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

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Friday 30th March
I’ve just conducted a great telephone interview with Steel Panther’s Michael Starr. I reminded the singer that before last year’s UK jaunt with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, the latter’s Tommy Lee had told Classic Rock Presents AOR: “I guess it’s funny if you’re drunk, but for us to play with a band that mocks you is just fucking weird. Whatever… I don’t have to sit there and listen to it”, but made the point that for many, Steel Panther had turned out the band of the show. “We were certainly the skinniest band of that tour,” laughed Starr, “well… except for Phil Collen, maybe.” Miaaoooooow!
Though it’s a Friday this evening I shall be staying home and catching up on some telly. A new series of Dexter kicks off at 10pm, and I’ve got two episodes of the excellent Mad Men lined up on the Sky+ box… can’t wait!
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Thursday 29th March
Black Stone Cherry’s gig at the Forum was a triumphant experience. Four years ago, when I interviewed the guys deep in the bowels of Wembley Arena as they prepared to open for Def Leppard and Whitesnake, guitarist Ben Wells told me, almost casually: “Someday we want to come back and headline [this place].” And you know what? After completion of this sold-out 14-date UK tour, that statement no longer seems so farfetched, especially as the quartet from Kentucky have also now supported Alter Bridge at Wembley and topped the bill at both Brixton Academy and the Hammersmith Apollo.
Rival Sons, whose drummer Michael Miley hotfooted it to the Royal Albert Hall to perform with Roger Daltrey of The Who and Steve Winwood upon completion of a well-received opening slot, certainly have one of the best up ‘n’ coming frontmen around in the rather dapper shape of Jay Buchanan. Whilst their worship of Led Zeppelin can be just that little too transparent – the slow, heavy blues of ‘Face Of Light’ and ‘Soul’ certainly take things to ridiculous extremes – I’m growing to appreciate the Californian-based classic rock ‘n’ rockers after they fired a dud (in my opinion) on the main stage at High Voltage back in 2011.
Black Stone Cherry are offering proof that with the right songs, attitude and work ethic a new band **can** make it. Their career-spanning 100-minute set included all of the group’s finest material and was delivered with customary good cheer. During an unlikely mid-show acoustic section that included ‘Stay’, a version of Oasis’ ‘Champagne Supernova’, Alice in Chains’ ‘Down In A Hole’ and Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’, laughter was generated when, as an end-of-tour jape comfy armchairs were produced to sit on. “I can’t do this… just give me a stool,” joked vocalist/guitarist Chris Robertson. “Do you realise how hard it s for a fat man to sit down and sing to begin with?” However, Robertson’s voice was unneeded during a moving rendition of ‘Things My Father Said’ that was sung entirely by the audience. For the record, the electric part of the set consisted of: ‘Change’, ‘Maybe Someday’, ‘Blind Man’, ‘Such A Shame’, ‘Hell & High Water’, ‘Soulcreek’, ‘In My Blood’, ‘Rain Wizard’, ‘Like I Roll’, ‘Killing Floor’, ‘White Trash Millionaire’, Drum Solo, ‘Devil’s Queen’, ‘Drive’, ‘Blame It On The Boom-Boom’ (preceded by an ironic stab at Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’) and an encore of ‘Peace Is Free’ and ‘Lonely Train’.
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Wednesday 28th March
Last night’s 1-1 draw with relegation threatened Doncaster Rovers was a pretty poor game. It also means that my beloved Eagles are now almost mathematically unable to gatecrash the play-offs after all. Oh well… far better to finish mid-table than endure the nail-biting climaxes of the last two seasons. Firm foundations have been lain for the future and if a decent striker can be bought for the next term then 2012/’13 will be extremely exciting.
I’m pretty shocked by the cancellation of the Sonisphere Festival, due to have been headlined at Knebworth Park by Kiss, Faith No More and an act trying to pass itself off as Queen. It goes to show just how deep the current recession is biting, doesn’t it??
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Tuesday 27th March
Gruuuuuuuhhh… I was at last night’s launch party for It Bites’ fabulous new album, ‘Map Of The Past’, followed by a trip to the Crobar with Malcolm Dome, Jerry Ewing and assorted band members. Had never met IB bass player Lee Pomeroy – seemed like a very decent chap, and somehow I managed to resist cracking any silly gags about his ‘day job’, as… wait for it… a backing muso for Take That. Nevertheless, I indulged in way too many sherberts for a Monday. Got a rather bad hangover today...
