This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Wednesday 31st July
I thought that I had seen my last UFO show. Luckily I was wrong. Having been made aware of my disappointment over failing to see the band play with Neil Carter, Phil Mogg invited me out on the road to see a couple of shows on the band's final visit to Germany. No assignment, no agenda. Just have some beers and travel on the bus with the guys. I was humbled by this act of generosity.
So last night, following a Planes, Trains & Automobiles-style journey that saw me lost and perplexed on Dortmund’s transport system, I ended up at a quaint, fairly intimate hall located outside of the city centre by the name of Musiktheater Piano. (I’m not kidding, had I not spotted a guy wearing a UFO T-shirt and asked whether it was okay to follow him, I’d probably still be standing there indecisively on Platform Fucking Drei…)
Though no further songs from Carter’s era have been added to the set-list the show was great – Neil really gives it some welly, and the guys are really, really happy to have him in their midst. The heat inside the Musiktheater Piano was quite incredible, causing the band to ditch the walk-off-for-the-encore routine for one continuous performance. By the end of it I was emotionally choked and wringing wet… though nothing that a few ice-cold Peronis couldn’t cure.
On the journey to Hamburg for the Wacken show I sat in the front lounge of the bus with Phil, Andy Parker, Neil and Alice Klaar. To the sound of Andy P's trusty iPod, beer, wine and jokes flowed.
This photo of me sharing a cheeky aperitif with Alice Klaar (© Mr P Mogg) was taken a short while before a certain singer began serenading us with songs by The Four Tops and busting out his best soul moves. Also before he started banging on about a band he likes called Trampled By Turtles. We thought he was taking the mick, but they really do exist. Cue lots of silly gags about co-headlining tours with Molested By Molluscs, Emasculated By Emus, Harpooned By Hedgehogs or even Battered By Beavers. You can probably make up your own examples. It was a very silly night.
During one poignant moment as The Doors' 'Riders On The Storm' filled the air Phil dimmed the lights and explained how he sometimes sits alongside the driver watching the road as the vehicle carrying him eats up the miles to the next venue. Only last night each of us was all too aware that those journeys are coming to an end. Phil Mogg loves the road but conversely he also hates it. At this point, the retirement of UFO seems impossible though, regrettably, it’s a sad reality.
Tuesday 30th July
Well, we arrived home from Steelhouse during the middle of the afternoon and I had sufficient time to put down my bags and make a cuppa before heading out to the office. The news pages for Classic Rock’s August 20 edition still required completion before I would be released from usual duty for today’s road trip to Germany. I managed to wrap things at about 11pm, crawling into bed and with the alarm set for 6am. Mustn’t oversleep… Today is gonna be very exciting!
Monday 29th July
A few quick words about Sunday at Steelhouse - my day began with a fine display from Wille & The Bandits, a fine blues-based trio from Cornwall whose past albums 'Grow' and 'Steal' lurk in my collection. They have a cool, eclectic sound and a very decent set of songs... I shall be seeking out their newie, 'Paths'. An entertaining mix of non-stop hard rocking anthems and charismatic delivery crowned Danko Jones as the weekend’s biggest surprise (and I mean that in a pleasant way). The Canadian band went down an absolute storm, and serving as a reminder that Steelhouse is a wonderful family-friendly event a few rows in front of us a young girl wore ear protectors and stood on her dad's shoulders throughout, throwing devil horn signs towards the stage. At the end of the set bass guitarist John 'JC' Calabrese made a point of making sure that she caught his pick. All hail the next generation!
Amanda, Ewan and I claimed a spot at the barrier for Uriah Heep who, amid glorious late afternoon sunshine, put on an absolute masterclass of how to mix songs from a new album (from ‘Living The Dream’ they played ‘Grazed By Heaven’, the title track, ‘Take Away My Soul’ and ‘Knocking At My Door’) with classic hits (‘Rainbow Demon’, ‘Stealin’’, ‘Gypsy’, ‘Look At Yourself’, ‘July Morning’, ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Easy Livin’’) and deep cuts (‘Abominog’s ‘Too Scared To Run’) and keep the audience enthralled every step of the way. Theirs was a barnstorming display that claimed the weekend’s top honours. Most people that I spoke to seemed to feel the same way.
