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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Thursday 31st May
I'm gutted beyond belief. It had been 14 years since Chicagoan doom-metal veterans Trouble last played the UK. The excitement at seeing them again was palpable. However, I'd not considered the infamous 'Scala factor'.
Fulfilling a promise to investigate opening act Rise To Addiction, a band of young British musos who'd once been guilty of backing Blaze Bayley - hey, everyone deserves a second chance - I arrived nice 'n' early. Alas, the sound was so utterly abysmal that I was driven back to the sanctuary of the bar after a mere two songs. The mix would improve for Trouble, surely? Well, sadly, no... and don't call me fucking Shirley. As a former cinema, the Scala simply wasn't built to be a rock venue. Its boomy acoustics once caused me to walk out on King's X, and last night I almost did so again. The PA sounded as though it had been draped in a mountain of wet douvets, muffling the guitars and swamping Eric Wagner's vocals in bass. It took almost an hour to attain anything like satisfactory levels of clarity, and the band were only onstage for 95 minutes. For what it's worth, here's the set-list: 'RIP', 'The Sleeper', 'Come Touch The Sky', 'Plastic Green Head', 'Assassin', 'Pray For The Dead'/'End Time', 'Mindbender', 'Goin' Home', 'At The End Of My Daze', 'Memory's Garden', 'Fear', 'Psychotic Reaction', 'All Is Forgiven', 'Electric Funeral'/'The Tempter', 'Bastards Will Pay' and 'The Misery Shows (Act II)'.
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Tuesday 29th May
So Derby County won the play-offs to be promoted to the Premiership, a prize that's doubled in value to more than £60 million since my beloved Palace achieved the same feat at Cardiff back in May 2004. I'm a little shocked as the team they beat 1-0, West Bromwich Albion, were the best side that the mighty Eagles played at Selhurst last season. But that's the unpredictability of the play-offs for ya. Meanwhile, it was great to see England's cricketers defeating both the weather and the West Indies at Headlingley to romp home by a whopping innings and 283 runs. My two young sons derived much hilarity from the name of Ryan Sidebottom, but the hirsute bowler fully deserved his haul of eight wickets and gives the selectors a bit of a headache for the Third Test.
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Monday 28th May
It's raining cats 'n' dogs. Of course it's fucking raining, it's a Bank Holiday weekend. But here's something to elevate the mood. I'm spinning a double anthology of 'Fast' Eddie Clarke's career, which includes three rarely heard demo tracks cut by the original Fastway, before Pete Way bailed from the group to play with Ozzy Osbourne. Fascinating stuff and well worth a listen. Talking of Fastway, I forgot to mention an email that came in from Mr Clarke himself a few days back, revealing that erstwhile Little Angels frontman Toby Jepson has taken the place of Stormzone's John 'Harv' Harbinson for Fastway's summer reunion commitments. Since the news broke I've had several messages asking my thoughts on this unlikely collaboration. Will it work? Frankly, I'm at a loss to offer any kind of opinion. Jepson claims to be a fan of the band, having bought their first album. I can only pray that they won't be adding the Angels' spectacularly bad 'Womankind' to the set.
P.S. It's a day or two early, but the June playlist has just gone up.
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Sunday 27th May
Stumbled home from last night's Magnum gig just as twilight gave way to a brand new morning. Having mixed the grain and the grape on an all but empty stomach, I'm feeling terrible as I type. You're now expecting me to blather on about how wonderful Magnum were, right? Well, I've a few grumbles. The band's current album, 'Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow', is their strongest by far since reuniting five years ago. With the possible exception of 'Dragons Are Real', the five new songs they played all deserved their inclusion. It's the core of the band's set that's now reached stagnation point (perhaps that word is harsh but Tony Clarkin does seem to have played the exact same extended guitar solo during 'How Far Jerusalem' since Jesus trod that fair city's streets). I appreciate that Magnum fans pay to hear a certain selection of favourite tunes. But with so many albums at their disposal couldn't they replace a couple with something less obvious, such as 'If I Could Live Forever', 'All Of My Life', 'Soldier Of The Line' or if they were feeling particularly determined, 'Don't Wake The Lion (Too Old To Die Young)'?
