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

Wednesday 31st July
Oh happy day... The 2013/14 Crystal Palace season tickets have landed on the mat! It feels real at last! Truthfully, I'm facing the new Premier League campaign with a mixture of joy, terror, excitement and... okay... resignation! It'll be fascinating if nothing else. I just can't wait for it all to begin again.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 30th July
All hands to the pump: It's yet another Classic Rock deadline week. Metal Hammer, who are also going to press, have asked me to review the new albums by Dream Theater, their second Portnoy-less release, and the debut from MP's own Winery Dogs, completed of course by guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen and bassist Billy Sheehan. Though each offers a very different style of music, both are superb! Also managed to fit in a phone interview with the very quotable Huey Lewis, who along with his band The News is about to undertake a 30th anniversary tour of the UK for the multi-platinum-selling album 'Sports'. Bunged on said disc before we spoke and had forgotten just how many great songs it contained - five of them were singles!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 29th July
Day #2 of the Steelhouse Festival. Despite having been up till late in the VIP bar on the previous evening – blimey, those Martin Twins from Vega know how to have a good time! – I somehow made it up in time for a run before breakfast. Traversing country lanes and beautiful scenery it would’ve been lovely but for the spitting rain.
We arrived onsite in time to catch the a few songs from SKAM [6], a band from Leicester whose competence as a live act by far exceeded what I’ve heard from them on CD. Hailing from Northern Ireland, TRUCKER DIABLO [7] were even better still. In fact, Mr Beare liked them sufficiently to invest in a copy of an album called ‘The Devil Rhythm’. Driving home with it on the car stereo the next day we realised that Ricky Warwick is a guest on the song ‘Juggernaut’… given the flannel shirts and spiky topped attitude of their music (which they call “beer-fuelled riff-rock”) the connection should have been obvious. I’d like to see them again!
A combination of intermittent rain, wind interference with the PA, onstage sound problems and even bigger front-of-house issues served to take the edge off an otherwise thrilling display from VEGA [7]. Though the band performed well enough the all important intricacies of their sound were buried beneath a mountainous wall of bass noise. Vega undoubtedly made quite a few new converts among the uninitiated but, regrettably and for no fault of their own, the experience will go down as something of a missed opportunity.
As someone that supported their distant forerunners Hurricane Party and Roadstar, I’m afraid I just no longer ‘get’ HEAVEN’S BASEMENT [5]. The band’s debut album ‘Filthy Empire’ had moments of greatness but their days as a classic rock-orientated act are long behind them; these days they’re more in tune with the Kerrang! (i.e. kiddies’) market. Good luck to ’em, but definitely count me out.
The rain worsened as we awaited SNAKECHARMER [7]. Few seemed to notice that the group were performing with a stand-in keyboardist, Mark Stanway – who like drummer Harry James was on double duty with special guests Magnum – in the absence of Adam Wakeman. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t even see the stage as I was backstage involved in a game of footie with the Vega chaps, a group of young kiddies and (ulp!) a man dressed as a banana, but even from a distance it was splendid to hear classic ’Snakes ditties such as ‘Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues’ being played and sung, especially sung, as God had intended. Though I felt like drowned rat the kickaround was great fun, especially the solo goal I scored after rounding several (pint-sized) defenders to fire low into the right-hand corner… without spilling a drop of my cider.

