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 31st March
Ornithologists hate me for it, but I always like to kill two birds with one stone. So the chance of going to Northampton to hear a new album from The Enid, stopping off in Watford for Palace’s über-crucial relegation six-pointer with the Hornets, made good sense. Having seen them playing songs like ‘In The Region Of The Summer Stars’ for the first time at the Reading Festival in 1981, I’ve always had a soft spot for The Enid’s intriguing blend of classical music and prog-rock. I’ll never forget their set’s climax of ‘Land Of Hope & Glory’, with a frenzied Robert John Godfrey conducting band and audience, looking for all the world like some Patrick Moore-esque loony. [Which, of course, is exactly what he is].
Back in business after 21 years away, the final touches to a new album called ‘Journey’s End’ had been added mere minutes before my arrival at their studio. Although two and a half stones lighter after a diet, RJG was exactly like I thought he’d be – sporting a shabby jacket that a school teacher from the 60s would have worn and a pair of sandals. As the finished mix of ‘Journey’s End’ filled the confinement of the playback room, I lost myself in its absorbing crescendos of mellifluous sound. Godfrey, who later gave me an absolutely superb interview and signed all my vintage vinyl, has called this album “the best thing I have ever had the honour to be part of”, and his quote does the record full justice. Make up your own minds on May 17…
And so onto Vicarage Road, where the Palace got a slice of luck… at last. Although the home side struck the woodwork on several occasions the Eagles rode their luck to take the lead, double it and add a glorious third. Not even a consolation strike for Watford and the dismissal of young defender Lee Hills could ruin the night, and with the travelling faithful in sensational voice – I’ve read that fans were stood three to a seat in some areas of the away end – the dream result was attained. I admit, I almost blubbed. Once again, Crystal Palace’s destiny is back in its own hands. Even if the club should slide into the next division, I can at least feel like we put up a bit of a fight.
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Saturday 27th March
Captain’s log… Catford, 5.25pm. Just home weary and dismayed from Palace’s game against Cardiff. Our season goes from bad to worse to fucking pitiful. The club’s injury-strewn squad is getting thinner and more inexperienced by the week (please say it’s not true that Clyne and Lee are out for the duration???!!). This afternoon a blatant penalty was turned down by yet **another** set of piss-poor officials, a wrongly awarded free-kick leading to the visitors’ ill-deserved winner. Once again there were more baffling substitutions, with Paul Hart replacing Stern John with the youth team rookie Wilfred Zaha and retaining faith in Calvin Andrew, who couldn’t score in Vanessa Perroncel’s bedroom if she were handcuffed, spread-eagled and wearing a T-shirt that said ‘Fuck Me Now, Big Boy’!!. Aside from the ten-point deduction, I cannot believe the injustices that Crystal Palace fans have had to stomach: Freddie Sears’ clear goal being disallowed against Brizzle; the only slightly less obvious one against Barnsley; the corner(s) that weren’t which lead to goals against Villa… then today’s multiple travesties. **Everything** is going against the Palace right now. This evening I am going to drown in a vat of Scrumpy. If you never hear from me again: Goodbye, cruel world. And fuck off.
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Friday 26th March
I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday afternoon’s phone interview with Neil Buchanan of Marseille, a man who some will be more familiar with in a former guise of the presenter of the TV shows No.73 and Art Attack. Marseille were one of the first live bands I ever saw, opening for Whitesnake at Hammersmith on the ‘Lovehunter’ tour. In the summer of 2008, after 25 years and five divorces, they decided to give things another go. We discussed the fact that although they were a part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the Merseysiders actually pre-dated it, having been known (briefly) as AC/DC until learning of Angus and company. “What people forget is that the NOWOBHM seemed to take off overnight,” observed the extremely quotable Buchanan. “We had been part of old ‘old’ BHM, if you will, and then this new movement came along. We were somewhere in between. Now that we’re reformed, you might say we’re part of the RWOBHM – which because Andy [Charters, guitar] and I are Scousers could be shortened to the ‘Rob ’Em’.” What a hoot! Later on Neil emailed me an MP3 of a new song called ‘I Believe’ that will feature on Marseille’s comeback album, ‘Unfinished Business’. I don’t mind telling you, it was superb.
In the evening, after a long week of tape transcription, I headed to central London watering hole the Crobar for a few libations, dropping by the Record & Tape Exchange en route. The bargain racks seemed bare till my gaze fell upon an interesting-looking album called ‘…And I Mean It!’ by a female artist called Genya Ravan. I’d never heard of her, to be truthful, but the presence of a very small MainMan Management logo seemed cause for closer inspection. And there in the tiny print on the inner bag I spotted that Side Two’s opening cut, ‘Junkman’, featured not only a ‘Male Lead Vocal’ contribution from Ian Hunter but also a guitar solo from Mick Ronson. Right, I’m having that! It’s not a bad album, either…
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Thursday 25th March
Damn that bastard Alistair Darling for raising the price of cider by ten per cent in this year’s budget as part of something called a “vice tax” – may he be forced to listen to The Darkness until the year 2016, and then die the death of a thousand cuts.