On the other hand, maybe it's just me having seen Magnum seven times since they reconvened. Perhaps familiarity is breeding contempt? I dunno, drop me a line and tell me I'm a curmudgeonly old twat if you disagree. Meanwhile, here's the set-list: 'When We Were Younger', 'Back Street Kid', 'Out Of The Shadows', 'On A Storyteller's Night', 'Like Brothers We Stand', 'How Far Jerusalem', 'Dragons Are Real', 'Les Morts Dansant', 'We All Run', 'The Spirit', 'All England's Eyes', 'Vigilante', 'Kingdom Of Madness', 'Thank You For The Day' and 'Sacred Hour'.
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Saturday 26th May
There's good news for Iron Maiden fans who don't want to go to Download. Those whispers of another charity show for ex-drummer Clive Burr's MS Trust fund have been confirmed at last. Maiden play London's 4,800-capacity Brixton Academy on June 24. I'll be at Download, but gosh, I hope that I can lay my hands a ticket for Brixton.
The new double live album from Starz just arrived, complete with my sleeve notes. A few days ago I'd found myself in a second hand shop, spending couple of quid on a 'best of' Judie Tzuke album that I'd never seen before. Or so I thought. I later realised that I'd written its notes some six years earlier and promptly forgotten all about them. Never even saw a finished copy, so it was worth the money. But I must familiarise myself with this list before doing anything as stupid again.

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Thursday 24th May
After a series of inaccurate rumours, Nightwish have finally announced the identity of their new singer. Step forward Anette Blyckert, formerly with little-known Swedish AOR group Alyson Avenue. The sound clips of the Finnish band's new download-only single, 'Eva', sound very encouraging indeed, though I'll reserve judgement till hearing whether or not the 35 year old Swede can 'rock out' as well as handle lighter-waving ballads. My understanding is that Nightwish's sixth album is already recorded and due for release through Nuclear Blast on October 1. I was only remarking a few days ago that the band's inner circle must be even more water-tight than Peter Taylor's transfer budget. Nobody can keep anything secret in these internet-obsessed days, so it's impressive that a group whose last album sold more than a million copies worldwide kept things under wraps for as long as they did.
On the way back from a pleasant lunchtime interview with Silje Wergeland and Trine C Johansen from Norwegian band Octavia Seperati, I dropped into Fop Records at Cambridge Circus. Snapped up 'Good Boys When They're Asleep: The Best Of The Faces' for a measly £3. Less than the price of a pint. How did I live for so long without this 19-song little beaut?!
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Wednesday 23rd May
Received an email from a journo pal who's writing some a sleeve essay for a re-issue of UFO's 'No Place To Run' album. Could I possibly lay my hands on the review that Sounds magazine ran back in 1980, he wondered? No problem. I keep an archive of old cuttings. Anxious as to how it would sound all these years later, I put 'NPTR' onto the turntable whilst rifling through my office filing cabinet. Made the error of playing it at 45rpm at first - until I realised my gaffe I was thinking, "Hmmm.... don't remember 'Alpha Centauri' being that fast!" It has a few fillers for sure but, wow, what an underrated record. 'Lettin' Go' is still a fabulous song, likewise the gangland-themed title cut. And I'll never forget seeing the band staggering around as they played 'Young Blood' on Top Of The Pops. You might have guessed, 'No Place To Run' was the first UFO album I bought. I'm looking forward to owning it on CD at last!
