This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Friday 31st March
Okay, first a moan. When you're this excited about a gig you actually walk to the venue to avoid any potential transport mishaps, arriving 5 mins before the appointed start time, only to find the band are already into their first number – AAAARRRRGGGHHH! However, last night Ross The Boss and partner in crime Rhino just played an awesome Manowar set at the Underworld. As anyone lucky enough to have seen them will recall, those early Manowar gigs at Hammersmith were not exactly well attended, though each person to walk through the front door knew that they were a true metal warrior. Yesterday was history revisited. Numbers were sparse (the place was maybe half full) but when that roar of "Kill! Kill! Kill!" went up during 'Battle Hymn' it felt like a bit of a timewarp.
Honing in on the first six Manowar albums - the true classics! - the 95-minute set-list threw up some puzzling omissions including 'Manowar', 'All Men Play On Ten' and 'Blow Your Speakers', but most of the big 'uns were present, including 'Sign Of The Hammer', 'Blood Of My Enemies', 'Fighting The World', 'Gloves Of Metal', 'Battle Hymn', 'Hail To England' and 'Metal Daze'.
I had spent the first part of the evening at the launch of this year's Maverick Festival at the Gibson Guitars showroom, arriving at the Underworld with a pocket full of small bottles of Southern Comfort. Hadn't drunk that stuff since I don't know when, and it had been an aeon since I last saw Ross The Boss playing Manowar tunes - let's just say that the two things went together very well. The only glaring omission (save for Eric Adams and Joey DeMaio) was my old buddy from the 'Sign Of The Hammer' tour, Andy Adams.
PS I tried to take some pix of the whole band but some bloke with a huge inflatable axe kept leaping around and getting in the bloody way. Sorry. This one of Ross will have to do.
Thursday 30th March
You know you are getting dull and domesticated when you see it's gonna be the warmest day of the year and your first thoughts are: Oh goodie, I can get the laundry washed and dried and have a nice park run. Annoying, I was forced to bail on last night's London gig by Enuff Z'Nuff for work-related reasons. Praise to Valhalla, then, for the prospect of some free ale at a press reception in the evening, followed by ex-Manowar guitarist Ross The Boss and his band at the Underworld. #yinandyang
Wednesday 29th March
Third time lucky (yes... he was the A-lister mentioned a few days earlier) my working day began with a phone chat with AC/DC's ousted drummer, Phil Rudd. And lived to tell the tale. For someone with such a fearsome reputation - in 2014 AC/DC Rudd was charged with attempting to procure a murder, threatening to kill and possession of drugs - what a quietly spoken guy he turned out to be. Rudd claims to be "a changed man"… but then he would! Phill claimed to have no idea as to whether AC/DC still have juice in the tank, nor "whether Angus would want me back or not," but he insisted: "I've been through all of that bullshit with substances and everything and am very happy to have come out the other side."
I enjoyed last night's trip to the Hammy Odeon (not Apollo) for Thunder and Cats In Space. My heart went out to the latter, whose Paul Manzi started to experience chest pains two songs into their set. Paul is one of the best singers out there... of all the goddamned nights - especially since my pal Greg Hart had waited 36 years for this occasion! The band covered for Paul and won themselves many new fans, and I have absolutely no doubt that they will again grace this legendary stage before too long, but my mix of emotions can only be described as bittersweet.
Thunder always deliver onstage. I'm still getting to know their newie, 'Rip It Up', and it's taking longer than I had hoped. However, its selections worked extremely well, especially Danny's fiery duet with Lynne Jackaman on 'She Loves The Cocaine', and it was a delight to hear the perennial 'Don't Wait For Me' back in the set once again.
The set-list is attached. From the possible encore numbers that it lists they played three tunes: 'Wonder Days', '…Cocaine' and 'Dirty Love'. The latter tune and its painfully extended intro is something that I would cheerfully consign to Room 101.