Thanks to a commission from Derek Oliver, my past few days have been spent working on an exciting project – a 3,000-word liner essay for a new version of Survivor’s 1984 classic, ‘Vital Signs’. Derek’s label, Rock Candy Records are about to give a long-overdue facelift to the Chicago band’s catalogue, though my understanding is that ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ is exempt from this process. It was something of a no-brainer when he asked which of the albums I’d like to take on. ‘Vital Signs’ was the home of three US Top 20 hit singles – ‘The Search Is Over’, ‘High On You’ and ‘I Can’t Hold Back’ – and has always been my favourite Survivor release. Jim Peterik, Frankie Sullivan and Jimi Jamison were kind enough to grant interviews during which we reassessed the album and discussed its creation, likewise its producer Ron Nevison. So now comes the arduous task of transcribing the tapes…
And still on the subject of sleeve-notes, EMI’s Hugh Gilmour has emailed the artwork for Thunder’s six-disc ‘Live At The BBC’ boxed set, requesting a second set of eyes during the proof-reading stage. I wrote the text for that one, too, and Hugh’s done an excellent job with the design. It’s lined up for release on May 24.
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Wednesday 24th March
Though I’d been told that Kobi Farhi, frontman and driving force of the excellent Israeli prog-metallers Orphaned Land, would call last night at 6pm for an interview, the phone didn’t ring. Then, two hours and several tall glasses of scrumpy later, also 15 minutes into the radio commentary of Palace’s vital game at Nottingham Florist, it chirruped into life. Grrrrrrrr. What had happened was obvious: the time difference had been miscalculated. With the game at 0-0 and the Eagles playing well, I was torn. In the end I turned the radio down low, pretended to be sober and spoke to Mr Farhi, who transpired to be a fascinating bloke. Mixed by Steven Wilson (who also played keys), Orphaned Land’s fourth album, entitled ‘The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR’, was five years in the making. As you’d imagine, it’s a remarkable piece of work. I quite expected Kobi to be serious and intense, but not at all… we both laughed heartily when, discussing OL’s gig at the Underworld on May 22, he revealed the band will be hiring in some local belly dancers to recreate the mood of their homeland. It’s a show I will **not** be missing.
To be honest, the Orphaned Land interview turned out a welcome distraction from a depressing night of football. It had looked as though the teams would go in level at half-time till three minutes into stoppages when Florist’s Wes Morgan – a fuggin’ centre-back, no less! – struck a spectacular 25-yard effort past Speroni into the top corner. With Matt Lawrence being sent off for deliberate handball, there was no way back and although CPFC enjoyed plenty of possession and almost equalised thanks to Darren Ambrose, the home side’s second goal killed off both Palace and the game. Unbelievably, the other relegation candidates all picked up points. I can’t help but feel we are doomed.
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Tuesday 23rd March
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Winger. The confirmation of Airrace as the main support on (most of) Kip and company’s first UK tour in aeons was enough to get my good buddy Steve ‘No Relation’ Way and I in the mood for a bit of a road trip. And so, loaded down by three litres of cider for me and a huge bag of jelly babies for Steve (c’mon, he was driving!), we set off for the trek’s opening night, in Bristol. Our journey down the motorway was enhanced by a soundtrack of Survivor’s ‘Ultimate Survivor’ collection, ‘Last Look At Eden’ by Europe, the Quireboys’ acoustic album ‘Halfpenny Dancer’ and, on the way back, FM’s ‘Metropolis’ and ‘Sting In The tail’ by the Scorpions. Lo and behold, thanks to a useful lead from Steve’s friend Lionel, whose house we dropped by before the gig, we also found a cider farm. Reasonably-priced scrumpy… Mmmmm.
Arriving at the Academy poor ticket sales of around 250 people had meant the show was moved from the main hall to an upstairs bar area with a low stage and sticky floor –
yuk. A short but punchy opening set from Dark Horse, a local bunch who were hailed as ‘ones to watch for 2010’ by both Classic Rock and Metal Hammer magazines, left me grinning from ear to ear. I’ve got Winger T-shirts that are older than these little dudes, but the quartet’s (s)punky, slightly AC/DC-ish though deeply melodic brand of hard rock, also their command of the stage, left me in no doubt of Dark Horse’s immense potential.
A muddy sound robbed Airrace of their usual richness and shine, but with Keith Murrell in fine voice once again the sextet purred home with ease. All but one song, ‘Better Believe It’, was culled from the recently re-issued ‘Shaft Of Light’, the likes of ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘Promise To Call’, First One Over The Line’, ‘Didn’t Wanna Lose Ya’ and ‘Brief Encounter’ glimmering like jewels in one of P Diddy’s earrings (maybe if I mention the Puffster often enough, he’ll buy CPFC?).