Dave Ling Online

Dave Ling Online

It’s painful to write that MAGNUM [6] disappointed me. Bob Catley’s voice was well below par; lower in the mix and distinctly raspier than usual. Given that he also sounded out-of-sorts on Magnum’s last UK tour back in November – due, we were told, to a bad cold – I find myself hoping that this unusually below par display can be blamed on extenuating circumstances with which I’m unfamiliar (indeed, several of the weekend’s participants complained of inadequate onstage monitors).
As darkness and the temperature both fell, a headline set from MICHAEL SCHENKER [8] was accompanied by sporadic showers, yet the downpour couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd… nor of Schenker himself. With his alcohol and booze problems long behind him, the normally introspective axeman has come out of his shell and actually seemed to be enjoying himself. I kid you not! No disrespect intended to Doogie White who is a great vocalist, but only one man can sing ‘Shoot Shoot’, ‘Only You Can Rock Me’, ‘Let It Roll’, ‘Too Hot To Handle’, ‘Lights Out’ or ‘Doctor Doctor’ and his name is Sir Philip of Mogg. Likewise, Klaus Meine has made Scorpions gems such as ‘Lovedrive’ and ‘Another Piece Of Meat’ his own… that’s just a personal opinion, of course, and backed by a group that included fellow ex-Scorps Francis Buchholz and Herman ‘Ze German’ Rarebell, Schenker ended the event in style.
An after-show party took place in the VIP tent with unplugged live music from Hand Of Dimes men Nev MacDonald and Neil Garland and a gang of their boozing buddies that included my old mate Bob Richards on percussion. How thrilling that their repertoire included versions of the Kooga gems ‘Across The Water’ and ‘Gabrielle’ before Lee the taxi driver arrived to whisk us back to the hotel.
In summation? I just cannot speak highly enough of Steelhouse, a well-run, old-school festival with a brilliant, friendly vibe,, sets of reasonable duration and no annoying stage clashes. Should you get the chance to attend in 2014 then grab it with both hands. Whatever the weather!!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sunday 28th July
Mr Beare and I rolled down the M4 and located our hotel without too much trouble. I was praying we’d reach the site of the Steelhouse Festival in time for Hand Of Dimes whose self-financed, eponymously titled four-song EP is a bit of a favourite of mine. Steelhouse takes place on top of a mountain, accessible by a steep, stony trail… Luckily, we were in a cab! Just as we claimed our VIP passes and gained access to the arena midway through the first song from HOD, the clouds did exactly what they’d been threatening and began to send down flurries of rain. Sadly, they continued to do so for most of the weekend. I’d brought a bright blue plastic rain mac that gave me the nickname ‘Papa Smurf’ for the duration of the festival, hahaha!

Dave Ling Online

Locals lads HAND OF DIMES [7] feature ex-Kooga men Nev MacDonald on vocals/second guitar and Neil Garland on keys/harmonica. Aside from the excellent singing of MacDonald they don’t have a great deal in common with the singer’s previous band Skin, being bluesier and, occasionally on songs like ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, more on the pomp-rock side. Given the latter statement I was disappointed they didn’t play ‘Across The Water’ by Kooga, but their set was very enjoyable nonetheless.
It was time to grab some drinks and food. Returning to the arena from the VIP tent, FIGHTING WOLVES [4] sounded as bloody awful as the League 1 team after which they are named. Let’s say no more.
Sadly, it was still bucketing down for THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT [8], who nevertheless turned in one of the most agreeable sets of the weekend. Though some have complained they sound too much like The Black Crowes, Phil Campbell is among the best and charismatic singers on the current scene and the band’s songs are very special indeed. I could’ve watched them all afternoon.
ANVIL [6] are a band that you will either love or hate. Having been a fan since their original run in the early 1980s I fall into the former category, though I appreciate the Marmite-esque ability of tunes like ‘Badass Rock ‘N’ Roll’ to divide a crowd. FM [8], on the other hand were just about universally admired – and rightfully so. Mr Beare and I looked at one another in mutual annoyance as they wound up with ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’, a novelty song that has long since exceeded its shelf life (especially as its inclusion at Steelhouse served to relegate ‘Frozen Heart’ to the subs bench), but my… what a great set!