If the 2015 Hammersmith show was a 10/10, for me last night represented a solid eight point five. Given the deafening response of the crowd, I realise this is a minority viewpoint! I attended the after-show party for a while. It was fun, and there were some cool people around but I was still fairly sober and when my when my friend Lisa Bardsley and her hubbie Paul, who live locally to me, offered a lift back to Sarf London, well… it was too good to refuse. Take two night buses across London or get back to Honour Oak before the chicken shop closed? No contest! I'll take four of your spiciest wings and chips please, good sir!
Tuesday 28th March
I'm feeling very rough this morning. Last night I attended an intimate album launch mini-show by Mike + The Mechanics and sank *a lot* of ale. The Mechanics played a handful of songs chosen mostly from their newly released set 'Let Me Fly' ('The Best Is Yet To Come', 'Let Me Fly', 'Don't Know What Came Over Me', a medley of 'High Life' and 'Wonder' and 'Save The World') plus the golden oldie 'Over My Shoulder' – check out the YouTube of the latter here and you might spot a familiar face at the front of the stage. I was impressed by the vocals of Tim Howar and Andrew Roachford, whose 'Cuddly Toy' remains a fantastic pop-funk-rock chewn. It was extremely good to catch up with my old gig buddy Paul Gillooly, who I hadn't seen in quite a while. Paul and I first met decades ago outside the Hammersmith Odeon whilst queuing overnight to get tickets for Quo's seven-night run at that venue, and we've remained good mates ever since (apart from a period of falling out when I got rat-arsed watching Palace in the afternoon and pretty much fell asleep into my food at one of his dinner parties. Let's draw a veil over that!).
I summoned all of the professional discipline that I could muster to be at my desk for a pre-arranged 8am interview call and the bugger didn't pick up! Gah! The guy concerned is an A-Lister and it's not the first time this week that we've missed one another; I wasted an evening calling him a few nights ago. I really hope that we can re-schedule.
Monday 27th March
Ooooh goodie, there's a brand new video, album and a UK tour from one of the best bands of the 1970s and beyond, Sparks!!! And Cats In Space have been added to the bill of Phil Collins' Hyde Park gig on June 30 (which also features Mike + The Mechanics and Blondie, the latter of whom I've never seen before!) - what a bloody fine way to start the week!!! To be honest, I could have done without the news of Damian Wilson's involuntary exit from Threshold, though. The UK progressive metallers Threshold have replaced Wilson with Glynn Morgan, a member of the group from 1994 to 1996, following completion of an 11th studio album, 'Legends Of The Shires', that's due in the autumn. "Unfortunately this is not a mutual decision, but I respect it," comments Wilson, who has had three stints with Threshold. Damian is among the best rock and metal singers out there right now, I've a felling this move will come back to bite Threshold.
Anyway... yet another month has flown past and it's time for a latest melodic rock column for Classic Rock. Ling Towers is currently filled with the sound of Walk On Fire, Art Nation, Crazy Lixx, Adrenaline Rush, Bai Bang and JD Miller among others... absolutely glorious!
Sunday 26th March
With the now fearsomely bearded Tracii Guns reinstalled after 14 years away, LA Guns' return to London was a triumphant experience. Back in his hometown after decades spent on the other side of the pond, Philip Lewis was resplendent in a snakeskin suit and Hustler T-shirt, later exchanged for a black leather outfit, complete with flying goggles and riding crop. His passport may say he's 60 years old, but the artful dodger still looks and sounds like a rock star. Guns played guitar like a man on a mission, even whipping out a bow to introduce 'Over The Edge'. Later on there was some Theramin action during 'Malaria'. It's fortunate that Jimmy Page wasn't present in a packed, excitable house, and although 75 minutes onstage was perhaps a little on the short side for a band loaded with such history, there was no mistaking the display's purposeful nature. Lewis and Guns are almost done with an album that's set for the summertime, its title of 'The Missing Peace' reflecting their rekindled synchronicity. I've been fortunate enough to hear a song or two – sadly, the duo are keeping their powder dry until it's released; nothing new was revealed at the Academy – but those previewed tunes confirmed Phil and Tracii's promise of some very big surprises, including a ten-minute epic. Until then this firecracker of a show served as the perfect hors d'oeuvre.
