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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Saturday 30th June
On Friday I was up at 6am for yet more tape transcription… Yawn. It had been a very long week, with one final phone interview to conduct. During the afternoon I had a long chat with Rikard Sjöblom, the brains behind Swedish prog-metallers Beardfish. Very nice fella. I was enthused to receive an email that commissioned me to compile a not one but two new anthologies for Spectrum, an offshoot of Universal Records. That’s something I shall look forward to.
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Friday 29th June
I enjoyed the sunshine to head for a pub on the bank of the Thames for a boozy late lunch with my CPFC-supporting pals Kev Denman and Mark Cousins, before heading across to Camden for a gig by reunited Bay Area thashers Death Angel. Walking into the Underworld for a cheeky pre-show vodka and Diet Coke, upon discovering that the so-called efficiency machine that is the German football team were losing 2-0 to Italy in the Euros, I must admit to whooping loudly with unexpected joy.
Inside the Underworld the crowd could have been bigger but with the footie going on that was excusable. The reaction was stunning, however, and frontman Mark Osegueda continually stated his love of London and its importance to the band’s history, making several references to a legendary gig at the now defunct Clarendon Ballroom in Hammersmith on the original tour for ‘The Ultra-Violence’ in 1987 (I was there! Does anyone have a recording?). Death Angel were playing said album in its entirety, and they did a fantastic job. ‘Kill As One’ is still among the all-time classic speed-metal masterpieces, with neck snapping show-closer ‘Thrown To The Wolves’ – one of four post-reunion gems featured in a rousing encore – lagging not too far behind. Let’s face it, instrumental songs are usually boring but tonight's extended rendition of ‘The Ultra-Violence’ was positively gladiatorial. A version of ‘I.P.F.S.’ that teasingly included the riffs to Priest standards ‘Heading Out To The Highway’, ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Hot Rockin’’ segued into a majestic cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Heaven And Hell’ to bring the set proper to a close. You wanted a reminder of why Death Angel are foremost among the second tier of old guard thrashers? You got it. Here’s the set-list: ‘Thrashers’, ‘Evil Priest’, ‘Voracious Souls’, ‘Kill As One’, ‘The Ultra-Violence’, ‘Mistress Of Pain’, ‘Final Death’ and Medley: ‘I.P.F.S.’/‘Heaven And Hell’, with encores of ‘Relentless Revolution’, ‘Claws In So Deep’, ‘Truce’ and ‘Thrown To The Wolves’.
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Wednesday 27th June
Last night filmmaker Alan G Parker kindly invited me a central London preview suite for a special viewing of his new Status Quo documentary Hello Quo!, which is due out in September. Speaking as a diehard fan of the group (also somebody that fell out of love with them until ‘Heavy Traffic’ in 2002), I can only say that it’s fuggin’ great. An hour and three-quarters of its two hours and 25 minutes are devoted to Quo’s classic boogie heyday, the pace accelerating post-Live Aid. With tales of cross-dressing roadies, communal masturbation sessions and rock ‘n’ roll lunacy – I love the story of a bored John Coghlan walking down the table and out the door of a record company dinner – all the major boxes are ticked.
The band address the more ‘difficult’ areas of their history with unexpected candour and pains have been taken over the archive live footage. Just like the participants, I almost founding myself wiping away a tear as the Frantic Four reunited to perform ‘In My Chair’ during an emotional clandestine climax. There’s a terrific scene as the four old friends meet again in the car park of Shepperton Studios, indulging in a group hug… I’m pretty sure you can hear Alan Lancaster say: “No tongues!” Well done, Mr Parker. You've done a great band proud.