Dave Ling Online

That SAXON [9] were able to surpass it says much of Biff Byford and company – though in fairness the headliners were able to play a longer set than their special guests. With a full stage set that included their Eagle lighting rig back in action here in the UK for the first time in two decades plus bags of pyro and a levitating drum riser for Nigel Glockler, their Eagle lighting rig back in action for the first time in two decades they were in unstoppable form, mixing and matching vintage headbanging classics with newer material, and as any Saxon fan knows the band have been in a solid purple patch for the last four or five albums. Nobody wanted them to leave the stage and when curfew time came and went Byford merely grinned (and I’m paraphrasing ’cos I was a bit drunk): “We’re on top of a fookin’ mountain in fookin’ Wales and there’s nobody for miles around – who’s going to stop us playing a few more songs?” Fabulous stuff… Just wait till you see the docu-DVD that was being filmed.
For the benefit of The Beare, whose exhaustion was causing him to close his eyes and wobble like a Weeble, here’s the set-list: ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Wheels Of Terror’, ‘The Power And The Glory’, ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’, ‘The Bands Played On’, ‘I’ve Got To Rock To Stay Alive’, ‘Conquistador’, Drum Solo, ‘The Eagle Has Landed’, ‘Solid Ball Of Rock’, Guitar Solo, ‘Stand Up And Fight’, ‘Dallas 1PM’, ‘747 (Strangers In The Night)’, ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ and ‘Wheels Of Steel’, followed by ‘Crusader’, ‘Denim & Leather’ and ‘Princess Of The Night’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 26th July
Last night was spent at the Underworld in Camden where Ricky Warwick and Tony Wright pooled forces for an unplugged double-leader. Warwick’s Black Star Riders band-mate Scott Gorham was in the bar as I arrived, slightly later than planned due to a last minute phone interview. Earlier in the day Ricky had posted on his Facebook page that there would be a special guest on one song – the identity now seemed obvious (though, of course, I was wrong! In fact, he was joined by Andy Cairns of Therapy? for a stirring ‘Jonestown Mind’).
Catching the concluding 20 minutes, which included a cool version of Bowie’s ‘Moonage Daydream’ among the expected Terrorvision fare – ‘Tequila’, ‘Alice What’s The Matter?’, ‘Friends And Family’, ‘My House’ and ‘Perseverance’ – I wish I’d seen more of Tony Wright. Next time, deffo.
Ricky was in excellent form, laughing and joking and telling war stories as he revisited a few more tunes from his past with The Almighty (‘Wild And Wonderful’, ‘Jesus Loves You… But I Don’t’ and ‘Free ‘N’ Easy’), dipped into his solo repertoire (‘Can’t Wait For Tomorrow’, ‘The Whiskey Song’, ‘Can't Live With Maybe’, ‘Belfast Confetti’ and ‘The Arms Of Belfast Town’), threw in a couple apiece from Thin Lizzy (‘Jailbreak’ and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’) and current group Black Star Riders (‘Bound For Glory’ and ‘Hey Judas’) plus assorted cover versions. Eddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime Blues’ sounded good and his countrified take on Maiden’s ‘Running Free’ always makes me smile – as did the Lemmy anecdote that preceded Motörhead’s perennial ‘Ace Of Spades’. Without missing a beat, Ricky then announced: “This is the second greatest rock ‘n’ roll song of all time… it was written by Satan” before bringing down the house with Britney’s ‘Oops! I Did It Again’. And what else to sign off with but Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’, concluding a first-rate evening’s entertainment.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 25th July
Words. Fail. Me. Just take a butchers at the latest advert that Status Quo have filmed for Australian TV. Thanks to my friend Nige Glazier for the steer to this embarrassing monstrosity, but in a way I’d rather not have seen it!
In advance of this afternoon’s interview with guitarist John Petrucci, I’ve just heard the new, self-titled Dream Theater album, which continues the excellent work of their Grammy-nominated ‘A Dramatic Turn Of Events’. Its last song, ‘Illumination Theory’, twists and turns like a twisty turny thing (© Blackadder), incorporating a symphonic segment and even a false ending that takes it past the 22-minute mark. If you’re a fan, you are gonna love it. My interview was enjoyable. Since the departure of Mike Portnoy, the band have made such a big thing of stating: “DT is bigger than any one person”, almost like a mantra, that I asked whether they could continue without Petrucci himself. He just burst out laughing and said: “I can’t answer that – no, you’ve got me there… great question!”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 24th July
Eldest son Eddie and I took a train down to Gillingham for last night’s pre-season game at the Priestfield, where we met local lad Steve Taylor (he’ll hate me for saying that…) for a couple of quick sherberts. Both teams took the fixture very seriously and it was good workout for all concerned. Save for a short period of the second half Palace were dominant, a fact reflected in the 3-0 score-line. Senor Campaña started in the first half and almost scored within 30 seconds! What a prospect. He sprayed the ball everywhere across the park. I’d like to know accuracy percentage but he’s so confident on the ball, it’s a real treat to watch as a Palace fan. As is the ‘on the deck’ football that Ollie seems to have them playing.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 23rd July