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Tuesday 22nd May
Fountains Of Wayne - what a truly amazing band. Can their last appearance at the Astoria really have been three years ago, on the 'Welcome Interstate Managers' tour? Since then Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood have issued 'Traffic And Weather', which I found to be a grower but has well and truly taken residence inside my head. They played quite a selection of tunes from the new record in an 80-minute set that kicked off with 'I've Got A Flair' and closed with a second encore of 'Bright Future In Sales' and 'Bought For A Song'. Their chatter was often amusing ("A lot of people mistakenly believe we're from New Jersey. We're actually from Swindon") and this morning I still find myself humming 'Strapped For Cash', 'Mexican Wine', 'Hackensack', 'Hey Julie', 'Yolanda Hayes' and, of course, 'Stacey's Mom'. If you've yet to experience this wondrous band, go to www.fountainsofwayne.com and change your life before it's too late.
I'm gonna need a new hall floorway after the bumper new issue of Fireworks magazine smashed through the letterbox. There's some great stuff in it, including interviews with Dream Theater, Winger, Ian Gillan, Gotthard, Magnum, TNT, Threshold, Ritchie Blackmore, Dokken, Saga and many more. It will require quite a bit of wading through - not that I'm complaining, mind.
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Monday 21st May
What a pleasant weekend. On Saturday, apart from brief journeys into the house to check the cricket score and a mini-lunch break, I sat in my office from 5.45am until around 7.30pm working on some sleeve notes. Because I was writing about one of my all-time favourite bands, doing brief interviews with their bass player and guitarist of the era, and the fella who produced the album concerned (Clue: it came out in 1985 and its opening track is 'This Time'), it didn't seem like a chore at all. Had zero interest in the Cup Final - Chelski vs Manure... who on earth could I find it in my heart to support?
Yesterday, however, I did put aside some leisure time. Youngest son Arnie and I went to the cinema to see Spider-Man 3. I used to collect the comics as a kid; think they're still up in the loft somewhere. The movie didn't receive the greatest of reviews, but we both enjoyed it. I even got told off by my eight-year-old for firing pretend webs at the screen as the lights dimmed. "Stoppit dad, you're embarrassing me!" Hehehehe. Isn't that my job?!
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Friday 18th May
You join me as I bask in the excellence of the new Symphony X album. I'm a big fan of these symphonic-prog-metallers from New Jersey, having loved all their records so far and seen them open for Stratovarius in March 2003. 'Paradise Lost' (due via Inside Out Music on June 25th) is loosely based on Milton's book of the same name and might just turn out to be their most accomplished work so far - just as well as they support Dream Theater in October. Postie just delivered promos of the first three Thin Lizzy albums ('Thin Lizzy', 'Shades Of A Blue Orphanage' and 'Vagabonds Of The Western World'), none of which I've ever owned on CD before. Crowded House's new single, 'Don't Stop Now', is here as well. Gosh, I hate my job.
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Thursday 17th May
Enjoyed Chris Cornell's gig at the Astoria last night, though not without a few reservations. Don't get me wrong, the former Soundgarden/Audioslave frontman is one of the best singers around, but his understated style of presentation sometimes generates a soporific atmosphere. And that's exactly what happened when he whipped out an acoustic guitar for four slumbersome songs (well, three and a half; the rest of the group joined him midway through Audioslave's 'Doesn't Remind Me'). Unfortunately, Chris opted to deliver my own favourite of his solo tunes, 'Can't Change Me', in the same stripped-down format, also deliberately omitting 'Preaching The End Of The World', from the same album, 'Euphoria Morning'. Ho-hum.
