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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Wednesday 30th June
That lucky bastard Ross Halfin, back from a few European shows with the ‘Big Four Of Thrash’, has emailed saying that he thought of me during this trip. Not while the bands were playing, but “seeing the score of 4-1” in the England-Germany game. Thanks, Ross. What a nice man you are, re-opening the sores like that. Incredibly, there are reports that David Beckham – a man with no coaching badges and less brain cells than the average gerbil – could become the nation’s next footie manager. “We could do a lot worse,” believes one of the UK’s newspapers. Yeah, but only if the job goes to Mr Bean. Or A**n Mu***ry.
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Tuesday 29th June
We’re into another Classic Rock production deadline scenario, so I’m rather busy. On top of which, by the end of the week I must deliver some text for the official programme for the High Voltage festival, which draws nearer by the day. Last night Ian Hunter agreed to chat a little about his relationship with Joe Elliott and the set that both will play with the Down ‘N’ Outz at Victoria Park on July 25. It’s always good to talk to Ian, one of the great gentlemen of rock ‘n’ roll. Ask a question and he’ll give a considered, honest answer. For instance, I wondered how important Joe had been in preserving the legacy of Mott The Hoople during the pre-reunion years (all 35 of them!). “Throughout the 1980s and 90s, no one was the slightest bit interested in Mott The Hoople,” was Hunter’s response. “It was down to people like Joe Elliott and Mick Jones [of The Clash] and a couple of magazine writers to keep the flag flying.” See what I mean? No bullshit.
An email from Toby Jepson says he has left Gun in an “amicable” split. The band was having problems attracting the audiences its music deserved, so it’s not exactly a seismic shock. But it is a shame; I was very impressed by the group’s comeback mini-album, ‘Popkiller’.
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Monday 28th June
‘Quietly optimistic’, my arse. Once again England under-performed at the 2010 World Cup, crashing out of the competition with chilling inevitability to the dreaded, ice-cool Krauts. I’m amazed how meekly I accepted yesterday’s humiliating 4-1 defeat. Maybe it had something to do with how close my club side came to going out of existence? It might have helped that I was in the toilet for the first goal, then in the kitchen pouring a large one when Germany doubled their lead. The question remains: Would England have hauled themselves back into the game had England’s their second Shades Of 1966 ‘goal’ have stood? Debatable, but doubtful. And so we must wait another four years to put ourselves through this heartache all over again, always assuming whoever is managing the team (it won’t be Capello) can guide them through qualification. At least England trounced the Aussies at cricket… AGAIN!
Defying the laws of drunkenness and gravity, I somehow lurched off to Camden to check out Israeli prog-metallers Orphaned Land at the Underworld. It was fitting that they would play London on a sport-fixated day as the last time I spoke to Kobi Farhi, the frontman used a football metaphor to illustrate the fact that OL’s fan-base includes both Jewish and Muslim fans, who sing along to the lyrics in Arabic or Hebrew at their concerts. He replied: “I’ve learned more about spirituality from those fans and being in Orphaned Land than from any priest or rabbi. Music can enter your heart like a bullet; it’s a common knowledge. It can be the beginning of a dialogue. I am still amazed when that happens at our gigs, it’s a bit like fans of Manchester United cheering on Liverpool, isn’t it?” Yeah, it’s a good analogy. And Orphaned Land may well to turn out to be an extremely important group indeed.
Swamped with Middle eastern-sounding samples but rich and deeply hypnotic in texture, their live show places them more on the ‘metal’ side of the fence than the ‘prog’ one, but their class shone throughout. A sizeable chunk of the new, conceptual disc ‘The Never Ending Way Of OrwarriOR’ and some of the best bits of its predecessor 2004’s ‘Mabool’, provided the backbone of the set, which ran as follows: ‘Birth Of The Three Olat Hatamid’, ‘Disciples Of The Sacred Oath, Part 2’, ‘Baraka’, ‘Kiss Of Babylon’, ‘Sapari’, ‘From Broken Vessels’, ‘The Path (Part 1) – Treading Through Darkness’, ‘Ocean Land’, ‘M i?’, ‘The Warrior’, ‘El Meod Na’ala’, ‘In Thy Never Ending Way’, ‘The Beloved’s Cry’/’Orphaned Land – The Storm Still Rages Inside...’, ‘Thee By The Father I Pray’, ‘Norra el Norra’ and ‘Ornaments Of Gold’.
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Sunday 27th June
It’s a big, big day of sport. The weather is set to fall into the ‘scorchio!’ category. And the evening is marked by my first live sighting of Orphaned Land, the Israeli prog-metallers whose current (Steven Wilson-mixed) album ‘The Never Ending Way Of OrwarriOR’, is a bit of a monster. England’s showdown with Germany is set to be a real humdinger, especially given that Franz Beckenbauer recently dismissed Germany’s opponents as “stupid”, insisting his nation’s players are in “physically better condition” than our own. I suggest that the FA appoints Franz – who preceded these comments by suggesting we are a kick and run team – as Head Of Motivation: Don Fabio needn’t even write a pre-game team talk. And you know what? I don’t know what I’m basing this on, but I feel quietly optimistic that my homeland will progress to the Quarter-Finals.
Meanwhile, England’s cricketers, already two games up against the Aussies, can seal the series of one-dayers with a third triumph at Old Trafford. Avenging last summer’s embarrassing 6-1 trouncing, Andrew Strauss’ side have so far looked irresistible against the tourists. The booze is chilled… as you’ll have gathered, I cannot say the same about my own state of excitement!!!