Stringing songs together in an almost unbelievably slick display, Winger offered a set that rippled with power and purpose. I was happy that they included three tracks from the current album, ‘Karma’, with special mention of ‘Stone Cold Killer’ and ‘Deal With The Devil’, though it was the nonchalantly despatched ‘Rainbow In The Rose’ and ‘Headed For A Heartbreak’ that left me drooling into my pint-jar. Having overlooked such classics as ‘Hungry’, ‘Time To Surrender’, ‘Loosen Up’ and ‘Spell I’m Under’, I’ll give the band the benefit of the doubt – the less than salubrious surroundings may have affected the 75-minute performance. I’m sure they’ll play for longer in London. Here’s the set-list: ‘Pull Me Under’, ‘Blind Revolution Mad’, ‘Easy Come Easy Go’, ‘Stone Cold Killer’, ‘Rainbow In The Rose’, ‘Deal With The Devil’, ‘Down Incognito’, ‘Your Great Escape’, Reb Beach Guitar Solo, ‘You Are The Saint, I Am The Sinner’, Drum Solo, ‘Headed For A Heartbreak’, ‘Can’t Get Enuff’ and ‘’Seventeen’, with encores of ‘Miles Away’ and ‘Madalaine’.
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Monday 22nd March
Just four months have passed since I saw Delain opening for Sonata Artica and predicted that the Dutch symphonic rockers “are unlikely to be a support act for much longer”. Well, I was right. The band has just played its first headlining gig in the UK, wowing a surprisingly full Garage (well, it was a Sunday night). To be honest, I was somewhat underwhelmed by Achilla, another female fronted group, who performed warm-up duties. Musically, the quartet were proficient enough, but the vocals of Hungarian-born Martamaria are very much an acquired taste (okay, that’s a polite way of saying they bugged the shit out of me).
Two albums into their own career, Delain, too, are a way off being the finished article. But at times during a pulsating 80-minute set they sounded utterly divine. Looking like a cross between Kelly Brook and Rachel Stevens, 22-year-old Charlotte Wessels has a voice to complement her flame-haired outer radiance. In an upcoming Classic Rock interview I conducted with Martijn Westerholt, the former Within Temptation keyboard player chuckled as he revealed: “I searched the whole of the Netherlands for a singer with real identity. It went so badly, for a while I actually gave up hope. And then I found somebody that lived in the same street as my parents.” Now that’s a **major** stroke of good luck. On at least two occasions Wessels had to halt the show, managing to look embarrassed, amazed and delighted as the audience simply refused to stop its clapping – a good sign that Delain are on the right path. Here’s the set-list: ‘Invidia’, ‘Stay Forever’, ‘Frozen’, ‘Sever’, ‘April Rain’, ‘Go Away’, ‘I’ll Reach You’, ‘Come Closer’, ‘The Gathering’, ‘Nothing Left’, ‘Sleepwalker’s Dream’, ‘Control The Storm’ and ‘Silhouette Of A Dancer’, with encores of ‘Virtue And Vice’, ‘Lost’ and ‘Pristine’.
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Sunday 21st March
The word ‘gutted’ doesn’t begin to cover it. Having lead 2-0 and allowed Blackpool back into the game during the second half, Palace were **one minute** away from securing three invaluable away points when… do I need to say it… the home side notched a last-gasp equaliser that sent the Eagles back into the relegation zone. It mattered little that most fans of CPFC would have accepted a point from a tough fixture against a promotion-chasing team that rarely loses as Bloomfield Road, but the manner of result felt more like a defeat than a draw. Afterwards, I was so pissed off and depressed that I decided against going to the Islington Academy to see Edguy and White Wizzard. Had somebody asked me how the Palace got on, I might’ve punched them in the face.
Feelings are also running high over at the web forums of Wishbone Ash and Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, the friction spilling onto my own guestbook after it was reported that my sleeve essay for the forthcoming ‘Sometime World: An MCA Travelogue’ anthology was amended at the insistence of the latter camp, then (apparently) partially restored. With feelings running high – Andy Powell has gone so far as to declare “war” upon MT’s clan – and as a fan of both groups, I am simply not going to take sides. It really is somebody else’s battle, and there will be no winners (check out a small sample of the vitriol HERE). So please note: All inflammatory guestbook postings past and future will be removed.

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Saturday 20th March
Hmmm… last night offered a choice of two South London gigs; Steel Panther at Brixton or Jethro Tull at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon? As much as I enjoyed the Panther’s album, ‘Feel The Steel’, they’re the kind of band – and I use the term loosely – that you only need to see once. So Tull in Croydon it was. Not a bad decision, as it turned out. Last time I saw Ian Anderson and company was four years ago, at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on a tour that revisited their classic 1971 album ‘Aqualung’. This time they avoided a particular theme, offering instead what has been termed a 'best of Tull' set-list, plus some ‘rare gems’. Playing the flute on one leg, a time-honoured stance, and duck walking theatrically across the stage, also sometimes mimicking Martin Barre’s guitar lines with his flute (something that, when rested on his groin, looks decidedly phallic), the bug-eyed, gag-a-minute Anderson is a brilliant frontman. Barre also plays the flute whenever necessary, notably during ‘Fat Man’, though mostly concentrates on delivering those exquisite six-string parts. Despite having famously beaten Metallica to a Grammy back in 1989, Tull are some way off being a heavy metal band. That having been said, Barre lets rip like a good ’un during ‘A New Day Yesterday’, his own jazz-rock-flavoured composition ‘Bug’ and the final run-in of ‘Aqualung’ and ‘Locomotive Breath’. Criticisms? Well, at 100 minutes the set was a good half-hour shorter than the last time I saw the group. Frustrating, given that ‘Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll’ and ‘Songs From The Wood’ were both included earlier in the tour. Here’s what they **did** play: ‘Dun Ringill’, ‘The Water Carrier’, ‘Life Is A Long Song’, ‘Eurology’, ‘Nothing Is Easy’, ‘A New Day Yesterday’, ‘Tea With A Princess’, ‘Serenade To A Cuckoo’, ‘Fat Man’, ‘Bourée’, ‘A Change Of Horses’, ‘Bug’ (including Drum Solo), ‘Budapest’ and ‘Aqualung’, with an encore of Keyboard Solo/‘Locomotive Breath’.