Watching the movie certainly made me realise the depth of my own personal ties to the Quo. They were the first band I ever saw onstage (Wembley Arena ’79); I attended all seven nights at Hammersmith Odeon on two successive tours; I was in one of their videos (‘Dear John’); I saw them on their anniversary return to Butlins; I experienced their pub-rock tour (at the Ruskin Arms in East London) and saw them perform on the HMS Ark Royal; I went to Gloucestershire to do some wing-walking on a bi-plane during the filming of their ‘The Party Ain’t Over yet’ promo and I wrote the sleeve notes to selected titles of their 2006 re-issue campaign and also for the 2010 ‘Live At The BBC’ project. And if this last paragraph makes me sounds like a bit of a Quo nerd… no apologies!
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Tuesday 26th June
Can I add my wholehearted agreement to what’s being said on the internet forums: What a great job Philip Wilding has done with Classic Rock magazine’s Rush fan mag. I’m also impressed by CR’s new Blues title. First-rate work by Ed Mitchell, Henry Yates and all involved with #1.
Hostilities are set to resume with Australia’s cricketers in a matter of days (I shall be at The Oval on Sunday!) and this morning I found a crumpled, unread copy of the London Evening Standard from last Thursday at the bottom of my bag. It contained a story entitled ‘Cricket storm as Flintoff hits out at Atherton’ that both intrigued and appalled me. “[Michael] Atherton is a fucking prick” the legendary all-rounder Flintoff had told a journalist at a party a few days earlier, referring to the former England captain-turned Sky Sports pundit. “He sits making judgements on players that that are much better than he ever was. Alistair Cook is [a] ten times [better] player than Atherton, who averaged in the thirties [as a batsman] for England. Believe me, he’s a prick.” Asked whether he minded his opinion becoming a matter of public record, ‘Freddie’ responded: “I don’t care. Say what you like. There’s no love lost there.” Ouch… gentlemen, in future could we not constrain such disputes to the pavilion bar? It’s just not cricket.
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Monday 25th June
Save for feeling as though I’ve been run over by a herd of stampeding buffalo (what a hangover… sheesh), how do I feel about my homeland’s exit from Euro 2012 at the hands of Italy? Well, ‘pig sick’ is pretty suitable description. England started the game positively enough and had their chances to take the lead but, sitting back and allowing their opponents to run amok with the ball, their second half was lacklustre beyond belief. Entering into the lottery of a penalty shoot-out flattered Hodgson’s men, and of course we lost out to an Azzurri side that displayed ice-cool confidence from 12 yards. Having defied the odds to reach the Quarter Finals the squad returns to the UK having restored pride, to a certain degree at least, but I’m left wondering whether England will ever win an international tournament again during my lifetime… somehow I doubt it.
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Saturday 23rd June
Thanks to Siân Llewellyn who was able to find copies in the office, I’ve just received Classic Rock’s fan pack edition of the new Rush album, ‘Clockwork Angels’, and issue #1 of the same magazine’s spin-off Blues edition. Am looking forward to getting to grips with them both. I’ve finally got my mitts on a finished copy of Anathema’s ‘Weather Systems’. What a beautiful, relaxing, uplifting, meaningful record. It will deffo be in my Top 20 of 2012.
I type this upon completion of two laps of Crystal Palace Park. It felt a bit odd running past the stage on which Wakeman, Hawkwind etc were supposed to be have been performing today. I deserve a few beers at the Crobar tonite, I think...
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Friday 22nd June
So happy that I accepted a kind offer from Jim Kirkpatrick to attend last night’s Evening With Bernie Marsden & Friends at the Jazz Café in Camden. Though best known for a glorious spell with Whitesnake (in my own view the band’s halcyon years), Marsden is currently celebrating his fourth decade as a touring musician. He and Kirkpatrick, who is also a member of the mighty FM, of course, took the stage for an acoustic preview of the main show. “Jim brings the average of the band down to about 66 – I’ve got strings older than him”, quipped Bernie, but together they make an exquisite, surprisingly rich, noise. Beginning with Jimmy Reed’s ‘Baby What You Want Me To Do’, the pair ran through a couple of Rory Gallagher gems (‘Out On The Western Plain’ and ‘Tattoo’d Lady’) before being joined by vocalist Cherry Lee Mewis for three old Whitesnake chestnuts, ‘Till The Day I Die’, ‘Trouble’ and ‘The Time Is Right For Love’. From time to time Marsden fielded questions from the audience, revealing how he rekindled his friendship with David Coverdale by a chance meeting a Heathrow Airport. Commenting on his recent guest spot with the current ’Snakes, he grinned: “I’ve never seen so many grown men crying in a room before”, then wound up first set with a completely unaccompanied take on ‘The World Keep On Turning’ by the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac. Nice!