Oh dear, PC Plod is at the front door. Arnie and a couple of his mates had their phones lifted on Friday night by some opportunist bullies in their twenties who claimed to have a knife. The poor lad did the sensible thing and handed it over, but it seems there's little chance of getting it back unless the offenders were caught on CCTV... even then, it's doubtful. Thieving bastard scum.
Saturday 25th March
Well, lookee here. Today marks my 35th anniversary as a published music writer.
To be honest there were many, many times when I didn't think I'd make it this far, including Christmas 2016 and the year that I spent unemployed between the demise of RAW and Classic Rock's launch, but on this day in 1982 I walked nervously into WH Smith on Waterloo Stn and discovered with a mix of disbelief and joy that my review of Diamond Head at the Saxon Tavern in Catford, sent into the mag completely on spec, had been printed in Issue #12 of Kerrang! It was a pretty poor job if I'm honest, but it was a start of what has been a long and entertaining journey, and yes… I've still got the headbanger's union card (ahem).
[Edit: What a great way to have spent my professional 35th anniversary - talking to Philip Lewis on board LA Guns' tour bus. This was most apt as Lewis gave me an interview in that same year, 1982, as a member of Girl when I was a fanzine guy.
Towards the end Tracii Guns sat in and laughed at his band-mate's answers... fantastic! I've just dashed home from Islington to Catford, fed Bob The Dog and now it's all the way back again for the LA Guns show and a beer or three with my ol' buddy Andy Beare.]
Friday 24th March
I'm starting the day with repeated blasts of this: a brand new three-song EP ('Hot Love In The City', 'Do Ya Feel Like Lovin'' and 'Love Ya Like A Diamond - dig those titles!!!) from the reunited UK glamsters Rox. It's taking me wa-a-a-a-y back to those semi-legendary gigs at the 'old' Marquee in '83, the Royal Standard the following year and a support at Hammersmith with Quiet Riot!
Thursday 23rd March
I'm often asked about new rock bands to check out… though they're not exactly 'brand new' (having formed in 2009), Monster Truck are always among my shortlist of exceptional rising talent. After seeing the hairy Canadians fill a massive stage and project like they belonged at the O2 Arena with Nickelback some months ago, last night it was back to the clubs – a hot and sweaty Electric Ballroom.
As usual they served up great dollops of groovy riffs, driving tempos, big hooklines and lumberjack vocals, all dripping with juicy Hammond organ. I found myself realising that 'Old Train' is, in fact, 'Strange Kind Of Woman' with a fuzz pedal and added woooahs. Perplexingly, however, the band exited the stage after just an hour, returning for a three-song encore that included James Brown's 1965 classic 'I Got You (I Feel Good)' – rather impressive considering lead singer and bassist Jon Harvey said it was: "our first crack at playing a cover tune." I felt that the gig was a wee bit on the short side, but once again the music did this fine band proud.
Oh Goddamit. Another one bites the dust. Sib Hashian, the original drummer from Boston, is now dead at the age of 67. Those first two Boston albums are pretty much flawless, in my opinion. I've never seen the band live, and with so many of the group's classic line-up now deceased (notably singer Brad Delp), retired or replaced, the odds are now becoming pretty astronomical.
Anyway, with Eddie out elsewhere, Arnie and I are having a bit of a sofa and curry night. My chicken tikka vindaloo is scorchio but flavoursome and we've a couple of unseen episodes of Legion. The loo roll is deffo going into the fridge for the morning.
Wednesday 22nd March
Stop Press: the mighty UFO have been added to the bill of the Ramblin' Man Fair as special guests on the Sunday evening. Gotta say, that's made my summer! Not just the chance to see UFO again, which of course is always a pleasure, but also a long overdue opportunity to catch up with our mutual webmistress, the ever-wonderful, painfully modest, thin as a rake, cooler than a wine-cooler Ms Batttttty of Merchington.