However, the exhausting 24-song performance also had more than its fair share of magic moments, from bruising openers 'Spoonman' and 'Outshined' to the bone-rumbling heaviness of a third encore, 'Slaves And Bulldozers' (all three originally recorded by Soundgarden, of course). Temple Of The Dog's altogether mellower 'Hunger Strike' and 'Seasons', his tune from The Singles movie soundtrack, also set the spine tingling merrily, though Cornell must have been on some heavy drugs for that abysmal re-make of Wacko Jacko's 'Billie Jean'. Here's the full set-list: 'Spoonman', 'Outshined', 'Show Me How To Live', 'Arms Around Your Love', 'You Know My Name', 'Hunger Strike', 'What You Are', 'Rusty Cage, 'Be Yourself', 'Seasons', 'I Am The Highway', 'Scar On The Sky', 'Can't Change Me', 'Doesn't Remind Me', 'Cochise', 'Billie Jean', 'No Such Thing', 'Jesus Christ Pose', 'Mission', 'Like A Stone', 'Black Hole Sun', 'Sunshower', 'Loud Love' and 'Slaves And Bulldozers'.
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Wednesday 16th May
Grrrrr. With a work trip to Germany lined up for this weekend, Mrs L and myself had spent the past few days darting around like mad fools arranging a new passport. The operation culminated in a 7.45am 'interview' at Passport House. Lo and behold, the mobile then rings on my way home and I'm told the label concerned can't get me a flight. So, £108 and several hours of inconveniece later, the whole bloody thing's off. Will have to go and see Spider-Man 3 instead.
Saxon and Masterplan played the Astoria in the evening. Ex-Helloween guitarist Roland Grapow's outfit, Masterplan were introducing new singer Mike DiMeo (formerly with Riot and The Lizards) and powerhouse drummer Mike Terrana. Though limited to 45 minutes, their combination of power and melody worked incredibly well, easily winning over the vast majority of the packed venue. But Saxon were not to be outdone. Besides a selection of classics, their latest album, 'The Inner Sanctum', was heavily featured ('State Of Grace', 'Let Me feel Your Power', 'If I Was You', 'Red Star Falling', 'I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)', 'Ashes To Ashes' and 'Atilla The Hun' - wonder if they played that last one in Germany?). Dedicating 'Requiem (We Will Remember)' to Tommy Vance was a nice touch, but I was gobsmacked when Biff said farewell after just 70 minutes. Incredibly, they went on to play a full 50 minutes of encores; the aforementioned 'Atilla The Hun', plus '747 (Strangers In The Night)', 'Heavy Metal Thunder', 'Wheels Of Steel', 'And The Bands Played On', 'Denim And Leather', 'Ashes To Ashes' and 'Power And The Glory'. Phew!
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Tuesday 15th May
As I type this, inspired by the excellent book on Styx that I'm reading, Tommy Shaw's 1987 solo 'Ambition' is blaring out for the second time today. How on earth was such an incredible record not a huge hit?! Another quick word of praise for Sterling Whitaker's wondrous tome The Grand Delusion. It might say The Unauthorised True Story Of Styx on the cover, but the hero/villian of this fascinating tale is keyboard player/vocalist Dennis De Young, who ruled the Chicagoan group with an iron fist whilst guiding them to four consecutive triple-platinum albums - just think about those stats for a moment.
But of course you don't make omelettes without breaking a few eggs. To this day, guitarist/vocalist James 'JY' Young remains rancorous towards De Young (who departed Styx for good five years ago). When I met JY at the band's recent Wembley Arena show, he still refered witheringly to Dennis as "the former keyboard player". No wonder, for this book paints DDY as an ego-crazed, tyrannical genius whose pananoia takes him to a nervous breakdown, before being secretly sacked and then reinstated circa 1979's 'Cornerstone' album. The intrusiveness of Dennis' wife Suzanne, reviled as somebody "who knows enough about the business to be dangerous, but not enough to be contributive" by manager Derek Sutton, adds another time-bomb. With the regrettable exceptions of De Young and guitarist/vocalist James 'JY' Young, Whitaker interviewed just about everyone from Styx's inner circle for this highly recommended book, which follows Styx's carefully planned rise and ignominious nosedive with commendable honesty.