We decided to watch Living Colour from the side of the stage but were cut off by the sight of Heep's Bernie Shaw coming down the ramp. "You haven't got a drink – follow me; it's Piledriver time," he chirruped, referring to the singer’s signature alcoholic beverage. The dressing room celebrations were interrupted when Phil Lanzon arrived bearing news that Bernie Marsden had put in appearance to jam on 'Sunshine Of Your Love' and we charged back to check it out. Living Colour are not everyone’s cup of tea but I really enjoyed the remainder of their set, especially when frontman Corey Glover went for a walkabout in the crowd. Maybe he was looking for a Piledriver, too?
Regardless of one’s opinion of their continued Lynott-less existence, Thin Lizzy – with Mastodon’s Troy Sanders on bass and Scott Travis from Priest as drummer – delighted a packed down with an exclusive one-off 40th anniversary revision of the 'Black Rose' album. Though some appeared unfamiliar with its hidden gems, 'Black Rose' remains my own favourite personal face in the band's catalogue, and it a joy to hear the likes of 'Toughest Street In Town', 'S&M', the ballad 'Sarah' and the Celtic guitar overload of the record's epic title track.
And so Steelhouse is over for another year. What a bloody superb festival. Hats off to the organisers, the bands, the staff and the brilliant fans that always make this event so, so special. See you again in 2020.
Sunday 28th July
Although there was a forecast of some Thunder later on, as we arrived something unusual hovered in the air above Hafod-Y-Dafal Farm - the sun! WTF! With a single stage and none of the usual frustrating schedule clashes, Steelhouse aims to offer a recipe of trusted names and worthy newcomers. This year’s show presented an extremely strong line-up.
This was my first live sighting of Crobot. In his sparkly outfit singer Brandon Yeagley dazzled, though sadly the rest of the Pennsylvania band looked a bit like roadies. However, they have some pretty good tunes and went down really well with crowd. We watched Gun from the side of the stage; wow... what a reaction! Later on during a classy display that reminded me how far the band has come in the six years since I saw them on this same stage during a rain-plagued display, The Temperance Movement delivered a triumphant performance, throwing out a version of Zeppelin’s 'Custard Pie' in the sweltering, simmering heat.
And closing things out, top dogs Thunder opted for a typically boisterous all-electric, golden oldies-based set, revelling in their only outdoor UK appearance of 2019. Will these chappies ever play a bad gig? I'm not holding my breath. Here’s the set-list: 'Loser', 'River Of Pain', 'Higher Ground', 'Resurrection Day', 'Backstreet Symphony', 'The Devil Made Me Do It', 'In Another Life', 'On The Radio', 'Don't Wait For Me', 'Serpentine', 'Love Walked In' and 'I Love You More Than Rock 'N' Roll', with encores of 'Gimme Some Lovin'' and 'Dirty Love' (the latter, thankfully, without its tortuously extended intro).
Saturday 27th July
Up nice 'n' early for my annual jaunt down the M4 to the Steelhouse Festival in Ebbw Vale. We are taking Amanda's rock-mad son Ewan with us, for his first experience of a real multiple-day rock festival. Though it’s peeing with rain here in London the weather forecast in Wales is bright and sunny - just as well as the show's location atop a mountain is desperately exposed to the elements. Well, I'm packing my waterproofs anyway!
Friday 26th July
Oooh look, there's a new single from Alter Bridge called 'Pay No Mind'. It serves as an appetiser for the new album 'Walk The Sky' (due on October 18). I'm still waiting for Myles Kennedy and company to do something that isn't at the very least tremendous. It seems that there's no sign of them slipping up just yet...
Thursday 25th July
Phew, scorchio… it's the hottest day of the year. I'm happy to see that Uriah Heep have announced a gig in Bexhill, a mere 25-minute walk from our intended new location in Hastings. Support comes from Diamond Head. I do hope that we are living by the seaside when this one happens on December 6.
I'm also chuffed beyond measure to see that NWOBHM survivors Vardis have confirmed a gig at London's 100 Club on March 13 of next year, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their legendary overdub-free debut '100 MPH' (a perennial favourite here at Ling Towers). Guitarist/frontman Steve Zodiac and company have been silent for quite a while... it’s great to know that they remain a going concern.
Wednesday 24th July
I spent most of the day transcribing the recent interview with Francis Rossi and Bob Young. During the course of my research I felt compelled to listen again to the Young & Moody Band's 1981 hit 'Don't Do That To Me'. What a bloody great song! Where did I put that air geetar?