Oh, and I've just heard from a friend at the venue who works for the band's record label, that tonight's Monster Truck gig continues as planned despite those awful, sickening scenes in Westminster. The show must go on... Freddie M would be proud. See you there...
Tuesday 21st March
I've spent the day writing about this little beauty of a song - 'Fox On The Run' by Sweet, one of the very first singles I ever bought. The story of how the band concerned went behind the backs of its joint songwriters and managers to transform an album track into a Number Two hit and finally establish their artistic independence. Trivia alert: the lyrics were written about a groupie in a London pub - the Barley Mow in Baker Street, to be precise. The place probably deserves a blue placque. I must grab a pint there someday.
Monday 20th March
"This is a celebration of Yes music because that's who were are," announced Jon Anderson before 'And You And I'. There were no apologies offered for the reclaiming of the name, then - hence my photograph of the billing outside the Hammersmith Apollo - but on last night's evidence none was necessary. Over the course of two hours and 20 minutes, Anderson Rabin Wakeman – or Yes, call 'em what you like – performed a gig that had about just everything. The pendulum swung from the solemn but uplifting beauty of 'Awaken' to the pantomime-esque as Wakeman and Rabin charged around the stalls during 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart'. I captured this fantastic pic of a grinning Rick, complete with keytar, sparkly cape and… er, trainers (someone get this man a stylist!) as he careered past where I sat with my pals Jerry Spewing, Alex 'The Dark Lord' Milas and Mark Palmer 14 rows back.
Anderson, now 72, sang with a clarity and power that I simply had no longer considered possible, especially given the nature of his outsing from Yes, and the set-list threw up a couple of wild cards – 'The Meeting' (from 'Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe') and 'Union's 'Life Me Up' – but, as expected, mixed tunes from Yes' underrated Rabin era ('Hold On', 'Rhythm Of Love', 'Changes') with reworkings of 'Perpetual Change', 'I've Seen All Good People', 'Heart Of The Sunrise', 'Long Distance Runaround'/'The Fish', 'Roundabout' and best of all that monumental, spiritual revamp of 'Awaken' which saw Anderson plucking at a mini-harp centre stage as the music billowed celestially around him. There were tears of joy in the crowd, matched by the unconcealed displays of delight and camaraderie of all those onstage. This was among the very best gigs I've seen in my life.
Sunday 19th March
I'm slo-o-o-o-o-owly recomposing myself after yesterday's day out at Selhurst. I knew that smug, odious and downright porky c**t Deeney would probably score. Luckily he did it in his own net. Hahahaha! What a pathetic wanker! Palace 1 Twatford 0. A third successive victory for the Eagles moves us up to 16th pace, four points clear of the relegation zone.
It's time to bid a fond farewell to the originator of rock 'n' roll as we know it. The great Mr Chuck Berry has died at the age of 90. His seven-decade career boasted a string of hits, including classics 'Bye Bye Johnny', 'My Ding A Ling', 'Roll Over Beethoven', 'Maybelline' and' Johnny B Goode'. "Natural causes" have been cited. Lem and Ricky will be pleased to see him.
Saturday 18th March
My ears are still a-ringin' from last night's gig from Black Star Riders at a packed-out Forum. As part of a three-band bill (sorry, Backyard Babies did very little for me…), Gun utilised every last second of their 30-minute opening slot, squeezing in seven tunes including 'She Knows', a preview of a brand new record that's due in September, and departing to huge cheers. The Dante Gizzi-fronted line-up just gets better and better.
After five years together as BSR and with three albums and numerous tours to their name, Messrs Gorham, Warwick and company have found a sound of their own. Okay, it's unmistakably indebted to that of Thin Lizzy but a notch or two harder; the two bands will always be neighbours, passing a cup of sugar, a riff or a six-pack of Guinness over the garden fence, but the string of positive reviews for newie 'Heavy Fire', also its Number #6 chart placing, confirm such a theory.