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Saturday 26th June
Thank the living fugg for that; Crystal Palace FC’s future is almost certainly assured and a points deficit seems unlikely after those that were owed significant sums bowed to a CVA (Company Voluntary Agreement) during yesterday’s meeting at Selhurst Park. In a month’s time the club could be out of administration. Just like the news that QP-Haha appear to have given up their disgraceful pursuit of Darren Ambrose now that CPFC 2010 are in control, that’s music to my ears!
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Friday 25th June
Wow… I cannot believe that Italy have crashed out of the World Cup. Last nite the holders lost 3-2 to Slovakia. I didn’t see the entire game, said by some to have been the best of the tournament so far, but its highlights suggested that despite being comprehensively outplayed at times, the Azzurri had cause to complain about a couple of key refereeing decisions. Nevertheless, the fact that Italy finished bottom – yes, bottom – of Group F says it all.
I was unable to watch the game as I took my two young sons to a Wembley TV studio where we had tickets to see one of their favourite shows, The Cube, being filmed. Fronted by Philip Schofield, the programme is about contestants pitting their wits against various trials, all conducted in a huge, computerised cube. It works well on the small screen, but many of the show’s graphics and flashy bits are added afterwards, and there was lots of stopping and starting during the filming. Nevertheless, it was the lads’ first experience of being around camera crews and production assistants, and they were quite excited. Sadly, there was also a warm-up man, a tiresome individual whose alleged ‘jokes’ were more irritating than a marching band of vuvuzelas. I knew it was only a matter of time before he singled out yours truly, and so it proved. I didn’t see Schofield in his stage role of Joseph (of Technicolour Dream Coat fame), but I’m assuming it demanded that he wore some kind of mullet wig or grew his hair. This would explain why the audience, Mr Schofield and my kids all though it side-splittingly hilarious that the glorified fluffer announced, “Hey Philip, I think that’s your son sitting over there”, followed by a very poor impersonation of Ozzy Osbourne. What an absolute prize plum. I merely shook my head in weary resignation and let them all get on with it.
This morning over breakfast I asked whether the boys had enjoyed their night out. The reply was entirely predictable: “It was fantastic when that bloke took the mickey out of you for being Philip Schofield’s son.” Bah.
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Thursday 24th June
… And … Breathe… and relax!! A precious first half goal from Jermain Defoe gave England the victory over Slovenia that they needed to progress past the World Cup’s group stages. The secret of the team’s vastly improved performance was later revealed by Don Fabio: “Yesterday evening [the players] drank beer before the game.” You know it makes sense. And so a clash with the ‘old rivals’ – Deutschland – is set up for Sunday. Apart from joy that we were still in the competition, my first reaction was: ‘Oh no, that means I cannot attend Orphaned Land’s rescheduled gig at the Underworld’. However, I soon realised that Eng vs The Krauts kicks off at 3pm, so – assuming that come the final whistle I am still able to walk in a straight line – it’s quite possible to do both.
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Wednesday 23rd June
Much to the amusement of vocalist Hansi Kürsch and guitarist André Olbrich, I wore my England shirt to last night’s face to face interview with German metal band Blind Guardian. Before nattering about the group’s excellent new album, ‘At The Edge Of Time’, we discussed the unlikely twists and turns of the tournament (by that point, the French were already packing their bags). Hans and André were grateful that, in common with England, the fate of their own national side remains in the hands of its players. We didn’t dwell upon the (now extremely remote) possibility of an England-Germany rematch, but the equally footie-mad Kürsch pointed out a piece of trivia that hadn’t occurred to me; namely that the last four Blind Guardian albums were all released in World Cup years… ‘Nightfall In Middle-Earth’ during the French 1998 campaign, ‘A Night At The Opera’ in 2002 (South Korea and Japan), ‘A Twist In The Myth’ colliding with Germany in 2006 and now ‘At The Edge Of Time’… spooky!
Talking of which… England’s World Cup D-day has arrived. A victory over Slovenia will see the Three Lions progress to the final 16. I’m not exactly optimistic that it will happen, but my routine is already planned: Guzzle the first drink at midday (switching off the phone and PC); a nice soak in the bath; walk the dog; put up the flags; start chewing nails; lie face down in a pool of puke by 3.28pm. Given that Fab’s men qualified for the tournament in such style, the possibility/likelihood of such a premature exit is downright inexcusable. England expects, it’s time to start delivering.
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Tuesday 22nd June
Yesterday’s interviews included a brief but pleasant phone chat with Fairport Convention’s Simon Nicol who revealed the origins of the band’s three-day festival Cropredy, which has lasted for three decades. “It began as an adjunct to the village fête in either 1975 or ’76,” said the rhythm guitarist and frontman. “Two of the band lived in Cropredy and we used to borrow the village hall for rehearsal. That first year it was entirely for the village’s benefit and it grew little by little, year by year.” With Status Quo and Little Feat due play this year, the 2010 bill is pretty impressive.
