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)

Back to the Diary Archives

Saturday 31st May
Gutted to be missing this weekend’s Celebr8 festival and Francis Dunnery’s London gig due to a combination of work (the Blues gig guide won’t compile itself), the latest unpleasant domestic disagreements (don’t ask…) and dullsville household chores. At least there’s cricket on the radio and it’s sunny so the laundry will dry – a woman's work is never done.
Eldest lad Eddie and I tuned in to watch last night’s pre-World Cup friendly between England and Peru. Roy’s team looked pretty good, running out easy winners in a comfortable 3-0 victory. There’s cause for concern at the back, though, and I was amazed how frail the defence looked on occasion. However, there were no injuries – a Bruce bonus.
It’s remiss of me not to have mentioned this a few days ago, but how wonderful it is that Steve Perry has performed live for the first time in 19 years, having made a second guest appearance with the band Eels this weekend. Check out my interview with the great man here - (sadly you will have to register to do so, but signing up allows access to all sorts of exclusive and exiting content). It seems there’s to be no burying of the hatchet with Journey, though. Perry tells me: “People have been putting two and two together – but this wasn't about a reunion with Journey. There is no reunion. I was just having fun.”
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Friday 30th May
The playback of the new Electric Wizard album was great fun. Plenty of white wine, amazing surroundings - skulls, stuffed polar bears and lots and lots of dead things. – and great, dense, exciting metal. Though the band members were absent they sent a huge plasma screen TV with what I can only assume are the back projections used in their live show. With a single lasting for 12 bowel-loosening minutes, it’s fairly safe to say that the album (as yet untitled and set for release in a few months via Spinefarm) isn’t destined to obtain a great deal of daytime play on Radio 2. Putting it mildly. I really liked it, though…

