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

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Friday 30th June
Oh. My. God. Last night's Tesla gig was sensational. After 16 years away, I'd been skeptical about their ability to pull a crowd at somewhere was large as Shepherds Bush Empire, but hats off to whoever booked the show because it proved to be the perfect venue. As singer Jeff Keith exclaimed at the start: "You're beautiful people, it's a beautiful place, it's a beautiful thing". Apart from adding 'beautifully mixed sound', I couldn't have put it any better myself.
With Fastway pulling out, Diamond Head were the night's special guest. I'm a firm supporter of the band's decision to carry on without Sean Harris, but allotted just six songs in half an hour ('Mine All Mine', 'Lightning To The Nations', 'This Planet And Me', 'Give It To Me', 'It's Electric' and 'Am I Evil?') they failed to make much of an impression. 'What's In Your Head?', the album that Diamond Head are soon to release (from which 'This Planet And Me' is lifted) gets the thumbs up from me, but I've definitely heard Nick Tart deliver more convincing vocal performances.
When Tesla kicked off with a scorching version of 'Comin Atcha Live' I feared that some kind of underwear malfunction might be on its way. Given that the Sacramanto-based hard rockers are promoting a rather good covers disc called 'Real To Reel', I'd no idea what type of a show they'd put on. A few days earlier, guitarist Frank Hannon had revealed they've been known to open the show with a version of UFO's 'Rock Bottom'. They actually did that one seven songs in, allowing Hannon and Brian Wheat to indulge all their Schenker and Way fantasies. Speaking of Wheat, known for struggling to control his weight at the band's MTV peak, it was a tad uncharitable of the fellas at Rockers Digest to describe the affable bassist as a "Johnny Vegas lookalike". In the end, the only other songs from the covers record they did were by The James Gang ('Walk Away') and Led Zeppelin (a near-perfectly replicated 'Thank You'). Keith's rasping though melodic voice is still as excellent as ever, while Dave Rude proved a quality replacement for the band's only missing original member, Tommy Skeoch. With curfew looming, Tesla had to cut the set short, which must explain the absence of 'EZ Come EZ Go', the opening track from their seminal 1986 debut 'Mechanical Resonance'. Hopefully they'll play it when they come back in October, possibly alongside another band from California who once released an equally stunning album called 'Earthshaker'. Here's the set-list: 'Cumin' Atcha Live', 'Into The Now', 'Walk Away', 'Modern Day Cowboy', 'Lazy Days, Crazy Nights', 'Little Suzi', 'Rock Bottom', 'Love Song', 'What You Give', 'Miles Away', 'Heavens Trail (No Way Out)', 'Mama's Fool', 'Thank You', 'I Just Wanna Make Love To You'/'Signs' and 'Edison's Medicine (Man Out Of Time)'.
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Wednesday 27th June
Today Tony Blair's run as Prime Minister comes to a weary, belated and ignominious end. Blair returns to Westminster from a typically showbiz-themed Stateside engagement with Californian governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger. You've gotta laugh at one of the resulting red-top headlines: "The Terminator meets the terminated". Not before time. I won't forget the buzz of euphoria that I derived from watching Thunder open a set at the Astoria with 'Welcome To The Party', their New Labour-themed anthem
from 'The Thrill Of It All', shortly after Blair's landslide victory in 1997, but it'll be an equally satisfying feeling to see the back of Blair and his odious, slimy, multi-jowled aide John 'Jabba The Hutt' Prescott'.
Close the door on your way out, and don't even think about a reunion tour.
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Tuesday 26th June
I only found out a few days ago that Cynic, the celebrated US progressive techno-death metal band, were doing a reunion tour of Europe. Having seen them at the Marquee the last time they played Britain, wa-a-a-y back in 1994, there was no way on earth that I'd miss their comeback date at Dingwalls - even if guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sein Reinert were the sole remaining original members. Early sound gremlins did their best to wreck the experience, absolutely ruining 'Veil Of Maya' and 'Celestial Voyage', but struggling with a post-Maiden hangover turned out to be worth the effort. The band's mixture of growled and clean vocals was well ahead of its time, tonight the more harsh singing was sampled but few seemed to care. Obviously, the set was based upon Cynic's sole album, 'Focus', but they introduced a crushing-yet-spacey new composition called 'Evolutionary Sleeper', winding up the set proper with a marvellous, jammed-out rendition of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's 'Meeting Of The Spirits'. A word of encouragement, too, for up 'n' coming London band Linear Sphere, who began the night by running through three long and challenging songs in 40 minutes. Their combination of prog, avant-garde metal and jazz-fusion is the perfect antidote to so much of the by-numbers bollocks that passes for hard rock these days.