When I asked Bob Young about its all-star cast, which included Cozy Powell on drums, he laughed: “We called Lemmy up saying that The Nolan Sisters were gonna be there and he replied: ‘I’ll be right over’.” As you do…
Tuesday 23rd July
What a way to start the day - just received an email from my friend and esteemed journo colleague Martin Carlsson at Sweden Rock magazine who interviewed Mr Rossi a few days ago. Because I wrote Sweden Rock's humongous cover tribute to Ricky P my name came up in their conversation. I quote Francis here: "Dave Ling and people like him still live off the fumes of the Quo of the 1970s." #BiggestComplimentEver
Monday 22nd July
Ramblin' Man Fair, Day Three.
I've high hopes for Sweet Crisis, a band from Cambridge that Classic Rock recently described as peddling "a catchy, sophisticated mix of piano-led soul, ‘70s Southern vibes and classic rock 'n' roll". Alas, they were playing their final song 'Treading In Deep Water' as I arrived. Gutted not to have seen more.
The reward for six years of years spent in vans on motorways, Peterborough's own Austin Gold opened the main stage. Having enjoyed their album I was looking forward to seeing them live, and they didn't disappoint. Turning in an unfussy yet assured display, their music is classy hard rock with a strong, bluesy edge.
Back to the Blues Sage for another 'final song of the set' moment, I caught West Country chanteuse Elles Bailey winding up with the title cut of 'The Road That I Call Home'. Okay… so that’s another album, I need to chase up, then.
Next up on Blues, Chantel McGregor clashed with the Main Stage's Living Colour, but she went down a storm. McGregor has pushed on from textbook blues to embrace a harder, heavier style. It's gonna be fascinating to see what she does next. Having interrupted a holiday in Spain to fly back, play, watch her hero Richie Kotzen, jump on another plane and return to a sun lounger might sound extreme, but Chantel certainly embraced her moment.
Back on the Main Stage Inglorious played (and sang) extremely well, cruising through the best bits of their three LPs. And it appeared as though their set had passed without controversy until Nathan James' radio mic gave up during a final song. Halting proceedings and instructing the band to re-start their "biggest hit" was a pretty extreme course of action, and one wonders what the organisers made of his comment of "it's just tough shit to your schedule." The bloke really doesn’t help himself.
On the Rising Stage, Matt Mitchell (Colour Of Noise, Pride, Furyon) and his cohorts The Coldhearts turned in a disappointingly short yet highly enjoyable set, the start of which was blighted by technical gremlins. I will deffo make a point of seeing him again. Their album is way too good to fall through the cracks.
As special guests on the Main Stage, Airbourne arrived in a hailstorm of headbanging, flying hair, spittle and hooligan-esque football terrace choruses. I watched 'em for 20 mins or so before heading up the hill to Blues in search of a change of pace. Beth Hart serenated me as I ate supper. Mainly seated at the piano, Beth sang her blessed heart out. This was a poignant, emotional performance that felt very special indeed. Spotting hubby Scott out in the crowd Hart dedicated 'Falling In Love With You More Every Day'. It all made me a teeny-weeny bit weepy, if I'm honest.
All good things must come to an end, sadly, and Foreigner were on hand to serve up a banquet of hard rock super-hits. Mick Jones didn't join them till six songs in, which was a shame, and the set was padded out with all manner of solo spots, extended links and, frankly, stomach churningly-clichéd spoken word intros from Kelly Hansen, their singer of 14 years standing, though only the most determined of curmudgeons could have failed to appreciate both the quality of the performance and the sense of occasion.
With the boundaries pulled in a little and the VIP area refashioned for their range of unplugged backstage cameos, Ramblin' Man seems to have settled upon a formula that really works. I suspect we will never again see a band of the Scorpions' stature grace Mote Park with their presence, but this year's range of artists was quite superb and the event has now become an experience tailored to suit the every need of the rock fan of a certain age. Roll on 2020.
Sunday 21st July
Ramblin' Man Fair, Day Two.
The weather veered from momentary spits of drizzle to blazing sunshine, mostly the latter. The vibe was fantastic though. Caught a little of Wayward Sons on the main stage, who sounded pretty good. Downing the first pint of the day it was nice to catch an unplugged set from Blackwater Conspiracy in the VIP area. I was very happy that the opening line in my programme entry for Inglorious (“Never, ever, ever, ever underestimate Inglorious”) wasn't edited out by editor Paul Elliott.