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Monday 26th March
A chunk of my Sunday was spent dotting Is and crossing Ts, completing a press release biography for Sweet’s new covers album, ‘New York Connection’. The record has a central theme: Songs by New York-based artists, or material that name-checks the Big Apple in its title. “Obviously, some don’t fulfill that criteria, but most of them do,” explains guitarist Andy Scott. There are a few fairly predictable selections. Scott has long declared his admiration of The Velvet Underground and handles lead vocals on a version of ‘Sweet Jane’. Others include The Who’s ‘Join Together’ (previously released as a single), ‘Shapes Of Things’ by The Yardbirds, The Ramones’ ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ and the Bruce Springsteen-composed, Patti Smith Group-popularised ‘Because The Night’, though the band have rendered things more interesting via the inclusion of some off-the-wall choices such as ‘You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)’, a UK chart-topper for Dead Or Alive back in 1985. They’ve also tried their hand at a few mash-ups; their interpretation of ‘All Moving Faster’ by the New Jersey punk band Electric Frankenstein iinterpolating the guitar line to Sweet’s own ‘Burn On The Flame’, whilst ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by The Ramones is teamed up with a snippet of ‘The Ballroom Blitz’ and the record’s next single, the Russ Ballard chestnut ‘New York Groove’ (previously covered by both Hello and former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley), is morphed with Jay-Z’s ‘Empire State Of Mind’. Astonishingly, it works… as does the entire record, in my opinion. It’s available to buy at www.thesweet.com from tomorrow.
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Sunday 25th March
The play-offs now seem dead after Crystal Palace lost their first game in 11 matches at Derby County, going three goals down and rallying to pull things back to 3-2. When Darren Ambrose netted in the 90th minute my eldest, Eddie, almost had an epileptic fit... leaping around and punching the air with excitement. “Come on, come on... Dad, you’ve got to believe!!!!!” He has so much to learn, but I love the daft l’il sod. Hahaha.
I can't recall the last time that post was delivered on a Sunday, but so glad it’s happened today. A package of re-issues from Rock Candy Records contains 1979’s ‘Hey World’ by the obscure US pomp-rockers Roadmaster (also ‘Sweet Music’ and ‘Fortress’). A 99p bargain basement cut-out when it first came to my attention many moons ago, ‘Hey World’ has since become an all-time favourite. Now re-mastered, it’s just as pant-wettingly wondrous as I remembered it. Here’s hoping that RC boss Derek Oliver turns his attention to Prism’s immortal ‘Armageddon’ before too long.
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Saturday 24th March
A great time was had last night in Bri... Bright... No, I can't bring myself to say it… down on the South Coast, where Joe Bonamassa opened his latest UK tour. In a recent Classic Rock cover story, the guitarist’s manager Roy Wiseman boasted: “Joe and I gonna be really fucking rich. We’re talking tens of millions [of dollars], each. And we don’t need to be some arena act to do it.” I’m sure I wasn’t alone in spilling my cuppa upon reading this audacious, provocative statement? And yet away from an ambitious business streak, on stage the 34-year-old sounds reassuring free of contrivance.
Bonamassa had never played Br***on before – we knew this as he told us so, also because Joe was innocent enough to tell the crowd: “Thanks for coming out” (snicker!) – but barring some empty press seats the 4,500-cacity Centre was sold out with no support. For a full two hours and 20 minutes, Bonamassa’s disciples diverted their full microscopic scrutiny stagewards for a somewhat demanding performance (at least, for an arena show) that flitted between introspective moments and sporadic bursts of bluster, also a great many lengthy instrumental workouts. Must confess that his countrified version of ‘Bird On A Wire’ was pretty ghastly but on the whole it was an excellent show. A bombastic encore medley of ZZ Top’s ‘Just Got Paid’ and ‘Dazed And Confused’ by Led Zeppelin brought the audience to its feet, ending things on a high. Here’s the set-list: ‘Slow Train’, ‘Last Kiss’, ‘Midnight Blues’, ‘Dust Bowl’, ‘You Better Watch Yourself’, ‘Sloe Gin’, ‘The Ballad Of John Henry’, ‘Lonesome Road Blues’, ‘Song Of Yesterday’, ‘Steal Your Heart Away’, ‘Blues Deluxe’, ‘Young Man Blues’, ‘Woke Up Dreaming’, ‘Mountain Time’ and ‘Bird On A Wire’, plus ‘Just Got Paid’/‘Dazed And Confused’.