Tony Clarkin was making the most of the glorious weather when I called for some quotes about Magnum’s new five-disc boxed set ‘The Gathering’ and the upcoming spot at the High Voltage Festival. “I’m out in the garden, writing lyrics,” he told me contentedly. It seems that the music for the new studio album is already completed with five of its tracks fully recorded, right down to Bob Catley’s vocals. “It’s going to called ‘The Visitation’. I don’t know whether anyone will be pissed off that I’ve told you that,” cackled Tony, “but feel free to shout it from the highest mountain!” Consider it duly shouted…
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Monday 21st June
After all the worries regarding the survival of Crystal Palace, how reassuring it was to book my travel to the club’s first away fixture of the new season. So… it’s a case of being Barnsley-bound on August 14. A day of football in shirtsleeves and gallons of cider. The bookies have made Palace the second favourites to relegated but fuck it… Given what almost happened, I simply cannot wait.
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Sunday 20th June
Wayne Rooney has ‘apologised’ for yesterday’s post-match outburst… if that’s what you want to call it. Oh well, it could be argued that the farcical goings-on in the French camp – Nicolas Anelka has been sent home from the tournament after having allegedly told boss Raymond Domenech: “Go and get fucked, you dirty son of a whore” – and Italy’s failure to overcome the plucky New Zealanders, put the headaches of Capello’s men into some sort of perspective.
My photographer buddy Marty Moffatt has posted a slideshow of pix from FM’s spot at the Download Festival. Check them out HERE. The one Marty didn’t get is HERE.
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Saturday 19th June
Regular as clockwork, the World Cup comes around every four years, right? Every football fan knows that. And they make plans accordingly, do they not? So being forced to conduct a phone interview with Pepper Keenan two hours before England’s game with Algeria was a tad frustrating (“This is the only available slot,” insisted his despairing PR, “to be honest, it’s a miracle I got it”). Precious pre-game beverage consumption time was eroded away – though I admit to having imbibed a few discreet liveners before placing the call to Down’s immensely likable guitarist – and my plan to attend the 50th birthday party of Luke Morley from The Union was rudely scuppered. Oh well, I did it anyway and it was good to talk to Pepper for the first time in quite a few years. With a bit of an annoying bounceback on the line I don’t think he noticed, nor cared, that I’d had some cider.
In the end, not having to watch England versus Algeria amid a party full of strangers turned out beneficial. The result of the “must-win” clash? A dour, depressing, goalless stalemate. Capello’s men could not hold onto the ball or create any chances of note, lacking guile and indeed intent from the kick off to the final whistle. Our performance was so underwhelming and embarrassing, England made the Inspector Clouseau-like French look like world-bearing superheroes. Qualification for the knockout stages remains possible but England must overcome current table-toppers Slovenia, who will most probably park the bus in front of their goal. Wednesday afternoon will be interesting to say the least. I shall be switching off the phone and PC at midday, and if Jimi Hendrix wants an interview he can darned well wait till Thursday morning.
As Wayne Rooney left the pitch, a TV camera caught him exclaiming: “Nice to see your own fans booing you. If that’s what loyal support is... for fuck’s sake.” Well… what do you expect, you overpaid waste of space? The fans spent how many years scrimping and saving thousands of pounds to travel to South Africa and you couldn’t even be arsed to chase the ball in the last ten minutes? What an egocentric ignoramus. It makes me fucking furious.
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Friday 18th June
Having come perilously close to going out of existence, the name of Crystal Palace FC features proudly in the fixtures for the 2010/’11 season, which were announced yesterday. The Eagles have also confirmed that George Burley, formerly of Ipswich and Southampton, is the club’s latest boss. Burley has a decent enough record in domestic football and is, I’m forced to admit, probably the best person that could realistically have been hoped for. That the consortium has seen fit to appoint a candidate with international experience – a factually accurate statement if you consider Scotland a real nation – says much of their ambition. However, the guy is known to like a wee bevvy and was it just me, or did he seem ever so slightly half-cut at the press conference to announce his arrival, struggling to pronounce the word ‘administration’? Burley has said that his first job is keeping Darren Ambrose, last season’s top scorer, at Selhurst in the face of multiple approaches from QP-Haha. George handed Ambrose his professional debut at the age of 17, when both were at Ipswich. If Darren stays I will take back everything I’ve said about him being a piss-head. In fact, I’ll personally buy a crate of Buckfast wine and have it FedExed to his house.
Like I said, the fixtures are out. My eagle eye sped down the page to the final weekend of October, hoping that CPFC would have some humdrum away game at a ground I’d visited many times before, thus allowing me to attend all three days of the Firefest. Wouldn’t it be superb if we faced Nottm Florist at the City Ground on October 30? Of course, such hopes were dashed. Home to Swansea. Bah! So it’s the Sunday alone – the strongest of the three Firefest days, it must be said – for me, I suspect.
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Thursday 17th June
Oh, how I laughed yesterday as Spain lost to lowly Switzerland. I actually stopped work to watch the game’s last 15 minutes as the smug expectancy of all those Mediterranean faces turned very long and sullen by the final whistle. As someone that always supports the underdog it was the best moment of the World Cup so far. On a more frustrating note, H.E.A.T. have announced that the rumours regarding the departure of lead singer Kenny Leckremo are true. Although the Swedish melodic rock band’s statement claims “we part as friends and brothers” there’s an undercurrent of bitterness. Why else state that “Kenny has been struggling with voice related health issues”? Past experience confirms that it’s always tough to replace a singer, especially one as charismatic, likeable and gifted as Leckremo. More’s the pity, I’ve a nasty feeling that H.E.A.T. will struggle to recover from such a body blow.