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Monday 14th May
Still laughing like a loony at Sheffield United's instant return to the Championship - as much as I like Joe Elliott, Neil Warnock is one of the biggest cunts on the face of Planet Earth - I headed off to see Spock's Beard at the Mean Fiddler. Artistically speaking, the Californian progressive-rockers have flourished against all the odds since leader Neal Morse was commanded by God to quit the band five years ago (yes, really). But even for a rainy Sunday night, the turnout was a little disappointing. During more than two hours onstage we heard most of their latest, self-titled ninth album, the third post-Neal offering, plus older tunes like 'In The Mouth Of Madness', 'Thoughts (Part 2)' and 'Walking On The Wind'. I even enjoyed it when tub-thumper-turned-singer Nick D'Virgilio returned to his old vocation, joining Jimmy Keegan in a frenetic drum duel like Phil Collins and Chester Thompson of Genesis used to do. Ending a great night with a medley of 'The Water' and 'Go The Way You Go', from 1995's debut album 'The Light', was almost as much of a masterstroke as the announcement that Chris Squire of Yes was in the house; the place went bonkers.
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Sunday 13th May
Pete Way just rang. He'd heard that Brian Wheat is in town and wanted to know where to reach him. Pete and Brian are great mates, so much so that Monsewer Way entrusted one of his fave Aston Villa shirts to the Tesla bassist. The call reminded me of one of the more printable anecdotes that Brian told me about his hero when we met a few days ago. On one memorable occasion, Wheat apparently stayed at Pete's place in Brum. As the beers flew down their necks, Brian informed Pete that he is the greatest shape-thrower in rock and roll. So Pete decided to demonstrate a few moves. He got the Thunderbird bass out and began prancing about the room, but was so pissed that he tripped and fell into the hearth, setting himself on fire for a few seconds. He's too hot to handle... boom boom!
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Saturday 12th May
Agog. Stunned. Gobsmacked. Amazed. These adjectives might pertain to the fact that I was charged £9.90 for two thimbles of wine at Earl's Court last night, but they were intended to describe one of the most stunning concerts I've seen in 28 years of attending shows. Ex-Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters' 140-minute performance offered clear sound, magnificent lighting, lazers, a levitating spaceman and of course a flying inflatable pig, lacking almost nothing - except David Gilmour, Rick Wright and Nick Mason, of course. Nevertheless, his sizeable backing entourage was amazing. With back-up from Andy Fairweather Low, guitarists Snowy White and David Kilminster coped admirably with Gilmour's solos, though even the prodigious use of block harmony vocals couldn't disguise the fact that David's signature voice was sometimes missed - a minor gripe, admittedly. Another was the inclusion of a new song called 'Leaving Beirut', in which Roger used the tale of friendship extended to him by an Arab family in the Lebabon during the 60s to lecture us about the Gulf war, its lyrics being shown on the video screens. I'll happily listen to Waters' opinions when they're offered more surreptitiously, this was just a little too much like propoganda.
Following in Eric Clapton's example, Waters had hired three of the best female backing singers around, namely Katie Kissoon, PP Arnold and Carol Kenyon. The music was delivered at what felt like maximum volume, but at key moments had the capability of hitting (interstellar) overdrive. Indeed, the combination of back projections and a state of the art PA made it feel as though you were caught up in some glorious womb, especially when 1973's 'Dark Side Of The Moon' was rolled out in its entirety. The set-list was; 'In The Flesh', 'Mother', 'Set The Controls For the Heart Of The Sun', 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond', 'Have A Cigar', 'Wish You Were Here', 'Southampton Dock', 'The Fletcher Memorial Home', 'Perfect Sense, Parts 1 and 2', 'Leaving Beirut', 'Sheep, and 'Dark Side Of The Moon', with encores of 'The Happiest Days Of Our Lives', 'Another Brick In The Wall (Pt 2)', 'Vera', 'Bring The Boys Back Home' and 'Comfortably Numb'. Such were our levels of glazed admiration, Mrs Ling and I exited the hall almost speechlessly.