Dave Ling Online

Afterwards I dashed to Black Heart in Camden to meet Andy Beare for a show pre-Angel Witch liveners. It was nice to see the band’s former bass player Kevin ‘Skids’ Riddles and his new bridge Julie in the bar, and the upstairs venue was packed. Intended as a warm-up for a European festival the band played a set based upon though not constrained by their all-time classic debut for Bronze Records in 1980. It seems that Carcass guitarist Bill Steer no longer is no longer a part-time member of Da Witch, though he stood a few feet away from yours truly, nodding enthusiastically and grinning as widely as my good self. It was great to hear them play ‘Free Man’, a lighter moment from the first album, and ‘Frontal Assault’, the title cut of their third album (from 1986) sounded much, much better than I had recalled. The only baffling moment… the absence of ‘Sweet Danger’ from an otherwise mouth watering 75-minute set. Here’s what was played: ‘Gorgon’, ‘Confused’, ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’, ‘White Witch’, ‘Atlantis’, ‘Sorcerers’, ‘Frontal Assault’, ‘Guillotine’, ‘Free Man’, ‘Extermination Day’, ‘Dr Phibes’ (dedicated to Skids ‘n’ Julie) and ‘Angel Of Death’, with an encore of ‘Baphomet’ and ‘Angel Witch’.
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Thursday 29th May
It’s a Classic Rock news deadline day, punctuated by a phone interview with Eric Bloom of the amazing Blue Öyster Cult and (time permitting) a trip across London to a member’s club in Hoxton for an album playback, plus an Angel Witch gig. Time is money, better press on…
Great news that the NWOBHM festival Metalwave is to take place again for a second time in October, with a bill featuring Diamond Head, my old mates Chariot, Savage, Monument and more. Hope I can make it over to Essex this time!
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Wednesday 28th May
Wow… I just did an interview with Steve Perry during which the great man made a point by serenading me down the line with this lovely 1976 song from Dorothy Moore. *That* doesn’t happen every day of the week!
Things had already got off to a fine start with a mid-morning face-to-face interview with Thunder’s Danny Bowes and Like Morley. Yeah, this is shaping up to be a pretty good week!
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Tuesday 27th May
On a cold, wet and fairly miserable South London morning, how better to brush up for a phone interview with Francis Dunnery than a refreshing blast of this l’il beaut? The former It Bites guitarist/singer was on fine form as ever – almost every word quotable and hugely entertaining. Later on, after some donkey work on the gig guide for Classic Rock’s Blues magazine, I has the honour of speaking to John Mayall, too. That seemed pretty appropriate!
Dave Lewis has kindly send the latest issue (number #37) of his Zeppelin magazine Tight But Loose, which examines the band’s first ever tour of the US in 1969… 45 years ago – holy shit! Amazing to think that the group were billed as ‘Led Zeppilen’, ‘Led Zeptlin’ and even ‘Len Zefflin’… if they were even billed at all. Entry to the shows, headlined by Vanilla Fudge, cost as little as $2.00. Who’d want to be the hapless reviewer who wrote of a show in Vancouver: “After a few songs I realised that even had I arrived an hour later, I wouldn’t have missed much”? Epic fail!
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Monday 26th May
It’s hard to believe that five years had passed since my previous (and only) sighting of Eden’s Curse, the multi-international melodic metalheads, on a bill with Stratovarius and Firewind. Since then the quintet have parted company with co-founding singer Michael Eden but released a string of great records. You seek the missing link between melodic hard rock and heavy metal? Trying giving Eden’s Curse a listen; their newie (and fourth) ‘Symphony Of Sin’, is a pretty good place to start – just as you’d expect of a group that lists Queensrÿche, Journey, TNT, Yngwie, Firewind, Saxon and Edguy among their influences.
Given the usual weekend transport difficulties though with a Bank Holiday the next day there was a respectable turnout and the band pulled out all the stops to deliver a cracking display. The sound was adequate for the show’s first half but when everything clicked into gear, the full force of the magnificence of Eden’s Curse became evident. Serbian frontman Nikola Mijic has a warm, rich voice that complements the material, and the band’s former drummer Pete Newdeck (now frontman of the support act Tainted Nation) stepped up to duet on ‘Rock Bottom’ (no relation). Later on, following the Tyketto-esque ‘Wings Of Fire’, the band were joined by ex-Midnight Blue/Rainbow/Yngwie and current MSG/Tank man Doogie White for ‘No Holy Man’ who, with his usual tact and diplomacy exited the stage with a barbed comment aimed at Michael Eden: “It’s very nice to hear Eden’s Curse songs sung by a fucking good singer.” Miaow to you, Mr White! Anyway, a regal encore of ‘Judgement Day’, ‘Evil & Divine’ and ‘Angels & Demons’ set the seal on a truly excellent performance.