Afterwards, I was invited to go backstage and say a quick ‘hi’ to Joe, along with my good friend Wendy Campling, her sister Jackie and Jackie’s hubbie Paul. Check out the photographic proof here. I’ve also posted a great piccie from my recent trip to Devon to interview Hawkwind.
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Friday 23rd March
Wow… what an immense crowd was drawn by last night’s retro-rock banquet at the Underworld. I’d have missed the show’s commencement had Rise Above Records mainman Lee Dorrian not arrived to whisk us both past security (thanks, Lee!) in time to catch his new, ridiculously named protégés, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. Named after an 18th Century sailor, the Hasting-based trio make a fabulous early Sabbath, Rainbow and Purple-inspired noise, though Johnny Gorilla (!) doesn’t quite have the voice to match the quality of their riffs. Nevertheless, I giggled aloud when the guitarist introduced ‘Red Admiral Black Sunrise’ with the immortal words: “Step back a bit for this one ’cos the last time we played it, the Devil appeared. So watch out.”
For me, Gothenburg’s own Horisont were the band of the evening. A glorious, fuzz-toned throwback to the halcyon days of Black Sabbath, Free, Grand Funk Railroad, Wishbone Ash and Uriah Heep, with a little UFO thrown in for good measure (check out their cover of ‘Rock Bottom’ here), and topped off by the powerhouse vocals of the surname-less but extremely hirsute Axel, I could have watched them all night. I’m dying to hear their new album, ‘Second Assault’.
No doubt about it, however… Graveyard were the group the punters had paid to see. Mixing songs from their two albums, the Swedes quickly revealed a different kind of heaviness, formulated as much around the estimable bass playing of Rikard Edlund as the six-string prowess of Jonatan Larocca Ramm and Joakim Nilsson. Indeed, the dreamy, sedate ‘Uncomfortably Numb’, ‘The Siren’ and the decidedly Wishbone Ash-esque ‘Satan’s Finest’ displayed psychedelic-tinged otherworldly qualities that were little short of hypnotic. I would **definitely** go and see them again. Here’s the set-list: ‘Blue Soul’, ‘Buying Truth (Tack & Förlåt)’, ‘As The Years Pass By, The Hours Bend’, ‘Ungrateful Are The Dead’, ‘Uncomfortably Numb’, ‘Granny And Davis’, ‘Ain’t Fit To Live Here’, ‘No Good, Mr Holden’, ‘Satan’s Finest’ and ‘Hisingen Blues’, with encores of ‘The Siren’, ‘Thin Line’ and ‘Evil Ways’.
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Thursday 22nd March
Last night I nipped down to Southampton to see Nazareth in the company of my friend Neil Jeffries. We’re both big fans of the veteran Scots, whose bassist Pete Agnew informed us beforehand that the band were just as mystified as anybody by their current tour’s overlooking of London (“It’s a pretty big city, as we drove past I asked the guys: ‘How come we’re not playing there?’ But I’m not a booking agent”). With a capacity of around 700 and a cordial atmosphere, I was hugely impressed by The Brook as a venue and will definitely return should the circumstances be right.
Musically speaking, Nazareth were excellent… solid as a rock (as usual). Sporting a Satyricon T-shirt (!) and blessed by a clear sound, hair blown back by a handily placed wind machine, Jimmy Murrison offered a great reminder of his proficiency as a guitarist. Murrison excelled during the dark and moody ‘When Jesus Comes To Save The World Again’, one of several cuts from the current album ‘Big Dogz’. However, on this occasion I was a little disappointed by Dan McCafferty’s singing. The 65-year-old complained of losing his voice thanks to monitor issues and there were times such as at the start of ‘Sunshine’ when he sounded uncharacteristically croaky. I’m sure it was an anomaly.
At times apparently wide-eyed and gobsmacked to find himself before an audience – shocking after all these years – McCafferty remains an excellent if usual frontman. When he told the crowd: “A few years ago we made an album called ‘The Newz’ and none of ye bastards bought it – you’re all on my shit-list”, a vinyl copy of said disc was raised defiantly aloft. Dan’s response of “How do you like sex with nails?” elicited a roar of laughter but also seemed to confirm the suspicion that he wasn’t having the most enjoyable of nights.
