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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Tuesday 30th June
“Aaaah… oh, it’s you from Classic thingy, isn’t it?” Yes, it’s me. From Classic thingy. And I’ve been trying to get through to Francis Rossi for a scheduled interview. “Sorry, I was skinning up,” he casually informs me, by way of excuse. “Should I be saying that?!” It’s always a pleasure to chew the cud with Quo’s gloriously indiscreet guitarist. Even before I switch on the tape recorder for the real purpose of my call, the quotes flow freely. We make small-talk about the band’s appearance at Glastonbury, how odd it was to see him minus his famous ponytail (“I haven’t had short hair since I was 16, I feel so good without it”) and, best of all, Rossi recounts the tale of smoking a joint during the encore break of a gig at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, and the affect it had upon him. Brilliant stuff.
It’s been a really good day. The weather is boiling hot, and I also got to talk to the legendary John Mayall for the first time. In addition, there was a chin-wag with Joey Tempest about Europe’s new album, ‘Last Look back At Eden’, the title cut of which sees the Swedes attempting to write their own keyboard-enhanced version of ‘Kashmir’. Which is no coincidence, as on the band’s new five-song EP, they’ve also covered Zeppelin’s ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’.
P.S. Well done to Andy Murray, whose gruelling yet dramatic five-set triumph over Stanislas Wawrinka keeps alive the dream of a Brit winning Wimbledon.
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Sunday 28th June
Earlier this evening I tuned into BBC4 for Status Quo’s televised performance at the Glastonbury Festival – Christ, doesn’t it say something about the renaissance of ‘real’ rock music when a band like Quo finds a home at such a nauseating bastion of über-trendiness? With finger poised on the channel change button (just in case they played the execrable ‘Burning Bridges’), I boogied around the living room, my two young sons ferrying cold drinks from the kitchen. What a great way to wind up the weekend.
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Saturday 27th June
It’s not often I agree with anything Gene $immons has to say, but the Kiss bassist’s reflections upon Michael Jackson’s passing indicate that he **is** capable of engaging brain before opening that famous mouth of his. While so many others have been carried way with eulogies based purely upon Jackson’s undoubted abilities as both an entertainer and a singer – let’s face it, doesn’t everyone own a copy of ‘Thriller’?; I know I do – the elephant in the room is being studiously ignored. In a newly issued statement, $immons references both “the children who spent nights with Michael in his bed” and the alleged payments of $20 million that are said to have ensured their silence, daring to proclaim: “I recognize and respect [Jackson’s] talent, and I hope he finds peace, but the rest is very tainted.” Speaking as a fellow parent, I can offer but one word of response: Hallelujah.
P.S. I’ve **finally** found the time to update the Playlist and YouTube sections.
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Friday 26th June
Even as someone that found the supergroup’s self-titled debut album tepid, I was blown away by last night’s gig from Chickenfoot. Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith almost literally blew the roof off the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Although originally billed as an acoustic performance from singer Neville Mac Donald and guitarist Myke Gray, the entire five-man Skin line-up turned up for an excellent unplugged support spot. The gig had long since sold out, of course. In reality, Chickenfoot could have filled the Shepherd’s Bush Empire two or three times over, but the quality of Skin’s six-song set (‘Colourblind’, ‘Take Me Down To The River’, ‘House Of Love’, ‘Tripping’, ‘Look But Don’t Touch’ and ‘Tower Of Strength’) elicited a strong reaction from a group of fans that had probably never seen them before – always a good sign.
Sure it contains some great material like ‘Sexy Little Thing’ and ‘Learning To Fall’ but my main grumble regarding Chickenfoot’s album is that it often sounds like a glorified jam session, which during the course of their performance Hagar revealed is exactly what they were. However, the band’s display at Shepherd’s Bush was utterly electrifying. It has been **way** too long since the Red Rocker last trod a British stage – as special guests to Bon Jovi at Wembley Stadium in mid-1995, to be precise – and as someone that experienced his own solo gigs during the 1980s, I freely admit that Sammy’s return to the UK was my main reason for attending last night’s show. It soon became obvious that Chickenfoot is a band, not some glorified solo project. Satriani’s playing was extraordinary, and hearing Michael Anthony’s thunderous bass-lines and backing vocals quickly reminded me what a key member of Van Halen he used to be. And Chad Smith? The man is an absolute lunatic; when he chucked his drums across the stage at the show’s end, almost decapitating Hagar in the process, it was a glorious rock ‘n’ roll moment.
The 105-minute set consisted of all but one of the record’s dozen tracks (the omission being ‘My Kinda Girl’), plus an encore of the Montrose classic ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ and ‘Highway Star’ by Deep Purple, which saw Satriani tearing up the proverbial storm. Amusingly, Purple’s Ian Paice was sitting a few feet away and could be spotted capturing the reworking on his mobile phone. Before departing, Hagar promised that the band will be back before too long. If Chickenfoot are this ridiculously tight after just 12 shows, their future looks exceptionally bright.
P.S. Despite the inevitable hullaballoo over Michael Jackson’s demise, I’m more inclined to mourn the passing of former Charlie’s Angels pin-up Farrah Fawcett, an object of ardour from myself and many red-blooded males of my generation. Actually, it’s an odd coincidence that Jackson would expire on the same day as Farrah as she used to fool around with Majors and Jacko is known for… ah, forget it…