As expected, the electric segment was dominated by a slew of Whitesnake tunes (‘Come On’, ‘Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues’, ‘Is This Love?’, ‘Hit And Run’, ‘Would I Lie To You?’, ‘Fool For Your Lovin’’, ‘Here I Go Again’ and an encore of ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City), with Robert Hart at the microphone. Hart also got to revisit his Bad Company past via a sprightly ‘Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love’. The band, which also featured Phil Spalding (GTR, Mike Oldfield) on bass and Damon Sawyer (Amy Winehouse) on drums, was absolutely first class and it was great to hear Magnum’s Stanway adding some delightful electric piano to Lowell Fulson’s ‘Reconsider Baby’ before Kirkpatrick stepped forward to unleashed a searing slide solo. As demonstrated by Hendrix’s ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ and ‘A Place In My Heart For You’, a song he wrote for Joe Bonamassa’s latest album, Marsden is still a fantastic, emotive player that could walk into any self-respecting blues band on the ace of the earth. Should he do another such tour, don’t miss it.
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Thursday 21st June
The video for The Treatment’s latest single, ‘Nothing To Lose But Your Minds’, has been posted online. It certainly sums up the spirit of a great afternoon (and evening) spent across the river in North London as it was filmed. Click here and look out for a rather silly cameo from your truly.
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Wednesday 20th June
Grrrruhhhh. This morning I awoke in my comfy living room chair at 1.30am, the dregs of a pint of wine in hand, footie flags up in the living room, telly blaring with the highlights of the cricket. Can there **really** be four empty bottles in the recycling box?? England 1 Ukraine 0.
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Tuesday 19th June
The big day is here… England (who require just a draw to progress to the knockout stages of Euro 2012) versus home nation Ukraine (who must win). It’s the same old story: At each major football tournament I make a mental note to free up some working time for its successor, just to kick back and enjoy the important games. And of course it never friggin’ well happens. This morning I was at my desk by 6am in what proved an optimistic hope of finishing my Testament story by lunchtime. There was no time to go out for a run. A phone interview with John Hiatt had been set for 4pm. By the time I pressed ‘send’ on Testament, my pre-match drinking time had evaporated to just 90 mins. Time to start caning it, then.
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Monday 18th June
Oh FFS!!!!! The new footie fixtures are out and Crystal Palace are at home to Scumwall on Firefest weekend. So… let me see: London to Nottingham on Friday. Back to London the next morning. Return to Rock City after we've stuffed the Scummers (hopefully in time for Gotthard), watch Sunday's show and then back to London again. Do I get air miles???!!! On the upside... I’m glad that we are playing Shiteon on Saturdays this season; midweek was a mare. Especially getting home from the away fixture at the Samesex Benders Stadium after our fine 3-1 victory. (I never, ever tire of typing that).
I was upset to learn of the death of Gerry Bron via a post at Mick Box’s Facebook page. Bron was the producer, label boss and manager of Uriah Heep for many years, having also played a big role in the tales of Motörhead, Hawkwind, Girlschool, The Damned and many, many more. I was privileged to have visited Bron’s North London home as recently as January for a Heep-based interview that appeared in Classic Rock #171. On the two occasions that we met I found him extremely quotable and honest to the point of indiscretion – in other words a journalist’s dream. May he rest in peace.