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Monday 25th June
Iron Maiden's latest world tour is over, and what a way to finish. "I don't know what the legal capacity of the Brixton Academy is, but think of a number - any number - and double it," said Bruce Dickinson from the stage, and he wasn't kidding. With all proceeds going to Multiple Sclerosis-stricken former drummer Clive Burr, the highly emotional show managed to reflect both the frailty of humanity and Iron Maiden's proud durability. It doesn't seem possible that I stood in this same hall 24 years ago and watched as the band were filmed for the promo video of 'The Trooper' with Burr's then newly-appointed replacement, Nicko McBrain, up on that gigantic chequerboard stage. Jesus Christ, how time zips by. Anyway, Maiden did Clive proud and I'm sure I wasn't alone in finding something annoying in my eyes when the night's star was wheeled out to soak up the applause at the show's conclusion.
The set-list, in case you didn't manage to catch the band this summer, was: 'Different World', 'These Colours Don't Run', 'Brighter Than A Thousand Suns', 'Wrathchild', 'The Trooper', 'Children Of The Damned', 'The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg', 'For The Greater Good Of God', 'The Number Of The Beast', 'Fear Of The Dark', 'Run To The Hills', 'Iron Maiden', '2 Minutes To Midnight', 'The Evil That Men Do' and 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'.
Afterwards, Mrs L and I joined the enthusiastic post-gig celebrations, quaffing far too many ciders for a Sunday night. We chatted to both Bruce and guitarist Janick Gers, the former revealing that his movie about occult legend Aleister Crowley (infamous as 'the wickedest man in the world') shortly enters production, with Simon Callow - of Amadeus, Shakespeare in Love and, appropriately, The Phantom of the Opera - set for the title role. Dickinson has spent 12 years working on this project, and is understandably thrilled to get it moving at last. Though Bruce isn't planning a successor to 2005's 'Tyranny Of Souls' in the break before Maiden's next summer tour, he doesn't rule out getting together with producer/guitarist Roy Z to work on some new music for the soundtrack.
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Saturday 23rd June
Having been spanked by CPFC supremo Simon Jordan in a high profile court case, Iain Dowie has just 42 days to pay an initial £150,000 in legal costs - a figure that could, with damages included, eventually rise to somewhere between £750,000 and a cool million quid. But that's the price of being a manipulative, immoral liar. Wonderful news!
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Friday 22nd June
Last night I had a very enjoyable conversation with Andy Parker. I'd never actually spoken to UFO's drummer before, but what a splendid fellow he turned out to be. Our proposed 15-minute chat about the 'Force It' album turned into an hour-long discussion about UFO, living in England, lagerlout-ism, writing sleeve notes (Andy once penned some liners for a set of Spitfire Records re-issues), Michael Schenker, the joys of being a landlord and finally, rock music's regenerative effect upon the process of aging. Andy laughingly admitted that he looked like his mum (who sadly passed on not too long ago) when he rejoined UFO in the summer of 2005. Two stone overweight and with grey hair, he was looking and feeling like a stereotypical middle-aged bloke. And now, after travelling around in a tour bus with Messrs Way, Mogg, Raymond and Moore for the past two years, Andy's ready to collect his bus pass, sips politely at the occassional Mackeson stout and has reserved himself a choice burial plot. No... I'm kidding!! He has a 'before' and 'after' photo on his office wall to remind him of the fountain of eternal youth that is rock 'n' roll. The theory has its flaws - have you seen Ozzy Osbourne recently? - but I'd like to believe it.
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Wednesday 20th June
The rumours of Palace signing Teddy Sheringham have gone quiet. Thank the Lord. Indeed, not only has the former England striker been linked with a move to Bournemouth - with respect, a lot more his level than Selhurst Park - but it's quite possible he'll spend up to six years in Her Majesty's company after allegedly providing false details about a speeding offence. If Sheringham were to be given a custodial sentence for that length of time, he'd be 47 when he got out of prison. A little too old, surely, for Peter Taylor's policy of snapping up 'youth' talent?!