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Friday 11th May
Like most of you, I'm sure, I've followed Phil Spector's murder trial with fascination and incredulity. The bouts of procrastination - it was delayed in coming to court several times - only served to bring out more horrific details of this extraordinary case. We've heard how Spector routinely threatened people (mainly women) with guns, including employees, friends and even production clients like John Lennon (famously letting off a round during the recording of the ex-Beatle's 'Rock And Roll' album). A temporarily deafened Lennon reportedly told Spector: "Listen, Phil, if you're going to kill me then kill me. But don't mess with my ears, I need them".
According to ex-wife Ronnie, Spector would spend "days" trying to get his ridiculous bouffant hairpieces to look natural, refusing to leave the house if his goal failed - gosh, he must've spent LOTS of time indoors. Female aquaintances were often informed that they too were forbidden from exiting his mansion's front door. His manipulation extended to demanding that Ronnie, who was of course a singer in her own right, telephone and leave the receiver on her pillow each night while she was on tour. The marriage inevitably ended acrimoniously, Spector allegedly informing his mother-in-law, "If that bitch tries to walk out, I'll have her killed the moment she steps outside the gates. I've already got her coffin".
The court has already learned how, in 1989, Spector turned "demonic" on talent booker Dianne Ogden-Halder and tried to rape her at gun point. Now Debbie Harry has spoken of the time that Spector had her in the sights of his .45 automatic. "I thought, 'Get me out of here! I want to go home!'", says Blondie's former bombshell, her terror understandable. The case continues, and no doubt there will be many more such incidents to be shared.
I'm looking forward to a drink/catch-up with Tesla bassist Brian Wheat and his manager/producer Tom Zutaut this afternoon, then heading across London to Earls Court to see Roger Waters. My pals Kevin McDempster and Rich Wilson both caught the 'Dark Side Of The Moon'-themed performance earlier this week and their verdict was unanimous: It was one of the best gigs they'd ever seen.
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Thursday 10th May
Grrrrr... this is bloody annoying. I've had to turn down a trip to San Francisco this weekend because it clashes with my eldest son Eddie's birthday. Haven't been to the States for quite a while; I really fancied it. However, yesterday had a big redeeming factor. Spoke briefly to Steve Harris on the phone for an upcoming Classic Rock story. At the end of our conversation I asked him about the petition to include him in the government's next honours list. As expected, Steve finds the whole thing hilarious. "I'm sure it'll never happen, and if it did I wouldn't want it," he chuckles. "It's nice that people might think of me like that, but it probably started as a joke that got out of hand. It's not me. You know me; it's not what I'm about. Imagine if you had to call me Sir all the time. A Crystal Palace fan to a West Ham fan... you wouldn't do it, would you?" Fair point.
Oh yeah, there are also petitions to get Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead and Deep Purple's Ian Gillan onto the honours list as well.
And here's some EXTREMELY welcome news. Gregg Allman has confirmed a solo date at London's Shepherds Bush Empire on July 19. As a huge fan of the Allmans - I was lucky enough to see them at the Greek Theatre in LA back in '95 - that's one gig I wouldn't dream of missing.
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Wednesday 9th May
Last night I attended a great show by Danny Vaughn at the Purple Turtle, an intimate gig in London's Camden. Sponsored by ARFM Radio, it saw the former Waysted/Tyketto/Vaughn frontman playing material from most stages of his career, though Waysted songs were conspicuous by their absence. 'Desperate' Dan, as Monsewer Way used to call him, is a fantastic singer and a likeable character, with some amazing tunes to his name. The new 'Traveller' album was well-represented ('Miracle Days', 'Restless Blood', 'Badlands Rain', 'Better By Far', 'Death Of The Tiger' and 'The Warrior's Way'), and oldies like 'Burning Down Inside', 'Is That All There Is?', 'Haunted', 'Seasons', 'Fearless', 'The End Of The Summer Days', 'The Last Sunset' and the perennial 'Forever Young' have barely aged a day. Vaughn is one the the business' nice guys but is developing a bit of a feisty edge to his stage banter. Welcoming his new musicians, culled from acts like Ten, Marshall Law, Paradise Lost and Contagious, Danny said: "I used to introduce these guys by saying which bands they'd been with, but fuck those bands, they're in the best one now". At another point he told us: "Fly the flag of your own country and they tell you you're a racist. Go fuck yourself!" Cleveland-born Vaughn has lived on this side of the pond for some time now, but has yet to fall to the charms of the beautiful game. "You know what's wrong with football?" he said towards the 100-minute show's end. "Somebody like Cristiano Ronaldo ends up being revered because his team wins. He's a wanker [who] shouldn't have been allowed back into the country after the World Cup." Daniel, novice footie fan or not, that's a large one I owe you when next we meet.

