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 May
One of the perks of my job is getting to talk to all sorts of interesting people. For instance, a few weeks ago I did a phoner with Chris Dreja, one of two original members of the current Yardbirds line-up (the other being drummer Jim McCarty). The 61-year-old rhythm guitarist was great company, insisting: "I wouldn't still be doing this if I didn't feel that today's band had integrity" and pouring lavish praise upon the group's latest guitarist Ben King. "The Yardbirds have always presented very interesting guitar players," said Chris. "Ben was only 22 years old when he joined us [in 2005], but he has characteristics of Eric [Clapton], Jimmy [Page] and Jeff [Beck] and he's absolutely fearless."
Wondering whether that statement could possibly be true, last night I boarded a Number 75 bus to Croydon's Fairfield Halls, where the Yardbirds were playing on a double-header with The Zombies. I'm not saying the show attracted an old crowd, but the woman two seats up from me was 91 years old. Really. She kept turning her hearing aid up and down, complaining the Yardbirds has been "too loud", also causing a moment of divine comedy as the lights went down for the headliners to take the stage. "WHO'S THIS, THEN?" the old dear asked her husband at top volume. "The Zombies," he replied patiently. "THE WHO?" "No, The Zombies...". I kid you not.
The show was surprisingly good. King really does have the makings of a big star, and the Yardbirds ran through better-than-functional versions of their hits, including 'Train Kept A-Rollin'', 'For Your Love', 'Over, Under, Sideways, Down', 'Heartful Of Soul', 'Shapes Of Things', 'Still I'm Sad' and 'I'm Confused' (a 1968 forerunner of Zeppelin's 'Dazed And Confused'), plus a smattering of new material. I'd definitely go to see 'em again. The Zombies were better still, mixing original songs from 1964 onwards with three unreleased newies ('Mystified', 'I Do Believe' and 'Any Other Way'), a version of the Alan Parsons Project's 'Old And Wise' (sung by Colin Blunstone on the 'Eye In The Sky' album back in 1982) and the Argent classics, 'Hold Your Head Up' and 'God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You'. Whilst introducing the latter, keyboard player Rod Argent pointedly failed to mention the name of Kiss, who covered the song in 1992, sounding a trifle flustered as he declared: "This was Number One for another group several years ago but in 1973 Argent, wrote, recorded and had a huge European hit with this song - WE DID IT FIRST!" Hmmm... I wonder whether he returns the royalty cheques?
P.S. En route to Croydon I dropped by Selhurst Park's Club Shop, hoping to buy son Eddie a late birthday pressie of a new goalkeeper's shirt. Alas, they only had them in Meat Loaf or Action Man sizes. Bloody typical. However, I did take some photos of our bricks in the CPFC Wall Of Fame.
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Thursday 29th May
Dio and Girlschool played the Astoria last night. Sadly, I couldn't vacate my desk in time for the opening set, but Ronnie James Dio was in first-class vocal form during a delicious 95-minute trawl through his back catalogue. Obviously, coming so soon after last November's tour with Heaven And Hell, there was little point in revisiting the material Ronnie recorded with Black Sabbath, so the set-list was given a welcome overhaul. Here's what was featured: 'Holy Diver', 'Killing The Dragon', 'The Eyes', 'Don't Talk To Strangers', Drum Solo, 'Sacred Heart', 'Rainbow In The Dark', Medley: 'Temple Of The King'/'Kill the King', Instrumental Jam/Guitar Solo, 'Lord Of The Last Day', 'Rock 'N' Roll Children', 'Stand Up And Shout', Medley: 'Man On The Silver Mountain'/'Catch The Rainbow'/'Long Live Rock 'N' Roll', 'The Last in Line' and a Trades Descriptions Act-defying encore of 'We Rock'.
After the game I sped back to Catford where I'd Skyplussed the friendly international between England and America. England's comfortable victory over a weak USA side made me realise how much I'm gonna miss footie this summer, especially as I don't plan upon watching much of Euro 2008 (so don't bother asking who I want to win the tournament; anyone except Portugal, Germany and Croatia will do).