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Tuesday 19th June
"Do you wish you'd won, Chris?" shouted a voice from the crowd in a crammed Borderline. Chris Daughtry, who finished fourth in last year's American Idol, emphatically shook his head. "Maybe if that'd happened I wouldn't be here". The singer courted the rock vote on the blockbuster reality TV show, interpreting material by Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Queen and the Chili Peppers among others. But just five weeks after elimination he'd successfuly auditioned for music mogul Clive Davis, his self-penned 'Daughtry' album topping the Billboard chart, a million-plus sales registering the quickest-performing debut in Soundscan history. That figure has now more than doubled. So Daughtry's self-titled band (he pronounces it 'Dow-tree') took a few steps backwards to perform their debut UK show last night, but it rocked. Chris has a great voice and an amiable stage persona to match those writing chops. Maybe a third of this sold-out crowd were Brits, which is a generous estimate, but there can be little doubt that fans of Nickelback, Creed and Live will appreciate this fine group regardless of their nationality. Highlights included 'It's Not Over', 'Crashed', 'Over You', 'What I Want' (the studio version of which features a guitar solo from Slash) and a solo acoustic rendition of Elton John's 'Rocket Man'. I hope that Daughtry come back soon.

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Sunday 17th June
My sons have just given me a rather nice Father's Day present. Thin Lizzy's 'Live And Dangerous', an album I've never owned on CD till this morning. Thanks, guys. Couldn't have made a better choice myself (those hints I was dropping in Sainsbury's must have paid off).
I'm feeling a tad hung over this morning. Yesterday was a busy day. At lunchtime I went to Studio Two of Abbey Road Studios, where The Beatles recorded so much of their famous work, for a playback of Nightwish's hotly-awaited new album, 'Dark Passion Play'. Given that the Finnish band sold more than a million copies of 2004's 'Once', a lot is riding on their debut with new singer Anette Olzon, who replaces the controversially ousted Tarja Turunen. To be honest, I wasn't crazy about a handful of lighter-sounding tracks towards the record's latter half ('The Islander', 'Last Of The Wilds' and '7 Days To The Wolves'), but on the whole I liked what I heard. Nightwish have once again bolstered their sound with an orchestra, that aspect of the production being overseen by Status Quo/Barclay James Harvest collaborator Pip Williams, who was on hand to introduce the playback. Sounding a little like Lord Of The Rings set to music, the 13-minute epic 'The Poet And The Pendulum' is a fantastic way to begin any album. If anything, the songs are a little less shrill than before, and afterwards leader Tuomas Holopainen revealed that among the reasons Olzon was selected was her lack of operatic training. The press conference was rather amusing, for all the wrong reasons. Representing Rock Sound magazine, one particular writer had no clue about the band, literally stunning the room into silence by asking Holopainen which instrument he played. This poor fella also wanted to know how the new material was going down live, when the band's revised line-up has yet to play a show. There were several of these 'tumbleweed' moments and after a while you could sense Tuomas' irritation. I waited until the conference was completed and requested a private chat with the singer and keyboard player; I was buggered if I was gonna share my questions with somebody who'd clearly not bothered to do any research.
Still chuckling at the press conference I jumped on a tube to a sold-out Astoria where Megadeth played an amazing show. If you've yet to hear the new album, 'United Abominations', then let me assure you, Dave Mustaine has his mojo back in no uncertain terms. Check out this set-list: 'Sleepwalker', 'Take No Prisoners', 'Skin O'My Teeth', 'Wake Up Dead', 'Set The World Afire', 'Washington Is Next!', 'Hangar 18', 'In My Darkest Hour', 'Kick The Chair', 'Gears Of War', 'She Wolf', 'Tornado Of Souls', 'Mechanix', 'Peace Sells', 'Symphony Of Destruction' and a more topical than ever rendition of 'Holy Wars... The Punishment Due'. Ouch, the neck's feeling a trifle sore.