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Friday 19th March
With no indication of when the official DVD of Led Zeppelin’s reunion gig might be released, I was unbelievably happy to receive a copy of a bootleg called ‘A Work In Progress’, which taps fan-filmed footage from more than 15 different vantage points around the O2 Arena. The audio quality is so pristine, not to mention free of audience chatter, I can only assume it’s some sort of soundboard mix. Along with the audio-visual sync, the rapid-fire editing is truly marvellous. It’s a shame that the back of Ross Halfin’s head is so visible from certain angles, but you can’t have everything. To those responsible for the creation of this superb documentation of a legendary O2 gig: THANK YOU!
This past week two albums have been on almost constant rotation. As most will know, the Scorpions are to call it a day after a world tour to promote ‘Sting In The Tail’ (due March 22)… well, all I can say is that they are signing off with a first-rate album. The likes of ‘Sting In The Tail’, ‘Raised On Rock’ and ‘The Good Die Young’ have already been inserted into the live set… I wish they were also doing ‘No Limit’ and ‘Rock Zone’. Roll on those UK dates!
Despite having been almost literally bowled over by ‘Best Of Me’ after hearing it on Alice Cooper’s Planet Rock breakfast show, I approached Ratt’s ‘Infestation’ (available through Roadrunner, April 20) with caution. There was absolutely no need. Sure, the occasional song is below-par, and Stephen Pearcy’s voice is a little gruffer than I remember it, but but blow me down… overall it’s a corker. Party rock ‘n’ roll, rodent-style, is alive and well in 1987… er, 2009.
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Thursday 18th March

This is one of the most ridiculous stories I’ve ever seen. According to The Sun, multi-millionaire rap colossus Puff Daddy… or is that P Diddy?... is considering a move to buy Crystal Palace, with a view to “bankrolling a return to the Premier League.” And get this, it’s all because Puffy Boy **likes the name**. Obviously, the rumour is complete bollocks, but should he opt to become the new Selhurst Park messiah, would the man born as Sean Combs change his name yet again, this time to C Pally? He can call himself whatever he Goddamn likes if he saves my beloved club. And I, in turn, will change my own via Deed Poll to Dave Bling.
Here are two great gigs for the diary. Bachman-Turner Overdrive legends Randy Bachman and Fred Turner are to warm up for their slot at Classic Rock’s High Voltage Festival with a date at London’s Garage on June 7. As someone that never saw BTO but owns just about everything Randy Bachman has recorded, it’s a show I will not be missing. The same applies to the UK solo debut from former Emperor man Ihsahn, who will be performing material from his swoon-inducing trilogy of platters ‘The Adversary’, ‘angL’ and ‘After’ during a Metal Hammer-sponsored gig at the Electric Ballroom on August 19.

P.S. Oooh, goodie – the latest issue of Classic Rock Presents Prog has just dropped onto the mat. With Peter Gabriel in the cover, as ever it has **loads** to read, including my own feature on Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Something for the weekend…
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Wednesday 17th March
Last night’s score: Crystal Palace nil, Leicester 1. The misery continues. The Eagles went down to ten men just before half-time as a consequence of Claude Davis’ senseless sending off, but while some reorganisation was inevitable, I still cannot believe Paul Hart’s substitutions. As if taking off Nathaniel Clyne, the best player on the park, wasn’t bonkers enough, the removal of Ambrose and Lee, leaving Carle and John on the bench, was just… unfathomable. For about ten minutes after the break, till the visitors took the lead, we adopted a 4-5-0 formation – with no striker!!! Then, having to chase the game, the ball was hoofed up to Calvin Andrew, a guy whose effort cannot be faulted but is really only of non-league quality. Shocking. Simply shocking. It breaks my heart to say this: I think we are going to get relegated.
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Tuesday 16th March
I was upset to learn of the death of Carol Clark, the well-respected former Melody Maker journalist. As well as working with her on Classic Rock, I knew Carol since the 80s. She was a lovely person, always up for a laugh but extremely principled when it came to her work. A good example of Clerk’s skill as a writer is her book The Saga Of Hawkwind, which approached a potentially chaotic subject in a typically even-handed way. Among my favourite memories of Carol was a record company coach trip, organized by legendary publicist Keith Altham, to a pub called The Trumpet in the midlands where the release of Slade’s 1985 album, ‘Rogues Gallery’, was being celebrated. Everybody, especially Noddy Holder, got tanked up. Afterwards, our party stayed at a local B&B and there was mucho boozing till the early hours. Carol wore sunglasses and held court in the back row during the journey home with a gang of friends that included Last Of The Teenage Idols singer Buttz. My condolences to her friends and especially her family, which includes a very young daughter.