Kudos goes to the band for including one solitary Lizzy classic – 'The Boys Are Back In Town'… what else? – in a rapid-fire, tight-as-fuck, 95-minute, 18-song display, though an argument could be raised for keeping their next tour all-original. Lynott's old warhorse still elicits such a euphoric, nostalgic tidal wave of approval, it exerts an anticlimactic effect upon the rest of what is an undeniably marvellous repertoire. But that's to be decided in the future. For now, BSR have every right to be pleased with themselves, even if Ricky claims from the stage: "We're only just getting fucking started."
Friday 17th March
Today will be spent transcribing an hour of trawling through the wit, wisdom and pet peeves of Hawkwind's Dave Brock. With a gig from Black Star Riders and Gun to follow this evening. It's Scott Gorham's birthday *and* St Paddy's Day... yikes.
Thursday 16th March
Last night was spent at the relaunch of the one of my fave London venues, the Borderline. In my photograph I can be seen teaching my eldest son the fine art of how to tip as much free ale down the neck as quickly as possible, also how to drink tequila from a skull. I think it's called 'responsible parenting'...
Anyway, there's nothing like a quick phone chat with the one and only Andy Scott to put me in the mood for Sweet's set at the Stone Free Festival. Some of the old bubblegum tunes are going to be given a rest in favour of the hard rock gems that we've waited too long to hear performed live again, it's gonna be quite a show!!!
Wednesday 15th March
What a great review from the UK leg of the tour by Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin ad Rick Wakeman. I'm loving that set-list, and very much looking forward to seeing the show at Hammersmith on Sunday.
Another date for the Diary (if slightly further down the road): former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy is to perform that band's 12 Step Suite Live at London's Koko on June 28 backed by a group called The Shattered Fortress. Its line-up comprises members of Haken and the Neal Morse Band. Okay... I'm there!
Tuesday 14th March
My Monday evening was spent at Screen On The Green in Islington at a launch party for Steve Hackett's new album 'The Night Siren''. SOTG was, of course, "scene of Mr Rotten's first sterling effort (of a live gig with the Sex Pistols)", according to the gracious host. In 5.1 the album sounded very good indeed... from the bar!
Oh, and here's an official announcement on behalf of myself and Nick Beggs, bass player for the bands of Messrs Hackett and Wilson: There is no physical resemblance between us, okay? It makes us a little annoyed when people make such outlandish claims. (Luckily my kilt is out of shot).
The death of Joey Alves, Y&T's original rhythm guitarist, is incredibly sad. Those two legendary gigs at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street in June 1982 were among the best shows I ever saw. 'Earthshaker' remains a desert island disc. "This is a great loss for all the Y&T family and faithful," said Meniketti. "Joey now joins Phil and Leonard in rock and roll heaven" after bassist Phil Kennemore died of cancer in 2011 and drummer Leonard Haze lost a battle with heart disease last year. RIP, Joey.
Monday 13th March
Lita Ford at Islington - I would have to file that under 'good but not great'. Rock Goddess put on a favourably received support slot, their 50 minutes included a preview of material to be included in a new EP at the end of May. I really liked their newie 'Back Off' but felt it was rather puerile of the band to make such a meal of getting the crowd to sing back 'fuck off' at them, even separating us into thirds and demanding that each roared louder than its rival… sorry, that was a bit rubbish. A final run-in of 'My Angel', 'Heavy Metal Rock 'N' Roll' and the encore of 'Make My Night' soon sweetened the taste.