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Thursday 14th June
Iron Maiden fan Daniel Abásolo Baz has emailed from Spain to confirm that, further to my diary entry about Download (see Monday 11th June), someone was indeed throwing eggs at Iron Maiden at the start of their set. Roadies were seen cleaning the stage during the opening number of 'Different World', one of their projectiles narrowly missing lead singer Bruce Dickinson. The idiocy of the individual(s) concerned is absolutely staggering; Who on earth would dare to do such a potentially suicidal thing from within the confines of a fired-up crowd of 80,000 people... No wonder Dickinson fumed: "If anyone sees some cocksucking Sharon wanker with an egg, punch them in the fucking teeth".
Just seen the set-lists for the latest Rush and Genesis tours. The Genesis one is nowhere near as dreadful as I'd feared. Besides the anticipated drivel from 'Genesis', 'We Can't Dance' and 'Invisible Touch', the trio are at least including 'Ripples' and 'Los Endos', both from 1976's 'Trick of the Tail' album, and winding up with 'Carpet Crawlers', which delves back to their Peter Gabriel-fronted era. Meanwhile, Rush will play a mammoth 28-song set, including a drum solo from Neal Peart. Who'd have thought they'd open with 'Limelight'?! Roll on October's British dates!
There's good news and bad from the Crystal Palace camp. Simon Jordan won his long-running, £1 million court case against former manager Iain Dowie. Dowie was guilty of "fraudulent misrepresentation" about his reasons for moving North to be with his family (a thinly-veiled excuse to join neighbours Clowntown Pathetic). So eat shit and die, Elephant Man! But not before you've paid CPFC's damages and court fees. Unfortunately, however, the fixture computer has once again thrown a large spanner into the works for my plans regarding the Firefest. For the fifth time running the mighty Eagles have a home game on the day of the melodic hard rock jamboree - this time against Watford on October 27. Graaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!
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Wednesday 13th June
Journey have sacked singer Jeff Scott Soto. Like... wow. Am I supposed to pretend to be surprised? Or upset? My own opinion is that Soto, whilst being a supreme vocalist in his own right, was the wrong man to have succeeded Steve Augeri. This development seems to confirm that viewpoint. I'm appalled and amused by the inevitable eruption of brown-nosing over at the www.melodicrock.com noticeboard, but this really confirms what a bunch of users Journey are. The words 'piss-up' and 'brewery' spring to mind.
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Tuesday 12th June
Having missed them at the weekend's Download festival, last night I went to Hammersmith to watch Mötley Crüe. It had been a toss-up between Nikki Sixx and the boys and Metal Hammer's Golden Gods awards. With hindsight, I made a wrong call. Opening with 'Dr Feelgood', the Crüe burst onto the stage with some amazing pyrotechnics. Then Vince Neil announced that there was good news and bad; the "good" being that the band were in the house, the "bad" being that Tommy Lee wouldn't play the rest of the show due to an injury to his shoulder. Evanescence's Will Hunt took over the drum stool. And don't get me wrong, he did a quality job during a slickly delivered greatest hits show. What really annoyed me was Lee's flippancy. There was no sign of an apology to those who'd paid £40 for a ticket. "We're partying, so it's all good," he informed us smugly. As a consequence of Tommy's stepping down the show was always likely be cut short, but when the band left the stage after a mere 80-odd minutes, without an encore, and reportedly to attend either the Hammer Awards or their own after-show bash, few inside the Apollo could quite believe what was happening. Even after the house lights went up, most of the audience refused to depart the auditorium until roadies began dismantling the gear. What a bloody swizz!!
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Monday 11th June
Just got back from spending Sunday at the Download Festival. What a great day out! Some excellent bands, pleasant company, fine weather and a shedload of quality boozing opportunities. As my friend Harj and I bowled up to the hotel we bumped into Metal Hammer's features editor Alex Milas who, noticing our sober state, proceeded to give us a bottle of Jack Daniel's. All we had as a mixer was some diet cream soda... but, hey, game on!