Dave Ling Online

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Sunday 25th May
Yesterday’s Championship final at Wembley between Derby and QP-Haha offered a reminder of how brutally cruel and unjust the game of football can be. The Rams dominated the game but couldn’t make the breakthrough and in the last minute, with penalties looming, their opponents scored a soft breakaway goal. John Wetton will be distraught.
This afternoon, as I limbered up a gig by Eden’s Curse, my second team, Leyton Orient, scored a screamer to take lead in their own Wembley Showdown, before adding a second. That they would ultimately lose out on penalties to Rotherham was a bitter, bitter pill. I’ve watched quite a lot of footie this weekend including the Champions League final – and each time my teams threw away precious leads to concede defeat. Now, on top of everything else, Fish’s boys Hibernian have just squandered a 2-0 start from the first (away) leg against Hamilton to drop into the second tier... once again on spot kicks. The highs are great – thank Christ that the Eagles didn’t require pens last year to get past Twatford – but the lows confirm that footie can be a cruel, cruel game.
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Saturday 24th May
I’ve spent most of the day writing about Status Quo’s Frantic Four and playing the classic albums from ‘Piledriver’ though to ‘Never Too Late’… there are worse ways to pass the time. No two ways about it: Quo were unbeatable from 1970-’76. For all of its over-polished production I still love ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ very much indeed. ‘If You Can’t Stand The Heat’ contains some absolute corkers such as ‘Again And Again’ and ‘Long Legged Linda’. By the time we get to ‘Just Supposin’’ and ‘Never Too Late’ (both recorded simultaneously) the quality levels dip noticeably, but the likes of ‘Over The Edge’, ‘The Wild Ones’, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and the hugely underrated ‘Riverside’ confirmed that the Quo still had the wherewithal to churn out a 12-bar classic when the mood took them. Memories are made of this.
Did anyone else enjoy this evening’s return of The Fast Show as party of BBC2’s anniversary celebrations? Jerry Ewing was back in his guise as Rowley Birkin QC, and so were the odd couple, Ralph and Ted, plus the smooth-talking ladies man car salesman Swiss Toni. Must confess that I’ve never tried “smashing it into a bucket”, as suggested by Ron Manager in a brilliant Andy Gray/Richard Keys parody, but there’s a first time for everything. Best line of the night: “Dentures out granny, here I come...”
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Friday 23rd May
Rainclouds aside, much fun was had at the Oval as… wait for it… England actually won a game of cricket! Some Sri Lanka fans in the row in front of us bought a round of drinks – no doubt amused by our witty banter! That’s something you wouldn’t see at footie!
And back to reality… phoners with ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, Ginger Wildheart, Thijs van Leer and Devin Townsend… sheesh! At least the weekend is almost here (though, typically, the lion’s share of my own Sat/Sun will be spent here at the PC).
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Thursday 22nd May
After eight phone interviews in around 28 hours (a further two were postponed!) and with four others lined up for tomorrow, it’s Pimms o'clock and time for the first leather on willow action of the summer! Off to The Oval for the ODI between England and Sri Lanka.
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Wednesday 21st May
I’ve just realised that a year has passed since we lost poor Trevor Bolder. He was such a lovely man. Here's my only photograph of us together (with Mick Box) taken in Trenton, New Jersey, way back in 2002. Yes... it was during my pie-eating phase. I said it so you don’t have to.

Dave Ling Online

It’s been another hugely busy day. Besides reviewing State Hackett’s live DVD from the Royal Albert Hall – one of the *the* shows if 2013 – I spent time chatting with Fish, Biff Byford, Steve Hillage and Robert John Godfrey. Could do with a bit of a lie-down!
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Tuesday 20th May
More phone interviews, blah blah blah. The names include Dave Wyndorf, Dan Baird, Richie Sambora and Steve Vai.
And talking of Sambora, in the year of 2014 JBJ might be dead to me but I *do* want a copy of this.
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Monday 19th May
Apologies in advance for the brevity of upcoming posts. It would be boring to state, ‘I’d like to have gone to see Band X but stayed home for interviews with Musicians A, B and C’, but that’s exactly with what’s going on for the foreseeable future. So I’ll refrain from doing so. Though it would’ve been nice to have been at tonite’s Doro Pesch gig, but…
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Sunday 18th May
I’m hung over again after a day out at the Crystal Palace Beer Festival with Mr & Mrs Pudney where, quite understandably, the mood was one of joyous disbelief. Was it really less than a year ago that we won the Play-Off Final at Wembley? Didn’t everyone – everyone! – take delight in saying we’d be relegated? And where did we finish? Eleventh! It was time for a celebration. Incredibly, there were 59 different types of cider available. I really enjoyed Westons Raspberry Twist (4.0) as an aperitif before leaping in to sample an Orchard Pig Explorer (4.5). The chili and ginger one was very nice, too! And on top of everything, Eddie got to meet his hero, Player Of The Year, Julian Speroni. What a fantastic day.