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Wednesday 16th June
Following the cancellation of Ratt’s London date I didn’t fancy the rigmarole of trying to wangle an Aerosmith ticket, so headed over to the Barfly to see Enuff Z’Nuff instead. Before the show my friend John Dryland and I sank several pints of fermented apple juice, watching in escalating disbelief and amusement as Brazil tried to find a way past the tournament’s rank outsiders North Korea. That it took the five-times World Cup winners almost an hour to do so, before leaking an 89th minute goal (sadly irrelevant as the Samba Boys ended up sneaking home 2-1) offered welcome consolation after England’s own earlier underachievement. It was more like watching dung than Dunga, though how Elano saved Brazil’s blushes by firing home from such a tight angle was truly impressive to behold.
Enuff Z’Nuff’s set was great fun, though the Chicagoans never do themselves too many favours, ambling onto the stage after they were scheduled to begin and procrastinating before a haphazard, hastily curtailed 65-minute set. I’m told that last night’s display was pretty much identical to what they offered last weekend at the Download Festival, and in fairness the group **did** seem reluctant to leave the stage but they were forced to finish prematurely by the venue’s staff. “We’ve got a new record company, new agent – you’ll be seeing more of us, I promise,” huffed a departing Chip Znuff. Their inherent unpredictability, combined with the modest size of the audience (even for such a tiny club as the Barfly) serves to dilute any optimism generated by the heavily plugged and admittedly excellent new disc, ‘Dissonance’. Here’s the set-list: ‘Heaven Or Hell’, ‘We’re All Alright’, ‘Saturday’, ‘There Goes My Heart’, ‘Baby Loves You’, ‘Dissonance’, ‘The Beast’, ‘Lazy Dazy’, ‘High’, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll World’, ‘Wheels’, ‘Fly High Michelle’ and ‘New Thing’.
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Tuesday 15th June
The metal community is nursing some pretty severe hangovers following last night’s Golden Gods ceremony at the IndigO2. Although drunkenness and excess abounded at Metal Hammer’s awards bash not a drop of alcohol passed the lips of your humble correspondent, who for the second year in succession was handling the magazine’s backstage acceptance interviews/liggers coverage. My copy was required **as soon as humanly possible** this morning. So whilst everyone else headed off to the after-show party (or indeed the Crobar, where my good friend Malcolm Dome remained till 4.30am), yours truly had to make do with a kebab and the highlights of Italy vs Paraguay, Holland vs Denmark and Japan vs Cameroon before setting the alarm clock.
Those Golden Gods attendees that had to endure my stooopid questions included Phil Demmel (whose group Machine Head won Best Live Band for the second time), the Download fest’s Andy Copping and guest presenter Joe Elliott, Aerosmith’s Riff Lord Joe Perry, a couple of the Metal As Fuck chaps from Evile (who admitted to being ardent readers of this site!), Five Finger Death Punch, Tony Iommi, Skindred’s Benji Webbe, Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost, Scott Gorham and Ricky Warwick from Thin Lizzy, Thomas Gabriel Fischer, Hellyeah!’s Vinnie Paul, Pat Lundy from Rise To Remain (who scooped Best New Band), Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway, Taking Dawn’s Chris Babbitt, Joel O’Keefe from Airbourne, Sahil ‘The Demonstealer’ Makhija and Husain Bandukwala from Demonic Resurrection and Jon and Tracey Morter (the couple behind RATM’s recent return to the charts). The night’s star turn was Zakk Wylde, who reacted with great sardonic amusement to being anointed the sixth annual Golden God, following in the wake of Lemmy, Matt Heafy, Robb Flynn, Kerry King and Iron Maiden. Speaking emotionally of closure and honouring his late friend and band-mate, Iommi told me a little about the news that he, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice are to play at the High Voltage festival, with Glenn Hughes and Masterplan’s Jørn Lande on vocals. “It’s what Ronnie would have wanted,” said Tony, who picked up Album Of The Year for Heaven And Hell’s ‘The Devil You Know’.
Ross Halfin announced that he knew some people that were “after my blood” for referring to Scumwall by the club’s real name of… er… Scumwall. I was extremely scared (NOT!), though I did congratulate Hammer’s knuckledragging online editor Terry Bezer at being back in the big time again. The Lions do Palace again next season, after all. I shared a little more footie banter with Joe Elliott, who expressed relief that CPFC didn’t go bust after all as doing so would have let Sheffield Wednesday out of jail, reinstating them in the Championship after all.
With plenty of backslapping and publicity-seeking going on, I loved the fact that Immortal were **turning down** interviews in the media area. When I asked Abbath for a quote on being voted Best Underground Band he snapped back: “What it is you want? Why?!” Upon discovering I represented the Hammer he grunted two sentences. But as Abbath and Demonax ventured out into the paparazzi area I could hear the former repeating his bark: “What it is you want?”, usually followed by: “No. Sorry.”
The highlight of my night was grabbing a few words with Sir Christopher Lee, who Iommi had presented with the Spirit Of Hammer award. Lee is 88 years old and, unsurprisingly, has become rather frail but still has the ability to send chills down the spine. When I asked him about his attraction to heavy metal, those famous eyes locked with mine for a few moments as he announced: “It’s all about the power,” emphasizing the final two words with full, fruity thespian fervour. When I recoiled slightly, Lee reiterated: “That’s what makes this style of music such a force – the power!” A truly brilliant moment that’ll stay with me forever.