With a little reviewing to do, most of my day was spent at the Dimebag Darrell stage. As we arrived, DevilDriver were about to begin. The tent was extremely full for the LA-based band, formed by ex-Coal Chamber frontman Dez Fafara, who seems to have morphed from day-glo nu-metal pussy to full-on baby-eating death-head. Their set ended in crazy scenes when Fafara incited one of the biggest circle pits I've ever witnessed. The crowd thinned out considerably for UK stoners Orange Goblin, who ran through some enjoyable songs from the surprisingly decent current CD 'Healing Through Fire', but couldn't prevent a noticable dip in atmosphere. Nevertheless, frontman Ben Ward won kudos for his sturdy insistence on referring to Castle Donington instead of the poncier name of Download. As a band that featured on the main stage in 1996, Paradise Lost deserved far better than their lowly billing. Plugging the group's best album in many a long year, 'In Requiem', the Yorkshiremen took a while to get into their stride but finished on a high with 'The Last Time', 'One Second' and 'Say Just Words'. Even after 27 years, living grindcore legends Napalm Death are "still making more noise than anyone else", according to growler Barney Greenway. I've seen this band countless times before, but the searing riff to 'Suffer The Children' never fails to move me. Greenway isn't the gainliest of movers onstage, but it was wonderful to see Napalm receiving such a positive reaction.
Dream Theater pushed headliners Iron Maiden every last centimeter of the way, running through a dazzling 55-minute performance that included a pair of songs from the joyous new album, 'Systematic Chaos'. They also played 'Constant Motion' and 'The Dark Eternal Night' - the two that I'd have picked. (Rest of the six-song set contained 'As I Am', 'Panic Attack', 'Endless Sacrifice' and 'Pull Me Under'). The response was so incredible that it set me thinking. Might it be feasible for Dream Theater to headline Download one day? And you know what, funnier things have happened.
After a frantic dash to the main stage, Maiden wound things up with a rousing set that mixed material from 'A Matter Of Life And Death' (including 'Different World', 'Brighter Than A Thousand Suns' and 'The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg') with tunes sourced from 'The Number Of The Beast', a disc that's now 25 years old, and beyond. Bruce Dickinson was in confrontational mood, introducing 'These Colours Don't Run' by taunting the Osbourne camp thusly: "As I mentioned in a field in California, [life] is a box of eggs, mate. And you've had your six. If anyone sees some cocksucking Sharon wanker with an egg, punch them in the fucking teeth". Towards the show's climax, Dickinson revealed that the band will return next summer with some pyramids, at which point they will be "singing about albatrosses, fishes and mariners"; an obvious reference to the 'Powerslave' album. Then it was time to sink a few bevvies at Maiden's after-show backstage party. I got stuck into some rather delicious pear cider... still paying the price for it as I type.
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Friday 8th June
REO Speedwagon last night returned to London for the first time since a May 1985 show that had seen John Entwistle and Alvin Lee joining them onstage, and the mighty FM fulfilling opening duties. My, how time flies. I'm guessing that the Hammersmith Apollo was a third full (or two-thirds under-populated if you're a 'glass half empty' kinda person). With tickets costing a hefty £35, and complaints of a short set-list due to Kevin Cronin suffering from a throat virus, the Apollo was entirely the wrong choice of venue. But the group played and sang their little hearts out during a strong, 100-minute show. The disappointing turnout didn't affect 'em too badly, and they promised to be back again next year. I laughed aloud when Cronin encouraged those "upstairs in the balcony", where there were just about enough people for a game of Monopoly, to join a bout of crowd participation - typical of the man's bravado. Kevin's voice was indeed a bit wobbly at times, notably during 'Can't Fight This Feeling', though the he redeemed himself with its marvellously AOR-tastic intro of "The women of London have treated us so well over the years, we thought it was all we could do to play a song for the lovely ladies. Please welcome Mr Neal Doughty on the grand piano...". Here's the set-list: 'Don't Let Him Go', 'Music Man', 'Take It On The Run', 'Keep Pushin'', 'I Needed To Fall', 'That Ain't Love', 'Tough Guys', 'Dangerous Combination', 'Can't Fight This Feeling', 'Smilin' In The End', 'Find Your Own Way Home', 'Time For Me To Fly', 'Back On The Road Again', 'Keep On Loving You', 'Roll With The Changes', 'Ridin' The Storm Out', '157 Riverside Avenue' and an unexpected second encore of 'Gloria'.