Ugly Kid Joe were up next… ugggh. What a terrible, terrible, terrible band. However, positives can come out trauma and completely by accident, running away from *that song*, I found myself at the Outlaw Country Stage and saw a fine little band by the name of Robert John & The Wreck, who proceeded to make it all better. I shall be looking out for these guys in the future.
Jimmy Barnes tore the main stage a new rectum. With a mere 45 mins allocated none of my faves from the all-time great ‘Freight Train Heart’ were included (‘Too Much Ain’t Enough Love’ was especially missed), but my oh my that voice... that voice!
Back to the Outlaw Country Stage for The Allman Betts Band, who served up a set to rival anything by the day’s bigger names. A selection of originals from the stunning forthcoming debut ‘Down To The River’, a taste of the Allmans, a tasty cover of ‘Purple Rain’ and a guest appearance from Black Stone Cherry’s Ben Wells. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!!!
After a mad dash back to the Main Stage, with the sun beginning to fade special guestsCheap Trick did what they do best – a casually dispached masterclass in slightly goofy power-pop. “We’re a new band, we’ve been around for a couple of weeks,” Rick Nielsen deadpanned as they barrelled through ‘Big Eyes’, ‘Southern Girls’, ‘Elo Kiddie’s and ‘Baby Loves To Rock’. Could’ve done without that completely needless bass solo and a Tom Petersson-voiced stab at The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, but kudos is due to anybody that can sign off with a salvo as headspinningly wonderful as ‘I Want You To Want Me’, ‘Dream Police’, ‘Surrender’ and ‘Goodnight Now’.
Regrettably it was time to head for the train station and home. But tomorrow, as they say, is another day!
Saturday 20th July
It's the little things that mean the most. I was in the bathroom getting ready to leave for Maidstone when Arnie, my youngest son, aware of the stress we are under in trying to sell the house but not usually prone to sharing his feelings, pressed a fiver into my hand and said: "Have a drink on me at the festival. Love you, Dad."
So off to Ramblin' Man Fair I trot. Making my way there via public transport means I must leave for home before top dogs Black Stone Cherry, but should everything run to schedule I'll see Cheap Trick, Jimmy Barnes and The Allman Betts Band in their entirety... each worth the price of admission alone... plus assorted other ne'er-do-wells.
Now where did I put that Lady Godiva...? Lol...
Friday 19th July
For the third day in succession I'm kicking things off with this little beaut – ‘Down To The River’, the debut from The Allman Betts Band. The name tells you just about everything you need to know. Guitarist/singer Devon Allman is the son of the ABB’s late, great keyboardist Gregg. Duane Betts is guitarist Dickey’s lad (he also plays guitar and sings). And though he’s not credited in the band’s name, their bassist is Berry Oakley Jnr. Released via BMG, the album was recorded at Msckle Shoals Sound and features former Allmans/current Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell. Take my word for it… it’s awesome. I really cannot stop playing the bloody thing.
Their self-titled debut was the best melodic hard rock record of 2016. Now The Defiants are back to claim this year's title. Check out this newly released YouTube track and start saving those pennies for September 13.
[Edit: I’m absolutely gutted to miss be missing FM and The Wildhearts on the opening night of Ramblin' Man Fair this evening (much less so The Dorkness). In the end I had too much work to justify a quick getaway from my desk. I must get my ass down to Maidstone for a few hours tomorrow.
Thursday 18th July
It's a Dream Theater kinda day. With the assistance of Messrs Petrucci, Portnoy and Rudess, in its 20th anniversary year I’m revisiting the tale of ‘Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory’, my favourite album by the US/Canadian progressive-metal kingpins. Their epic tale of a man called Nicholas who visits a hypnotherapist to undergo regressive therapy only to discover that in a previous life he had been a young woman from the 1920s who was brutally murdered still sounds every bit as dark and mesmerising as the very first time I heard it.