Dave Ling Online

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Saturday 17th May
My Friday was filled by phone interviews with Steven Tyler and Johnny Van Zant – I’d call that good day at the office by anyone’s standards. At the end of our chat, Tyler said: “I fucking love Classic Rock magazine, man. Thanks to you guys for keeping the genre alive.” And on that note it was off to the Garage to see H.E.A.T. and raise a glass (or three) to the great Ronnie James Dio who died four years ago today. Still miss you, Ronnie!
The Garage was rammed full for what’s likely to be one of the finest gigs of 2014. A few months ago I gave my friend Andy Beare a money-back guarantee: Buy a copy of the Swedes’ ‘Address The Nation’ album and if you don’t think it’s the dog’s bollocks then I will reimburse your cash. He did so, my wallet stayed firmly closed and this fine Swedish band, who add their own spin to the great hard rock bands of yore – think classic-era Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Europe and Whitesnake – had another fan. In fact it was The Beare it was who pointed out that there’s something of Sebastian Bach to live wire frontman Erik Grönwall’s pumped-up, OTT stage persona (though, luckily, Erik isn’t a tool).
A year from their gig at the Borderline (“the best fucking date of the ‘Address The Nation’ tour” roared Grönwall) H.E.A.T. pulled out all of the stops to send the Garage wild. If their newie, ‘Tearing Down The Walls’, is a couple of notches heavier then opening numbers ‘Point of No Return’ and ‘A Shot at Redemption’ proved that the hooks are just as persistent as ever. DragonForce’s Herman Li stepped up to shred during ‘In And Out Of Trouble’ and the night just got better still. You can gauge a band by how well they cope under pressure. When then the PA went down at the Dominion Theatre in 1985, Jon Bon Jovi got out an acoustic guitar and serenaded his mother in the royal box. Last night, when his vocals dropped out of the mix during ‘Dangerous’, Grönwall simply leapt out into the crowd, who carried him aloft almost to the mixing desk and back.
Yes, this was nothing less than a melodic hard rock masterclass from a colossus of a band that will surely headline Shepherd’s Bush Empire next time through.
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Friday 16th May
My mixed feelings about yesterday’s phone interview with Hank Marvin were completely out of place; the guitarist of the Shadows was neither dry nor stuffy.
Hailed by Brian May, Mark Knopfler and Jeff Beck and, as he put it, “even a few heavy metal guys who said that we started all of that off, too,” Marvin is, of course, a seminal figure in the world of guitar playing but I found him modest almost to the point of embarrassment over his considerable achievements. Now 72 Hank is a little more of a pipe ‘n’ slippers man than the superstar who was chased around the globe by legions of screaming girlies in the 1960s, and when I asked whether he had ever pined for the lifestyle of, say, the Rolling Stones, his response of: “No, not really… it all sounded a bit hazardous to me” caused me to laugh aloud. Aw, bless.
And talking of hell-raising, following a late lunch in Soho with my pals Steve Hammonds and John Dryland I found myself seated in the Crobar for the first time in 2014. Yes, really… my five-month absence was wa-a-a-ay too long, and it felt good to be back in the London heavy metal scene’s answer to Cheers.
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Thursday 15th May
You know what’s really starting to get my goat? Having to endure three support acts before the group that you really want to see finally arrives onstage – often at an unreasonable hour and forced to cut their set ’cos events overrun. Take last night’s debut UK headline show by Scandi-melodic hard rockers Eclipse. Due to a phone interview with Zakk Wylde I knew that I wouldn’t arrive in Camden till quite late. However, the supports were still playing as I bowled up at the Underworld to learn that Eclipse weren’t due onstage till 9.50, with an 11pm curfew. Oh Jeez! Worse was to come. The lights dimmed… followed by ten minutes of silence and a darkened stage. “Someone put 50p in the metre!” shouted a wag to my left.
Clearly, the chopping and changing of equipment had caused problems. When it rang out, the opening chord to ‘Wylde One’ (sic) sounded not unlike a strangled cat. I’m pretty sure that Erik Mårtensson couldn’t hear his vocals very well either. Nevertheless the four-piece threw themselves into things with commendable gusto. And why not? “I don’t know how many of you there are, but it sure looks like more than fifty people – we can't believe it,” smiled a relieved-sounding Mårtensson.
No doubt about it, Eclipse have some absolute killer songs, notably the fist-in-the-air likes of ‘Wake Me Up’, ‘Bleed And Scream’ and the overtly Whitesnake-esque ‘Breaking My Heart Again’, but with the night’s cut-off point approaching people began looking at their watches. When dipping into the repertoire of Mårtensson’s other band, W.E.T., the singer explained that the song concerned, ‘One Love’ had been intended with Eclipse in mind until they realised it sounded too commercial. The crowd loved it anyway…
However, Eclipse will play far better gigs than this one, which satisfied only sporadically.
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Wednesday 14th May
I was torn between keeping abreast of my second team Leyton Orient’s League 1 play-off semi-final second leg and a rare UK show from blues-rock veterans Savoy Brown. In the end I decided to attend the latter and follow the game via my new BB. The Borderline had looked empty but filled out at last minute, I’m happy to say. Formed in 1965, Savoy Brown, whose vast array of ex-members includes ‘Lonesome’ Dave Peverett (Foghat), Paul Raymond (UFO) and Jackie Lynton, have settled upon a basic three-piece line-up that still features guitarist Kim Simmons as its driving force. The first songs, all oldies (including ‘Hard Way To Go’, ‘Shot In The Head’, ‘Sunday Night’, ‘Black Night’ and ‘I’m Tired’) were performed with Simmons on acoustic guitar, which really showed the capabilities of fleet fingered old maestro – next year is his 50th as a musician. “It’s not too laid back for you guys, is it?” he wondered. No sir!