The crowd was very decently sized for a Sunday night and I'm not sure whether Lita was nervous but some awfully quiet moments filled the gaps between songs onstage and off (I know she broke a couple of strings, but...). The atmosphere remained quite stilted until the final third. Ford still looked great, but despite those boasts of her six-string prowess during the 1980s she delegated a big chunk of the solos to male band member Patrick Kennison, even taking the damned thing off during 'Hungry For Your Sex'. That said the pair did a fine job feeding off one another during 'Back To The Cave'. What puzzled me most was Lita's lackadaisical references to songwriting credits. She made a big deal of bigging up a Nikki Sixx co-write on 'Falling In And Out Of Love' and of course Ozzy with 'If I Close My Eyes Forever' ("He had some help"). Curiously, "my dear friend Sir Elton John" (!) received a namecheck for a cover of 'The Bitch Is Back' but Lemmy's input on 'Can't Catch Me' went unmentioned. And as for 'Black Leather' having been written "by The Sex Pistols"... er, hello? Steve Jones and Paul Cook, maybe... The show was fun but ultimately there were too many question marks. And my accountant will be relieved to hear that on the way out I ignored the temptation to buy a signed promo photo for £20!
Sunday 12th March
How fantastic. I've just stumbled across this Polaroid (remember those?) in a drawer of my office desk. It would have been 1995 and snapper Peter 'Bignose' Cronin and I were on an assignment for RAW magazine, visiting a studio in Surrey to cover the Wildhearts, who were working on 'p.h.u.q.'. Pete asked me to be a model while he tested out his lights.
And so onto less favourable and happy territory. Colour Of Noise, the band featuring former Little Angels/b.l.o.w. guitarist Bruce John Dickinson, have split up. As yet there has been no explanation for the decision, and I must say I'm rather pissed off about it all. They were a fuggin' great band.
Soon I depart for this evening's homecoming for Lita Ford at the Islington Academy, with special guests Rock Goddess. The ex-Runaway hasn't played the city of her birth for almost three decades, though of course I saw her numerous times 'back in the day': twice with Rainbow at the Michael Sobell Sports Centre and at her own Marquee gig in 1983, at numerous stops across the UK and Europe the following year backing Twisted fucking Sister with 'Stay Hungry' - anyone remember the Heavy Sound Festival in Poperinge?! - and once again as headliner at the 'old' Marquee, in Dublin on the opening night of the Jove's 'New Jersey' trek in 1988 (where I ended up in the cells overnight - true!) and at the legendary 'new' Marquee bash which saw her joined by Jon, Richie et al for 'We're An American Band'. This is one of my favorite songs of Lita's, for obvious reasons...
Saturday 11th March
And so it begins. Seven and a half hours of chat for the Wishbone Ash boxed set coffee table book. My only intended break is for this afternoon's 6 Nations clash between England and Scotland. *Pulls brave face and enters transcript mode*...
Friday 10th March
I've just arrived home from a wonderful night at the 100 Club as the Dan Reed Network rolled into town. A pair of bloody excellent bands, good friends (too many), a few beers (not too many - a long weekend of work lies ahead), and I managed to stay out of the Crobar post-gig and the kebab shop at Catford Bridge.
Despite omitting their best song, 'White Knuckle Ride' (whaaat?!), Vega put in a rousing warm-up stint; some of those around me who'd shown indifference at the start of their set were punching the air at its conclusion and humming the melody to the singalong swansong of 'Saving Grace' during the interval. And a big shout out to Nick Workman who sang the ballad 'Fade In To The Flames' manfully, in spite of annoying mic gremlins throughout their shift.
This was the fifth time I'd seen Dan Reed Network since a reunion that had never seemed possible, and I'd go to their gigs seven nights a week if I could. Why? Two answers: 1) no other band has as much fun onstage and 2) each show is different. In between staples such as 'Rainbow Child', 'Ritual' and 'Get To You' the band invited Inglorious' Nathan James to join them for a stomp through Kiss' 'Rock And Roll All Night', guitarist Brion James accepted a challenge to sing a Steely Dan song ('Rikki Don't Lose That Number') and they fooled around in fanboy mode with several Rush tidbits ('Overture', 'Limelight' and 'YYZ'). Yeah, there was a *lot* of chatter, which I know winds up some of their fans, but heck... it was entertaining! Downside: the buggers left out 'Tiger In A Dress', but like I said, each show is different and I expect it to return when the Network does (Dan signed off by revealing that a new album is being planned). Come back soon, fellas!