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Thursday 25th June
Those that frequent this page on a regular basis will be aware of my affection for UFO. The band’s latest British tour last night came to an end and, naturally, I was among a packed Shepherd’s Bush Empire crowd. In fact, I’d arrived well in advance of the show, with three clear goals. The first was to conduct a quick interview with guitarist Vinnie Moore (a box that was very quickly ticked – what a pleasant man!). The second was to investigate support act Raven Vandelle, a four-piece from the Midlands whose six-song EP shows much promise… notably its superb opening song, ‘Pray’. I enjoyed them sufficiently to want to see them again next month when they open for the Electric Boys at the Underworld. And my third objective? To sink a shitload of alcohol – c’mon, this is UFO ferchrissakes!!
Phil Mogg’s stage garb of a kilt was dubious, and in spite of the singer’s pre-tour prediction, the set-list did **not** include any ‘Tonka’ Chapman-era material. However, the headliners nevertheless turned in a superb display. Mogg was four sheets to the wind, but turned in some entertaining quips, telling ridiculous tales of a public convenience that used to be on the corner of Shepherd’s Bush Green and launching into a mini-rant at Americans (“You yanks come over ’ere, taking our women with your chocolates and stockings”). It was great that the band delved back to the ‘Obsession’ album for two classic tracks; ‘Ain’t No Baby’ and ‘Cherry’. Inspired by a rivalry with their Chrysalis Records label-mates The Babys, I bet John Waite’s ears were burning during the former scathing diatribe (sample lyric: “Romancin’ with the company as they pour in the pounds/If the next thing is you and then who are the clowns?”) while it was odd to hear the latter’s distinctive bass intro played by someone other than Pete Way, for whom sometime Ted Nugent/Dokken man Barry Sparks did a sterling job deputising (get well, soon Pete – how unnerving to see a UFO four-stringer in a vertical position throughout the entire show). Here’s the set-list: ‘Saving Me’, ‘When Daylight Goes To Town’, ‘Mother Mary’, ‘I’m A Loser’, ‘This kids’, ‘Cherry’, ‘Helldriver’, ‘Baby Blue’, ‘Ain’t No Baby’, ‘Only You Can Rock Me’, ‘Love To Love’, ‘Lights Out’, ‘Too Hot To Handle’ and ‘Rock Bottom’, with encores of ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Shoot Shoot’.
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Wednesday 24th June
Blimey, maybe I should start some sort of rock ‘n’ roll library? Today’s postbag haul included a signed, numbered copy of The Man Who Sang Blockbuster, a biography of Brian Connolly, by Brian Manly (published by www.somehitwonders.co.uk). As legendary frontman of The Sweet, Connolly was a boyhood hero, so I can’t wait to wade into that one. And for some background music, how about ‘The Candlelight Years’, a three-CD retrospective of Opeth’s first three albums, plus the double-CD, original soundtrack of Iron Maiden’s movie, Flight 666? The DVD version’s also here, too. Great stuff.
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Tuesday 23rd June
I’ve finally completed the revised edition of Richard Cole’s tell-all Led Zeppelin tome, Stairway To Heaven – Uncensored. It’s a good read, with plenty of juicy gossip from the band’s former tour manager. I particularly enjoyed the story of John Bonham getting paralytic on a long-haul flight, pissing himself and then swapping seats with his assistant, Mick Hinton. It also ends on a touching note, with Cole dining alongside Robert Plant and Cole’s daughter Claire. When Plant receives an affirmative response to his question of, “Is Richard a good daddy to you?”, Percy informs the young girl: “[Richard] was my dad for many years, too.” Aaaah, sweet.
And just as I finish that book, another drops into my lap. My Classic Rock and Metal Hammer colleague Joel McIver has kindly sent a copy of To Live Is To Die, his critically praised biography of the late, great Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. Having picked up Lemmy’s autobiography, White Line Fever, and a book on Ian Dury, Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll, during the past few days I’m hardly short on reading material for the next few months.
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Sunday 21st June
Under normal circumstances I’d have been at tonight’s London gig from Sacred Reich. But not at the Scala, by far my least favourite venue in England’s capital city. And certainly not on Father’s Day. So I’m taking it (fairly) easy instead; a relaxing lunch with the rest of the Ling Clan punctuating a full day’s work at the PC.
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Friday 19th June
Last night I went to the Islington Academy – what a great three-band bill! Fronted by the irrepressible Harv Harbinson, Irish hard rockers Stormzone opened the show, previewing material from a forthcoming album called ‘The Death Dealer’. They impressed me greatly. Likewise special guests, the reunited Airrace. Though forced to perform minus Jason Bonham, who had prior commitments, Simon Dawson from The Outfield proved a more than competent deputy. Following my earlier trip to see the band in Colchester (see diary, May 30), it was refreshing to hear them playing through a decent PA, though their 35 minutes seemed to pass by in the blink of an eyelid.