Dave Ling Online

As the band plugged in (and Orient took the lead… which they held onto to secure a place at Wembley!), the show began to focus upon the excellent new album, ‘Goin’ To The Delta’. ‘I Miss Your Love’ was low, deep and fruity, ‘Nuthin’ Like The Blues’ a fine, unashamed boogie workout, while the instrumental ‘Cobra’ kicked some serious ass! Ditto the slower though no less thunderous ‘Hellbound Train’, a golden oldie from 1972. Just like the audience, Kim really seemed to be enjoying himself. In this intimate setting we got to witness the subtle side of his nature, as well as getting our ears syringed. It was quite a treat.
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Tuesday 13th May
Another hectic day of interviews: Def Leppard/Down ‘N’ Outz singer Joe Elliott and ex-Hanoi Rocks frontman, followed by 20 mins apiece with Charles Hodges and David Peacock – better known as Chas & Dave. What lovely geezers, and how strange to hear their voices down the line… their dulcet tones are so familiar that it almost felt like conversations with a family member. Hehe.
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Monday 12th May
Though his age prevented us travelling via one of the many boozer cruisers that made their way by river from South London, Eddie and I enjoyed our trip to Craven Cottage for yesterday’s final game of the season against already-relegated Foolham. My mate Steve ‘No Relation’ Steve Way and his good lady Kathy kindly offered us a lift, and we arrived in good time for a couple of warm-up pints in a Thames-side boozer. In stark contrast to the other three sides of the ground, there was a party atmosphere in the Palace end. Some fans had brought inflatable props – here’s a shot of Ed swigging a mock bottle of bubbly (in one more year and a day he’ll be able to consume alcohol legally… ulp!!) – and we sang our hearts out from start to finish. Dwight Gayle twice put the Eagles ahead, his second goal being a wonderful curled free kick around the defensive wall, but an injury time leveller sent the home supporters into the summer break with the faintest of smiles. Had Julian Speroni been between the sticks (newcomer Hennessy didn’t look anything special) I’m convinced the Eagles would’ve seen out the game.