Thursday 9th March
How great to see Mike Tramp back at the Black Heart in Camden. The hard working former White Lion/Freak Of Nature singer has built things up over last six years from solo unplugged performances to the current electric band scenario. His three-piece group - including Soren Andersen, also Glenn Hughes' current guitarist - suits him exceptionally well, and if Tramp now focusses a little less on his past than previously, the Dane has every justification - the last three solo releases have all been superb. The show took place on the day that a latest set, 'Maybe Tomorrow', went to Number #2 in his national chart (also topping the vinyl listings), and in 2017 Tramp is in a very good place indeed. "Lord, all I ask is one thing - give me twenty more years," he pleaded from the stage. "I don't want to be any younger or older, I'm happy the way I am." Perhaps inevitably many of the glory-era tunes were re-worked. Again... I had no problem with that, particularly enjoying the revision of the 'Pride' album classic 'Lady Of The Valley'. Tramp's inner contentment, and the pleasure of a smiling crowd, were all too obvious. "Being with friends and playing music is what it's all about. It's not worth earning a billion dollars if you don't enjoy the people you're with," he admitted. "It took me almost thirty years to learn that."
Blimey, I've just played the first three tracks of the new Vain album, 'Rolling With The Punches' (out on the 24th of this month)... wow. I'm blown away. I'm not kidding when I say it's on a par with 'No Respect', their immortal debut from 1989.
Tuesday 7th March
It's mid-evening as I type and I'm back at Ling Towers after a few local pints of scrumpy with my PR pal Nick White who had some hot-off-the-press Heep re-issue goodies for me - CDs of 'Look At Yourself', 'Demons Ands Wizards' and 'The Magician's Birthday', plus the new 180gm edition of 'Live 1973' on double-gatefold speckled vinyl. Better still, I picked up a Chinese on the way home, and with both Linglets out it's time to settle down for Walking Dead, Talking Dead and Billions. #peaceandquiet #nocooking #vinyl
Monday 6th March
Oooh, very nice indeed. The Status Quo vinyl singles box volume one has just thudded onto the mat. 13 seven-inch 45s from 'Paper Plane' to 'Living On An Island' with original B-sides and sleeves reproducing the period graphics – plus my sleeve notes. Thanks a lot, postie.
Sunday 5th March
How nice to catch up with one of my bestest mates in the whole world, Harj Kallah, at a venue beneath a pizzeria in the West End of London over some nosebag, pinot and jazz-rock from the Alex Skolnick Trio. Skolnick is best known as a guitarist of Testament, also a former member of power-metal gods Savatage and, until a few years back, a touring player with the progressive rock-meets-Broadway behemoth known as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but the AST provides a radically different outlet for his extraordinary talent.
This evening we heard versions of Aerosmith's 'Dream On', 'Revelation (Mother Earth)' by Ozzy Osbourne, ' an Al Di Meola-ized rendition of 'Breaking The Law' and the 'Made In Japan' version of Purple's 'Lazy' amid a raft of self-penned tunes. It was great fun... someday all gigs will be like this!
Saturday 4th March
My Friday evening was spent in the company of my gig buddy Robert Corich watching Procol Harum's 50th anniversary gig at the Royal Festival Hall. I'm a little ashamed that I've only see this legendary band once before; back in March 2003 they played the Broadway Theatre (formerly the Town Hall) here in Catford. It was a stunning gig. The band had a little soiree in the bar afterwards and I got my copy of their then-current disc 'The Well's On Fire' signed by Gary Brooker, hit the kebab shop and was home in a matter of minutes - lovely!