Surreally, at encore time Nazareth were joined onstage by Shy & DRS, the pair of young, Aberdeen-based rappers that recently gave an unlikely urban twist to ‘Enough Love’ (a song from ‘The News’). Though surprisingly good fun, it was nothing to rival the Aerosmith-Run DMC alliance on ‘Walk This Way’… hahaha. Anyway, here’s the set-list: ‘Silver Dollar Forger’, ‘Big Dogz Gonna Howl’, ‘This Month’s Messiah’, ‘Sunshine’, ‘Turn On Your Receiver’, ‘See Me’, ‘My White Bicycle’, ‘Radio’, ‘When Jesus Comes To Save The World Again’, ‘This Flight Tonight’, ‘Bad Bad Boy’, Guitar Solo, ‘Whisky Drinkin’ Woman’, ‘Changin’ Times’ and ‘Hair Of The Dog’, with encores of ‘Enough Love’, ‘Razamanaz’, ‘Love Hurts’ and ‘Broken Down Angel’.
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Wednesday 21st March
It’s good to know that boss Dougie Freedman hasn’t abandoned Crystal Palace’s feint play-off hopes after a 93rd-minute header from Sean Scannell last night handed the Eagles all three points against Barnsley. In truth the result flattered Palace yet it moved the club to within six points of a precious top six berth. CPFC are now unbeaten in ten games – impressive stuff, though having won three and drawn seven of those fixtures one can only wonder how different the table might have looked had Lady Luck had been kinder, and pocket dynamo midfielder Jonny Williams – a gem–in-the-rough at just 18 years old – not been injured earlier in the season.
Nick Workman has just emailed over a song from Vega’s forthcoming second album. ‘White Knuckle Ride’ is as good as I recall from hearing it in the studio a while ago: A real hook-laden anthem that takes root in the brain and bounces around for hours on end. Top stuff!
Still talking of audio dynamite… how fuggin’ good is Slash’s new single, ‘Apocalyptic Love’ (with Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge on vox)?!? If the guitarist’s second album is as good as its title track then there will be few better releases in 2012.
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Tuesday 20th March
A 9am phone interview with Michael Brown, singer and guitarist of the band Tracer, has just got my Tuesday off to a running start. Tracer are from Adelaide, Down Under, which made a potential problem of the time differences but I enjoyed talking to Brown, whose band I saw last year as openers for Royal Republic at the Underworld (see Diary, November 4th). I love Tracer’s fusion of old school hard rock and stoner sounds and will definitely be at the Islington Academy when they headline on April 24. Check out the video for their song ‘Devil Ride’ here.
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Monday 19th March
Thank goodness my friend John Dryland texted to enquire whether I fancied a pint before Vain’s gig at the Underworld. According to my desk diary the show was supposed to be happening tonight, instead of 24 hours earlier. I’d hate to have missed an all-too-rare opportunity of witnessing the San Franciscan sleaze-rockers, especially given frontman Davy Vain’s mysterious comment that: “This could be my last show in London in a long, long time.”
As ever Davy was in a talkative mood, though I’m sorry to say his stage patter really hasn’t improved. The debate about the quality of American tits versus their British counterparts was pretty dodgy, as was a lengthy rant about shagging an under-age groupie, but when he blathered on about entering the 100 Yard Leather Trousers dash in the London Olympics… well, what complete and utter drivel! Luckily, Vain (the man) still has a fantastic, charismatic singing voice, and nobody seemed to mind that Vain (the band) included so many tracks from last year’s ‘Enough Rope’, an album that is generally regarded as the spiritual heir to 1990’s wondrous debut, ‘No Respect’. Under normal circumstances, including six new tracks in a total of 12 would be extreme, but the quality of ‘Greener’, ‘Enough Rope’ and ‘Triple X’ almost made me forgive the vocalist his otherwise inexcusable verbal diahorrea. Here’s the set-list: ‘Secrets’, ‘Greener’, ‘Icy’, ‘Enough Rope’, ‘Who’s Watching You’, ‘Cindy’, ‘1000 Degrees’, ‘Stray Kitten Burns’, ‘Hot Stage Lights’ and ‘No Respect’, with an encore of ‘Triple X’ and ‘Beat The Bullet’.
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Sunday 18th March
Apologies to anyone that I might have upset, fallen into, spilled cider over or vomited upon during last night’s Angel Witch gig at the Garage. Having spent all day boozing at Selhurst Park, where Crystal Palace ground out a goalless draw with promotion hopefuls Hull City, the bottle of wine on the train was **not** a good idea.