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Wednesday 28th May
Apart from an extremely drunken afternoon at the Canterbury Fayre festival, and an appearance with Van Hagar at an after-show knees-up in London, I’d never actually seen Deborah Bonham onstage before. So I came away from last night’s album showcase at the 100 Club full of respect and admiration. Bonham – okay, let’s get this out of the way… she’s John’s sister and Jason’s aunt, but a gifted singer in her own right – has crafted a highly enjoyable new album called ‘Duchess’ (Rhino Records, June 24) that even features a guest appearance from Paul Rodgers on ‘Hold On’. Backed by a band that included legendary sticksman Jerry Shirley (making what was rumoured to be the ex-Humble Pie/Fastway man’s last ever appearance behind a drum kit), Debbie displayed a set of strong blues-rock pipes whilst previewing a broad cross-section of the record’s songs, including ‘Love You So’, ‘Grace’, ‘Jack Past Eight’, ‘Pretty Thing’, ‘Waiting So Long’, ‘Love Lies’, ‘Duchess’, ‘(If You) Had A Little Love’ and ‘Hole In My Heart’. There’s an interesting story behind the latter, which was brought to the band in semi-written state by Jerry Shirley, who’d messed around with it many moons ago with the late, great Steve Marriott. But the set proper finished in emotional style with ‘The Old Hyde’, a wistful, plaintive song that Bonham based on the farm in which her family used to live, and how she’s looking forward to seeing her relatives again. On paper it probably sounds cheesy, or quite possibly morbid, but Deborah sang it so beautifully I couldn’t give a damn.
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Tuesday 27th May
What terrific fun was had last night when the Quireboys and Dan Baird's Homemade Sin teamed up for a cold ‘uns at the Borderline. Sadly, I arrived midway through the opening act, Diamond Dogs but was sufficiently impressed to file their name away for future reference. Having interviewed Spike for Classic Rock about the tour a few weeks earlier, the cheeky Geordie had proclaimed: “The whole point is to put on an evening of pure rock 'n' roll”... which is exactly what transpired. Various members of the three groups trotted onstage and jammed for a while, then disappeared to the bar - great fun. The QBs were debuting material from a new album called ‘Homewreckers And Heartbreakers’ that hits the shops on July 30. The band had brought along some early editions but quickly sold out – “Typical Quireboys mentality,” noted Spike from the stage, “let’s release an album and not print up enough copies.” Let me assure you, ‘I Love This Dirty Town’, ‘One For The Road’, ‘Mona Lisa Smiled’and ‘Late Nite Saturday Call’ (the latter performed with Baird on backing vocals) are the band's best work in many a long year.
Although I consider myself a Georgia Satellites fan (having witnessed their now legendary debut UK gig at London's Marquee in May 1987), I'd kinda lost touch with the solo antics of their former guitarist/singer Dan Baird. Backed by GS drummer Mauro Magellan and Jason & The Scorchers guitarist Warner Hodges, Baird quickly reminded me why I used to love him so much – ‘I Love You Period’, ‘Railroad Steel’, ‘Keep Your Hands To Yourself’ and ‘Battleship Chains’... Christ, what amazing songs, and delivered with such honest, gap-toothed, shit-kicking passion.
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Sunday 25th May
Oh dearie me. Hopes are fading of a full-blown Genesis reunion. Asked the percentage likelihood of Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Phil Collins getting back together to perform another tour based upon ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, as discussed four years ago, keyboard player Bank tells Rolling Stone: “I would give it 23.5 percent.”