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Thursday 7th June
My doubts about 'Fast' Eddie Clarke and Toby Jepson being compatible in Fastway were wrong. The group's new line-up debuted last night at the Islington Academy, warming up for a string of summer Festival appearances. With an interview arranged, I went along early. Used to know Fast Eddie quite well during Fastway's latter days, and aside from a few more greying hairs he hasn't altered much. He glared ominously at Steve Strange, threatening to impale the percussionist upon his guitar, when Strange dared to answer his mobile phone during the soundcheck. "Fucking drummers. I've suddenly remembered why I stopped doing this," the ex-Motörhead man fumed, half-jokingly. So you can imagine the thunderous look that descended upon Clarke's face when the engineer asked him to - ulp!! - turn down his amplifier, so that the other members of the band could be heard. Mr Strange is also a bit of a character; we laughed about how he ended up in jail the last time he went drinking with myself and Malcolm Dome back in the '90s.
And the quietly-spoken former Mama's Boys bassist John McManus was enjoying playing hard rock again after his spell with the now defunct band Celtus. But getting back to Fast Eddie. Beneath all the bravado he's a bit of a pussycat, and by 'eck does he give good interview. The account of how he ended up in rehab, finally giving up the booze for good, is graphic and extremely compelling. Here's the set they played: 'Misunderstood', 'All Fired Up', 'Steal The Show', 'Another day', 'Heft', 'Telephone', 'Say What You Will', 'Feel Me, Touch Me', 'Non Stop Love' and 'Easy Livin''.
I do actually have one moan about Mr Jepson. Because Fast Eddie and I were nattering during the Estonia-England game, I texted everybody I knew who was attending the show, begging them not to tell me the score. Lo and behold, Toby demanded from the stage, "Clap your hands. Cheer up, England won the football". Grrrrrr. Anyway, as soon as the last chords of 'Easy Livin'' rang out, I dashed across the road to Sainsbury's and bought a bottle of anything cheap and nasty looking, before zipping home for Match Of The Day.
The 3-0 victory was welcome, save for the fact that it secured McClaren's job for a few more months.
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Wednesday 6th June
Today should be exciting. I'm off to the Islington Academy to watch the new Fastway line-up, featuring Toby Jepson, ex-Mama's Boys bassist John McManus and my old pal Steve Strange - no, not THAT Steve Strange! It's the group's first show in 17 years. Unfortunately the gig clashes with England's Euro qualifier against Estonia, but Mrs L is under strict instructions to record it on the Sky+. I'll just have to sit up and watch it when I get home.
A quick word of praise for Turbonegro's wonderful new album, 'Retox'. These punk-metal-glam-garage rock nutcases from Norway are fast becoming favourites at Ling Towers. Dave Grohl, Queens Of The Stone Age and Metallica all worship the edgy, nihilistic and sometimes risqué humour that's deeply ingrained into 'Hell Toupé', 'Everybody Loves A Chubby Dude' and 'Stroke The Shaft' (steady on, missus!), but the best song on 'Retox' is saved till last. 'What Is Rock?' is a half-sung, half-spoken monologue delivered over a pumping, strident riff. Subject matter-wise, it's a question I've often asked myself. "Rock is the possibility of choking on your own vomit in the back of a rapist's van", is among the many definitions that the song provides. Well, that's one I'd never considered! "No," Hank Von Helvete then tells us, "I'm not talking about Canadian producer Bob Rock, you fool". Great stuff...
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Tuesday 5th June
They say that bad news comes in threes, but the same is equally true of good fortune. I've succeeded in getting my grubby mitts on a pair of tickets for Iron Maiden's Clive Burr benefit gig at Brixton (yes, I'm paying like everyone else for this one). Have also received confirmation of my passes for this weekend's Download Festival. And the postie just delivered a set of the new Genesis SACD re-issues; expanded editions of 'A Trick Of The Tail', 'Wind And Wuthering', '...And Then There Were Three', 'Duke' and 'Abacab', complete with mouth-watering bonus DVD discs. The first-named trio are big favourites of mine, so I'm looking forward to spending a little time re-exploring them.