The Witch were promoting their newly released album ‘As Above, So Below’, which mixes new material with unreleased vintage tunes such as ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’, ‘Into The Dark’ and ‘Guillotine’ from the band’s early years. My somewhat garbled notes seem to suggest that guitarist/frontman Kevin Heybourne and company performed all of these three song, plus a selection of classic-era tracks such as ‘White Witch’, ‘Atlantis’, ‘Sorcerers’, the instrumental ‘Dr Phibes’, ‘Confused’, ‘Baphomet’, ‘Free Man’ and ‘Angel Of Death’, followed by an encore of ‘Gorgon’ and ‘Angel Witch’. I loved them… but I was relieved to make it back to Catford in one piece.
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Friday 16th March
I was at the Electric Ballroom in Camden for last night’s gig from The Answer and The Union. Regular readers of this page will know of my enthusiasm for The Union, Luke Morley from Thunder’s ‘other’ group. After being subjected to my endless blather about how wonderful they are, my friend Paul Newcomb agreed to come along and check them out. As the lights dimmed I said: “This singer [Peter Shoulder] is going to blow you away,” which is exactly what happened. Featuring the Glitter beat-flavoured new single ‘My Obsession’, The Union’s 60-minute set (which also included ‘Watch The River Flow’, ‘Black Gold’, ‘Blame It On Tupelo’, ‘Saviour’, ‘Step Up The Plate’, ‘The Remedy’, ‘Cut The Line’, ‘Easy Street’, ‘Black Monday’ and ‘Siren’s Song’) was well structured and highly entertaining –the prefect soundtrack for a few pints of snakebite; a drink I haven’t had since my college days.
Three songs from The Answer was enough to make me wonder what The Question might have been. Sure, the Irish rockers had a attracted a rather large crowd, but on the evidence of what I saw the audience response fell short of what’s expected on tour for a band’s all-important third album. Cormac Neeson is undoubtedly a great singer but his band don’t have the consistency of songs required to make that final push. Paul and I headed off to the Crobar for a few bevvies instead.
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Thursday 15th March
Despite the unearthly 5am start, yesterday's trip to Hawkwind HQ in deepest Devon was immense fun. All of the band bar keyboardist/ Theremin player Tim Blake were present as we discussed the new album, 'Onwards' (released April 30). I felt extremely privileged to visit their nerve centre, filled with old, hand-painted amplifiers, vintage and modern record equipment and unfeasible amounts of memorabilia (including gig posters, backstage passes and photographs) - even a model railway track in the corner of the main room. When Joe, the photographer, and I enquired whether we might be able to get a piccie of Dave Brock sitting on a tractor his manager/wife Kris merely chuckled: "I think you've mistaken us for The Wurzels" (the Scrumpy & Western legends of 'Combine Harvester' fame). A suitable comeback to a very silly question. Seriously, though, it's tough to believe that Brock turns 71 in August - he's still right on the money.
The lengthy journey was filled by further exploration of Europe's 'Bag Of Bones', Romeo's Daughter's excellent newie 'Rapture', a lovely double-disc reissue of Little Feat's 'Time Loves A Hero' and Down In The Farm' albums and the brand new Alter Bridge concert release, 'Live At Wembley', which sounds just as stunning on the headphones as I remember it being at the Arena.
I also spent some time leafing through the new issue of Prog magazine (no longer Classic Rock Presents...), which has undergone a rather cool makeover. Its new spirally logo is rather wonderful and as usual there's plenty to read.

PROG


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Wednesday 14th March
How disappointing that Ken Hensley has taken a pot-shot at me in his latest blog. See below:
"Then I had to do an interview with Dave Ling from Classic Rock magazine. I like Dave but this was no fun. It was presented to me as a retrospective on the glory days of Heep but it turned out to be just another nauseating, thinly-veiled quest for dirt, rumour, gossip ... whatever. Dave .... you know (and you are) better than this."
Those are some pretty harsh comments. I'm upset and disappointed that Ken feels that way - especially as he gave no indication of any discomfort during the time we spent together. Quite the reverse, in fact. As I've just told Hensley by email, I'm sitting here completely stunned and no little crestfallen.
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Tuesday 13th March
I've just received a watermarked (i.e. non-transferable, traceable) promo CD of the new Kevin Shirley-produced Europe album, 'Bag Of Bones'. The Swedish band's previous record, 'Last Look At Eden', was among the finest classic rock releases of 2009 and, based entirely upon a first spin, 'BOB' is a worthy successor. It's sleek, hummable and polished, with plenty of hooks.
The ubiquitous Joe Bonamassa adds some tasty slide geetar on the muscular title cut. Save your pennies for its official unveiling on April 30th.
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Monday 12th March
Am still trying to catch up with my sleep deprivation from FM’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig on Saturday night. Check out some wonderful YouTube footage of the Manchester performances here.