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Sunday 17th June
Most of this weekend will be spent transcribing my recent phone interview with bottleneck guitar legend Bonnie Raitt, though I did take the time to talk to Chuck Billy and Alex Skolnick of Testament – both very fine, talkative chaps.
I’m certainly not short of reading material, what with the brand new issues of Classic Rock, Prog and Fireworks having dropped through the letterbox. I’m especially looking forward to getting to grips with Prog, the contents of which include a huge cover piece on Emerson Lake & Palmer, and my own stories on Saga and Headspace.
Also found the time to watch the series finale of Dexter, which concluded with its forensic scientist central character being caught in the act of a latest serial killing by his sister Debra, a police Lieutenant. Will he kill Debra too, or will she send him to the electric chair? Seeing as Debra has the hots for him (!!), that second option might be a bit unlikely. Dexter really is the best programme on TV by a country mile.
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Saturday 16th June
England’s game with Sweden was a real rollercoaster ride. Hodgson’s decision to play Andy Carroll up front was vindicated by the powerhouse header of a good old fashioned centre forward, and possession stats suggested that things were looking good as the interval arrived. “Sweden are there for the taking,” announced Alan Shearer, though Gary Lineker was pragmatic enough to point out that during the last three times the nations had met in meaningful competition, despite half-time advantage on each occasion, we had failed to win.
So it was no surprise when England quickly conceded an equaliser and then, calamitously, went behind. The introduction of Theo Walcott, who smashed home with virtually his first touch of the ball and then set up Danny Welbeck’s wonderful flicked winner was an inspired substitution that span a topsy-turvy game on its head. A single point from Tuesday night’s final group clash with Ukraine – for which ‘Shrek’ Rooney will be eligible – would be sufficient to guarantee passage to the Quarter Final stages. Result!!
As midnight came, with the boys consigned to bed, I found myself in my office draining a few pints of wine to celebrate a fabulous victory. Yngwie Malmsteen, Björn Borg, Europe, Alfred Nobel, Work Of Art, Treat, Dolph Lundgren, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Sven-Göran Eriksson, Candlemass, Coldspell, Ingrid Bergman, the Electric Boys, Victoria Silvstedt, Miss Behaviour, Ulrika Jonsson, waddling Crystal Palace reject Tomas Brolin, Graveyard, Alexander Skarsgård from True Blood, Crucified Barbara, the checkout girl at Ikea, Ingmar Bergman, Iceage, Stefan Johansson... your boys took one hell of a beating!
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Friday 15th June
I’ve had my professional ups and downs with Sebastian Bach through the years – during my RAW Magazine days back in 1995 we fell out badly after I dared to suggest during an interview that Skid Row’s ‘Subhuman Race’ was considerably below par. “We’ll see who’s still doing this in ten years time,” raged Bach with a face like thunder, before booting the back of my chair, storming from the room and cancelling his press commitments for the day.
With relations back on an even keel I wasn’t going to miss the livewire Canadian frontman’s gig at the Islington Academy. With support act Stormzone being mysteriously booted from the bill (seemingly at Baz’s instigation), there was time for quite a few pre-show drinkies. Mr Beare and I found ourselves supping delicious pints of Old Rosie ‘cloudy scrumpy’ (7.9% ABV) as we watched Ireland tumble out of the Euro championships at the hands of Spain.