Another band that don’t look like working again anytime soon is West Bruce & Laing. In an interview in the new issue of Classic Rock, Jack Bruce is positively scathing about West. “I always used to wonder how Leslie could stay fat whilst he was on heroin,” he states. “He used to have a secret stash of food, while the rest of us ‘normal’ folk would have a stash of drugs.” On the possibility of WB&L’s return, Jack is more abusive still: “They [Leslie and drummer Corky Laing] are always trying to get in touch with me. I tell my manager to email back really abusive things like, ‘I don’t want to play that fucking crap music anymore’. And they still keep trying. How do you get these guys to stop?” If you think **that’s** rude, wait till you read what he says about Pink Floyd…
P.S. Here’s some great news… my ol’ muckers FM are making good progress with their new album, which they intend to release via their own label. Early song titles include ‘Runaway Train’, ‘Over You’, ‘Living For The Weekend’ and ‘Hello Tomorrow, Goodbye Yesterday’. The chaps also seem likely to record a studio version of ‘Dangerous’, an old favourite that’s been around since their first album, ‘Indiscreet’.
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Sunday 25th May
With London soaked in bright sunshine, yesterday was spent marching up and down Portobello Market and visiting various pubs with a couple of friends from America. To kill time on public transport I took along ‘Snakes & Arrows Live’ by Rush and Winger’s ‘Live’… both of which are marvellous.
Inevitably, I ended up unearthing some bargains at the Record & Tape Exchange at Notting Hill Gate. Purely on the strength of his song ‘Darlin’ Be Home Soon’, re-worked so brilliantly by Slade on their ‘Alive’ album, I picked up 1971’s ‘Cheapo-Cheapo Presents Real Live’ by John Sebastian, plus a solo album from Roger Manning of Jellyfish/Imperial Drag fame. Both were well worth the coupla quid I spent. Also managed to read most of the new issue of Tight But Loose, Dave Lewis’ excellent Led Zeppelin magazine. The O2 reunion debrief was cool, likewise the first instalment of press cuttings documenting the years 1968-1971. You really wouldn’t want to have been the misguided US scribe that wrote: “John Bonham [is] a very effective group drummer, but uninventive [and] unsubtle.”
In the evening, the senior members of Clan Ling observed its usual tradition of getting tanked off our faces and partaking of the farce that is Eurovision Song Contest. It was good fun, but the biased political voting of so many Eastern European nations is fast removing the competition’s sheen for yours truly. Indeed, I wholeheartedly concur with ever-sarcastic host Sir Terence of Wogan, who this morning raises question marks over his continued stewardship, stating: “You have to say that this is no longer a music contest.”
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Saturday 24th May
Though I had been anticipating last night’s Robin Trower gig, I was a little disappointed by the length of his eventual performance. Trower might be 63 years old (according to Wikipedia), but surely the guitarist and his band, which included the ever-excellent Davey Pattison on vocals, could have managed more than an hour and 25 minutes? Especially with the Astoria 2 being sold out. Okay, ‘Day Of The Eagle’, ‘Bridge Of Sighs’, ‘Twice Removed from Yesterday’, ‘Victims Of The Fury’ and ‘Too Rollin’ Stoned’ were all bloody superb, and it was great to hear the 1975 classics ‘Shame The Devil’ and ‘For Earth Below’ aired live for the first time, but for a muso with a catalogue as enviable as Robin’s, failing to meet the minimum union rate of an hour and a half is pretty darned inexcusable.
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Friday 23rd May
Being truthful, I probably wouldn’t have gone to London venue The Fly last night had I not been asked to review Animal Alpha for the fine folks at Metal Hammer – it would’ve been my loss. Promoting an album called ‘You Pay For The Whole Seat, But You’ll Only Need The Edge’, the Norwegian alternative metalheads will soon be playing far bigger venues than this basement dive (indeed, they have already been confirmed to appear at next month’s Download festival). Fronted by the charismatic Agnete Kjølsrud, who dresses as a scary clown, leaping off the monitors and smoking cigars (!!), their 60-minute set mined such influences as System Of A Down – not a co-incidence, as they were discovered by that band’s producer, Sylvia Massey – Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Rage Against The Machine and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They will go far.