Wednesday 17th July
Yesterday evening was spent attending an event at the Everyman Cinema in the Angel. Under Stars saw Lonely Robots John Mitchell joined by a gang of friends and ne'er-do-wells. Preceded by an enjoyable chat about sci-fi movies and soundtracks hosted by my former Metal Hammer Alexander Milas, LRs trilogy-closing and seemingly final album Under Stars was then presented in full, with stunning specially-commissioned CGI films accompanying each track on the big screen. Finally, Mitchell returned to the stage for a Q&A in the company of a spectacularly refreshed Rowland Rivron. We could tell this as Rivron whooped loudly whilst walking down the aisle.
The alleged 'comedian' knew less than zero about progressive rock and things very quickly descended into hide behind the sofa territory. Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas who sat next to me couldn't contain his mirth. Finally, I felt compelled to take the mic and congratulate Mitchell on the film and also salute Rivron for reaching such a spectacular plateau of inebriation. The poor fella didnt seem to grasp that I was mildly mocking him, which made things funnier still. His head will be pretty sore today .
Although the Lonely Robot event kept my attention I also had an eye on Palaces pre-season game at Barnet. Eddie was there. When the Eagles took the lead in the first minute and followed it with a second from Wickham he joyously informed me of these facts, and we joked about parking the bus and can we play you every week?, etc. So when Barnet equalised just before half time he was pretty irate. And when the home side banged in another FOUR goals after the break, without reply, Eds state of fury was pretty extreme. I dont blame him. Each year the friendlies cause me to trot out the cliché of Its going to be a long season. It seems that 2019/20 is no exception.
Tuesday 16th July
Just back from a visit to Rossi Towers in deepest Surrey and an interview with two gentlemen that helped to write the soundtrack of my life. What a rib-tickling chat with the Rossi/Young writers' guild, sharing stories from 50 years of friendship and music for Classic Rock magazine in promotion of Quo's surprisingly strong yet depressingly Parfitt-free new album 'Backbone' (which features three songs co-penned by Young). Both threw themselves into things with gusto; it was so much fun. Lavatorial humour and industrial language were the order of the day. At one point Bob was in tears of laughter.
First question: What were your first impressions of one another when you met?
Francis: "Well, I didn't realise that Bob was gay till he was about 60.
(Gales of laughter)
Me: Bob, did you know that?
Bob: "Only when Francis kissed me when I was 60, for my birthday."
It all went downhill from there...
In all seriousness, I found time to quiz Rossi about the fact that nobody in the current band can do justice to Rick's songs onstage, and suggested that there's a case for them being retired for good, which he fielded with unexpected good grace. This one is gonna be fun to write.
Sunday 14th July
The Super Over. The 'catch' on the boundary which went for six. The freakish deflection off Stokes' bat. The final stumping off the very last ball. What a staggeringly exciting game of cricket that was. This was the most dramatic sporting event I've ever seen. It will stay with me till the day I croak. Commiserations to New Zealand; nobody deserved to lose such a close run contest and the Kiwis showed complete dignity amid their crushing disappointment. But hell yeah, the luck of the gods was on our side and for the first time England are the one day champs of the world. I still can't quite believe that it happened.
Saturday 13th July
What an awesome meet & greet souvenir photo from Thursday nights Kiss gig at the O2 Arena. As Amanda and I lined up to have our photo taken with the band drummer Eric Singer chirruped: "Oh look, Dave Ling." When I turned around to say hi to Eric somebody bellowed out: "Don't talk to the band!" Well, pardon me for breathing... (Thanks to the wonderful Charrie Foglio for making it happen!).
Oh, and it was cool to catch up for a while with Lee Kerslake, who also had Gold VIP hospitality passes. Lee was with Tayla Goodman, the director who is in the process of making Lee's rockumentary Not On The Heep. The day before she had shot Kerslake in conversation with the entire Kiss band at their hotel and Lee was still pretty euphoric over the experience. We also met Jake Libretto, the guitarist who played on Lee's forthcoming solo record 'Eleventeen'. Sitting around the table Jake asked: "Have you got two sons called Eddie and Arnie?" When I nodded in confirmation he revealed: "I used to teach them both at Forest Hill School - I was their Jack Black at the School Of Rock!" What a small world, eh?
Despite planning to do so we didnt make it to ZZ Top at Wembley in the end as at the last minute Live Nation said that the press list was oversubscribed. In a way Im glad as although I'd love to have seen special guest Jimmy Barnes a friend just texted to say the Rev Billy and co played two encores and still only just nudged 75 minutes. That's a bit rubbish if you ask me.