I sat up till 3am gazing out of my bedroom window as South London was illuminated by one of the most violent thunderstorms I’ve ever seen. Lightning can be very beautiful… if you’re safely indoors! Amazingly, Arnie, my youngest slept through the entire thing – even with his windows wide open!
Meanwhile, a few recent pix have been added to the Gallery page… gosh, I’m very lucky to do what I do!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 22nd July
I’m writing a Melodic Rock round-up column for the next issue of Classic Rock. Am feeling very sad as I listen to Brett Walker’s classy but now posthumous new album, ‘Straight Jacket Vacation’, which concludes with a tongue in cheek tune called ‘Someday I’m Gonna Be Famous’, its creator crying out: “Thank you... we’ll see you next time” to the sound of recorded crowd cheers. If only that were possible.
Still in a melodic stylée I’ve just written up a new interview that I did with Robert Tepper, who is about to come in for his debut UK shows. See the dates here.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sunday 21st July
It’ll come as no surprise to learn that yesterday’s friendly with Dagenham & Redbridge turned into a bit of a monster piss-up. With a bus replacement service on the District Line, reaching the outskirts of East London was a bit like appearing in a remake of Planes, Trains & Automobiles but it was worth it to drink cheap beer in their clubhouse and watch England piling on the runs on the tellybox, before a strong-looking Palace side won the game 2-1. Stopping off for a beer break with my friend Harj Kallah in Barking inspired a spontaneous trip to the Crobar, followed by tasty nosebag and two bottles of wine in a Garfunkels restaurant and, eventually, a gibberish-tinged journey back to Catford. I can’t wait for the new season to start.
Yessss! England have just taken the first Aussie wicket of day! 24-1... just 558 more runs required for a tourists victory, haha! Let’s humiliate ’em! [Edit: Cook’s men went on to claim victory by a whopping 347 runs! 2-0 in the series with three more games to go… come on England!]
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 20th July
After a quick run in the park I’m off to CPFC’s first pre-season game at Dagenham & Redbridge. It’s a new ground for me! I wonder if we will see any of the club’s new signings?! Certainly hope so! I will also be keeping one eye on the cricket, as thanks to great innings from Joe Root England are in the ascendancy in the Second Ashes Test.
Just been sitting on the patio and flicking through the newly arrived issue of Metal Hammer and did a double-take when M Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold name-checked UFO in its cover story. Er… Didn’t see that one coming!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 19th July
I’m very, very impressed by the new Carcass album! Bill Steer and Jeff Walker have done the band’s name proud with ‘Surgical Steel’, which is released on September 16! Check out the trailer here.
It’s been a sweltering hot week, so last night I decided to nip across to my local blues haunt, the Beaverwood Club in Chislehurst, for several glasses of chilled vino collapso. My old mate Dann Gwilym, the former Chinatown/Shogun guitarist, was playing there with his current female-fronted group Roadhouse – not to be confused with ex-Def Leppard guitarist Pete Willis’ short lived band of the same name. They put on a really good show, mixing up tunes from a rather fine new album titled ‘Gods & Highways & Old Guitars’ (notably its title song, ‘Blues Motel’ a re-worked ‘The Big Easy’) along with older tracks such as ‘Ten Lies’, ‘Rainmaker’, ‘Dark Angel’ and ‘Too Tired To Play’, the latter of which offered vague echoes of ZZ Top’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man’. The Animals’ ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ is of course an untouchable selection but Roadhouse got through it intact thanks to the vocal grit of Mandie G and a tasty solo from Gwilym. They wound things up with ‘Preacher Man’, complete with ‘Free Bird’-esque ending, and the new album’s ‘Sinner’, a tune they’d never played before. Half of the band hate it, the rest love it but with a bit of rehearsal it could become one of their best offerings.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 18th July
A warm welcome to Selhurst Senor Campaña! It’s official: Palace have confirmed the four-year signing of Spain’s Under-20 skipper for a mere £1.75million subject to clearance from the Premier League and the FA. What an unbelievable coup!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 17th July
Ooooh good, Orchid are coming back to the Uk for a gig at Dingwalls on November 3 – and they’re bringing label-mates Scorpion Child with them. I was gutted to have missed the San Franciscan Sabbath-worshipping quartet’s recent show at the Underworld, this one is a must-see.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 16th July
The house is quiet and calm with the ex-wife away on holiday, but gigs are off the agenda for a few more days. It’s probably just as well, as I’m very, very busy with work. I’ve been transcribing a phone interview with Peter Frampton – a thoroughly nice fella. I love it when an artist calls back to elaborate upon a point made in the original interview – it was the second time that PF has done this with me; really shows that they care about what they do.
In the evening as the kids watched Top Gear I slipped out into the garden for a bit of a practise kickaround with Bob The Dog. It was getting dark but luckily the faithful hound comes with built-in floodlights! *In his very best Brian Moore voice*: “…And Ling goes round one tackle, then rides a second challenge – he’s heading into the penalty box. This is an amazing solo run. He’s only got the keeper to beat!”