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Thursday 22nd May
R.I.P. Michelle Meldrum. The former guitarist of female rockers Phantom Blue and leader of her own band, Meldrum, has died from a cystic growth on her brain at the age of 39. I interviewed Michelle several times during the Phantom Blue days… she was always terrific fun. My condolences go to her family, which includes a three year old son, Jake, whose father is Europe guitarist John Norum.
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Wednesday 21st May
One of the things I enjoy most about progressive rock is its appreciation of the ludicrous. Last night I went back to the Underworld for a show featuring three acts signed to Inside Out Records, where my appetite for all things ridiculous was satiated with consummate ease (though sadly, it was seen by around half as many fans as the previous night’s Royal Hunt gig).
Truth told I was mainly there for Beardfish, a Mike Portnoy-approved Swedish quartet who use Mellotron, swirling Hammond organ and old-school influences to deliver prog the way it used to be. ‘Sunrise’, ‘Into The Night’ and ‘Roulette’ were magnificent, but then they stepped well and truly outside the box with a very weird hard rock song called ‘The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer’, which began with the lines: “He was a filthy motherfucker, by the name of Dwight/He only bathed 'bout once a year, he didn't smell alright’. Brilliant!
For the initial part of their set, fellow Swedes Ritual seemed to be playing different songs at the same time – most disconcerting. However, they wound up in Celtic-tinged acoustic mode, which was far more enjoyable, concluding with a half-hour epic titled ‘A Dangerous Journey’, which tells the tale of a young girl called Susanna who according to singer Patrik Lundström “gets bored with her cat, removes her glasses, leaves them in the grass, puts them back on again and is thrown into a surreal adventure”.
With an early morning start planned for today, I didn’t hang around to see headliners The Tangent. Things had already got a bit too surreal for words…
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Tuesday 20th May
Aw c’mon… where was everyone?! Royal Hunt played at the Underworld last night, watched by yours truly and around another 100 punters. All credit to the quintet, fronted these days by former Yngwie Malmsteen singer Mark Boals, who ignored the dismal attendance to offer almost two hours of colourfully pompous, melodic progressive power-metal. The Underworld’s small stage seemed a little too cramped for André Anderson’s enormous great banks of keyboards, the confinement also forcing backing singer Maria McTurk into the wings, though the set kept the fans happy by honing in on 1997’s ‘Paradox’ album and its just-released sequel, ‘Collision Course: Paradox 2’. Here’s what they played: ‘Principles Of Paradox’, ‘River Of Pain’, ‘The First Rock’, ‘Message To God’, ‘The Clan’, ‘Long Way Home’, ‘Hostile Breed’, ‘Time Will Tell’, ‘Tears Of The Sun’, ‘It’s Over’, ‘Chaos AC’, ‘Game Of Fear’, ‘The Mission’ and ‘Never Give Up’, wit encores of ‘Can’t Let Go’, ‘Flight’, ‘Cold City Lights’ and ‘Last Goodbye’.
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Monday 19th May
Much of the past weekend was spent enjoying a promo of Whitesnake’s new three-disc retrospective, ‘30th Anniversary Collection’ (EMI Records, June 9). It includes most of the band’s best songs, plus a smattering of Coverdale/Page material, a track from the new ‘Good To Be Bad’ album, and some stuff credited to David Coverdale & Whitesnake (i.e. from 1997’s ‘Restless Heart’ – originally intended as a Cov solo platter). A new version of ‘Slave’ represents 2000’s third solo album, ‘Into The Light’ (which I kinda enjoyed at the time), but it’s odd that there’s nothing from ‘White Snake’ (1977) or ‘North Winds’ (1978). The brand new issue of Fireworks magazine solves the latter mystery. “I could not secure the rights to any of those songs,” an astonished David informs Kieran Dargan. “Dear God, what’s the world coming to? I can’t use my own songs. Haha!” What indeed.