Having been restricted to a half-hour slot a few days earlier, Bach and his band were keen to make up for their Download Festival experience. As documented by this fine YouTube clip, he dashed onto the stage during the opening number ‘Slave To The Grind’, headbutted the microphone stand and proceeded to whirl the thing around his head by its chord like a lasso. Blood soon began to seep from a head wound but Bach plainly didn’t care, a lean, mean 85-minute display uniting various songs from his Skid Row days (‘Slave To The Grind’, ‘Here I Am’, ‘Big Guns’, ‘Piece Of Me’, ‘18 And Life’, ‘Monkey Business’, ‘I Remember You’ and an encore of… what else?… ‘Youth Gone Wild’) with incendiary solo tunes such as ‘Kicking & Screaming’, ‘Dirty Power’, ‘(Love Is) A Bitchslap’, ‘Stuck Inside’, ‘As Long As I Got The Music’, ‘My Own Worst Enemy’, ‘I’m Alive’ and ‘Tunnelvision’, plus ‘American Metalhead’, a song by drummer Bobby Jarzombek’s other group Painmuseum. The ridiculously fresh-faced Nick Sterling was born in 1990, a year before Bach and Skid Row became the first heavy metal band to debut at Number #1 on the Billboard chart with their second release, ‘Slave To The Grind, but my… what a terrific l’il guitar player he is. Bach was clearly having a fine ol’ time. “Are there any Guns N’ Roses fans in the audience? Because we have a special guest…” he teased before ‘(Love Is) A Bitchslap’, a song on which W Axl Rose performed guest vocals. Then, realising it was only 9.38pm Seb grinned and added: “No, seriously, even if Axl was coming tonight he wouldn’t be here yet”. Great stuff.
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Thursday 14th June
Yesterday afternoon I managed to conduct my first outdoor run in almost a week (the exercise bike just ain’t the same!). The delay was thanks to an accumulative blend of torrential rain, hangover-related turpor, pressure of work, being glued to the Euro Championships and a mild bout of depression. Had almost forgotten how much I’ve come to enjoy pounding the concrete!
During the evening I spurned the Germany-Holland game to attend an album playback by a multinational band called The Dark Sinatras, whose recent six-song EP revealed an intriguing fusion of hard rock, soundtrack-style atmospherics and hard funk (their bass player is none other than Paul Turner of Jamiroquai). The party-cum-gig took place in the Old Vic Tunnels, deep beneath London’s Waterloo Station. Somewhat embarrassingly, being unfamiliar with the venue I mistakenly wandered into an art exhibition taking place next door, and with the drinks being free ended up staying longer than I should! There were also some gratis libations at the Dark Sinatras bash… I got a little bit squiffy (big shock!). However, the trio’s live performance was rather good. Some aspects of their presentation require tidying up, and they’re not the kind of group to send you home with choruses buzzing around your cranium. Instead they operate on a much deeper, slightly insidious level. I like them.
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Wednesday 13th June
Rousing myself from a post-match hangover I made the trip to Camden for a face-to-face interview with Testament guitarist Eric Peterson. I’d never met Peterson before – it was pretty amazing to calculate that the last time I interviewed anyone from Testament was circa 1989’s ‘Practise What You Preach’ album – but we got along just fine. My UFO ‘Strangers In The Night’ T-shirt was a pretty good icebreaker. Peterson is absolutely mad about Schenker, Frank Marino and the hard rock of the 1970s.
How exciting: the tickets have arrived for England’s one day international against Australia at the Oval on July 1 – a day before my birthday. Ulp! Shocked to note that it’s a 10.30 start! Vodka on the cornflakes, then… and some kind of hip flash might be in order…
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Tuesday 12th June
England’s long awaited Euro 2012 campaign is **finally** up and running. As expected, the French dominated possession (65%) during last night’s game in Donetsk so I was more than happy with the result of a 1-1 draw. Should they progress to the knockout stages England will have to be far more gung-ho in the clash with Sweden, but although the Three Lions never looked like restoring their advantage after Joleon Lescott’s headed opener was cancelled out by Samir Nasri, the team’s plucky first half display gave hope for the future.
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Monday 11th June
The notes for ‘Freedom At Point Zero’ were done ‘n’ dusted by lunchtime, I’m happy to say. I’ve spent the last couple of hours listening to the new Testament album, ‘Dark Roots Of Earth’, and prepping questions for a face-to-face interview with guitarist Eric Peterson. I’m happy to say that on first listen alone the Andy Sneap-produced newie is right up there with ‘The Formation Of Damnation’, which was one of the very best heavy metal records of 2008. Find out for yourselves on July 27.