In the light of all this, it seems almost irrelevant to reveal that a handful of FM tour dates have just been announced. But they have, and it goes without saying that I will be at the London show on July 9. For details go here
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Monday 15th March
I’ve only just found time to sit down and watch Heavy Metal Britannia, a BBC4 documentary that was broadcast last Monday. Some great quotes were offered, including Geezer Butler’s admission that “the cocaine bill for [Black Sabbath’s ‘Volume 4’ album] was more than the recording bill”. It was also brave of Jon Lord to ’fess up that during the punk era “Deep Purple was becoming irrelevant, not just [in a musical context] but to the people in the band”, though on the whole I felt it was a bit disjointed and unfocussed. Lemmy from Motörhead was thrown in towards the 90-minute show’s end, almost as an afterthought, and in common with its much-maligned prog-rock sister programme, at times it felt like Auntie Beeb was once again soiling her hands with something she neither understood nor cared for. As with the prog show, you could have been forgiven for thinking that metal ceased to exist once the NWOBHM was over. Sheer laziness on the part of the producers, if you ask me. As entertaining as Bruce Dickinson was (his jibe that “Saxon were our granddaddies; they’d been doing working men’s clubs in Barnsley for years” certainly made me giggle), the show cried out for someone like Steve Harris to have joined Rob Halford in speaking out in celebration of the music, instead of merely reciting the genre’s lineage and explaining its mechanics.
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Sunday 14th March
Having been unable to make the trip to Oakwell, yesterday afternoon was spent glued to the radio commentary of Palace’s game with Barnsley. After a hotly disputed goal attempt from the Eagles was ruled not to have crossed the line (Aaaaarrgggh!), the home side began to batter the visitors. So well done to keeper Julian Speroni, always the rock of CPFC’s rearguard, for a string of what sounded like first-class saves that preserved parity to earn a priceless point.
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Friday 12th March
Until last night I had never seen a headline show from Katatonia, the brilliant Swedish band that made one of the best albums of last year in the Mikael Åkerfeldt-championed ‘Night Is The New Day’. Although 12 years have passed since Katatonia cut loose from their death metal roots to embrace more challenging sounds, it’s taken them a while to make an impact on the British market. So it was nice to see the Garage sold out for their latest visit to London.
Their support band, Swallow The Sun, are another favourite of mine. Annoyingly, however, a 50-minute set was plagued by sound gremlins. Whilst their huge keyboards and crushing guitars meshed almost perfectly, the more subtle manifestations of Mikko Kotamäki’s vocals weren’t always able to pierce the Finnish band’s mesmerizing fusion of melodic death metal, doom and symphonic elements.
Since reinventing themselves Katatonia have found a whole new audience with the Porcupine Tree/Opeth/Anathema fraternity, so there were no complaints that Jonas Renkse failed to utter a single growl all evening. Despite introducing two guest members after the unexpected resignations of guitarist Fredrik Norrman and bassist Mattias Norrman, also facing the Everest-esque challenge of recreating the sonic textures of ‘Night Is The New Day’ (something that, in all fairness, they needed samples to achieve), the Swedish band delivered a display of composed, majestic beauty that left a sold-out Garage swooning with delight. Nobody seemed to mind that six tracks from the new album were performed, or that Katatonia would only delve as far back as 1998, though the decision to play three songs that had never previously been aired – ‘Omerta’ from Viva Emptiness’, ‘Saw You Drown’ from ‘Discouraged Ones’ and ‘The Great Cold Distance’ classic ‘Rusted’ – was a pretty clever sweetener.
On the Tube during the homeward journey I overheard a conversation between two smiling blokes who’d also been at the gig. “How do you feel?” one asked the other. “Cleansed” was his friend’s reply. Just like a few others in the carriage, I nodded in silent agreement. Here’s the set-list: ‘Forsaker’, ‘Liberation’, ‘My Twin’, ‘Onward Into Battle’, ‘Complicity’, ‘The Longest Year’, ‘Teargas’, ‘Saw You Drown’, ‘Idle Blood’, ‘Ghost Of The Sun’, ‘Evidence’, ‘Rusted’, ‘Day And Then The Shade’, ‘In The White’, and ‘For My Demons’, with encores of ‘Dispossession’ and ‘Leaders’.
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Thursday 11th March
Should it turn out to be complete and utter bollocks then don’t shoot the messenger but I’ve heard a tremendously exciting rumour that Manowar are set to appear with Iron Maiden at the UK’s Sonisphere on July 30. Joey DeMaio and company are already doing several of the Sonisphere dates in mainland Europe and the British site still says: ‘Special Guests To Be Announced’, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. Like I say, there’s been **no official confirmation** of Manowar’s long-awaited return to these shores, and it might turn out to be a vicious wind-up, but… well, I just couldn’t contain myself!
P.S. Have added some additions to the Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Quotes page.
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Wednesday 10th March
So much for the Palace Revolution. Last night’s home defeat to Bristol Shitty, a club I simply cannot abide, caused major distress here at Ling Towers – especially as the visitors had been humiliated 5-2 at home by Doncaster last weekend. An otherwise dour game was settled by a sensational second half strike from Wolves loanee Chris Iwelumo. But what concerned me most was manager Paul Hart’s clueless substitutions; why the fuck did he see fit to withdraw playmakers Carle and Ambrose?! And, worse still, leave Wayne Andrews on the pitch??!! Thanks to Sheffield Wednesday being overturned by WBA we remain outside the drop zone on goal difference but unless there is a very swift improvement, I fear The Eagles are set to drop into the third tier of English football.