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Tuesday 8th May
What a dreadful shame about Charlton Pathetic's relegation... NOT! Last night I sat at home, watching on Sky, mentally kicking every ball and often laughing uncontrollably as the hapless Clowns lost at home to Tottenham to drop out of the top flight and back to where they belong. After the final whistle I cracked open a few cold 'uns to toast the 0-2 scoreline. I await their mass exodus of players and so-called 'fans' with equal amusement. Excellent work Agents Dowie, Hreidarsson, Bent and Pardew, you may now step down.
This morning I received an interesting email from Rab Cook, who informs me that the well-respected and generally accurate AC/DC fan site www.acdcpower.net predicts that Angus Young and company are planning to release a double DVD in September - one disc from the Bon Scott era, the other featuring Brian Johnson - followed by a new studio album in early 2008, with a world tour to follow. The day gets better and better.
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Monday 7th May
We're back from a lovely few days away at our caravan on the Essex coast - just what I needed after the past fortnight's insanity. On Saturday night a thirsty Clan Ling descended upon the showbar of the site's entertainment complex, where large red wines and voddy 'n' Diet Cokes were consumed with alarming regularity. Up on the stage, Bradley Bear was requesting volunteers to join the show. My state of inebriation was such that I allowed youngest son Arnie to accept on our behalves. Up we went, along with another four pairs, into the jaws of the unknown. A game of pass the parcel ensued, with each eliminated child contestant receiving the chance to slam a 'flan' (well, a large plate of shaving foam) into the face of their parent/guardian, in the best tradition of Tiswas' legendary Phantom Flan Flinger. Thankfully, Mrs L had forgotten to take her phone so there's no pictorial evidence of Arnie exacting a messy payback for the fact that I made him a Palace fan.
.... Which provides a nice link to yesterday's game against Colchester United. Eldest son Eddie and I were among the 6,000 fans at Layer Road to see the mighty Eagles gain sweet revenge for December's embarrassing 1-3 capitulation at Selhurst, extinguishing the home side's slim play-off hopes in the process. Layer Road is a pathetic rabbit hutch of a ground, and James Scowcroft's goal quickly silenced the home fans. How they had the audacity to sing, "Your support is fucking shit" to the sold-out Palace contingent was mind-boggling. The ordinary nature of the game was reflected in the chants, most of which were along the lines of "Let's all laugh at [relegation-doomed] Charlton", or aimed at Colchester goalie Dean Gerken. Fair play to Gerken, who was reminded that he is a vegetable for much of the second half. He took it all in good spirit, even turning round to laugh and applaud the away fans when we broke into a chorus of "Dodgy dodgy keeper, dodgy keeper, takes it up the arse", until allowing Ben Watson's shot to slip past him into the net for Palace's second goal. Cue a deafening chorus of: "Gerken is a Palace fan!" Sigh... what on earth am I gonna do with my Saturdays till the new season starts?!