Headliners Tesla were, quite simply, out of this world. Some might find Jeff Keith’s stage manner a little kooky (hi Ross!), but he has a spine-tingling, raspy voice and is among the best frontmen around. The Sacramento band can also consider themselves unbelievably fortunate to have found a talent as immense as guitarist Dave Rude on their own doorstep just when they needed him. Four tunes pulled from the new album ‘Forever More’ gelled neatly with the band’s vintage material, and over the course of almost two hours, Tesla proceeded to give a masterclass in the seemingly lost art of moulding radio-hooks to red-hot riffs, though they sounded equally irresistible whilst playing lighter, more seductive fare such as ‘Signs’, ‘What You Give’ and ‘Song And Emotion’ – the latter dedicated to their late touring partner, Def Leppard’s Steve Clark. To be honest, I could have listened to them all fuggin’ night. Here’s the set-list: ‘Forever More’, ‘Live Before I Die’ ‘Modern Day Cowboy’, ‘Breakin’ Free’, ‘Hang Tough’, ‘Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)’, ‘Mama’s Fool’, ‘So What!’, ‘Getting’ Better’, ‘What A Shame’, ‘Song And Emotion’, ‘Love Song’, ‘Signs’, ‘What You Give’, ‘Into The Now’, ‘Cumin’ Atcha Live’ and an encore of ‘Rock Me To The Top’.
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Wednesday 17th June
After a long day of being shackled to the computer, I met Derek Oliver and John Dryland at Oxford Circus for pint or two of cider before Steel Panther’s gig at the 229 Club. Derek was actually going to see Heaven’s Basement in Camden but wanted to borrow an album sleeve. I took grateful receipt of the two latest Rock Candy releases; Raging Slab’s self-titled album from 1989 and the first album from Circus Of Power, originally issued a year earlier. ‘Raging Slab’ is a long-time fave of mine, playing it again now, it’s easy to see why they were dubbed “Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Metallica” back in the day.
Having heard so many great reports of their displays at Download and enjoyed the band’s ‘Feel The Steel’ debut, I was dying to experience Steel Panther live. Though they perhaps over-egged the pudding in terms of stage banter – with bassist Lexxi Foxxx (often seen admiring himself in a hand mirror) the main butt of the jokes from vocalist Michael Starr and guitarist Satchel – there were some great one-line quips. Foxxx even played a showcase of his own; a ‘hair solo’, during which Starr and Satchel stood either side of him a blew his locks into the air while the bassist thundered out the closing, elongated chords to ‘Turn Out The Lights’. For ‘Party All Day’ they were joined onstage by Justin Hawkins, one of the album’s many special guests (others include Scott Ian, Corey Taylor from Slipknot and Nelson’s Matthew Nelson), before everybody played The Darkness’ ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. With encores consisting of Mötley Crüe’s ‘Kickstart My Heart’ and ‘Panama’ by Van Halen, no-one was left doubting their musicianly credentials, which I guess is more than can be said for Spinal Tap and Bad News, no matter how amusing those so-called ‘bands’ might have been on screen. The only real annoyance was the omission of ‘Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’, an ode to cunnilingus on the road. Here’s the set-list in full: ‘Eyes Of A Panther’, ‘Asian Hooker’, ‘The Shocker’, ‘Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)’, ‘Party All Day’, ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’, ‘Community Property’, ‘Turn Out The Lights’, Stripper Girl’, ‘Girl From Oklahoma’ and ‘Death To All But Metal’, with those aforementioned encores of ‘Kickstart My Heart’ and ‘Panama’.
In a clever twist, the Panther held an after-show party at the St Moritz Club, a former lair of the spandex/hairspray metal scene of the ’80s – also a place in which I spent a considerable amount of time and money in my youth. Not having been to the Moritz in many a long year, it felt extremely surreal to be there again.
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Tuesday 16th June
Upon returning home from Download I had just about enough time to put down my bag, change my T-shirt, wince at my reflection in the mirror – Christ, I caught the sun yesterday whilst stood in front of the main stage – and head off to the IndigO2 for Metal Hammer’s awards ceremony, the Golden Gods. Truthfully, I was so self-conscious of my red face that I almost considered not going after all. I’m so glad that I decided to bite the bullet. Though I got to see Saxon’s set from the rear of the stage, for most of the night I was stationed in a tent around the back, shoving my tape recorder under the noses of the winners of each category, and as many backstage revellers as possible. That meant grabbing quotes from Bruce Dickinson and Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden, who left with trophies for Best UK Band and Golden Gods, plus Machine Head’s Robb Flynn, Biff Byford of Saxon, Scott Ian from Anthrax, Cronos of Venom, DragonForce’s Herman Li and Sam Totman, Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth, Anvil’s Lips, Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch, former Emperor man Ihsahn, Nergal from Behemoth, the infamous Satchel from Steel Panther and Live Nation’s near-legendary Andy Copping (who assured me that the ‘classic rock’ day at Download was so successful, it would be continuing for the foreseeable future) among many, many others. The nicest shock of the night was getting to meet Steve Vai – what a sweetheart! With the copy expected first thing this morning there was no after-show party for your truly, just a trudge though the park with a kebab and a much-needed early(-ish) night – the first in about a week.
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Monday 15th June
I’m back from the Download Festival with a bad case of sunburn. Apart from my usual grumble – there were way too many bands, often with overlapping schedules – I ended up having a fabulous time following a disappointing Friday night. Here’s a very quick run-down:

• Voivod – Stuck away on a distant stage and performing before a couple of hundred people with shamefully bad sound that didn’t become anywhere near acceptable till the last number, a cover of the Floyd’s ‘Astronomy Domine’, this was hardly a dream start for Download 2009. Worse still, some idiots were throwing bottles at the legendary French-Canadian band. Why don’t the numbskulls just fuck off and watch Limp Bizkit instead??!!

• Opeth – Missed a big chunk of their set due to being unable to locate the Second Stage. Believe me, nothing is worse than trying to find where one of your favourite groups are playing while Korn trot out their overrated nonsense. But what I **did** catch was incredible.

• New Device – The recent signings to Classic Rock’s Power Age label were on the fourth stage, where they attracted 100-odd fans, while Mötley Crüe went through the motions – and I mean that literally – on the second stage. As good as New Device were, playing to a tiny gaggle of existing followers, I could see little point in the band being on the bill… save for getting their name onto the T-shirt in 8-point type. I dunno… is that unnecessarily harsh?

• Mötley – As implied above: Hopeless and half-hearted. And that verdict comes from someone that wore a T-shirt bought at their first Donington appearance, in 1984. However, the band **were** the subject of the best bit of gossip I heard all weekend. Not only do the Crüe travel in separate limos, it seems they must arrive at their destinations in a pre-arranged sequence. A source tells me that, during their recent visit to London, whilst making a journey that was a mere two streets away, Tommy Lee’s car had the audacity to pull up first and was sent around the block until Nikki Sixx arrived. You couldn’t make it up.

• Onto Saturday, and Down. With Phil Anselmo looking and sounding right back at the top of his game, the New Orleans sludge masters delivered a storming set that concluded all too soon with the first album’s ‘Bury Me In Smoke’.

• DragonForce – Fuelled on testosterone, Smirnoff and sword and sorcery imagery, these guys were an unstoppable freight train of musical dexterity, but on this occasion offered a well-measured display.