The postie has just delivered an advance copy of Judas Priest’s ‘British Steel’ album, which receives a 30th anniversary overhaul on May 10. This expanded version consists of three discs; a re-mastered version of the original audio album, complete with bonus cuts ‘Red, White & Blue’ and ‘Grinder (Live)’, plus a concert recording of the band playing the album in its entirety last summer in Florida (also including several other songs from the set), and a DVD edition of the same show. A Limited Edition Deluxe version adds a documentary called ‘The Making Of British Steel’. Have just been playing the audio segment, which was produced by Tom Allom, and it sounds great!
Still in Priest-like territory, a few words of praise for US Christian-rockers Saint, whose 2008 opus ‘Crime Scene Earth’ is forged from the same kind of molten steel and has just been re-issued in re-mixed form by Retroactive Records. The album actually includes a reverential cover of ‘Invader’, from 1978’s ‘Stained Class’, but the tune that **really** tickles my fancy is its swansong, ‘Lost’, which has a brilliant chantalong chorus of: ‘Lost in the 80s/Van Halen Boulevard/When Schenker rocked the world/I wanna be a rock star/Down to the valley/The valley of the Priest’. But for the unforgivable mention of ‘The V***ey’ that’s sheer bloody poetry!
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Tuesday 9th March
Last night, thanks to an alert publicist, I narrowly avoided wasting an entire evening. I’d agreed to head over to South Of The Border in Old Street to check out The Smoking Hearts, whose debut album ‘Pride Of Nowhere’ kicks ass in a major punkoid-metallic stylée. Those plans would have been left in tatters when the neighborhood in which the venue is located was struck by a sudden long-term power failure. Fortuitously, James Sherry of Division Media called just as I was preparing to leave. Oh well, deffo next time…
uring the daytime I did an enjoyable phone interview with Chris Babbitt of Taking Dawn, the fast-rising US band that support Airbourne on their upcoming UK dates. Babbitt’s name really should be ‘Rabbit’… The guitarist/frontman is being talked of as an heir to Sebastian Bach’s motormouth messiah throne. Well, he’s certainly got the gift of the gab. And quantity aside, much of what he spews forth is eminently quotable. Thankfully, ‘Time To Burn’, the Las Vegas quartet’s debut album, merits the vast quantities of hype that Roadrunner seem to be drumming up. I’ve just awarded it [9/10] in the upcoming issue of Metal Hammer.
Still on the subject of Roadrunner’s artistes, it’s disappointing to learn that DragonForce have with split with ZP Theart, one of the finest singers of the power-metal genre, due to “insurmountable differences of musical opinion”. Make no mistake, those are major shoes to fill.
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Monday 8th March
There’s some fine reading matter in the new issue of Metal Hammer, dated April (with Slash and M Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold on the cover). Dayal Patterson’s interview with Varg Vikarnes (AKA Burzum’s Count Grishnackh), is captivating in a train-crash kinda way. Vikarnes shows not a slither of remorse whatsoever for the past crimes, including murder and church-burning, that resulted in a 16-year jail term. Elsewhere in a section called Spanish Inquisition the magazine’s readers fire their merciless, no-holds-barred questions at Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe, John Campbell and Chris Adler. Here’s a sample: ‘I’m learning to play the guitar, please may I borrow one of your Pantera songbooks?’ Someone else wanted to know: ‘Did your band come up with its name while yanking at each others’ mutton daggers in a frenzy of angry toilet love?’ Another asked: ‘How accurate was the movie Deliverance?’. Brilliant stuff! Fair play to the LOG guys who take the abuse in playful spirit, responding with their own jibes about this fair nation’s own weather, food and dentistry (“Get some braces, you English twats!”). Ya can’t beat a good argument, can ya?
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Sunday 7th March
Crystal Palace’s new management regime is up ‘n’ running after yesterday’s priceless home win over Sheffield United. Okay, the Blades were little more than a bunch dirty cloggers who failed dismally to register a serious attempt on target throughout the entire game, but three points are three points. Well done to Messrs Hart, Freedman and Pemberton for allowing the team to keep the ball on the deck. A very encouraging start indeed.
The victory set me up for what turned out to be a fantastic night’s rocking with Lynyrd Skynyrd, reaching Hammersmith just in time for Gun’s warm-up spot. Mixing up a healthy smattering of new material (‘Popkiller’, ‘Let Your Hair Down’ and ‘Seraphina’) with tunes from the past (‘Welcome To The Real World’, ‘Taking On The World’, ‘Better Days’ and ‘Steal Your Fire’, etc), it was refreshing to see them play to a decent-sized crowd and receive a noisy, enthusiastic response for their efforts.