Dave Ling Online

Did I feel sorry for Fulham’s fans? Well, yes and no. But mainly no. The league table doesn’t lie, and my personal viewpoint is tarnished by a conversation I had with a long-term friend and FFC-supporting colleague towards the end of the season who had the audacity to say: “Given the choice between relegation and [being managed by Tony] Pulis, I’d take relegation any day of the week.” Well, dipstick… you got your wish! And you obviously didn’t watch Palace too much this season.
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Sunday 11th May
After a long day’s work on my contributions to the Download Festival programme, my Saturday was spent before the gogglebox watching The Eurovision Song Contest with Eddie and Arnie. Frankly, I needed a couple of boxes of wine to get through it. What utter bilge. Apart from the wine, all that served to keep me sane was the exchanges of insults on Facebook about the contestants. I’m pretty sure I met the show’s eventual winner, a bearded lady from Austria, at the St Moritz Club way back in the 1980s. But… er… let’s not get into that, hehe.
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Saturday 10th May
Back to reality after my day away from the computer. I had an extremely lively phone interview with Steve Harley at 10am. Though Harley is a fellow South Londoner, I was very disappointed to learn that he is a Scumwall fan. When we got talking about his sporting heroes, I risked asking: “You’re not trying to suggest there’s been an iconic Millwall player, are you?” “Bloody cheek!” he replied, hehehe.
The working day finally ground to an end just before midnight – separate phoners with Black Star Riders members Ricky Warwick and Scott Gorham (both on tour in the USA, hence the time difference)… dropped into the pit after some nosebag and crap TV. A lo-o-o-o-o-ong day!
Good luck to my second team, Leyton Orient, in the first leg of the League 1 play-offs. For eight years I lived in Leytonstone High Road (a stone's throw from a former residence of a certain S Harris esq) and often frequented Brisbane Rd. That the Os are pitted against Peterboro, managed by Son Of The Devil, adds extra spice! I will be glued to the screen... [Edit: The Os played very well, coming back from a goal down to seal a 1-1 draw. I can only see one team winning the second leg, and they come from East London].
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Friday 9th May
With a heavy heart I made the rail trip down to Havant, just outside Portsmouth, to say goodbye to my old Metal Hammer editor Harry Doherty. Had Harry not called to offer my first full-time gig as a music writer, Christ alone knows where my life might have gone. Punctuated by songs from Thin Lizzy, Kate Bush and The Travelling Wilburys, the service was extremely moving. Kit Woolvern (producer of Thin Lizzy, Magnum and many wore) was kind enough to provide a lift to the wake at Harry’s local, the Blue Bell Inn in Emsworth. Two bottles of wine were consumed on way back to London with and a Thin Lizzy bootleg (‘Breakout’, Philadelphia 1977) blared away on the discman – just like my old friend would have wanted! Still feeling thirsty I popped into a lig for Iron Maiden’s Trooper ale, which was celebrating its first birthday. Bruce Dickinson was around, surrounded by Rod Smallwood and lots of smiling faces and glazed eyes – an enjoyable way to end an emotional day.
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Thursday 8th May
Wow, Frontiers Records kept that quiet (which is pretty unusual for them!)… a listening link to a new album from the kings of soft rock, Chicago, has just appeared in the ‘in’ box. ‘Now – Chicago XXXVI’ drops on July 4. It’s a very busy day here at Ling Towers – there are interviews to transcribe and I’m due to call Steve Lukather for an interview in a while – but I couldn’t resist giving the first track a very quick blast. It sounds bloody wonderful!
[Edit: The Lukather interview was great. Toto, who have a rather good live DVD titled ‘Live In Poland: 35th Anniversary Tour’, are in the process of making a new studio album. “We’re about eight tracks into it – it comes out on in March ’15 in time for a world tour and, yes, the UK will be included,” he told me. “It’s great working again with Joseph [Williams, vocals] and I’m loving being with my old high school buddies.” What great news!]
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Wednesday 7th May
I'm so glad that I agreed with my friend Steve ‘No Relation’ Way’s suggestion that we should attend last night’s Player Of The Year Awards at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. The place was still buzzing with excitement following Monday’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool. On the way in we bumped into Julian Speroni, who had scrubbed up well in a grey suit. “What a great result against Liverpool!” I enthused as we shook hands. “What an incredible season!” the rock music-loving goalie agreed, sporting a huge grin. Things would only get better.
Proceedings began with a gospel choir singing ‘Glad All Over’. Joel Ward picked up Young Player Of The Year and comedian Kevin Day’s interview with Tony Pulis was quite superb. His final question summed up the buoyant mood and made the packed hall roar with laughter: “Can I have a have a hug?” Co-chairmen Stephen Browett and Steve Parish were later grilled by Day, with great, insightful questions and inspiring answers from both. Clearly, this club is in safe hands. A reverential hush descended as Steve Coppell, Ian Wright and Mark Bright offered affection tribute to former Chairman Ron Noades, before the long serving Speroni, out of contract come the season’s end, received the POTY nod for the fourth time. A huge chorus of “Sign him up, sign him up, sign him up!” filled the air. What a bloody fantastic evening!
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Tuesday 6th May
“You’re not singing anymore!” My beloved Crystal palace are all over the news this morning thanks to last night’s game with Liverpool. Needing a comfortable victory to maintain their hopes of winning the title the Scousers put three goals past Julian Speroni, only for the home side to stun them with three of their own during an unspeakably dramatic last 12 minutes. With the admittedly gifted though vile Suarez reduced to a blubbering, sobbing, disbelieving wreck after the whistle blew, full vengeance for CPFC’s infamous 9-0 defeat in 1990 was claimed. Cue choruses of “3-0 and you fucked it up”, ad nauseum. I am so, so proud of my team, also of the fans that have made Selhurst a cauldron of noise even when the going got rough. Here’s a photo of myself and Eddie accompanied by the motley crew (no umlauts!) that sits around us in the Holmesdale stand’s lower tier – and this was *before* the kick-off!