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Monday 14th June
I’ll draw a veil over Robert Green’s heinous gaffe in England’s Saturday night game against the US – I’m still speechless. Upon the final whistle I grabbed a consolation bottle of wine from the fridge and headed across London to meet Merv Goldsworthy of FM, who had not only sorted a pass for yesterday’s appearance at the Download Festival but booked a pre-show night in the group’s hotel and offered a lift both ways. What a result!
Though I’ve attended just about all of the Monsters Of Rock/Download shows, it’s mostly been in a working capacity. I’ve often promised myself that one year I would decline all invitations to review, and just enjoy the day. Better late than never, in 2010 I managed exactly that feat. Arriving on site nice ‘n’ early with the group, I got to stand on Castle Donington’s Main Stage as FM’s gear was loaded on, soaking up the excitement as show-time loomed. Dommin, a US gothic-rock band whose album I had praised in Metal Hammer were on first. They sounded like a cross between Type O Negative and The Doors, throwing in a cover of Cutting Crew’s classic ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight’ mid-set. I thought they were great.
FM did themselves proud. Allotted just a half-hour and aware of the need to focus on their meatiest tunes (thus no ‘Frozen Heart’… Boo! Hiss!) they kicked off with ‘Wild Side’ from the new album, then ‘That Girl’, ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘Bad Luck’, ‘Burning My Heart Down’ and their rocked-up remake of ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’. Considering that many of the punters had no clue who they were (as last-minute additions to the bill, in place of Ratt), the reaction grew and grew and by the end the lads were warmly applauded from the stage.
With no set timetable to follow and an artist’s AAA pass, I could go wherever I wanted. I said ‘hi’ to Steven Wilson and Ginger as they walked past. Saxon proceeded to play the whole of their ‘Wheels Of Steel’ album for the first time. Biff was in great form. “On Friday I was in the crowd with my kids watching AC/DC standing just over there,” he told us. “I lost a quid. If anyone finds it, can I have it back please?” During Saxon’s set I broke away to visit the fourth stage to check out a few numbers from the Virginmarys, a UK band that Classic Rock tipped for future greatness at the year’s start. I had expected them to be a little bit indie-schmindie but they turned out to be a mighty rock beast. Must see them headline soon.
Following a beer from the FM dressing room it was time for Cinderella’s first Donington spot since 1987. Tom Keifer has had well publicised vocal problems but sang respectably enough as the band ran through ‘Somebody Save Me’, ‘Push Push’, ‘Night Songs’, ‘Coming Home’, ‘Shelter Me’, ‘Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone)’, ‘Nobody’s Fool’, ‘Gypsy Road’ to end with a rousing ‘Shake Me’.
I didn’t watch all of Slash’s set but with Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge on vocals and Lemmy stepping up to sing ‘Dr Alibi’, from the ex-Gn’R guitarist’s excellent solo album, the crowd went absolutely bonkers. Then, just as Billy Idol took the stage, as had been threatening for most of the afternoon, the heavens opened. We decided to make a run for it. After Merv dropped me off on London’s outskirts, I was back home in Catford for 9pm. The early departure was a good call as I’ve since learned that the site became a complete and utter mudbath. A great day out by the standards of just about any sane-minded individual.
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Saturday 12th June
No work today. Absolutely not! I’m enjoying a leisurely drink before England’s opening World Cup fixture against the United States. It’s my first taste of cider for a couple of months, actually, and it’s bloody lovely. Cars are adorned with little union jacks and lots of replica shirts are being worn in the sunshine; Catford is abuzz with anticipation. I’d like to slap Julie Burchill in the face for her article in yesterday’s Daily Mail, titled: ‘Sorry, but I can’t wait for England to get knocked out of the World Cup’. Aside from her comments about the morals of the players, which are pretty hard to defend, I fail to see what is so wrong with uniting the nation for a few weeks of baseless yet enjoyably fervent optimism, something Burke-hill terms “the wrong kind of patriotism”… what a miserly fucking bitch.
Anyway, I digress. Thanks to a top secret weblink supplied by Glenn Hughes, I am listening to the hotly awaited album from Black Country Communion, the ‘supergroup’ featuring Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian, as I type. I won’t say too much as it’s not released till late September, but… fucking hell… it has well and truly blown me away. A classier slab of retro-rock you will not hear in 2010.
Tomorrow I shall be at Donington Park for a few hours, watching one of my favourite bands – the mighty FM – at the Download Festival. With the possible exceptions of supporting Bon Jovi on the ‘Slippery When Wet’ tour and reuniting at the Firefest in 2007, it could be argued that these 30 minutes on the Main Stage represent the biggest, most vital opportunity of their 26-year history. If they want to push on from here, capitalising upon the impetus of comeback disc ‘Metropolis’, it’s nothing less than crucial. So… no pressure then, chaps. Hahaha! Break a leg…
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Friday 11th June
I awoke at 4am unable to expunge thoughts of the start of the World Cup and Sunday’s trip to the Download Festival (yes, I **shall** be there to see FM after all!). Last night I had done a lengthy interview with Nicolas Chapel, leader of the French band Demians. It was good to converse with the quietly-spoken Nicolas once more, having been present at the Steven Wilson-approved group’s debut live appearance in Paris in April 2008. Chapel is one of the deep thinkers of the current rock scene and the new Demians album, ‘Mute’, is a dark and inspirational piece of work.
Yesterday’s mail haul included rough CDrs of ‘The Gathering’, Magnum’s lavish five-disc boxed set. I spent much of my alleged Christmas ‘break’ penning a 10,000-word history of the band for its luxurious 60-page booklet, which was designed by current bassist Al Barrow. Can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy on August 9 or thereabouts.