Apart from the matter of its brevity, Skynyrd’s streamlined and super-confident headline performance roared: “This is how the masters do it”. The US band’s last British tour in May ’09 offered a treasure trove of all-time classics culled from the years 1973-1977. This time they added three songs from their excellent current studio disc, ‘God & Guns’. With guitarist Rickey Medlocke throwing rock star shapes a-plenty, Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny sweet-talking the crowd and the aptly-named Peter Keys proving a capable replacement for the late, great Billy Powell, Skynyrd purred through an economical though never less than riveting 90-minute display that left the sold-out Apollo bellowing for more… which, of course, is the goal. Here’s the set-list: ‘Skynyrd Nation’, ‘What’s Your Name?’, ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’, ‘I Know A Little’, ‘That Smell’, ‘Simple Man’, Medley: ‘Whiskey Rock-‘-Roller’/‘Down South Jukin’’/‘The Needle & The Spoon’/‘Tuesday’s Gone’, ‘God & Guns’, ‘Still Unbroken’, ‘Gimme Three Steps’, Call me The Breeze’, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and a certain epic song about a free bird.

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Saturday 6th March
Tele-sales calls are among my pet annoyances. So when my office phone line rang at 10am on a Saturday, I prepared to despatch a volley of abuse to whomever had the audacity to interrupt my hard-earned leisure time. Imagine my surprise, then, when the caller turned out to be Dan Reed, wanting to know why I had not hung around to say ‘hi!’ after last night’s gig at Union Chapel. “Did you hate it?” he wondered. “Not at all,” was my reply, though I came clean with my view that the show’s billing as a ‘full electric band’ was a tad misleading. After finding his way back with so many one-man acoustic shows, I’d been hoping for a return to the ‘Funky Dan’ of his former band the Network. “Really?” responded Reed, sounding as though the notion had only just occurred to him. In fact, the 90-minute set had included only a handful of songs from the DRN era, including ‘Rainbow Child’, ‘I’m So Sorry’, ‘Cruise Together’, ‘Ritual’ and unaccompanied keyboard-vocal renditions of ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Stronger Than Steel’. Though his acoustic contributions were a cornerstone of the performance, I felt it wasteful to have a guitarist of Tommy Denander’s talent seated on a stool, playing second fiddle to Rob Daiker’s low-key electric solos.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big admirer of the new material that Reed has concocted since returning from the wilderness. ‘She’s Not You’, for instance, works on so many different levels. ‘Losing My Fear’, ‘Brave New World’ and ‘Promised Land’ are not far behind. And with his long-awaited studio album, ‘Coming Up For Air’, now lined up for release through Townsend Records on May 25, they are likely to take on an even greater resonance. The biggest difference between ‘now’ and ‘then’ is that Reed’s tunes lack any sort of vigour. Dan’s become a more spiritual person, which is to be admired. But I cannot be alone in missing the days when what went on below the waist – rhythmically and sexually – was more reflected in his oeuvre. Here’s the set-list: ‘Feels Like Home’, ‘Coming Up For Air’, ‘Losing My Fear’, ‘Rainbow Child’, ‘I’m So Sorry’, ‘Promised Land’, ‘Reach For The Sun’, ‘On Your Side’, ‘Closer’, ‘Candlelight’, ‘Cruise Together’, ‘Sacred Ground’, ‘Ritual’ and ‘Brave New World’, plus ‘Let it Go’, ‘Stronger Than Steel’ and ‘She’s Not You’.
Before heading to the Union Chapel I attended a playback of Masterplan’s new album. ‘Time To Be King’ is released via AFM Records on May 23 and heralds the return of Jorn Lande, one of the nest rock singers around. Lande is one of the few men capable of sounding like David Coverdale **and** Ronnie James Dio, and although Mike DiMeo did a good job of fronting Masterplan, on the evidence of what was played – some songs were missing their final lead guitar parts – they are all the better for having him back. Band-leader Roland Grapow was on hand to talk us through each track. I laughed when he revealed that ‘Blue Europa’, which name-checks Winston Churchill and the SS, is about (BOO! HISS!) the European Union… a subject that is, of course, **way** too big to be covered in just four minutes or so. Grapow knew it, too, smiling as he revealed: “I had to tell Jorn: ‘Please don’t mention Adolf’.”
P.S. The Playlist and YouTube sections have received their monthly updates.

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Friday 5th March
Cool! Iron Maiden have named their (ulp!) 15th studio album, which was produced by Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin/Aerosmith/Black Crowes) and will be released in the summer. It’s to be called ‘The Final Frontier’. Not a bad title for sure, but the ‘final’ part is a bit worrying.
I’ve been getting back into Reef. After transcribing my recent Classic Rock interview with their singer Gary Stringer, I dug out the West Country quarter’s debut album, 1995’s ‘Replenish’ – almost forgot what a fabulous, groovy and earthy band they were. I must go and see them at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, or better still at the ‘secret’ gig that Stringer refers to here.
Talking of which, I’ve received some e-abuse for electing to see John Waite over Kiss (see Wednesday’s diary). What the original post should probably have mentioned is that I’ve seen two previous intimate club shows from Kiss. I was there when the band opened the ‘new’ Marquee Club in August, 1988, as a warm-up for their appearance at Castle Donington. Then, four years later, during the promotion of the ‘Revenge’ album, I saw them at The Stone in San Francisco, where I filed this report. Given that Waite hadn’t played London (so far as I know) in almost a quarter-century, and that $immons and company play two nights at Wembley in two months’ time, it was a bit of a no-brainer. So don’t go calling me bonkers!