Their RFH gig offered a night of drama, colour, pageantry and courage. Now 71 years old, Brooker took a really bad tumble leaving the stage at the end of set #1, and for a while nobody was sure that he would be able to return – especially when the interval was extended. So when the singer/pianist came back with a bandaged head the place gave him a standing ovation. The poor fella had also injured his hand, which meant adapting the set (organist Josh Phillips covered some of his parts). What a trooper to carry on. Most rock bands tend to use classical players simply for embellishment purposes but Procol stepped back and allowed the Senbla Symphony Orchestra and English Chamber Choir to blend and percolate with their music. From those exquisite swooping seagull sounds at the start of 'A Salty Dog' to a robust, heroic outburst during 'Symphathy For The Hard Of Hearing', Geoff Whitehorn's guitar playing was exemplary.
The only part of the show that I disliked was when Brooker invited singer Sam Brown and a couple of fellow female ukulele players to participate in 'Neighbour', a quite hideous ditty from 'Novum', the band's brand new studio album, which sounded like a bad Chas & Dave B-side. However, this was one hell of a birthday party - I'm really surprised they didn't film the thing. It made me proud to be English, and that's not a phrase I use too often anymore.
Wow, I've just spotted a fact on John Coghlan's Facebook page. 'Status Quo Live', the greatest concert album ever turns 40 years old today. What a strange and unnerving thought!
Anyway, its 5.15pm as I type: Palace win... Shiteon lose... Boro lose... Hull lose...
Twatford lose... CPFC exit the dreaded bottom three, with Eagles fans singing: "Oh Tony Pulis, we're having your house." God I *hate* Tiny Penis! Beating him at last when we really needed it feels so, so sweet. Hmmm… a visit to the pub may be in order, methinks!
Friday 3rd March
Last night I sat up late for a phone interview with Joe Bonamassa (er... is 11.30pm considered late?) As we spoke, Joe had the guitar cradled in his lap and was playing away in the background whilst spilling the beans on the new Black Country Communion album... gosh, I hate my job! Thank God I got it back! We laughed about the fact that JB dolls are now available via his Facebook page. The blurb claims: "They come with a better personality, more talent and better hairline than the real thing." "That was my endorsement," he giggled. "It's true. I really don't take myself too seriously."
Oh goodness gracious me. Lionheart and Airrace have teamed forces for a few UK dates in December. "Hello, is that Matalan Catford branch? Good. I'm in urgent need of some new underwear. And lots of it!" I will deffo be in London and may also just put together a bit of a road trip... Newcastle or Wolverhampton, possibly?
Thursday 2nd March
I'm sitting back in my office chair and smiling like a loon, attempting to pick a track from Night Ranger's newie, 'Don't Let Up', for the Heavy Rotations (office jukebox) section of the next Classic Rock. There's a problem, but it's a nice one... every song is superb!
Here are this month's Playlist and YouTube updates.
Wednesday 1st March
I'm very, very sad to see the perilous state of my second team, Leyton Orient, who face a winding up order for an unpaid tax bill and could well be relegated from the football league unless they buck up their ideas. During the 1990s as a bachelor I spent eight very happy years in Leytonstone and would often attend Orient games when I couldn't make Palace's away fixtures. It's amazing and rather depressing to think that only three years ago they were beating Rotherham 2-0 in the League 1 play-off final, only to lose on pens.
A 'non-football'-type friend of Facebook has just posted that he cannot understand why fans get upset when clubs are threatened with extinction; after all, they are business like everything else. What utter bunkum! It's the supporters who pay the price for the negligence or stupidity for those charged with running things. Clearly the bloke that bought Os doesn't give a shit if they drop out of the league or go bust, but fans invest their lives in the clubs they support. It ain't their fault. Quite the opposite, in fact. Are they supposed to remain dispassionate? I'm extremely proud that when Palace were in danger of going bust I got off my arse to attend several protests, including the one at Lloyds Bank in the City that saved the situation.
Anyway, rant over... as I type this I'm prepping for a phone interview with Erik Mårtensson via a blast of the appropriately titled new Eclipse masterpiece, 'Monumentum' (out March 24th). What a fabulous band!!