And talking of sleeve notes, it was good to get positive feedback for recent mini-essays on Tokyo Blade and Little Angels. The latter’s Toby Jepson thanked me for the “careful approach” of its research, which involved poring over old programmes from the Marquee Club and referring to interviews from Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Metal Forces. I always try to provide reviews cuttings for the work I do, which adds to the detail factor. Andy Boulton was even more effusive, claiming that my liners for the re-issue of his band’s debut album “were the first to nail the essence of what Tokyo Blade are all about.” What a terrific compliment! As an aside for any TB fans out there, the band are preparing a new album with producer Chris Tsangarides release next year.
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Thursday 10th June
I’m happy to day that the CPFC 2010 takeover seems to be proceeding nicely, with a creditor’s meeting on June 25 among the last hurdles in exiting administration. A certificate (known as a CVA) remains necessary to prevent a points deficit, which must still be voted on. But at least the new owners look set to honour pre-paid season tickets – phew! All I pray is that the shock of coming so perilously close to going out of business might re-motivate the interest of a few ‘armchair’ Eagles.
Having received a last minute ‘Cinders, you shall go to the ball’-type call from the band’s publicist Gillian Porter, who’d located an extra pair of tickets, last night was spent at the Hammersmith Apollo watching Crowded House. The New Zealand-based pop-rockers were playing the second of three shows. The closest I’d ever come to seeing them onstage before was an open-air gig by the Finn Brothers at Regents Park in the summer of 2004. They were as good as I’d hoped. Ad-libbing songs based on comments from the front rows and indulging in all manner of silliness, Neil Finn is a captivating, mischievous frontman and at times they really rocked out, notably during a hugely extended ‘Private Universe’. Dipping in and out of a brand new album called ‘Intriguer’ that I have yet to hear, the show’s first half was enjoyable enough but its final 45 minutes – kicking off with a spine-tingling ‘Four Seasons In One Day’ and including a rendition of Bowie’s ‘Moonage Daydream’ co-performed with the night’s support act Connan Mockasin on wailing lead geetar – were plain stratospheric. These are the songs that the band treated us to (and I mean that, **seriously**): ‘Recurring Dream’, ‘Saturday Sun’, ‘Either Side Of The World’, ‘Fall At Your Feet’, ‘Don’t Stop Now’, ‘Private Universe’, ‘Inside Out’, ‘Love This Life’, ‘My Life Is A House’, ‘Whispers And Moans’, ‘Isolation’, ‘Archer’s Arrows’, ‘Pour Le Monde’, ‘Four Seasons In One Day’, ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, ‘Distant Sun’ and ‘Something So Strong’, plus encores of ‘Fingers Of Love’, ‘Weather With You’, ‘Twice if You’re Lucky’, ‘Moonage Daydream’, ‘World Where You Live’ and ‘Better Be Home Soon’.
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Wednesday 9th June
Today’s news that FM have been added to the bill of the Download Festival, in place of Ratt, caused three very different emotions. First and foremost, pride. I’m extremely happy for the band. Given the response to the new album ‘Metropolis’ it’s a break they richly deserve. Secondly, frustration. Being a World Cup year, I’d long since made the decision to give the 2010 event a miss. With the band due onstage – the Main Stage, FFS! – just before midday and no accommodation nor travel booked, it’s now too late (and indeed costly) to amend those plans, more’s the pity. And thirdly? Anger bordering on contempt. I simply cannot believe Ratt have pissed their UK fans off **yet** again. Okay, Stephen Pearcy may well require “urgent hernia surgery”, but this is (I think) the third time the band has messed everyone around with their itinerary. Has the story of the boy who cried wolf not reached as far as Los Angeles?
Anyway, rant over. It’s always nice to conduct an interview with a human being, as opposed to a walking press release. I’d never spoken to anyone from the Canuck band Triumph before, but last night’s phone chat with bassist Mike Levine was tremendous fun. As we discussed the arduous three-year task of compiling Triumph’s excellent new CD/DV package ‘Greatest Hits Remixed’, Levine laughingly revealed that Triumph’s motto is: “Why do today what you can do tomorrow?” I found his honesty very refreshing. We discussed playing with Motorhead and Ozzy at the Heavy Metal Holocaust in Port Vale back in 1981, the reasons for Triumph’s topsy-turvy reunion at Sweden Rock in 2008 and the possibility of seeing the group in the UK again. When asked about the likelihood of making a studio record, Mike was pragmatic enough to respond: “Does anyone **really** need to hear new music from Triumph? Nobody seems to buy new product from older bands. If you go out on tour, it’s the old stuff that people come to listen to – the music they grew up with. Besides which, most bands break up in the studio [laughs]. With the three of us friends again after 20 years of not talking, that’s something I’d rather not gamble on.” Nice fella…
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Tuesday 8th June
As a long-time disciple of the Canadian band’s music, the success of ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ having caused me to pick up the back catalogue, I always found myself wishing I’d seen b-b-b-b-Bachman-Turner Overdrive onstage. The newly forged partnership of guitarist/vocalist Randy Bachman bassist/growler CF Turner is, of course, the next best thing and last night I took my place among an unexpectedly threadbare crowd – the venue was about half full – at the Garage as the duo played together in London for the first time since 1976 (or so Bachman ruminated from the stage). The guys are no longer spring chickens; Randy, who first found fame with The Guess Who, is 66, likewise Fred. But they both have plenty to give. As demonstrated on the wide-tread ‘Four Wheel Drive’, Turner’s pipes are especially impressive. It’s no wonder a recent online reviewer called his voice “a gravel truck and a cement mixer rolled into one”. They were swelled by four extra musicians, one of whom switched from second guitar to ‘rhythm bass’, playing additional meaty chords to back up Turner’s picking, and a drummer that just couldn’t leave his cowbell alone – brilliant!