So… it’s time for build-up towards the big game – England’s opening fixture of the 2012 European Championships. The footie flags are up in the living room. Eldest son Eddie is home from school and has changed into his new England shirt. I’m about to open the second bottle of wine. The cherry brandy is nicely chilled. And we’ve got enough junk snacks to feed a couple of hundred starving Ethiopians. Into the breach once more... COME ON ENGLAND!!!!
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Sunday 10th June
Sometimes you just need to blow off steam, doncha? On Friday night I went out for a few drinks in the Crobar, only to stumble home yesterday evening in a supremely dilapidated state. There are vague memories of after-hours drinks in the Cro with my friends Harj Kallah and Andy Beare before we headed to a Stratford public house that opens for market traders at 6am, then killed time till the area’s other bars opened their doors. On the way home I might just have stunned a few innocent bystanders by joining in with some Hare Krishna dancers… I pray to God that there is no photographic evidence of said deed.
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Friday 8th June
Well, I just couldn’t afford to go to Download this year – given the inclement nature of the weather, maybe we should refer to it as ‘Drownload’ – so instead I’m sitting here in a warm and dry office, transcribing an interview with Craig Chaquico for a Rock Candy re-issue of Jefferson Starship’s ‘Freedom At Point Zero’ and trying to persuade myself that that’s a good thing. Frankly, the reports I’m reading of gridlock traffic and bands unable to appear (including Europe) make the task that much easier.
Oh look… the postie has just delivered a copy of Heart’s new four-disc boxed set ‘Strange Euphoria’… awash with rare demos, live versions and collectable tracks. Am looking forward to watching the DVD of a televised live show from 1976.
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Thursday 7th June
I was among the packed and vociferous crowd at Hammersmith Apollo for last night’s gig from Slash. Given that the evening also happened to coincide with the birthday of my boozing buddy Andy Beare, one or two liveners were consumed along the way. In fact, in a spontaneous bout of bonhomie we decided to visit the Crobar for an after-show session (yes, **another** night bus home). Slash and singer Myles Kennedy basked in the crowd’s ecstatic response, the former including the National Anthem in his guitar solo. Meanwhile, ‘Anastasia’, a tune from the new album ‘Apocalyptic Love’, was aired live for the very first time. Possibly the greatest lead vocalist that the world has to offer right now, the ever-exceptional Kennedy sang one of the evening’s true gems, ‘Starlight’, with true poise and class. At encore time the band also covered Led Zeppelin’s ‘Communication Breakdown’ – fitting as Jimmy Page was apparently at the show. The set-list ran as follows: ‘One Last Thrill’, ‘Been There Lately’, ‘Nightrain’, ‘Back From Cali’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Standing In The Sun’, ‘Rocket Queen’, ‘Doctor Alibi’, ‘Speed Parade’, ‘Halo’, ‘Watch This’, ‘Starlight’, ‘Apocalyptic Love’, ‘Anastasia’, ‘Just Like Anything’, ‘You’re A Lie’, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘Slither’, followed by ‘Communication Breakdown’ and ‘Paradise City’.
Meanwhile, the ‘Bill Ward out of Sabbath’ fiasco rumbles on. Ozzy Osbourne tells the NME that nobody from the group has actually spoken personally to the drummer, stating: “As far as I know, his requests were very unreasonable. Nothing would have been better [than] if he would have been [willing to play with us]. I don't know. I don’t deal with the business.” So let’s get this straight: Not only does Ozzy not know what Bill wanted to be a part of the reunion, he couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone and find out? Preposterous. See the story here.