• Lawnmower Deth – Attracted a huge crowd in the Tuborg tent. Though the brilliantly-named guitarist Schizo Rotary Sprintmaster was missing from the reunion, ditties like ‘Did You Spill My Pint?’ and ‘Watch Out Grandma Here Comes A Lawnmower’ went down a treat.

• Thunder – Played a surprise special guest spot in the Tuborg tent as a prelude to their imminent farewell tour. The reaction before, during and at the close of their performance was truly something to behold, and I admit to wiping away a tear when Danny Bowes informed the crowd: “This is the last time we’ll play this festival”.

• Anvil – With Phil Anselmo losing his mind in a flurry of headbanging side-stage, amid joining Lips in barking out the choruses to ‘Winged Assassins’, ‘Forged In Fire’ and ‘Metal On Metal’, the Canadian band celebrated its return to Castle Donington after an absence of … ulp… 27 years. I, for one, loved every minute of their display – except perhaps Robb Reiner’s drum solo.

• The temperature levels soared on Sunday, with Stone Gods kicking off the main stage at the unearthly hour of 11am. Aside from the fact that they previewed a brand new song called ‘Going Under’, I loved the way that Richie Edwards pointedly refused to refer to the event as “Download”, favouring “Castle Donington” or “Monsters Of Rock” every time – class.

• Tesla – Allocated only half an hour??!! But, Jesus… how entertaining where the Sacramento hard-rockers? The answer is, of course, ‘incredibly so’.

• I’m sure that Skin surprised a lot of people with a set that included some of the best tunes played all weekend (notably ‘Money’, ‘House Of Love’, ‘Look But Don’t Touch’ and ‘House Of Love’). Oh, and thanks to Myke Gray for wearing the Classic Rock T-shirt I blagged him… it looked great on the video screens.

• Black Stone Cherry – Sensational set from a young band that looked perfectly at home in such elevated environs. Basking in the sizzling early afternoon heat, their mixture of Southern rock, detuned guitars and melodic song structures was just about perfect.

Journey. Ah, Journey. I’ll just let the set-list do the talking: ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’, ‘Stone In Love’, ‘Ask The Lonely’, ‘Change For The Better’, ‘Wheel In The Sky’, ‘Faithfully’, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and ‘Anyway You Want It’. Nurse… the (sun)-screens.

Dream Theater – Wisely played a set tailored towards the event’s newcomers – ‘Pull Me Under’, ‘Constant Motion’, ‘A Rite Of Passage’, ‘Hollow Years’, ‘Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper’. It was absolutely superb.

ZZ Top – Included all the hits (including the ‘Eliminator’ trio of ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’, ‘Sharp Dressed man’ and ‘’Legs’… back-to-back) and were very good indeed, if a bit static. It was a bit like listening to their recent live album… only in the flesh, and from a few hundred feet away.

• Whitesnake – Oh dear. Simply dreadful. Come in, Mr Coverdale… your time is up.