Dave Ling Online

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

Monday 15th July
Please, please say this is true: the newspapers are suggesting that Crystal Palace are on the verge of signing Spanish wonderkid Jose Campaña from La Liga’s Sevilla FC. Now the captain of the Under-20s, the 20-year-old midfielder has represented his nation at every level and is regarded among the brightest prospects in Spanish football. A fee of £2milklion has reportedly been agreed and Campaña – recognised for “neat touches and first-time passing” – is due to undertake a medical at Selhurst within the next few days. OMG… what an incredible scoop that would be! The battle to avoid relegation will be incredibly tough, of course it will, but I love the way the club is not resorting to the same jaded old names that promoted clubs end up buying year after year.
And the news just gets better… Raven and Girlschool are to tour the UK together in November, stopping by the Islington Academy in London on Saturday the 30th. Palace have an important game up at Carrow Road during the afternoon, but just try keeping me away from that one!!! How amazing to think that this year is Girlschool’s 35th anniversary.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sunday 14th July
*And breathe...* What an utterly extraordinary game of cricket! Ashes test matches can be won or lost by the slimmest of margins and the scoreboard will tell us that this afternoon at Trent Bridge England triumphed by 13 runs, though their victory was confirmed only after an umpiring decision was overturned thanks to the barest of contact on Brad Haddin’s bat, as Jimmy Anderson claimed his tenth wicket of the match. At lunchtime, with the Aussies needing 20 more runs and England requiring one final wicket, the game could *still* have gone either way. Sheeeesh… how exciting. Well played Australia, but England take a deserved 1-0 lead in the series!!!
I was extremely worried to read that Dan McCafferty passed out onstage a few days ago during the first song of Nazareth’s gig in in Cranbrook, Canada. The band, who are scheduled to perform some UK shows in November, have cancelled the remainder of their dates and have yet to make an official statement. The 66-year-old had been complaining of breathing difficulties and Naz had delayed the start-time of the Cranbrook gig. Here’s hoping that a period of rest will restore him to full strength.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday 13th July
A 10k run before the weather got too hot had sounded like a smart idea but you can wring the sweat from my new Vega T-shirt… ugh! I’m going to grab a quick shower, watch the cricket till lunchtime, make a start on a Thunder sleeve essay for EMI Records and then... a night at the Crobar might well be in order!
In the meantime I’ve just booked accommodation for the Steelhouse Festival, which takes place in a couple of weeks’ time. It’ll be my last chance of a quick break from Ling Towers before the start of the footie season. Attractions include the mighty FM plus Magnum, Saxon, Michael Schenker, Vega, Temperance Movement, Nev MacDonald’s excellent Hand Of Dimes and my first ‘proper’ look at Snakecharmer (I don’t count the covers set they did supporting Heep)... what’s not to like? (Except, of course, that it happens in Wales!)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 12th July
Am loving the fact that I’ve just been sent the first four albums by US hard rockers Cactus – ‘Cactus’/‘One Way... Or Another’ and ‘Restrictions’/‘’Ot ‘N’ Sweaty’ – as two-on-one CD packages. What first-rate work from Hear No Evil Recordings. The same label also has a newly expanded edition of Deep Purple’s ‘Slaves And Masters’, the band’s Joe Lynn Turner-fronted album from 1990 – an extremely underrated release in my ’umble opinion.
For the last few days I’ve been reading an rather enjoyable book about proggers Galahad. Sub-titled: The Story Of The World’s Most Famous Unsuccessful Band, One For The Record is an authorised biography of the South Coast minnows by Andrew Wild, the author responsible for a similar tome on Twelfth Night. After more than 25 years together and with 19 line-ups to document it offers some entertaining road stories, including the time that the band played a gig and nobody – *nobody* – turned up, also of singer Stuart Nicholson’s failed quests to replace Fish in Marillion and Phil Collins in Genesis (he did at least secure an audition with the former group). Its 53 pages of discographies, gig itineraries and cover versions performed might seem excessive but Wild manages to tread the line between hardcore anorak and smirking bystander. He really sums up the joy of being in a band, absorbing the camaraderie of finding one’s self in a variety of absurd situations with (thankfully!) like-minded souls. Order his book from: www.galahadonline.com, and you’ll also get a free DVD anthology of their videos from 1985-2010.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 11th July