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Sunday 18th May
Despite the best of intentions, I watched the FA Cup Final after all. It felt slightly blasphemous to align myself with Portsmouth after they had fielded a weakened team against West Brom on the final day of the ill-fated 2004/05 season, further greasing Palace’s slide from the Premiership. I usually make a habit of cheering on the underdog, but the thought of siding with the Welsh on anything was inconceivable. In the end, Christ, what a shockingly tedious and underwhelming game.
In the evening, Michael Katon – the boogie man from Hell, Michigan – played a rare UK gig at the Half Moon in Herne Hill. Was it worth the short bus-ride and the price of a few large vodka and Diet Cokes? Of course it was. Although we’ve exchanged emails and the odd phone call, I hadn’t seen Katon onstage since he played the Marquee Club in Charing Cross Road; it would’ve been around the time he released his ‘Proud To Be Loud’ album in 1988. And yet with sunglasses perched on head, hair trailing way past the shoulders and what looked like the exact same leather jacket he used to wear, the guitarist/singer hadn’t changed a bit. We nattered a little before the show and Michael handed me a copy of his new iTunes download set ‘Bootleg Boogie’. Sticking to a three-piece format, Katon’s band included Johnny ‘Bee’ Badanjek, the drummer of Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and veteran of tours with Edgar Winter, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Ronnie Montrose and Nils Lofgren. Suffice to say, they kicked extortionate amounts of ass.
Pulling together the likes of ‘Get On The Boogie Train’, ‘Roadhouse 69’, ‘The Devil's Daughter’, ‘Red Moon Rising’, ‘Rip It Hard’, ‘No More Whiskey’, ‘On The Prowl For A Hoochie Mama’, ‘Bad Machine’, ‘Whiskey Hill’, ‘Motorcycle Blues’, the salsa-licious ‘Barbeque On My Boogie’ and a slide-infused cover of the John Lee Hooker standard ‘Crawling King Snake’, the show ran for a finger-lickin’ two hours, including just about everything I hoped to hear except ‘I Ain’t Ready To Go Steady’ and the title cut of ‘Proud To Be Loud’. Ah whatever… if and when Katon and his group return, don’t miss ‘em.
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Saturday 17th May
There’s absolutely no point in attempting to hide the fact that I consider Gene $immons a de$picably tire$ome, humourle$$, wig-$porting $peck of humanity – so I won’t. But… BUT… BUT!!!... Have you seen the set-list that Kiss are playing on their latest bout of European dates?! Jeezus H Christ… the whole of the ‘Alive!’ double-album, in almost its original running order, and performed in replicas of their 1975 stage costumes (though it’s too bad the original drummer and lead guitarist were left at home), topped off by encores of ‘Shout It Out Loud’, ‘Lick It Up’, ‘I Love It Loud’, ‘I Was Made For Loving You’ and ‘Detroit Rock City’. Now **that** is gonna be impressive.
P.S. It’s the Cup Final today. Portsmouth, a team that I despise, against the similarly revered Cardiff City. Sigh. And yawn. And indeed barf. Who to support in such an ignominious showdown. At least Portsmouth aren’t Welsh, I suppose. Upon reflection, maybe I’ll just mow the bloody lawn instead.
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Friday 16th May
Well, I’ve almost finished Mark Blake’s weighty tome on Pink Floyd, Pigs Might Fly. Painstakingly researched, cleanly and brightly written, and without a hint of bias regarding the vicious rivalry between bassist/vocalist Roger Waters and the rest of the group, it does Blakey – better known to some of his journo friends as The Gloy Boy, for unsavoury reasons I won’t go into here – proud. If a member of the Floyd broke wind or scratched a personal itch between their earliest days in Cambridge and 2005’s Live 8 reunion, The Gloyster knew all about it. Perhaps the most darkly fascinating segment comes when deejay Nicky Horne (then with Capital Radio, now of Planet Rock) is despatched, at guitarist David Gilmour’s behest, to interview the reclusive Syd Barrett for a special show to preview the release of the ‘Animals’ album in 1977 (one of my fave Floyd platters, BTW… in fact I’m playing it right now). Anyway, Horne bowls up at Barrett’s room at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, explaining to the overweight, bald, eyebrow-less person he meets that he’s been sent by Gilmore, only to be greeted by the words “Syd. Can’t. Talk”, followed by the shutting of the door in his face. How tragic.