I'll always have the memory of seeing their 'secret' gig at the Marquee Club on the 'Eliminator' tour in 1983 billed as 'That Little Ol' Band From Texas'. What a night that was.
Friday 12th July
Kiss at the O2 Arena In London: Okay okay, I've been reminded more than once that after last time I vowed 'never again' but having been a fan for so many decades - I first saw the band at Wembley back in 1980, supported by Girl - I just couldn't resist my old friend Charrie Foglio's kind offer of passes for this farewell London concert. It's a dazzling, blockbuster, spellbinding show. The rocket-firing guitar; Gene spitting blood and breathing fire; the riser, er, rising during the drum solo; Eric crooning 'Beth' on a piano that comes up through the stage, and enough pyro to be seen from Uranus - all the usual elements present and correct.
Once Kiss have gone for good it's very tough to imagine a band with such an overpowering presentation and the essential bonus of decent songs (yes Rammstein, I'm talking about you). Given his much publicised vocal issues, Paul Stanley muddled through and I'm not sure how much was live or on tape. That screechy introduction to 'Cold Gin' was plain horrible. But given the finality of it all and that I could've woken up today and cursed myself for staying home I'm very, very glad that we decided to come.
Thursday 11th July
I write with great excitement minutes after England beat the dreaded Convicts by eight wickets to claim their place in a first Cricket World Cup Final in 27 years. To quote a Facebook post from my fellow CPFC enthusiast Andy Nathan: Norwegian commentators don't do cricket, but if they did... Allan Border. Nicole Kidman. Kylie Minogue. Steve Irwin. Cathy Freeman. Barry Humphries. John Farnham. Rolf Harris. Tim Cahill. Dame Nellie Melba. Sir Don Bradman. Paul Hogan. Olivia Newton John. Jason Donovan. Richie Benaud. Mark Webber. Men At Work. Bob Hawke. Cate Blanchett. Shane Warne. Shane Warne can you hear me? Your boys took a hell of a beating! Let's add my old Metal Hammer editor Robyn Doreian, John Farnham and Madge and Harold Bishop from Neighbours to that list! Cobbers... you were clobbered!!! Bring on the Kiwis in Sunday's final.
Wednesday 10th July
David Lee Roth's admission that the members of Van Halen "always hated each other, right up until the last phone call" is not exactly 'news', I guess, though it's fascinating nonetheless. And it might help to validate the theory that internal pressure can ramp up levels of creativity. To these ears the first three Van Halen albums are flawless (from 'Fair Warning' onwards each album had its share of fillers).
Well, that was a whole lot of fun… my working day concluded with a riotous five-way conference call with Jason Ringenberg, Dan Baird, Warner E Hodges and Richard Young to discuss the upcoming Scorchers, Homemade Sin and Headhunters tour of the UK in September. Miss it at your peril!
Tuesday 9th July
A very happy 64th birthday to Sir Steve Coppell, esteemed manager from 1984–1993, 1995–1996, 1997–1998 and 1999–2000. Seen here with myself a baby Eddie Lemmy Selhurst Ling, he's still the greatest boss that Crystal Palace FC ever had.
This morning was spent at Hither Green Cemetery looking after my Dad and saying goodbye to Bill Newman, the larger than life childhood family friend who took me to my very first footie games. In the process he set me on the path to becoming a Crystal Palace loony, so no apologies for the choice of attire - black jeans and a black sweatshirt featuring the CPFC logo. This bloke was quite a character who never let anyone push him around and didn't give a damn what others thought (indeed, the congregation smiled knowingly as we filed out of the room to the strains of Sinatra's 'My Way'). I kinda wish I could've been a bit more like him in that regard. Sleep well Uncle Bill. And of course Mum's here, too... I still miss ya xxxx.
Monday 8th July
There's a brand new song from Eclipse, one of my favourite Swedish bands. Though I despair of its title of 'United' (SPIT!), it bodes very well for a full-length album called 'Paradigm' which is scheduled for released on October 11.
Issue #100 of Prog magazine has fallen onto the mat. I’m very proud to have been a contributor to this fine magazine since its inception a decade ago. Exceptional work from Jerry Ewing, Hannah May Kilroy, Russell Fairbrother, Jo Kendall and the rest of the team. Here's the to the next century's worth... and beyond.