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Monday 4th June
I hardly knew what to expect of last night's gig. I'm a huge Mr Big fan, but that band's erstwhile guitarist Paul Gilbert hadn't ventured to the UK before in a solo career that began in 1996. Debuting at the Mean Fiddler on a Sunday night... hmmm... would the place be deserted? Thankfully not. Gilbert's latest album, 'Get Out Of My Yard', is an all-instrumental disc, but has been well received. "You're right," he laughed when I pointed the fact out to him recently. "Ever since I stopped singing my career his picked up. Why didn't I realise that sooner?" Paul's promise of an equal split of vocal and instrumental material had at first seemed off the mark. Four numbers of what he likes to call "crazy athletic guitar rock" sped by, every last hammer-on roared onwards by a gladiatorially-enthused Fiddler crowd. The variety of tones and feels on display were little short of astounding. But 'Space Ship One' was the signal for the band (including Paul's wife Emi on keyboards - fortunately no Linda McCartney figure) to spread their wings and temporarily abandon widdledom. 'Interaction', 'Not Afraid Of The Police' and the magnificently dumb 'I Like Rock' are ridiculously hummable and hook-laden, while Racer X's 'Scarified' and 'Technical Difficulties' kept the widdle-heads throwing air guitar shapes. Neither Gilbert nor his bassist Mike Szuter are singers of Eric Martin's world class distinction, which made a rendition of Mr Big's 'Nothing But Love' sound very slightly makeshift, but I loved their attempts at recreating 'Green Tinted Sixties Mind' and the full-on aural stampede of 'Addicted To That Rush'. Above all, this show was Fun with a capital 'f'.
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Sunday 3rd June
I'm ashamed to admit that my last encounter with Juicy Lucy ended up in getting so horrendously caned that I couldn't remember a thing about the show (in fairness, it was following a dramatic Palace home victory). Well, last night I caught the band, best known for their cover of Bo Diddley's 'Who Do You Love?' and a spell with Whitesnake guitarist Micky Moody, at the Gun Tavern, a friendly little boozer in Croydon's town centre. Although their sole original member is vocalist/guitarist Ray Owen, there are no complaints regarding the latest line-up, especially impressive lead guitarist Mr Fish (named, presumably, for an ability to drink like one). The crowd might've been modestly sized but the band gave two full hours, punctuating a string of vintage material as 'Mississippi Woman', 'Pretty Woman', 'Never Had A Girl Like You' and of course 'Who Do You Love?' with selections from their splendid new disc 'Do That And You'll Lose It' ('Making A Name', 'God Only Knows', 'Species', 'Silver Bird' and the charmingly quirky boogie of 'Madeline & Suzy'). I'd go and see them again anytime. Was taken aback to find an old friend from my Quo-following days grooving away at the bar. Dean Dukelow... if you're reading this then drop me an email and let's set up that bevvy, you tragic Arsenal-supporting gayboy.
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Saturday 2nd June
Steve and Debbie O'Connell, some of Mrs L and I's oldest friends, dropped by for a curry and a hundred beers last night as we tuned into England's snooze-inducing friendly against Brazil. The company was good, and David Beckham's performance gave hope for Wednesday's crucial Euro-qualifier with Estonia, but with Brazil equalising with almost the last kick, the game fizzled out at 1-1. Talking of footie, it seems that Teddy Sheringham - a womanising, gambling-addicted, disruptive coffin-dodger who somehow managed to score eleven times in 51 appearances for England - is heading to the Palace next season. Sheringham's 19-year-old lad Charlie already plays for the club, so this development is hardly astounding. However, I'm appalled by the prospect of paying for this top drawer asshole (former clubs include Scumwall, ManUre and Wet Sham), now 41, to donn the fabled red and blue stripes and see out his career. It's a backwards step. Wasn't Peter Taylor's forte supposed to be working with young players?!
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Friday 1st June
This is the funniest. Always reckoned The Police were fuggin' awful. Now even the band's drummer, Stewart Copeland, admits the fact. Posting at his website, Copeland has laid into an "unbelievably lame" gig in Vancouver - the second stop on a reunion trek. "The big pompous opening to the show is a damp squib", he observes, dismissing lead singer Sting as "a petulant pansy". "And so it goes, for song after song, with tunes such as 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' and 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' reduced to ruin", writes Copeland. What amazing honesty. But if this horrendously overrated trio played in my back garden I'd close the windows and curtains; maybe even consider investing in triple glazing.