• Def Leppard – Couldn’t take in all of their set as I sought shade from the unforgiving heat levels, but Monsewer Elliott and company seemed to **murder** the Snakes. There are rumours that the group’s Download set is to be released as a DVD… I hope so.
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Friday 12th June
I’d made plans to attend last night’s Anvil/Lauren Harris gig at the Underworld. Given that I saw the headliners there opening for a Pantera tribute band not too long ago – before the hullabaloo created before their excellent film, obviously – it would’ve been interesting to juxtapose the two appearances. Sadly, pressure of work and preparation for my trip to the Download Festival forced me to stay home. Oh well, at least I’ll get to see Lips and company over the weekend. No updates for the next few days, then…
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Thursday 11th June
England 6 Andorra 0 – that has a nice ring to it. Seven wins in as many qualification games – that’s better still. World Cup 2010, the Three Lions are coming…
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Wednesday 10th June
I’m zonked – absolutely no idea how I got so much done during the past 24 hours. In the morning I headed across London to the offices of Roadrunner Records, bizarrely bumping into Pete Jupp of FM outside Ealing Broadway tube station, before being granted a first listening of an album for which I’ve been engaged to write a new biography (sorry, can’t spill the beans at this stage). Was happy to take a finished copy of the triple-disc special edition of Dream Theater’s ‘Black Clouds & Silver Linings’ album with me. Stopping off at a charity shop, I picked up a mint solo LP from UK’s Eddie Jobson for the princely sum of £1… bargain!
Next stop: EMI Records. At short notice, my friend Hugh Gilmour wanted to borrow a sleeve. I was happy to drop it into him, especially as I left laden down with CDs; Whitesnake, Saxon, the second wave of MSG re-issues (with my sleeve notes). Afterwards I fulfilled a promise to Myke Gray by dropping by the band’s hotel to be interviewed for a documentary on the reunion of 1990s rockers Skin. Before taking in the band’s first show in 11 years, which took place late that night at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, I dropped into the Crobar for a quick chinwag with two fellow CPFC-supporting, music-mad pals, Mark Kentfield and Andy Nathan. None of us could really fathom why the Eagles had taken Clowntown Pathetic’s misfit Darren Ambrose on a free transfer, except that it might cause some additional schism. Which is always good.
At the risk of inciting hails of derision – I fail to see why they attract so many internet haters – I loved seeing Skin onstage again. Neville MacDonald is a lead singer of international quality, while the group’s self-titled debut from 1994 is a gem of the melodic hard rock genre. Though they were always excellent onstage, my interest waned slightly with ‘Lucky’ in 1996, dipping a whole lot more by the time of the following year’s ‘Experience Electric’. So from a personal perspective, it was the second half of a 90-minute set, which revisited the cream of their early repertoire, that **really** moved me… let’s say from ‘Which Are The Tears’ onwards – and excepting that putrid cover of ‘Unbelievable’ by EMF. At one point, Rod Smallwood, Skin’s former manager, walked past, nudged me in the ribs and declared: “What a BLOOOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDY great band – if only they’d have been around five years earlier [i.e. before the grunge explosion]…” Maiden’s Nicko McBrain was in the crowd, too. Roll on Skin’s spot at this weekend’s Download Festival. Meanwhile, here’s what they played at the 100 Club: ‘The Only One’, ‘Experience Electric’, ‘Blow My Mind’, ‘No Way Out’, ‘Make It Happen’, ‘Soul’, ‘Which Are The Tears’, ‘Money’, ‘How Lucky You Are’, ‘House Of Love’, ‘Take Me Down To The River’, ‘Look But Don’t Touch’, ‘Tower Of Strength’ and encores of ‘Colourblind’, ‘Unbelievable’ and ‘Perfect Day’.
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Tuesday 9th June
There’s been some scepticism regarding the decision of vocalist Danny Vaughn and drummer Michael Clayton to bring in new musicians for a revised line-up of Tyketto. As someone that’s been known to support groups with a single original member (Uriah Heep, for instance), what perturbs me more is that that the US melodic rockers made such a big deal of retiring with all guns blazing at the Firefest in 2007, only to return to the same event 12 months later.
So what to make of a reformatted Tyketto with ex-Vaughn (the band) guitarist PJ Zitarosa and Ten’s Steve McKenna replacing Brooke St James and Jimi Kennedy, swelled to a five-piece by the addition of keysman Bobby Lynch? Well, although the soundman did his darnedest to ruin last night’s show at London’s Islington Academy, I came away full of optimism for the future, which includes the possible recording of a new studio album. Under pressure that would’ve caused most to turn tail and walk off, Vaughn somehow held the show together as the onstage monitors failed, then fed back then gave up again, while Lynch’s keys were omitted from the mix for the first few numbers. “I’m looking back at the soundboard and it’s being worked by Laurel and Hardy”, seethed Vaughan, his nice guy veneer coming dangerously close to cracking.