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Thursday 15th May
Nice one. Good ol’ Roadrunner Records have sent a ‘special edition’ two-disc copy of ‘Watershed’, the new album from Opeth. Just in time, as my well-thumbed watermarked promo is beginning to skip in places.
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Wednesday 14th May
I feel like I’ve been mugged. Last night Crystal Palace hauled themselves back into the game against Bristol City and came within a lick of paint – Ben Watson’s penalty rebounded against the post – from sealing another visit to Wembley in a play-off final. But despite having bossed most of the match, silencing the home crowd in the process, it was not to be. Once again Bristol’s strikers produced two wonder-goals to turn the tide… ah well, with thousands still being dragged from ruined buildings in Sichuan and more senseless knife crime in London, there are more important things to worry about. But I’m very proud of the way Palace performed in the latter two-thirds of the season. If we’d had Warnock (whose name I actually found myself singing at Ashton Gate) as manager from August onwards, we’d have gone up automatically. Champions in 2008/2009, that’s my prediction.
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Tuesday 13th May
Sadly, I must pass on House Of Lords at the Underworld tonite. At lunchtime I will speeding off to the Westcountry, where I hope to witness Palace becoming to fist side ever to make the play-off final after losing the home leg of their semi-final. It’s a big ask, but WTF. With CPFC, you never know what’s in store. I don't think we **will** win, but given the strength and confidence that Warnock has instilled into the side, I still reckon we **could**… and that’s enough to carry me down the M4.
P.S. My aural fuel for the journey will be Testament’s mighty fine newie, ‘The Formation Of Damnation’ (Nuclear Blast). For quite some time, folks whose opinions I respect – Malcolm Dome, Jerry Ewing, Hammer ed Alex Milas – have been telling me about this album’s genius… now that I’ve heard it I concur wholeheartedly. Messrs Ulrich, Hetfield and Rubin, the gauntlet has been thrown down…
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Monday 12th May
Happy birthday Eddie Ling! The Reuters news page has posted a rather fine Q&A interview with Bruce Dickinson in which the singer addresses his 1993 departure from Iron Maiden, also the scenarios that led to his return to the band. “I didn't think they'd have any problem finding another singer [after I left], but their subsequent career path hit a few oily patches on the road,” says Dickinson. “[Meanwhile], my own career fell off a cliff”. Reading it reminded me of the occasion in 1998 when myself and Malcolm Dome accepted an invitation to a Christmas party thrown by Rod Smallwood and Sanctuary Management. A still-solo Bruce was present and just about everybody in the room had enjoyed a few too many shandies. You could’ve knocked Malc and myself over with a feather when a grinning Bruce took us aside to reveal that he was seriously considering rejoining the band… this was some way before it was officially announced to the press; Blaze Bayley was still their singer. Talk about a metal moment in time…
I love the way that Dickinson likens the band he first joined in 1981 to the present-day line-up. “The way we play the songs now is in many ways more powerful, it's more under control,” he observes. “It's not like somebody running so fast that their legs are running away underneath them, which is kind of what it was like in the 80s. This is a mature runner now who knows the pace and has always got something in the tank for the sprint when it's appropriate. We’ve reached that sweet spot.”
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Sunday 11th May
I **should** be disconsolate following yesterday’s first leg of the play-offs. Losing 1-2 at home to Bristol City is a very disappointing result, but fair play to the visitors who snuffed out the threats of Victor Moses and Scott Sinclair by whatever means they had at their disposal and scored two terrific goals, one a peach of a training ground move and the other a 35-yard rocket that gave Speroni no chance. With a second game to follow at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night, I still fancy Palace’s chances of turning things around – the odds of the Eagles playing as badly again must be somewhat remote.