With Crystal Palace’s pre-season friendlies drawing nearer, I’m enthused that the club has snapped up Jerome Thomas, a former Arsenal and Clowntown winger from West Brom. The 30-year-old free signing is a CPFC player for two years. I’m hoping that reports suggesting midfielder Mile Jedinak, a vital element of last year’s promotion campaign, will sign a new deal, are substantiated. Are we going to get another former Baggie, Peter Odemwingie, who could line up alongside Dwight Gayle, our £4.5m signing from Peterborough United? All would be very sensible acquisitions. The club has also splashed out £2.3million on its training ground in Beckenham, just down the road from here, a facility that was setting them back £200K per annum in rent. For the first time in many years the Eagles own their stadium and practice facilities… very good business!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 10th July
The day of reckoning has arrived at last. Cricket is the second greatest sport in the world and this morning marks the beginning of the latest Ashes series between England and the Aussies. Can Cook’s men retain the urn? I’d like to think so! England have won toss and will bat first, bring it on!!!!
Happy to report that I passed yesterday’s NHS Health Check with flying colours! For a man of my age I’m in fine shape – it’s official... My blood pressure and body mass index are way below average and the cholesterol level is normal. Okay, my alcohol intake is a little less satisfactory but you can’t have everything... As I left the room the nurse smiled and said: “Make sure that you keep up the running”, her tone implying that my strict exercise regime could be all that’s keeping me alive. Right now she might well be right…
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 9th July
Yesterday’s face-to-face interview with the delightful Robin Beck was a lot of fun. In town to talk up her excellent new album, ‘Underneath’, Ms B had brought the Florida sunshine with her. London is a grip of a heatwave. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

Dave Ling Online

Conversely, how saddening to learn of the passing of Bronz guitarist Shaun Kirkpatrick. I’m a big fan of the UK band’s Max Norman-produced debut, 1983’s ‘Taken By Storm’, which featured the golden-voiced Max Bacon. Its single, ‘Send Down An Angel’ is a bit of a mini-classic. Down though the years I had quite a few email dealings with Shaun, who seemed like a first-rate geezer. Bacon had rejoined Bronz last year and the band were in the process of recording a new album when Kirkpatrick suffered a suspect heart attack. RIP, Shaun.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 8th July
Congratulations to Andy Murray on yesterday’s triumph at Wimbledon. Eddie and I watched with growing excitement on TV in the living room, and to my surprise as the denouement approached I found myself becoming quite choked up by it all. And well done to Novak Djokovic for being such a gracious, magnanimous runner-up. To that prat Alex Salmond, who unfurled a Scottish flag as the cameras were turned on him, you should be ashamed of yourself for attempting to turn a great sporting moment into a political statement. A very cheap trick.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sunday 7th July
It’s a little after 1pm as I type this, having closed the door on the final all-night stragglers of Lingfest 2103. Concluding my birthday celebrations, a motley gang of revellers visited SE6 for a kickaround beneath a baking hot sun – there will be some sore middle-aged limbs tomorrow! – followed by a shock & awe display of formation drinking to the sound of vintage Quo, Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, Montrose and many more. A splendid time was had by all, though clearing away the empties will take some doing. The recycling wheelie bin is already full. Seriously, there are enough leftovers to open a small off license. My picture shows the footballing contingent regaining their puff (from left to right): Jeff Gilbert, Neil Jeffries, Steve Taylor, yours truly, Nick Shilton (glass of Perrier just out of shot…), Eddie Ling, Jerry Ewing, Richard Thompson, Malcolm Dome and Andy Beare. As some wag later posted on Facebook: “What a finely toned group of athletes”… In case you wondered, some laydeeez were present, but despite promises to the contrary none brought their footie boots!! :-(

