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 30th March
It had looked doubtful for quite a while, so I was thrilled to make the guest list for the last of Steven Wilson’s three Royal Albert Hall shows. I’ve seen SW on each of his tours since Porcupine Tree’s outing for ‘Stupid Dream’ in 1999 and it was good to maintain that unbroken record. As a long term fan I feel proud of the guy for the success that he’s carved.
As usual Wilson was backed by a first-rate band, including Nick Beggs on bass, the sound, lighting and back projections matching his sky-high standards. However, I've yet to warm to Wilson’s fifth and current solo release, ‘To The Bone’. I love Abba but I don't want to hear SW trying to sound like them as he does on 'Permanating' - a song the Fast Forward button was invented for. The second half of the set featured a couple of additional newies ('Song Of I' and the meandering 'Song Of Unborn') that, quite frankly, left me cold. A fourth, 'The Same Asylum As Before', taught me something brand new about the guy... his falsetto voice really isn't very good.
nd yet the show's peaks were massive. The duets with Ninet Tayeb on 'Pariah', 'People Who Eat Darkness' and 'Blank Tapes' were breathtakingly good, and kicking off Set #2 with Porcupine Tree's epic 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here' was a masterstroke, likewise the same band's 'Lazarus', 'Even Less' and 'The Sound Of Muzak'. As the clock ticked towards 11pm I began to fear for 'The Raven That Refused To Sing', one of my all-time pieces of music. However, with a DVD being filmed the show was allowed to run past curfew. Enhanced by Jess Cope's simple yet entrancing visuals the melancholy beauty of 'Raven...' does it to me every time; once again I darned near blubbed. No exagerration to say it would make my Desert Island Discs Top Five.
The revisitation of PT material, not to mention SW's appearance with Richard Barbieri during the latter's support slot, only make me wonder whether he is warming to the idea of concluding that hiatus. Kinda doubt it, but here's hoping.
I ended the day, and indeed the working week, with a nice phone chat with Dan Baird. He's in remission after that brush with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and already working on a new Homemade Sin album. “Fifty years ago I would have been a dead man, but my oncologist tells me I’m ahead of schedule and that’s good enough for me,” Baird told me. It was great to hear him so upbeat and full of beans.
Thursday 29th March
I was most amused to hear about Zodiac Mindwarp's gaffe at last night's Vive Le Rock Awards ceremony. Zody presented the Rock In Peace award and mistakenly announced: "Long may he rest in peace, Malcolm Dome, er... Malcolm Young". Relax, folks. Malc is safe and well and found it hilarious when I told him about the faux pas. I believe a small sherry or two may have been imbibed!
Monday 25th March
Sunday night at the London Palladium. Yes' second night at the legendary venue saw the band introduced by former drummer Bill Bruford. I loved the show, and it was great to see Trevor Horn make another cameo, though I will admit to dozing off during the very lengthy segment from 'Tales From Topographic Oceans'. Sorry... though the album has passages of music that float my boat I've never liked it and most probably never will.
Sunday 24th March
Amanda and I are just home from a fantastic Saturday evening in Witney with my good friends the Pudneys, Neil and Louise. We *had* to pay a visit to a pub called The Eagle Tavern. There was just time to put down the bags... grab a quick cuppa tea... back out of the door to the London Palladium for the 50th anniversary show from Yes. Gruuuuuhhhh.
Friday 23rd March
I'm back from the Islington Assembly hall and a wonderful, sold-out one-man show from Alter Bridge/Slash singer Myles Kennedy. For all of his undoubted excellence as a vocalist, I didn't have Kennedy down as someone to front a performance such as this, full of such natural warmth. He was really engaging! I loved it!
Monday 19th March
Um, yeah. Just back from a yoga class. No. I can't believe it either.
Saturday 17th March
What a ’kin relief. That was a great display from the mighty Palace who never looked like losing against Huddersfield. The Eagles are out of the dreaded bottom three. Now where did I put that bottle of spiced dark rum?
Thursday 15th March What a fabulous late afternoon, evening and night out, beginning at the American International Church in Tottenham Court Road where the cast of Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell musical gave an exclusive preview of the show before it kicks off for a new run at the Dominion Theatre on April 2. Musicals ain’t really my bag but I enjoyed myself immensely. There were free drinks and a sneak preview of the set at the ‘after-show’ in the Dominion. Ashamed to say it all got a bit out of hand. With two bars - at each end of the room - we could sink one glass of wine quickly and then head across to the next and back again without appearing greedy. My last memory before heading to the Crobar for a nightcap was spotting some unclaimed glasses of wine on the bar as the shutter came down and leaping to grab them with a cry of: “No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o! Don’t close!”
Wednesday 14th March
Amanda booked and paid for a spa day for Bob The Dog. The lady in a mobile van did a great job; trimmed his claws, cleaned out his ears and then bathed, blow-dried him and gave an all-over trim. With his fur all clean and fluffed-up he looks a bit like ‘Girls Girls Girls’-era Vince Neil. I am now considering the formation of a canine tribute band… Böbley Crüe.
Sunday 11th March
Well, my beloved Eagles won the second half of yesterday's away game the loathed Chelski. And there was nothing wrong with Sørloth's 'goal'... that's a very disappointing result.
Anyway, onwards and upwards. It's day #2 of a transcript marathon for the forthcoming Nazareth 50th anniversary boxed set. 10,000 words down... and I'm halfway through.