The lengthy coach journey from London to Manchester at least allowed me to wade though some CDs that had been piling up by the side of my desk. Motörhead’s triple-disc live effort ‘The Wörld Is Ours’ occupied a sizeable portion of the trip. I’ve **finally** listened to ‘Lulu’, the collaborative effort from Metallica and Lou Reed, from start to finish and can only echo the comments of so many others: Brief flashes of excellence dwarfed by sentiments of ‘What-the-fuck-where-they-thinking?’ bafflement. At the other end of the spectrum, I must have beamed like the proverbial Cheshire cat whilst savouring the Rock Candy Records re-issue of the first Sheriff album – harmony-conscious AOR delivered just the way I like it; enriched with first-rate lead vocals and a joyous pomp rock edge.
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Sunday 11th March
I’m home again in Catford following my FM/Romeo’s Daughter road trip. What a wonderful experience. Though the set-lists were identical the show in Manchester had a slight edge, due to the fanatical response of the crowd and a guest appearance from former keysman Didge Digital on ‘Heart Of The Matter’ (unsurprisingly, Chris Overland didn’t turn up at either gig). Taking to the stage to the strains of their original Pink Panther intro tape, the band played brilliantly – what a great addition Jim Kirkpatrick has been – and Steve Overland sang his heart out. There are none better in the field of rock music. Romeo’s Daughter included four songs from their brand new album, ‘Rapture’ (namely ‘Trippin’ Out’, ‘Bittersweet’, ‘Lightning’ and ‘Keep Walking’), which meant they only had time for four older tracks (‘Velvet Tongue’, ‘Attracted To The Animal’, the gorgeous ‘I Cry Myself To Sleep’ and ‘Wild Child’). ‘Heaven In The Backseat’ was conspicuous by its absence, sadly. Another welcome surprise was in store back at the hotel bar in Manchester. Girlschool had been playing their own gig at the Roadhouse, and Kim McAuliffe, Jackie Chambers and Denise Dufort were all in party mood. Suffice to say, it all got a bit Lionel Messi. Likewise, I was among a gang of diehard boozers that ended up at my pal Mark Taylor’s gaff in Shepherd’s Bush following the Empire’s after-show ‘do’. I’m absolutely knackered and dying for a few zeds, but my… what fun was had!!

FM setlist

Friday 9th March
Last night I was sat at my desk till gone 11pm, dotting Is and crossing Ts on some last minute Classic Rock news stories. Now it’s ‘me time’. I’m off to Manchester for FM’s ‘Indiscreet’-themed gig at the Academy, followed 24 hours later by another show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Romeo’s Daughter are the support act at both performances). Can’t wait. Aside from the possible appearance of ex-keysman Didge Digital in Manchester, also the rather unlikely notion of original axeman Chris Overland showing up, the million dollar question is whether bassist Merv Goldsworthy will be wearing the near-legendary garment featured in this classic advertisement. I hope so!

FM

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Thursday 8th March
I enjoyed what I heard of this morning's Paul Anthony breakfast show on Planet Rock Radio; the previous incumbent, Losero, now seems like a very bad dream indeed! You can’t go wrong with Purple’s ‘Sail Away’ and ‘Black Betty’ by the American Ram Jam Band back to back. However, the next song took be by surprise. I’m not exactly a fan of Bruce Springsteen but I was amazed by how much his new tune ‘We Take Care Of Our Own’ sounded like a Tony Clarkin composition. No… don’t laugh! Next time it comes on the radio, just try and imagine it being sung by Bob Catley… it ain’t that difficult!
Many thanks to Sir Daniel Of Bowes for a newly arrived copy of Thunder’s live album, ‘Rock City 12 – The Baubles Are Back In Town’, also the 10-song CD of covers material that was being sold on his recent unplugged tour with band-mate Ben Matthews. The former is recording of the band’s Christmas festive shows at Nottingham Rock City and is available exclusively from www.thunderonline.com. It made me wish I’d been able to make the journey; that version of Wings’ ‘Live And Let Die’ is pretty tasty!
In a spooky coincidence, this morning’s ‘in’ box contained a YouTube link to some rather splendid footage of Thunder at last year’s High Voltage Festival, sent by my boozing buddy Neil Pudney. With the 2012 event having been derailed by the Olympics, it made me feel extremely nostalgic for drinking cider in a field with some good mates, getting sunburned and listening to great music.