Dave Ling Online

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Monday 5th May
Myself and partner in booze Andy Beare were among a rather large crowd at the Assembly Hall in Islington for last night’s Magnum show. The veteran Midland pomp-rockers have been on a roll for their last few LPs and deserve every last shred of renewed interest. My biggest worry was the voice of Bob Catley, who has now reached the grand old age of 66. I’m happy to say that his voice was much better than the previous two times I saw the group, though it’s hard to deny that it’s on its last legs. This such a shame as Bob remains an intensely likable performer who lives for the stage and the quintet’s new record, ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’ is good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with their classic releases. Creatively speaking they’ve got at least a couple more great albums left in them, but nothing last forever and I’m left wondering how many tours remain. Magnum’s purple patch explains why the first third of a stirring 100-minute was sourced from their last handful of records. The set-list ran as follows: ‘Live ’Til You Die’, ‘Black Skies’, ‘Freedom Day’, ‘Dance Of The Black Tattoo’, ‘Blood Red Laughter’, ‘Unwritten Sacrifice’, ‘How Far Jerusalem’, ‘Les Morts Dansant’, ‘Falling For The Big Plan’, ‘The Spirit’, ‘All My Bridges’, ‘All England’s Eyes’, ‘Vigilante’ and ‘Kingdom Of Madness’ followed by ‘Too Many Clowns’ and ‘Sacred Hour’.
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Saturday 3rd May
Oh Mr Postie, you’ve brought me some notable goodies during my lifetime but this one is pretty hard to beat. Completely out of the blue and new via Angel Air Records on June 2 it’s Sweet’s ‘Level Headed Tour Rehearsal 1977’. 16 songs (including ‘Yesterday’s Rain’, ‘Windy City’, ‘Set Me Free’, ‘Sweet FA’, ‘Done Me Wrong Alright’ and ‘Lady Starlight’ with… ahem… amended lyrics) performed by the hallowed Connolly / Scott / Priest / Tucker line-up at Shepperton Studios, exhumed from the personal archive of Andy Scott. Sheer wonderment…

Dave Ling Online

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Friday 2nd May
Never mind Manager Of The Month – did anyone do better than CPFC’s own Tony Pulis over the course of the current season? I don’t f**king think so, matey, especially as he had just two-thirds of its time-span in which to work his magic. I was so, so wrong about Pulis’ arrival at my beloved club. Nobody should ever listen to anything I say again – ever. That’s official.
How kind! Ross Halfin has just returned from his travels and send a package of wonderful bootleg CDs. Two by Wishbone Ash (‘New King Will Come’, live In 1976, and ‘Locked In Tokyo’, which details two Nippon shows during the same year), plus Yes’ show at the Progressive Pop Festival in 1970 and ‘Breakout’, an excellent radio recording of Thin Lizzy at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia 1977 which I’ve had on a battered old cassette for many, many years. They should being many hours of listening pleasure! Thanks Ross!
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Thursday 1st May
Last night I missed out on one iconic prog event – Rick Wakeman’s second Albert Hall show – to conduct a phone interview with one of the genre’s leading protagonists, the ubiquitous Mike Portnoy. We hadn’t spoken in quite a while, and it was great to catch up.
Okay, this month’s Playlist and YouTube updates are now available.