I was amazed to learn that, in all the years I’ve attended their shows, Tyketto had never played the ‘Strength In Numbers’ classic ‘Write Your Name In The Sky’ live in London before, and it worked brilliantly in a display crammed with melodic rock gems, plus two lesser-known cuts from the outtakes disc ‘The Last Sunset’ (namely ‘Big Wheelers’ and ‘Till The Summer Comes’). The more key-orientated arrangements of ‘Burning Down Inside’ and ‘Standing Alone’ were surprisingly good, and Vaughn was in terrific voice, justifying his spot in Classic Rock’s recent cover story The Greatest Singers In Rock. Here’s the set-list: ‘Rescue Me’, ‘Wings’, ‘Catch My Fall’, ‘Burning Down Inside’, ‘Big Wheels’, ‘Write Your Name In The Sky’, ‘Seasons’, ‘Till The Summer Comes’, ‘Standing Alone’, ‘Meet Me In The Night’, Guitar Solo, ‘Strength In Numbers’, ‘The Last Sunset’, ‘Nothing But Love’ and encores of ‘Lay Your Body Down’ and ‘Forever Young’.
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Monday 8th June
You can count me as a fan of Steel Panther, the spoof Sunset Strip hair-rockers whose debut album ‘Feel The Steel’ has been a turntable fixture at Ling Towers for the past few days. A chuckleworthy pastiche of those glorious days, the Panther – step forward Satchel, Michael Starr, Lexxi Foxxx (“the extra ‘x’ is for extra sex!”) and Stix Zadinia – were previously known in cover-band guide as, variously, Danger Kitty, Metal Shop and Metal Skool, but have assembled an album of original tunes that work on several different levels. Special praise is due the lyrics of songs like ‘Death To All But Metal’, ‘Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)’, which brought back many a memory of the St Moritz Club in Wardour Street, and the acoustic ballad Girl From Oklahoma’ (“I bet you never guessed when you came to the show/That you’d be getting on the bus with me and doing some blow/Your mama’s in the parking lot looking for you/he’s gonna find you when I’m done all covered with goo”). Can’t wait to see these guys live…
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Sunday 7th June
With England’s World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan being shown on Setanta, a sports channel to which I do not subscribe, I decided against venturing out to watch the game in a pub, catching a gig over a few drinks instead and saving the highlights for later. Save for being stung £19.50 for a single bottle of white wine at the Queen Elizabeth Hall’s bar, the plan worked to perfection. Gryphon play an understated (and indeed underrated) strain of music that quaintly mixes traditional English folk with medieval, prog-lite and Renaissance touches. They hadn’t performed live in 32 years but the venue was full. Better still, the audience sat and absorbed the music – culled overwhelmingly from the band’s first two albums; 1973’s ‘Gryphon’ and the following year’s ‘Midnight Mushrumps’ – with disbelieving, captivated reverence. Despite knowing him in a previous guise of an advertisement manager of Kerrang!, I had never seen the band’s drummer/sometime vocalist Dave Oberlé onstage before… not unreasonably, he looked to be having a ball.
Mrs L snorted upstairs with contempt as I arrived home in a state of alcohol-induced disarray, leaving me to watch the England game alone. Though the team played scrappily at first and would even have gone behind but for a goal for the home nation being disallowed, the eventual score-line of 4-0 seemed pretty fair.
P.S. Just home from a record fair in Orpington. Perhaps the best of my bargains is ‘Night Time Emotion’, a 1979 solo album from Noel McCalla, the current frontman of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, that was produced by Trevor Rabin of Yes fame. I first heard of McCalla via his spell with John Coghlan in the band Partners In Crime… he has an amazing voice.
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Saturday 6th June
Gloaters… fucking gloaters. I cannot stand ’em. Stuck at my desk in south London, yesterday’s hectic workload was distracted by texts and emails from alleged ‘friends’ and acquaintances enjoying the sunshine and music at the world’s greatest music festival, Sweden Rock. Exactly 12 months ago Clan Ling was among them… frankly, that seems impossible. Such a shame we could not have been there again this year. My withdrawal symptoms have just been exacerbated by a viewing of a press conference from Twisted Sister (minus bassist Mark ‘The Animal’ Mendoza, who was away watching ZZ Top) in which the band shamelessly and hilariously plugged the 25th anniversary re-issue of its ‘Stay Hungry’ album. All those enough to have been in Sweden this weekend can be considered bastards – complete bastards…
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Thursday 4th June
Poor old Gordon Brown. With knives being sharpened all around him, the UK’s Prime Minister has hit rock bottom. I hate to kick a fellow Heepster while he’s down – a former Uriah Heep associate called Bob Carruthers once told me that he lent a teenaged Brown a copy of the ‘Demons And Wizards’ album at Kirkcaldy High School back in 1971 – but even as a lifelong Labour voter, when it came to yesterday’s local and European elections, I could not find it in my heart to tick the appropriate (mick) box. What a sorry state of affairs.