Dave Ling Online

Dave Ling Online

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

Saturday 6th July
My appreciation of Vega, who last night played a blinder of a set at the Barfly, grows unabated. Attendance numbers were no doubt affected by a combination of the day’s stifling heat and the fact that Bon Jovi were across town over at the Olympic Park, but the UK band are fast emerging as one of the best up ‘n’ coming talents this isle has to offer. Although my best intentions of catching the night’s support act, a bunch of big-haired Finns called Santa Cruz, were brutally scuppered by a cancelled train I arrived in time for the quartet’s last three tunes… really good stuff if you like your glammy hard rock to be a little on the shrill and obvious side. Goddamn you Network Southeast, or whatever you’re called these days.
The headliners used their hour to perfection with a strong mix of hard rockers and the occasional ballad such as ‘Saviour’ and ‘Headlights’ (the latter a song that I once foolishly mistook for a lighter-waving paean to head lice!) from both of the band’s albums. ‘What The Hell!’, the highly contagious title cut of their current record, might be a Frankenstein’s monster of Warrant’s ‘Cherry Pie’, ‘Lay Your Hands On Me' by Bon Jovi and just about any Def Leppard anthem you could name but when the band are in full pelt they’re pretty much irresistible. Ending with the Joe Elliott-approved video track ‘White Knuckle Ride’ and a self-descriptive ‘Hands In The Air’, Vega set up my weekend to perfection. Here’s what was played: ‘Kiss Of Life’, ‘Not There For You’, ‘You Can’t Run’, ‘She Walks Alone’, ‘Into The Wild’, ‘Saviour’, ‘What The Hell!’, ‘Cry’, ‘Headlights’, ‘Hearts Of Glass’, ‘Stay With Me’, ‘White Knuckle Ride’ and ‘Hands In The Air’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday 5th July
Still bleary-eyed, I made my way to central London for a face-to-face interview with an early childhood crush. Is there a tube station at Devil Gate Drive? Yes, of course I was meeting the one and only Suzi Quatro. What a warm, nice person she turned out to be. We sat and chatted for a while after the tape went off. At 63 she’s kept herself in good nick, too!
With time to kill before the evening’s encounter with Gov’t Mule, I returned to Camden and invested in a couple of pairs of my now trademark black skinny jeans and a very cool leather jacket as a birthday present to myself.
My interview with Warren Haynes was a little more hurried than I’d have liked, but the guitarist/vocalist was in entertaining form whilst giving the lowdown on the band’s forthcoming album, ‘Shout!’, which is due via Provogue in September. A special bonus edition offers alternate version of its 11 songs with an impressive – sometimes very surprising – set of special guest vocalists. I’ve heard all but two of its songs, and it’s great!
The show lived up to the group’s sky-high standards, though I preferred the first of their two sets as they became a little too bogged down in muso rambling after the interval. Reeves Gabrels of Bowie’s Tin Machine fame joined them for a great encore of ‘Rocking In The Free World’, and Elliott Randall (Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers) played on a cover of Albert King’s ‘Breaking Up Somebody’s Home’ that also featured some searing sax work from Joe McGlohon. I was extremely impressed by Under The Bridge – a great little venue though of course in a very regrettable location (part of Stamford Bridge… spit!). It was a good job I had the inoculations! Here’s the set-list: ‘Blind Man In The Dark’, ‘Bad Little Doggie’, ‘Brand New Angel’, ‘Mr Man’, ‘Unring The Bell’, ‘Endless Parade’, ‘Thorazine Shuffle’/’Funny Little Tragedy’, ‘Kind Of Bird’, ‘Captured’, ‘Larger Than Life’, ‘Birth Of The Mule’, ‘Scared To Live’, ‘Breaking Up Somebody’s Home’ and ‘Rocking In The Free World’.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thursday 4th July