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Wednesday 6th June
This morning finds most UK residents returning to work after two days of Bank Holiday relaxation. For yours truly, however, the Queen’s Jubilee did not even register on my radar. Not a single column of the newspapers was read, nor a nanosecond of the (apparently exhaustive) TV coverage watched. For me, the experience was encapsulated by a sign I spotted in the window of a Trafalgar Square pub whilst heading to see Little Angels in Oxford. After a double-take I had to go back and check that it actually **did** read: “Takeaway fish and chips. Only £9.49”. Hmmm… how’s that for a bargain? I wouldn’t mind betting the same establishment had the bare faced audacity of charge £2.50 for a sachet of ketchup. No, the whole thing was a glorified tourist trap. Thank the Lord it’s over.
Anyway, here are the latest monthly revisions of the Playlist and Youtube pages.
[Edit: As a record collecting anorak of a certain age I’m sad to hear of the death George Marino, a Grammy-winning engineer that during a 40-year career worked on genre-defining releases by Metallica, AC/DC, Journey, Iron Maiden, UFO, Bon Jovi, Deep Purple, Dio, Kansas, Anthrax and countless more. The phrase “mastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound” was a credit that I always used to look out for. Marino had been fighting a year-long battle with lung cancer].
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Tuesday 5th June
Having seen the band’s previous appearance at the Islington Academy 12 months ago, I decided to pass on Night Ranger’s return visit and head over to Oxford where Little Angels were due to play their first gig in 18 years. The afternoon was spent drifting in an out of various pubs in the company of my LA-obsessed front Mark Kentfield and his missus Caroline. As the sun shone overhead, Pimms was supped by the bucketload… lovely!
Excitement built as show time arrived and when the band finally took to the stage, beginning with a crisp one-two punch of ‘She’s A Little Angel’ and ‘Kicking Up Dust’, a veritable Crakatoa of euphoria erupted. The crowd’s reaction seemed to stun band – you really had to have been there in order to appreciate the sheer volume and warmth of their display. With the Big Bad Horns section elevating tunes like ‘Too Much Too Young and ‘Young Gods’ to another level, there was nothing tentative about this particular return to the stage. Being completely honest the band have one or two tunes that I hated first time around, notably the supremely cheesy ‘Womankind’, but judging by the looks on the faces of those around me such a viewpoint amounted to nothing less than heresy. In an emotional touch one of their best songs, ‘Don’t Pray For Me’, was dedicated to Michael Lee, the late drummer whose funeral served to draw the group back together. Will we see Little Angels again? Well… put it this way, Toby Jepson announced “Welcome to the rebirth” and not “Welcome to the one-off reunion for Download”, ha-ha-ha. Here’s the set-list: ‘She’s A Little Angel’, ‘Kicking Up Dust’, ‘Boneyard’, ‘Radical Your Lover’, ‘The Way That I Live’, ‘Don’t Pray For Me’, ‘Do You Want A Riot’, ‘Back Door Man’, ‘Womankind’, ‘I Was Not Wrong’, ‘The Wildside Of Life’, ‘Too Much Too Young’, ‘Young Gods (Stand Up, Stand Up)’. Encore: ‘I Ain’t Gonna Cry’ and ‘Big Bad World’.
Once the gig finished, Mark, Caroline and I trudged back to the bus stop to await a coach would haul us back to London. After that, I took a night bus from Trafalgar Square, hitting the sack around 2.30am. The crazy things we do for rawkenrawl, eh? But by ’eck it was worth it…
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Monday 4th June
Arrived at Hammersmith in time for a few jars with my pals Andy Beare, Danny Gwilym and Mark Taylor before nipping into the Apollo in time for an excellent warm-up display from Red White & Blues. No doubt about it, Matti Alfonzetti is one of the best frontmen out there right now and anthems such as ‘Shame’, ‘Rescue Me’, ‘Shine’, ‘Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll’ and the emotive ‘Counts For Nothing’ – a power ballad that never fails to connect with the audience – once again wowed the crowd.