But what the heck… given the club’s early season form, even being in the play-offs at all is a bonus. Next season we’ll be a force to be reckoned with, so I’m not too distraught. Brilliant sunshine is flooding in through my office window, the hangover is almost non-existent and I’m playing The Isley Brothers’ ‘Greatest Hits’… if there’s a better song to suit the day than ‘Summer Breeze’ then I’d be hard-pushed to name it.
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Saturday 10th May
Christ - it's 5.53am and there's around six hours to go till the big kick-off, but sleep's the last thing on my mind. The house is quiet as a mouse and Bob the dog is sat nuzzling my feet as I wade through the emails.
As the division's form side, the bookies have made Palace the favourites to win the play-offs but the equation involves three other teams - Hull, Twatford and Bristol City, the latter of whom we play at Selhurst at 12.15pm - who've performed more consistently than us throughout the season. I hate it when the Eagles are expected to win, 'cos we never do. Very shortly it'll be time for a vodka. Time to top up last night's levels again, find the lucky shirt, drink out of the lucky mug...
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Thursday 8th May
How upsetting. One of my favourite festivals, the Rock And Blues Custom Show, has been called off after the organisers withdrew their application for a licence amid fears of a biker war. Police intelligence had predicted a clash between rival gangs over the shooting of 35-year-old Gerard Tobin after a rival festival last August. This year's show was due to feature Glenn Hughes And Friends, Molly Hatchet, Fastway, GMT, Blackfoot, Magnum, Hanoi Rocks and Budgie - quite a bill here in Lingland.
On a more upbeat note, Al Kooper, who I recently interviewed for Classic Rock, has sent a copy of his autobiography. It's been out of print of a while and this new edition has been updated... hope that Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards: Memoirs Of A Rock 'N' Roll Survivor lives up to its fanciful title.
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Wednesday 7th May
Despite my state of exhaustion, there was no danger of nodding off at last night's Def Leppard gig. It's been a while since Leppard had played such an intimate hall as the Islington Academy, and with the downstairs area full of cheering fans and the balcony stuffed with media representatives making the most of a free bar, a good night was had by just about everyone. Intended as a promotional bash for the just-released 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge' album, the band featured four songs from their new baby, including my own favourite, 'Bad Actress' (which Joe Elliott grinned "isn't necessarily about Lindsay Lohan - but it might be"). Elliott was clearly still struggling with the illness that forced the cancellation of some US not too long ago, but the band seemed to be having fun despite the unusally crammed surroundings. Indeed, they even returned for an unscheduled second encore, reeling back the years to their first two albums with 'Mirror, Mirror (Look into My Eyes)' and the timeless 'Wasted'. Here's what filled Leppard's 75 minutes onstage: 'Let It Go', 'Action', 'Bad Actress', 'Armageddon It', 'Rocket', 'Nine Lives', 'Hallucinate', 'Animal', 'Photograph', 'Pour Some Sugar On Me', 'Let's Get Rocked',
'C'Mon C'Mon', 'Rock Of Ages', 'Mirror, Mirror (Look into My Eyes)' and 'Wasted'. Not bad at all, huh?
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Tuesday 6th May
It's lunchtime and I'm back from Selhurst, safely clutching tickets for the home and away legs of Palace's play-off semi-finals with Bristol City. Arrived at the ground at 6.45am to join the queues. Luckily I'd brought Pigs Might Fly, Mark Blake's excellent and exhaustive Pink Floyd book, to soak up some waiting time. I'm off to see Def Leppard at the Islington Academy tonite; it's been a long day, might have to invest in some matchsticks to prise the ol' eyes open. P.S. Better late than never, here are this month's Playlist and YouTube.