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Wednesday 7th March
I know from experience that record producers don’t always make good interviewees. A small handful, Ron Nevison for instance, have the charisma to match the artists with whom they work, but the rest…? Well, just stick to manning the faders. This morning’s phone conversation with Rupert Hine, who helmed Rush’s ‘Presto’ and ‘Roll The Bones’ albums, confirmed the Englishman among the former category. It’s strange to think that Rush made multiple approaches to Hine – all politely declined till ‘Presto’ – based upon the fact that he had worked with the likes of Howard Jones, Thompson Twins and The Fixx, Neil Peart also having been a big fan the producer’s own solo album ‘Immunity’ album (Rupert was a member of the band Quantum Jump) when, as Hine proposes in the group’s Beyond The Lighted Stage documentary, he played a role in turning them back into something that resembled the rocking power-trio of the 1970s and 80s. A thoroughly enjoyable chat.
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Tuesday 6th March
I was surprised to realise that last night’s jaunt to the Islington Academy was my first such a visit to the North London venue, normally a regular haunt, during this calendar year. A decent-sized crowd had gathered to see Richie Kotzen, though arriving earlier than intended I had the grave misfortune to catch the final two or three songs from a lame, all-male support act from Luxembourg that had the audacity to call themselves Porno Queen (yes, really).
Unfortunately, Kotzen got off to a hesitant start and didn’t really reach full momentum till gone halfway through a 95-minute display. The guitarist, best known to many for an ill-fated but distinctly underrated spell with Poison during the early 1990s, appeared impaired by vocal issues early on (regrettable as he is a truly first-class singer), complaining about his band’s journey to London and also at being sober (!). “Which one of my songs would you like to hear me fuck up next?” he half-joked upon conclusion of ‘My Angel’. This was a shame as the show included some quite wonderful material such as ‘Doin’ What The Devil Says To Do’ and the super-slinky soulful hard rock of ‘Player’. I’d definitely go and see Kotzen again, but yesterday’s performance felt a bit like an off night. Here’s the set-list: ‘Sacred Ground’, ‘24 Hours’, ‘Fear’, ‘The Shadow’, ‘Help Me’, ‘Love Is Blind’, ‘Player’, ‘Fooled Again’, ‘My Angel’, ‘Livin’ In Bliss’, ‘Peace Sign’, ‘You Can’t Save Me’, ‘Doin’ What The Devil Says To Do’, ‘Lie To Me’, ‘Paying Dues’, ‘OMG (What’s Your Name?)’ and a solitary encore of ‘Go Faster’.
Whilst waiting for the electric blanket to perform its magic (it’s still rather cold in South London… brrrr!) I took a peek at The Ronnie Wood Show, recorded a few nights earlier on the Sky Arts Channel. The basis of the programme is simple; cameras sit in with Wood and his weekly guest as they chatter, spin some records and perform acoustically. It’s lightweight, easy-going fare – the current show with Kelly Jones of Stereophonics was very enjoyable – but I found myself impressed by Wood who, at the grand old age of 64, still has all of his faculties and comes across as calm and eminently likable.
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Monday 5th March
There are no major twinges following yesterday’s Crystal Palace Park 10K fun run. I surprised myself by completing the approximately six-mile course in 54 mins and 12 seconds... a very creditable time. This makes me feel rather proud. At the start line, alongside experienced runners in their expensive trainers and Lycra outfits, nibbling at energy boosting bars and sporting iPods strapped to their arms, I felt rather out of place (I wore a pair of tracky bottoms, a ‘Love Palace, Hate Br**ton’ T-shirt and was carrying a bottle of Tesco mineral water (with a hint of lemon and lime), also clutching my Minidisc player, which contained a recording of FM’s recent gig at Skegness. So it was a wonderful and triumphant feeling to begin overtaking people and to keep on going, up and down the hills without the need to slow down as other, seemingly better prepared competitors ran out of juice, re-entering the National Sports Centre for a final lap along the race track with ‘Over You’ ringing in my ears as I sprinted – yes, **sprinted** – over the finish line. Thanks to all that offered moral support and financial sponsorship. At the last count £545.83 was raised for breast cancer charities, see here. A big, hearty shout-out also goes to Steve ‘No Relation’ Way and his other half Kathy for braving the drizzling rain to cheer me on…
How disappointing to return to my office here at Ling Towers, switch on the PC and discover that Ronnie Montrose is dead... of cancer. That was a kick in the teeth. RIP, Ronnie. You will be truly missed.