An excellent 85-minute set cherry-picked the B-TO years, also doffing its cap to The Guess Who (viz ‘American Woman’) and previewing two absolutely marvellous new compositions, ‘Moonlight Rider’ and ‘Slave To The Rhythm’, from a studio album that drops in September. My only real quibble was the omission of two personal favourites, ‘Gimme Your Money Please’ and ‘Shotgun Rider’. If you are at High Voltage next month, don’t miss them. In the meantime, check out the set-list: ‘Let It Ride’, ‘Rock Is My Life’, ‘Hold Back The Water’, ‘Hey You’, ‘Moonlight Rider’, ‘Looking Out For #1’, ‘Not Fragile’, Medley: ‘Stayed Awake All Night’/‘American Woman’, ‘Four Wheel Drive’, ‘Slave To The Rhythm’, ‘Blue Collar’, ‘Sledgehammer’, ‘Rollin’ Along’ and ‘Taking Care Of Business’, plus ‘Roll On Down The Highway’ and ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’.
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Sunday 6th June
Walking with a limp having twisted an ankle during a game of cricket with my sons, I’m home from the Orpington Record Fair. The bus journey was occupied by ‘Redemption’, the new CD from Little Caesar on Grind That Axe/Rock Candy (thanks for sending it, Derek!). I returned to Catford clutching a diverse selection of goodies; an album by blackthrashers Kaanos, the tenth anniversary anthology from Celtic rockers Tempest, Mud’s 1978 disc ‘Rock On’, the best of Milwaukee death metallers Morta Skuld, a live album from Amen and… er, an album apiece from Joni Mitchell (‘Clouds’) and Janis Ian (‘Stars’). My musical taste grows ever more unusual as the years fly by!
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Saturday 5th June
Here’s something that I thought may never come to pass. Steven Wilson has told Chordstruck Magazine that work is underway – though at a very embryonic stage – on his much-anticipated collaboration with Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt and Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater. “I started writing with Mikael last month, finally,” confides Wilson. “We wrote about 15 minutes of music in my studio near London and we’re very excited about it.” This long-rumoured liaison of three of my favourite artists is something to set the mouth watering, though Steven says not to expect “some kind of death-metal-progressive rock”. “It’s not like that,” he stresses. “If you put the two of us together, the last thing we’ll do is something similar to what people already know. It's very arty, very ambitious; it's going to be epic – very dark, very twisted, very experimental. It’s still rock music, but we’re trying to do something really, really special and really different with this.” Fascinating…
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Friday 4th June
Slayer’s gigs will always be towards the top of my ‘to see’ list. So naturally I was at the Forum for last night’s second of two London appearances. It was an odd experience: a little slice of metal history, with an episode of Casualty thrown in. After The Haunted’s magnificently noisy ‘special guest’ spot, Slayer kept the crowd waiting for more than half an hour, filling the stage with dry ice over and over again, ramping up the atmosphere. My friend Mark Kentfield, who’d attended on the first night, had reported back that the moshpit was especially brutal. I can only guess that the response to Slayer’s second show, regarded by those that saw both as immensely superior and slightly longer, was fiercer still. The band were just four songs in when ‘Disciple’ came to an abrupt halt, bassist Tom Araya announcing: “Somebody’s hurt real bad, they don’t wanna move him ‘cos something might happen. So we’re gonna wait for an ambulance and they’ll stretcher him out… please be patient for ten minutes or so.” Tom’s estimate of ten minutes was to prove conservative; half an hour afterwards the show continued. I later learned the poor sod concerned had dislocated his knee cap, leaving the bone sticking out sideways – ugggh!
Amazingly, Slayer and audience picked things up like nothing had happened and our lack of complaint was rewarded as the group’s 1990 album, ‘Seasons In The Abyss’, was performed from start to finish for the first time ever. All I can say is that I’m glad I attended the second night! Here’s the song-list: ‘World Painted Blood’, ‘Jihad’, ‘Hate Worldwide’, ‘Disciple (Edit)’, ‘Disciple (Reprise)’, ‘Beauty Through Order’, ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Blood Red’, ‘Spirit In Black’, ‘Expendable Youth’, ‘Dead Skin Mask’, ‘Hallowed Point’, ‘Skeletons Of Society’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Born Of Fire’ and ‘Seasons In The Abyss’, with encores of ‘Mandatory Suicide’, ‘Raining Blood’, ‘Aggressive Perfector’, ‘South Of Heaven’ and ‘Angel Of Death’.
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Thursday 3rd June
“Who’s that up ahead?” I wondered whilst striding along Shepherd’s Bush Green towards the Empire. The familiar figure was carrying a guitar case. Oh yes, I thought so… it’s Mr Paul Raymond. UFO’s rhythm guitarist/keyboard player was among several guests at yesterday’s 30th anniversary appearance from Michael Schenker Group, I’m happy to say.