Saturday 10th March
The Temperance Movement at the Forum: Though the place was packed to the rafters we used the old ploy of going down the side and cutting into the middle. Ended up four or five rows from the front with a very decent view. Through nobody’s fault but my own – I’d been sent a link but hadn’t found the time to play it; a CD is en route – I was pretty much unfamiliar with the band’s just-issued third album, ‘A Deeper Cut’. This was a tad frustrating as the show’s first four songs were all newies. Great chewns… I just didn’t know ‘em. So despite being a mere five years old the first album’s ‘Be Lucky’ and ‘Ain’t No Tellin’’ felt like golden oldies. Next up was the new record’s ‘Another Spiral’…a gorgeous, shimmering, soulful piece of music. However, I knew immediately that its inclusion signed the death warrant of my all-time TTM favourite, ‘Smouldering’, and so it proved. You can see where I’m going with this – the place went mad to every song and I felt like a bit of gatecrasher at a party. I believe they played nine in total from ‘A Deeper Cut’; just under half of the 90-min set.
However, the pluses outweigh the minuses. The band's belief in their new matertial is admirable, and how heartwarming to witness such a turnout for what must still be considered a fairly new act. The Forum danced, sang and punched the air from the first note of ‘Caught In The Middle’ to the reassuringly familiar ‘Midnight Black’. There are few better frontmen around than the king of dad-dancing, Phil Campbell, a man who feels every note. No wonder the dude is so fuggin' skeletal, he treats every gig like a zumba class. And that voice...
Watch their rise continue.
Friday 9th March
I’m unbelievably stoked by the off-the-press news that Roger Manning Jr (Jellyfish/Imperial Drag) is to release new music in May. To celebrate, here's a little something for the weekend: [www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Kuk9hnp234].
Thursday 8th March The new era of domesticity continues to engulf Gentling Towers. It seems that we now have something called a 'vegetable rack' in the kitchen, which when you consider there were no vegetables in the house till Amanda's arrival is a bit of a bloody quantum leap.
Wednesday 7th March
OMG - my Facebook memories timeline has just thrown up the Frantic Four's gigs at Hammersmith. I'm staggered that this was five years ago - and saddened that it will never happen again. Such absolutely wonderful memories.
And talking of Quo recollections, although Mr Rossi gave a very nice interview my sleeve essay for the new edition of 'In The Army Now' came up a few hundred words short. Where could I get some era-specific content from Rick, I wondered? Then a lightbulb went off and I recalled this chat on the tour bus to Newcastle when the new-look Quo played with Queen in '86. It's very strange to hear his voice again.
Tuesday 6th March
I needed cheering up after the result against ManUre – at two-nil up, how on earth did we not win that fuggin’ game?! – and lookie what the postie has just delivered!!! Expanded editions of the first three Saxon albums... true classics!
Sunday 4th March
Chemistry… there’s no point bothering if you ain’t got it. Closing the UK leg of their third annual Snake Oil and Harmony trek, Danny Vaughn and Dan Reed have it in spades. It’s not simply the way their voices blend or the manner in which the tunes complement one another, the friendly, laid-back banter between the pair is… well, the only word is special.
Two guys, a couple of acoustic guitars and a vast catalogue of songs, no set-list and audience requests not so much welcomed as encouraged. “I wrote this song in a Tibetian monastery around 12 years ago,” Reed said, introducing ‘On Your Side’ and the Borderline guffawed along with Vaughn: “Who starts out a story like that? I feel so diminished. My songs come from strip clubs, my bedroom and divorces” but once the laughter faded a reverential hush descended – you could almost hear the metaphorical drop of a pin. When somebody asked for ‘Let It Go’, from the Network’s ‘The Heat’, Reed’s rehearsal-free rendition was simply stunning – even Danny stood to applaud.
Back and forth they went: Dan V served with ‘Is That All There Is’, ‘Wings To Fly’, ‘Letting Go’, ‘Reach’, ‘Catch My Fall’ and 'Standing Alone' and Dan R volleyed back over the net with ‘Smile’, ‘Rainbow Child’, ‘On Your Side’, ‘Avalanche’, ‘Distant Star’, 'Ritual' and ‘Tiger In A Dress’. There were fewer covers this time around, though Vaughn doffed his cap to former Waysted band-mate Pete Way with ‘Heaven Tonight’ (“We don’t always see eye to eye but I wish him long life and good health”) and excelled on Queen’s ‘Love Of My Life’, and we also heard the pair’s first jointly written composition, ‘Where The Water Goes’. The reaction suggested that by the time they come round again in 2019 there might be a Snake Oil LP to enjoy. Hope so!
How nice that Mr Reed would join us in the Crobar afterwards, performing his incredible glass-balancing tricks and even entrusting Amanda and I with his beloved guitar whilst wandering around the place to hang out with those that had been at the show. What a guy.
Saturday 3rd March
I’m very much looking forward to seeing Dan Reed and Danny Vaughn's Snake Oil & Harmony show this evening at the Borderline. Their previous London dates in 2015 and '16 were among the finest of those years. Oh... and I believe there's a famous rock bar just a few feet away? Stays open late, too...
Thursday 1st March
What's that you say? It's March already?! Phew. Incredible. Better update the Playlist and YouTube pages. Enjoy!