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Saturday 5th May
Just been to the post office to collect an undelivered package. Incredibly, it contains a bottle of RSVP, Jon Bon Jovi's new fragrance. According to the press release it's "sure to bring out the rock god in all men this summer". At £29.50 for 50ml, it darned well should do. What I want to know is, how on earth it will enhance the sexuality of those of us who are already rock gods? Time will tell, I guess. Mrs L says it smells "okay - just okay", so that's hardly encouraging. I'll probably just stick to my Jean-Paul Gaultier after shave, as favoured by the one and only Mick Box. At least it won't turn me into a country and western twat, which is what JBJ has become, while I'm asleep.
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Friday 4th May
Up at 6am to work on my Metal Hammer albums reviews. They're so much easier without the phone ringing and email pinging. I've also got five (count 'em) phone interviews to get through today, so it's gonna be stressful.
Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of interviewing frontman Mike Shinoda and bassist Dave 'Phoenix' Farrell from Linkin Park, who I must confess are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. Like 14 million others, I absolutely loved their debut album, 2000's 'Hybrid Theory', though the follow-up, 'Meteora', was a bit too much of a carbon copy. And as for that toilet collaboration with rapper Jay-Z... um, let's not even go there. They're really gonna set the cat among the pigeons with 'Minutes To Midnight', a new album that Rick Rubin rightly maintains has "reinvented" the band. "It doesn't sound like rap-rock", says the maestro producer. Absolutely right, Rick. It's melodic and even features guitar solos and, ulp, a Mellotron! One can only speculate upon the affect it'll have on the band's fans, most of whom wear those embarrassing mile-wide trousers and have wallets on chains.
Speaking of which, I had to walk past the Astoria, where Linkin Park were due to play in the evening, at the unearthly hour of 10am, to rendez-vous with them at their hotel. There was already a queue outside, and a young guy at the front thought it was hilarious to heckle me in front of his mates for wearing an Opeth shirt. Ignoring the buffoon, I quietly thought to myself: "If only you knew where I'm headed..."
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Thursday 3rd May
Aaaaaaaargggh! I've been having trouble with my equipment (no saucy jokes, please). The faithful Sony tape recorder I bought in New York on a trip to see Judas Priest many years ago suddenly gave up the ghost during a phone interview with Toby Jepson a day or two back, and all hell broke lose. Had to hurriedly postpone a chat with Klaus Meine and dash up to London to buy a replacement. I hate looking like an amateur, but Jepson, to his immense credit, has been a complete gentleman about re-doing the interview. "Shit happens, brother!" he says in a sympathetic email. "Just call me whenever you want. I'm on that number all day every day." Top fella. With new tape machine acquired, I've been making up for lost time. Chris Cornell has been a long-time hero of mine. Soundgarden were one of a very small handful of grunge bands with any talent and I'm playing his wonderful solo debut 'Euphoria Morning' as I type. He turned out to be as eloquent and likeable as I'd hoped. I also had a short yet entertaining conversation with Vinnie Paul about his new band Hellyeah, and how a letter from Dave Grohl helped to convince him he had to play music again for a living after the senseless murder of his brother Dimebag Darrell.
Postie has dropped off two interesting new promos. Purely from the abuse I took for enjoying Def Leppard's 'Yeah!', I know that many people find covers albums pointless, yet there are plenty of redeeming factors about the discs I've spent the afternoon absorbing. I'll post about them in a little more detail later, but was pleasantly surprised to hear that Tesla have covered Uriah Heep's 'Stealin'' on 'Real To Reel', while a rocked-up version of Sweet's 'Little Willy' is the opening track of Poison's 'Poison'd'.
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Tuesday 1st May
Well, that sound you hear is me collapsing into an exhausted, hung-over heap. The marathon is finished, and you won't see me doing that again. Six gigs in six different London venues in six days. That's 13 bands in total.
Think I'll be gigged-out for a bit now. Which is a shame as I quite fancy seeing the Enuff Z'Nuff, BulletBoys, Faster Pussycat package that hits the Underworld tonight. Sadly (in some ways, at least), I've got a phone interview with Chris Cornell that renders such a trip impossible.