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Wednesday 3rd June
Just spoke to Mark Tremonti who assured me that Alter Bridge will **definitely** be continuing upon conclusion of this summer’s Creed reunion tour (which, incidentally, has no European dates). In fact, an Alter Bridge concert DVD arrives on August 4, helping to keep the band’s name alive during the lay-off. As implied by the title of ‘Live In Amsterdam’, most of its footage is sourced from a gig in Holland. The stuff filmed in Brixton last November is being saved for a later release…
Paul Di’Anno has taken an incredible swipe at Steve Harris, likening the bassist to Adolf Hitler. “Iron Maiden is Steve Harris’ band, and all it is is money, money, money, money — nobody else counts, [it’s like ] fuckin’ Adolf Hitler,” claims former Maiden singer, adding: “You need to take drugs when you’re with Iron Maiden because they’re so fucking boring.” That’s rich from a man whose live set is exclusively culled from Maiden’s first two albums and a band named Killers…
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Tuesday 2nd June
Dilemmas, dilemmas, dilemmas. With the cancellation of John Waite’s London gig, I had planned to attend to attend last night's show at the Twist in Colchester – until experiencing the place last Friday. To be honest, I fully expected JW to walk in, eyeball the ‘facilities’ and pull the plug. For a no-show, 70 miles each way is a long way to travel. So instead I erred on the side of caution and weighed up the idea of the ChildLine Rocks show at the IndigO2 or Forbidden’s gig at the Underworld. It was a tough call, but with Hammer asking me to review the latter, which saw the San Franciscan band re-visiting their 1990 album ‘Twisted Into Form’, Camden seemed the wisest choice. But wouldn’t you just know it, Waite’s gig at The Twist **did** happen after all – a blinder of a performance, apparently… witnessed by a crowd of around 40 people. BUGGERATION!
Making up for an absence of 19 years in London – frontman Russ Anderson recalled with glee how, during an especially violent gig with Sacred Reich at the Marquee, “people were being carried out on stretchers… it was fucking awesome!” – Forbidden themselves put on a terrific display. Anderson has now become a **very large guy indeed**, and despite being cloaked in effects his voice seems to have lost some of its higher register, though its fearsome power remains. The band’s new additions, guitarist Steve Smyth (Nevermore/Testament) and drummer Mark Hernandez (Vio-Lence and Heathen among others), slotted in just fine, while original axeman Craig Locicero looked not a day older than last time. Having started super-late the show ran until almost 11.30pm because, according to Anderson, the band had been detained at border immigration. “We were arrested as only the English could – very politely,” he laughed at the memory. “They even offered us tea and biscuits, but there was no Jack Daniel’s.” So here’s the Forbidden set-list: ‘Parting Of The Ways (Intro)’, ‘Infinite’, ‘Out Of Body (Out Of Mind)’, ‘Step By Step’, ‘Twisted Into Form’, ‘RIP’, ‘Spiral Depression’, ‘Tossed Away’, ‘One Foot In Hell’, ‘March Into Fire’, ‘Forbidden Evil’, ‘Off The Edge’, ‘Follow Me’, ‘Through Eyes Of Glass’ and ‘Chalice Of Blood’.
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Monday 1st June
Just like the rest of the sold-out venue I enjoyed last night’s Lynyrd Skynyrd gig at Brixton Academy, though perhaps the band could have given us a little longer than 90 minutes of their time? I last saw Skynyrd at Wembley Arena six years ago on a night when they gave the asses of headliners Deep Purple a darned good Confederate kickin’. Back then the set was peppered by some enjoyable tunes from a then-current disc called ‘Vicious Cycle’. Amazingly, despite a Bob Marlette-produced successor called ‘God & Guns’ being set to drop in three months’ time, last night the band focussed instead on its glory years with a selection of songs from 1973-1977. Guitarist Gary Rossington is their last original man standing and frontman Johnny Van Zant (younger brother of the late, great Ronnie) projects a commanding, amiable presence, but for me the show’s shining star was guitarist ‘Rattlesnake’ Rickey Medlocke. Even at 59 years old, the snake-hipped erstwhile Blackfoot leader still throws all the best rock stars shapes and supplies 75% of the visual entertainment. There are rumours of some follow-up dates before the year is done, no doubt based upon ‘God & Guns’, but in the meantime here’s what the Brixton crowd got to hear: ‘Workin’ For MCA’, ‘I Ain’t The One’, ‘Saturday Night Special’, ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’, ‘What’s Your Name?’, ‘That Smell’, ‘Simple Man’, Medley: ‘Whiskey Rock-A-Roller’/‘Down South Jukin’’/‘The Needle And The Spoon’/‘Double Trouble’/‘Tuesday’s Gone’, ‘Gimme Three Steps’, ‘Call Me The Breeze’, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and the perennial ‘Free Bird’.