the RAH doesn’t allow you to take drinks into the auditorium.
Dressed from head to toe in white (including matching pixie boots), Beck’s stage attire was dodgy as hell, but just like the Ziggy Stardust lyric… boy can he play guitar. As a rule, I’m not into instrumental music but Beck does it all so effortlessly and with such class that your jaw is left on the floor. With Vinnie Colaiuta (Zappa/Sting/Megadeth/Asia) on drums, the levels of musicianship were off the scale. A little light relief was provided by the tour’s special guest Imelda May, who sang the Elkie Brooks-popularised ‘Lilac Wine’, and the band cruised into the home strait via a vocal-free stab at the Beatles’ ‘A Day In The Life’ and ‘Theme From Peter Gunn’. Then, blow me down with a feather, David Gilmour brought the house down by walking on to join in the encores, which included a fantastic version of William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ and then Beck’s own ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’, with Gilmour on vocals. What an absolutely top-notch night!
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Saturday 4th July
This morning there are three reasons to be disappointed, ranging from the devastating to the inevitable and, finally, the downright flippant. It’s with a heavy heart that I relate the news that a fellow English-born rock fan, Graham Barnell, has succumbed to leukemia. The Quireboys and Chariot both raised cash for Graham, who was married with two kids and lived in Australia. He put up such a fight that his story made the Aussie newspapers, but it proved to be a battle he couldn’t win. My heart goes out to his family.
So the fact that yesterday Andy Murray lost to Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, thereby spurning a chance to become the nation’s first male finalist of the tournament in 71 years, is of less emotional significance. Shouldn’t we be used to such disappointment by now? To be fair, I thought that Murray played well in the opening rounds and had as good a chance of triumph as any of the last remaining eight. I fully expect him to become a British Champion within the next two to three years. But until then he can revert to being a good ol’ Scottish failure, of course. Hahaha!
And finally, I’m hearing distressing reports that current Crystal Palace goalie (and huge rock fan) Julian Speroni has ‘done a Rossi’ and lobbed off his trademark pony-tail before the start of the ’09/’10 season. Jools, oh Jools… what have you done?! Please say it’s not so. Remember what happened to Samson…
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Friday 3rd July
My head feels like it’s been run over by an articulated lorry. Never, ever drink raspberry flavoured Absolut vodka with diet cream soda, even if it is your birthday. It tastes lovely, but it will destroy you.
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Thursday 2nd July
There’s a bumper haul of post – is it my birthday or something? Oh yes, actually it is. 32 again… for the umpteenth consecutive year. I will wear my T-shirt from UFO’s recent ‘The Visitor’ tour with pride (thanks, Kate). Covering the years 1978-1991, the second ‘Kissology’ DVD set looks like another winner. And at last I’ve got hold of a finished copy of The Parlor Mob’s debut, ‘And You Were A Crow’. Listening to this superb album as I type, no wonder they’re up for Best New Band at the forthcoming Classic Rock Awards (though Chickenfoot will surely beat them to the punch). Mrs L has also bought me a cool-looking book called The Wit Of Cricket, which with The Ashes now a week or so away, I am looking forward to reading.
Last night was spent at the Underworld in the company of Ricky Warwick, former frontman of The Almighty. Now with a catalogue of three full-length records of his own, Warwick is really finding his feet as a solo artist. How far he has come since March ’02 when I witnessed his inaugural one-man performance, opening for Toby Jepson at the Garage. Ricky’s show has become slick, entertaining and, with the addition of a few amusing anecdotes, personal. The only thing I did not like about it was when, introducing ‘The Arms Of Belfast Town’, he said: “This one is all about how I felt when David Healy scored that goal against England”, referring to Northern Ireland’s victory in a World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park in 2005. That’s a bit like going into someone’s living room, pulling down your strides and taking a crap on the carpet – a little disrespectful. Otherwise, though, I loved the show. Besides re-visiting a smattering of Almighty favourites, Warwick added a country twist to Iron Maiden’s ‘Running Free’ and delivered ‘Ace Of Spades by Motörhead with the affectionate intro of “this is, in my opinion, the greatest love song ever written”. Towards the end Ricky was joined by co-headliner Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers to play a couple of songs by Johnny Cash – hardly one of my favourite artists, but ‘Cocaine Blues’ was excellent. Here’s the full set-list: ‘The Church Of Paranoia’, ‘Can’t Live With Maybe’, ‘Ace Of Spades’, ‘Wild And Wonderful’, ‘Belfast Confetti’, ‘Mysterioso’, ‘Running Free’, ‘Jesus Loves You, But I Don’t’, ‘Can’t Wait For Tomorrow’, ‘Ain’t Comin’ Round’, ‘Free ‘N’ Easy’ (dedicated to Almighty bassist Floyd London, who was in the crowd with his missus Sophie), ‘Throwin’ Dirt’, ‘The Arms Of Belfast Town’, ‘Johnny Or Elvis’, ‘Three Sides To Every Story’, ‘Ring Of Fire’ and an encore of the Clash-popularised ‘I Fought The Law’.
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Wednesday 1st July
Thin Lizzy have confirmed that guitarist/singer John Sykes is no longer a member of the group. Hmmm… I suggest it might be time to draw a line in the sand and allow the name a little dignity, Mr Gorham…