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Sunday 4th March
Being at Selhurst Park in a semi-sober state for yesterday’s match between Crystal Palace and Peterborough felt somewhat unsettling. But mindful of this morning’s 10K run, I stuck to a moderate intake of vodka and Diet Cokes before the game, a pint of Palace Ale at half-time and a couple (well, three…) pints of Magners as Eddie and I allowed the traffic to clear before heading home to Catford… ahem… Given that Palace had won 1-0 (thanks to a goal from MOTM Mile Jedinak), this showed remarkable restraint on my part. Let’s hope that it pays off in a while.
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Saturday 3rd March
The new issue of Classic Rock (with Van Halen on the cover, and containing an excellent feature on UFO by my buddy Mark Blake) has just dropped onto the mat, so I guess I’m safe to reveal something that came up in my recent conversation with Alan Parker, the director of the new Status Quo DVD (see Diary, February 4th): namely that Francis Rossi, Rock Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan – AKA the Frantic Four – jammed together behind closed doors at Shepperton Studios before Christmas. “It was very cloak and dagger,” confides Parker. “They played for about 45 minutes, including a few things that you wouldn’t believe – some very early stuff, also more obvious things like ‘Forty Five Hundred Times’ and ‘In My Chair’’. More tantalising still, my lead news story in the new issue includes quotes from Rossi which reveal that they are weighing up the possibility of playing again in public in 2013. Holy shit! (Shame the magazine used a live shot of the band with Coghlan’s replacement Pete Kircher… it wasn’t me, so Quo-heads please stop the emails of complaint).

Last night’s final bout of training went extremely well, and the total raised for tomorrow’s 10K run now stands at more than £500… frankly, I’m staggered. Cheers to everybody that pulled out their wallets.
In a while I’ll head off to Fortress Selhurst for today’s game against Peterborough United and their manager Da**en Fer****on (AKA Son Of The Devil) after a spot of DVD reviewing. This time next week I shall be heading back to the fair city of Londinium in the wake of FM’s ‘Indiscreet’ album-themed gig at the Manchester Academy. My accommodation is booked – imagine my mortal terror at discovering I shall be in the same hotel as Kieran Dargan and the Firefest crew, who sound pretty jolly thirsty – and so is the travel. I wonder whether Didge Digital, the band’s enigmatic ex-keysman, will show up? Would be great to see him again. At least the argument over the show’s running order has now been settled.
Anyway, have a good weekend everyone (that’s unless you’re a fan of The Posh, of course)…
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Friday 2nd March
It’s a reviews day… I must deliver a melodic rock column for Classic Rock, also a 500-wd examination of DragonForce’s new baby, the rather spiffing ‘The Power Within’, for Metal Hammer. DF and H.E.A.T. both happen to be introducing their new singers, Marc Hudson and Erik Grönwall respectively, but have passed this most demanding of tests with flying colours. H.E.A.T.’s album, ‘Address The Nation’ (due March 26), is absolutely bloody amazing. And talking of groups with new lead vocalists good luck to melodic metalheads Eden’s Curse, who today have announced the arrival of Italian crooner Marco Sandron of Pathosray/Fairyland in their ranks following a very public and acrimonious falling out with co-founder Michael Eden.
Still in the realm of things that rock my world, the new Playlist and YouTube are up… gosh, I’m organised this month!
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Thursday 1st March
My training for the weekend’s 10K run goes on. On Tuesday evening I completed 11 laps of the local park, a new personal best. Better still, it also felt like there was still some gas left in the tank. I’m pretty optimistic of completing the course. The total has now exceeded £400. Thanks to all that have sponsored me, including UFO drummer Andy Parker and Ten Years After’s Leo Lyons.
Managed to free up a little time for a few bevvies before England’s friendly game with Holland. My friend Neil Pudney and I decided that drinking near the stadium might would be too problematic so we arranged to meet at Finchley Road, one stop before Wembley Park, where we found a deserted boozer that sold a wide variety of ales and bitters (manna from heaven for Pudders) and extremely strong scrumpy cider (ditto for yours truly). Captained by Scott Parker, Stuart Pearce’s Young Lions showed their mettle by coming from two goals down to a useful looking Dutch side but the fight-back was in vain as Arjen Robben notched a stoppage-time winner. It was a creditable enough display but I’m not exactly expecting England to go pulling up any trees at this Summer’s Euros. Oh, and that scrumpy was considerably stronger that I realised. Despite making it to home to Catford post-game, yet again I awoke on the sofa at 1am, Sky Sports News chattering away in the background… ho-hum. Shan’t do that again (till the next time…).