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Sunday 4th May
Look - I;m vety drunk an typing carefully. Jyst home from Selhurst.. Palace made the play-offb, winning 5-0 (yes. Very un-Palace-like). I'm sitting here with FM's 'Indiscreet' blaring, an a dpint of wine (with ice-cubes - ok it's gay). I Love fottbvall.
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Saturday 3rd May
Following his diary entry of a few days ago, Ross Halfin will be amused to learn that last night was spent at the Astoria 2, enjoying a Wishbone Ash concert (my first sighting of them in three years, in case anyone believes Ross' blatherings that I'm obsessed by them). The band were playing their 1972 masterpiece 'Argus' in its entirety. Tasty! Didn't make notes 'cos I wasn't reviewing, and to be honest several glasses of white wine had served to lubricate the gullet. But they did play all seven 'Argus' tracks in consecutive order, with the ever-triumphant 'Phoenix', 'Living Proof', 'Blind Eye', 'Jailbait' and 'The Way Of The World', from 1978's 'No Smoke Without Fire', all surfacing the in the latter half of the 130-minute performance. 'Happiness' and 'In Crisis' both represented the latest disc, 'Power Of Eternity'. They might've done more new stuff than that but, as I say, I was enjoying a liquid end to a tough week.
Speaking of the Ash, I was glad that guitarist/singer Andy Powell enjoyed my five-page Classic Rock story on the making of 'Argus', which of course touches upon the rivalry between Powell's Ash and the rival incarnation fronted by ex-bassist Martin Turner. He was disappointed but unsurprised by the quote from Turner - "Every time I go to see Andy's band I always end up in the bar". If you've read the piece and wondered why Powell was getting so uptight regarding the ownership of the name - "The 'Martin Turner' part getting left off the adverts causes a big problem. It mistakenly causes people to think there are two versions Wishbone Ash", says Andy - there was tangible evidence of his claim in the freebie newspaper London Lite, which printed a colour photo of Turner in its gig guide and began with the words: "The veteran British rockers, led by Martin Turner..." Oh dear...
P.S. So that prize Boris Johnson is the new mayor of London. Rest assured, the idiots that voted for Johnson on the strength of seeing him on topical TV quiz Have I Got New For You will live to regret their foolishness.
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Friday 2nd May
It's belated, admittedly, but here's my five penn'oth about Whitesnake's new album. The impressive chart placings speak for themselves, but whilst I've always been more into the band's blues-based era - 'Trouble' thru 'Saints & Sinners' - 'Good To Be Bad' is plenty good enough. The band sound lively, the songs rock convincingly and I love that cheeky cry of "eyyy-ooop" at the start of 'Got What You Need'... Terrific stuff. The tour with Def Leppard will be a corker.
Yesterday's postbag also included a promo of 'Calm Before The Storm', the debut album by Lauren Harris (Demolition Records, June 23). Obviously, it sounds nothing like Iron Maiden (her father is that band's Steve - keep up at the back! - who cranks up the expectation levels by guesting on a few of the record's songs). If you like Pat Benatar-style pop-rock, chances are you'll be pleasantly surprised. Admittedly, I've seen Lauren onstage a few times so I already knew the album's core, but this is catchy, hummable stuff. Okay, it's very Benatar in places, but who else makes that kind of music these days? Furthermore, there's a bonus version of UFO's 'Natural Thing', and she's also recorded her live favourite 'Come On Over', penned by Stray's Del Bromham and Steve Gadd. The gal has taste!
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Thursday 1st May
For the past few weeks I'd been planning on going to the Underworld for last night's gig from NWOBHM survivors Blitzkrieg, however the chance of earning a quid or two from interviewing Rick Derringer put paid to that. Hahaha... not that it was a chore or anything. As the man who inspired the title of the Steely Dan classic 'Rikki Don't Lose That Number', Derringer turned out to be a pleasant, talkative fella. Blitzkrieg will have to wait for another day.