Last night (and a chunk of the post-midnight hours) was/were spent in Camden where I’d been invited to a launch party for New Device’s second studio disc, ‘Here We Stand’, which has been termed a mixture of “hard rock and metal progressions”. The term overlooks the British group’s strong commercial sensibilities. It was a balmy evening and the ciders flowed nicely down the neck outside the venue, a welcoming pub called The Black Heart. The band played a really enjoyable set. So much so that Andy Beare, who was on holiday, suggested that we enjoy a few more post-show beverages. This in turn lead to a spontaneous visit to the Crobar on our way back to our night busses at Trafalgar Square. Cue: instances of projectile vomiting and all manner of unscheduled craziness. (I’m innocent of the pavement pizza incidents, just in case you wondered). Suffice to say that I slept fully clothed on top of the bed (still wearing my glasses!) and almost slept through the alarm clock - not an ideal way to start the day.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday 3rd July
It’s always nice to have a phone catch-up with James LaBrie. The Canadian singer said some interesting things about his new release, ‘Impermanent Resonance’, and gave a very tantalising, appetising insight into Dream Theater’s self-titled newie, due in September. Can’t wait to hear it!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tuesday 2nd July
It’s my birthday. Happy birthday to me! No, I’m not telling you how old I am. Don’t be so impertinent!
I type this with one of the worst hangovers in living memory. Following the dark solemnity of the previous nite’s Van der Graaf Generator gig, it was time for something completely different: the Leicester Square premiere of the movie that I had vowed never to see… Bula Quo! What can I say? The film was dismal in comparison to the illuminating company of those with whom I watched it: Sarah Bolder, Mark Taylor, Noel Buckley, etc etc, and with Mick Box and assorted Uriah Heep members a few seats down in the row. Perhaps inevitably, things got a little out of control at the ‘after-show’ bash at the Café De Paris. Here’s a very silly photo of myself, Ms Bolder and Mr Taylor on the red carpet (photo credit: Noel Buckley). Well, the invite did say; ‘Dress loud and tropical’, and it was well worth all of the humiliation to see the look of utter astonishment on Mr Rossi’s face on the way into the theatre…
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday 1st July
After yet another afternoon in the garden I nipped across to the Barbican Centre to review Van der Graaf Generator for Prog magazine. This was my third sighting of the legendary prog/art rockers, having been present eight years ago for their reunion at the Royal Festival Hall, and again on the same stage in ’07, by which time they had slimmed down to a trio with the exit of saxophonist/flautist David Jackson.
The cornerstones of their enthralling 110-minute display were two daring long-form pieces; the 20-minute ‘Flight’ and a rarely performed cult classic called ‘A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers’, from 1971’s ‘Pawn Hearts’ album. However, with three post-reunion studio albums to their name, more than half of the seven songs comprising the set proper were culled from the current era, including three selections from 2008’s excellent ‘Trisector’. Even at 64, Peter Hammill remains a captivating frontman and Van der Graaf Generator are as dark, edgy, and at times, solemnly oppressive, as any band you could name. Not unexpectedly, the show’s highlight was the extraordinary ‘…Lighthouse…’, a brooding, disturbing, multi-tempoed 23-minute epic that made ‘Suppers Ready’ sound like something Peter Andre might have recorded. Here’s the set-list: ‘Over The Hill’, ‘Flight’, ‘Lifetime’, ‘All That Before’, ‘Bunsho’, ‘Man-erg’ and ‘A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers’, followed by an encore of ‘Childlike Faith In Childhood’s End’.