Sunday 7th July
Another day spent house-hunting in Hastings… well, to be more precise going back for a second look at some properties that we liked. There are lots and lots of important decisions to be made. A couple of snifters at the Carlisle helped to soothe the ol’ grey matter.
After some lovely Chinese nosebag down on the seafront we rushed back to London to catch Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate topping the bill of the Prog The Forest all-dayer at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden. This was a charity event with proceeds going to environmental causes. In the end the show raised enough money to protect in perpetuity five acres of threatened wilderness land, so very well played in doing so to all concerned. HOGIA are a duo of vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player Malcolm Galloway and bass player Mark Gatland, with occasional contributions from flautist/backing singer Kathryn Thomas (i.e. they have no drummer, relying instead on sampled rhythm parts and a variety of pre-recorded embellishments). Though Galloways's self-mocking explanations of largely sci-fi/technology-themed subject matter of the songs can be relied upon to raise a smile, what the duo offer is pretty earnest and understated in nature, and I think they'd be much, much better driven along by a real percussionist.
Saturday 6th July
Last night, having dug their debut album ‘Vol 1’ I’d been intending to check out Sin’Dogs, the band formed by ex-Sensational Alex Harvey Band guitarist Zal Cleminson, at the 100 Club but having spent the day with Amanda house hunting in Hastings I was just too exhausted. According to the Iphone we did more than 27,000 steps whilst trudging from one property to the next… whew. However, there was still time to take a break for some light refreshment at the Carlisle, a cool little rock bar situated within view of the ocean that we nicknamed the Crobar-on-Sea. I suspect we will be spending quite a lot of time here in the future.
Wednesday 3rd July
Although yesterday was my birthday, I had a set of Classic Rock news pages to close so I was at my desk early doors and had to stay there till pressing 'send' on a column of News In Brief snippets. With the iTunes on shuffle, bright sunshine flowing in with the office wide open and Bob snoozing a few feet away, it was a pretty cool day. In the evening a gang of South Londoners (and my friend Harj Kallah) invaded the Moonsoon Indina Restaurant in Catford. A delicious meal in great company. I've had far worse evenings. However, it was a mistake to break open a bottle of Kraken Dark Spiced Rum upon our return to Gentling Towers, especially as we had no mixers and head to drink the stuff neat. Am paying the price for it now.
Tuesday 2nd July
Last night I conducted a great Skype interview with former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, during which we talked at length about my favourite DT album, 'Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memor'.
Turns out its also Mike's fave of the records he made with the group. A few mins later he put up this cool post on Facebook.
Its official: Aaron Wan-Bissaka has left Crystal Palace to join ManUre in a deal which, with add-ons, will end up at £60m. A 21-year-old with less than one full season under his belt and who is yet to play a senior international game becomes the most expensive English player in the world. Football is crazy - OFFICIAL! I had hoped we'd get another season out of AWB before the sharks began to circle, but so long as the proceeds are used wisely there's no complaint from me. Aside from the inevitable loss of a locally born and nurtured talent and future England star, it's sad that we won't be able to sing our best song anymore (to the tune of 'Rock The Casbah'): "Your wingers won't like him... Wan-Bisakka! Wan-Bisakka!" Good luck Aaron... and please remember to score an OG for us in the game at O*d Tr****d.
STAR DATE: MONDAY 1st JULY
Well, it’s been a trying few months but the Diary is back online. Getting it up and running again was always my solid intention, but the past year and a bit has been among the most trying of my entire life. Long story short: We were forced to put Ling Towers on the market and undertake a whole lifestyle downsize. Money has been incredibly tight. There have been health issues (nothing life-threatening). We had builders in the house from before Christmas 2018 until late Spring working on a complete refurb. And to top it all my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The lovely Amanda and I are currently in the process of defying the clusterfuck known as Brexit to up sticks and relocate to the coast (though of course not to the steaming shithole known as B****ton). Fingers crossed that will happen sooner rather than later. It’s time for a slower pace of life and to soak up some sea air. Right about now, mortgage free status sounds like heaven.
If you want to know what I’ve been up to since last November, well… I’ve compiled a Month In Pictures-style entry for each of those months - click on the Archives link below. The Playlist has also had a refurb!
Tomorrow being my birthday, a whole new start begins. There will be regular updates, I promise.
Many, many thanks to my long suffering, hard-working, patient, attractive and very, very thin web mistress for pulling out all the stops to make this happen. COYP!