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Thursday 4th March
There are just 98 days till the World Cup begins. Frankly, on the evidence of last night’s game against Egypt, England don’t stand a snowball in hell’s chance of winning the tournament. Sure, the national side was missing several key players (including the disgraced Ashley Cole), but their first half performance was especially poor. Capello’s decision to change things around after Mohamed Zidan put the African champions ahead was vindicated, but the final score of 3-1 flattered the Thee Lions. Peter Crouch equalised with incredible style for a big fella but was blatantly offside for his second goal and England’s third. Whatever anyone says of Crouch, 20 strikes in 37 games – many of which were off the bench – is an impressive stat. Bring in James Milner for the overrated Lampard for me please, Fabio! Gerrard, too, is living on his reputation.
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Wednesday 3rd March
It’s hard to believe that my last sighting of John Waite was at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street wa-a-a-a-y back in 1986. So imagine my frustration when I realized that last night’s gig clashed with Kiss’ not-so-‘secret’ appearance at the Islington Academy. I had to return my guest ticket for the latter, but even though Waite played for just 90 minutes – less than charitable, given the size of his catalogue – I don’t regret doing so. As my friend John Dryland and I enjoyed a pre-gig cider or three, UFO’s Paul Raymond strolled into the World’s End, the boozer above the Underworld. Paul and his other half, Helen, were fine company and meeting them amplified the ‘refreshment’ factor.
The posters for Waite’s tour suggested he would revisit solo material and offerings from his days with The Babys and Bad English and, excepting a gratuitous cover of Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ and a single-song encore of the Zeppelin standard ‘Rock And Roll’, that’s exactly what we got – a mouth-watering smorgasbord of all that’s best about Lancaster’s finest export. Although the Underworld was only two-thirds full, the crowd went absolutely wild, and one of my fondest memories of the night was turning around to survey the scene during ‘When I See You Smile’ and realising that a beaming John Mitchell of It Bites was just a few feet away to my left. We exchanged knowing grins and got on with mouthing the lyrics to the Bad English classic. Here’s the set-list: ‘Change’, ‘Back On My Feet’, ‘Encircled’, ‘When I See You Smile’, ‘In Dreams’, ‘How Did I Get By Without You’, ‘All Along The Watchtower’, ‘Mr Wonderful’, ‘Everytime I Think Of You’, ‘Suicide Life’, Guitar Solo, ‘Best Of What I Got’, ‘New York City Girl’, ‘Missing You’, ‘Midnight Rendezvous’, ‘Head First’ and ‘Rock And Roll’.
And so… the SE25 pantomime continues... Paul Hart has been appointed Crystal Palace’s new boss till the end of the season, with CPFC Legend Dougie Freedman returning to the club as his right-hand man and Cup Finalist John ‘Pembo’ Pemberton taking charge of first-team coaching duties. It could have been far, far worse. As I got in from the Underworld, administrator Brendan Guilfoyle was on Sky Sports News claiming: “[Neil Warnock] told me didn’t have the stomach for the fight; if he wasn’t committed I needed to let him go.” If that’s true, it’s funny/tragic that Warnock has the “stomach” to take on the running of a club that’s just one position above Palace in the table. A huge pile of cash versus principles and loyalty? No contest, it seems. For me, NW has gone from hero to zero in 24 hours.
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Tuesday 2nd March
Thankfully, today is crammed with work – all enjoyable, and enough to take my mind off the depressing situation at Selhurst Park. I’ve got a phone interview with Rudolf Schenker of the Scorps after lunch, before heading off for a face-to-face chat with Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton. The only bad news is that said arrangement excludes me from attending a launch reception for the ‘new’ Jimi Hendrix studio album, ‘Valleys Of Neptune’. I’ll then head over to the Underworld to see a gig by John Waite… see what I mean about a hectic schedule??!!
[Edit: Despite coverage on BBC’s Breakfast News and right across the media, the official CPFC website now says that QPR’s statement is “somewhat premature”, and that discussions regarding Warnock’s release remain “ongoing”. What an absolute farce.]
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Monday 1st March
It’s 10pm and my evening has burst into flames. After conducting a great interview with former Survivor man Jim Peterik, I’d settled down to watch some telly. The first text came from my CPFC buddy Neil Pudney. Neil Warnock’s ‘transfer’ to QP-Hahaha was official. Oh, bollocks. It was inevitable, but the reported compensation package of £1.5 million that had been so vital to keeping Crystal palace running till the end of the season had dwindled to a paltry £400,000. Worse still we have no idea who will be in charge against Sheffield United on Saturday, or for the rest of the campaign – should the club last that long (and with the taxman appearing to play hardball with Portsmouth, being wound up looks like a distinct possibility). All the usual names are being linked with the vacancy (listed in my own order of preference)… Sir Steve Coppell, Gareth Southgate, Alan Smith – also such non-CPFC names as Gary Megson and Paul Hart. The most unbelievable one is… Iain Dowie. Holy. Fucking. Shit. The man that lied to us and then walked out to join the Clowns. Had it happened in an episode of Dream Team, you’d have said it was too far-fetched for words.