Unfortunately, I was less than impressed by opening act Heaven’s Basement, a band I’ve stuck my neck out to support till now. I’d wondered how the fellas might survive without their departed singer Richie Hevanz… the answer was ‘disappointingly’. The group tell me they have a new, full-time replacement lined up and ready to announce. But frankly I struggle to comprehend why they are playing such prestigious gigs with a half-arsed stand-in? It doesn’t do their reputation any good.
My last sighting of Schenker was a pitiful, pissed-up attempt to support the Scorps at Hammersmith in the summer of ’07. Thankfully, Michael has got his act in gear once more. A reunion with Gary Barden was something the fans – and yours truly – wanted, and indeed needed, to see. So it’s with genuine regret that I state that Barden was last night’s weak link. Back in the day, Gary’s stage presence pulled him through. His depreciating voice has now become such a handicap, that charm no longer keeps him afloat. The set-list was well chosen and it was reassuring to see Schenker back in the land of the living, but despite the cameos – Neil Murray joined in for ‘Night To Remember’ (one of three cuts aired from the so-so comeback disc ‘In The Midst Of Beauty’) and ‘Lights Out’ saw ex-Scorpions tub-thumper Herman ‘Ze German’ Rarebell temporarily occupy Chris Slade’s drum stool, while to the audience’s great joy Mr Raymond, an alarmingly vertical Pete Way and ex-Rainbow frontman Doogie White helped out with ‘Doctor Doctor’ – but I felt the show was just a little bit too perfunctory. Here’s what was played: ‘Armed And Ready’, ‘Cry For The Nations’, ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, ‘Ready To Rock’, ‘I Want You’, ‘Night To Remember’, ‘Into The Arena’, ‘Lost Horizons’, ‘Rock My Nights Away’, ‘On And On’, ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Attack Of The Mad Axeman’, plus ‘Ride On My Way’, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Rock Bottom’. There’s some pretty good YouTube footage here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsAhgPbTJ3I.
P.S. Speaking of which, the YouTube and Playlist sections have been updated.

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Tuesday 1st June
With the club mere hours from extinction, I wonder how many Palace fans slept soundly last nite? I know I didn’t. I up with met the others intending to demonstrate at the Lloyds Bank HQ at 11am. Overheard Raj, one of the CPFC Fans’ Trust bods telling someone that the MP for Croydon was going to take up the Eagles’ predicament with the PM, “right to the top”, as Lloyds is government-owned. Prudently, another fella from the Trust asked us not to sing the usual ditties lambasting Ron Noades or A**n Mu***ry, with the explanation: “That would look bad for the cameras, this is all about letting Lloyds know they cannot kill our club.”
There were about two or three hundred protesters at the start, and although it peed with rain as we strode from the station towards the City, everybody sang with gusto: “Save our club, save our, club”. It sounded brilliant. The noise reached a crescendo as we reached the Lloyds building. Inquisitive faces pushed against windows all around the square. I giggled that somebody from an office recognised yours truly amidst the mob and came down to donate a CD for possible review. Brilliant.
The Palace fans did themselves proud, ignoring the downpour to keep up the chanting and throwing red and blue balloons into the air. “Bankers give us a song/Bankers, bankers give us a song,” we demanded. The bankers just got on with whatever they were doing. An hour became two hours. Someone produced a football and to a rousing, continuous chant of “Selhurst Park’s red and blue army” a game of head tennis keepie-uppie ensued. From time to time a shot would ‘mysteriously’ crash into the side of the building, letting its inhabitants know that we hadn’t gone away. Things were kept peaceful, though. Throughout the day fans came and left, some locally employed ones using the lunch hour to drop by, others arriving late or departing to go elsewhere. It was reported that 4,000 had gathered outside the building which is an exaggeration, though that many may have turned up over the course of the day.
Meanwhile, the silence coming from the building was deafening. At around 2.20pm, 40 minutes away from the deadline, the Chinese whispers began to circulate. A disbelieving hush descended as a guy several feet away received a text saying that Sky had reported the club was being wound up. Then a cautious cheer went up as consortium spokesman David Jensen was quoted as being “optimistic” re: the negotiations. At 2.50, my friend Neil Pudney texted to say the CPFC bulletin board had crashed, could I keep him up to speed with the news? What fuggin’ news?!? There wasn’t any! Then at 2.53, the skies opened again… an omen?!
Finally, long after the deadline had elapsed, a representative of Sky TV came out of the building to reveal that a deal between Lloyds Bank and CPFC 2010 had been agreed **in principle**. “Let’s go fucking mental, let’s go fucking mental!” roared the red ‘n’ blue faithful, some with tears in the eyes. The Sky Sports News fella asked whether I’d do an interview (it can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FjZrdfWigc - I’m on after some fella called Maxi Jazz) – had I known that was likely to happen I’d have had a bleedin’ shave! The cops, who had kept an eye on the situation with surprising good humour, began to clear the area. “Chaps,” said one in an extremely persuasive voice, “can we encourage you to go to Selhurst Park now you’ve got it back?” Music to my ears, and no mistake.
With the fans still singing as if Palace had beaten Br***ton 10-0, the police escorted us back to London Bridge, through the midst of startled, briefcase-carrying City gents and commuters trying to make their way home. It such a relief, hard to encapsulate in words. After getting home, buying a **big** bottle of vodka and going online, the mood at the CPFC bulletin board felt absolutely amazing. “I love this crazy club,” posted one reveller. “Here’s to the next 105 years of winning nothing, but still loving every minute of it.”