Regular visitors to this Diary will know that I often complain about the brevity of the concerts that I witness. In the case of Lynyrd Skynyrd, well… I guess we know what to expect by now. Okay, they hung around for just 95 minutes but there could be no qualms about the material. Featuring just one song recorded in the current millennium (‘Skynyrd Nation’ from ‘God & Guns’), the band pulled out all the stops to send every Bank Holiday reveller wild. A baying, sold-out Apollo roared its approval as Johnny Van Zant exchanged a Stars & Stripes banner attached to his microphone for a Union Flag – a simple gesture, just like his Schmaltzy stage raps it’s interchangeable; he probably did the same thing in Belgium! – but it’s hard to take exception to the singer’s down-home simplicity… and those songs?? Well, they’re among the best and most enduring that the hard rock genre has to offer. Likewise, if Rickey Medlock, whose hair was tied up into a rather fitting topknot as he cavorted around the stage, isn’t the coolest man in rock ‘n’ roll then you can call me a card carrying Shiteon & Homo Albion supporter. Though there were no tunes from the forthcoming album, ‘Last Of A Dyin’ Breed’ (due on August 20), we can expect to hear them later in the year. Indeed, Van Zant announced: “We’ve had a great time here in England and we want to come back real soon.” Until then here’s the set-list: ‘Working For MCA’, ‘I Ain’t The One’, ‘Skynyrd Nation’, ‘What's Your Name?’, ‘Down South Jukin’’, ‘That Smell’, ‘I Know A Little’, ‘Saturday Night Special’, ‘Simple Man’, Medley: ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’/‘Whiskey Rock A-Roller’/‘The Needle And The Spoon’/‘Tuesday's Gone’, ‘Gimme Three Steps’, ‘Call Me The Breeze’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, plus the inevitable encore of ‘Free Bird’.
Returning to the Duke Of Cornwall after the show was unwise, but Messrs Beare and Gwilym were both feeling thirsty and before any of us knew what was happening last orders were being taken at 11.45pm… which meant a tube back to Charing Cross followed by a night bus home from Trafalgar Square. Never mind, it had been a great day.
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Sunday 3rd June
Never underestimate the regenerative power of music. After an incident that left me disappointed, let down and quite depressed there was no alternative: Get the hell out of Dodge (well, Catford...), hit the Orpington Record Fair, scour the bargain racks at a few branches of the Record & Tape Exchange and drink a bellyful of booze before tonight’s gig by Lynyrd Skynyrd. There were one or two bargains to be had in Orpington. Purely for the fact that Uriah Heep supported them in 1971 on their first US tour I picked up three albums by Three Dog Night (‘Cyan’, ‘Hard Labor’ and ‘Coming Down Your Way’) and a lovely-looking concert poster from Sweet’s gig at the Rainbow Theatre in December 1973. When the next paycheque comes around I shall get the latter framed for my office.
Amazingly, following a few encouraging phone calls and texts, the emotional storm clouds dispelled and I was left smiling as though Palace had stuffed Shiteon 9-0 in the final of the Intergalactic Champions League. So… off to Skynyrd. A few bevvies, methinks.
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Saturday 2nd June
With an England friendly against Belgium on the telly later and a set of sleeve notes to complete, I’ve also conductded phone interviews with Lynyrd Skynyrd members Michael Cartellone and Peter Keys. I rang them in their hotel rooms in Manchester where the band are due to perform this evening. Great guys, both of them. Drummer Cartellone gave me the lowdown on the third, unreleased Damn Yankees album and was impressed by that I’d researched his background with the Cleveland-based power-pop band Boy Wonder, with whom he released an obscure album in 1982.
[Edit: The England match was settled by an audacious lob from Danny Welbeck, though the Belgians had more possession and registered a superior amount of shots on goal. It’s clear that Hodgson’s game-plan is to make the Three Lions hard to beat and strike on the counter attack. Not very pretty to watch, but beggars cannot be choosers, I guess…]
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Friday 1st June
The new issue of Dave Lewis’ ever-impressive Zep magazine Tight But Loose is here. It contains an interview with Peter Grant’s son Warren and a detailed look at the circumstances of Zeppelin’s first ever rehearsal some 44 years ago. Great stuff.