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 30th November
Had been looking forward to UFO's return to the Astoria for a-a-a-a-ges, and it was well worth all the anticipation. Basically, Monsewer Mogg and company stuck to the 'Strangers In The Night'-based set they've played for quite a while, with a couple of selections ('Hard Being Me' and 'Drink Too Much') from the latest album 'The Monkey Puzzle' sounding way better onstage than in studio form, plus of course 'Daylight Goes To Town' and 'Baby Blue' from the last album, 'You Are Here'. Before a large and vociferous crowd, the band looked and sounded well lubricated, but despite having to plead for cans of Red Stripe lager onstage were having bags of fun. Next time, however, I reckon they could mix the set up a little bit... how about reviving 'Cherry', 'No Place To Run', 'We Belong To The Night', 'Makin' Moves', 'Pack It Up (And Go)', 'When It's Time To Rock' or any of their other less well-trodden classics?
P.S. Sorry to learn that veteran deejay Alan Freeman passed on whilst I was away on my travels earlier this week. Aged 79, Australian-born 'Fluff' received an MBE for his services to music back in 1998 and was even the subject of a song on Black Sabbath's 'Volume IV' album. Although best known
for presenting the Beeb's Pick Of The Pops programme, Freeman was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about rock music, helping to build the careers of numerous hard rock and progressive rock bands. Will this broadcasting legend be missed? Not 'arf!
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Wednesday 27th November
Well, my first live clash with the original Asia was very enjoyable indeed, but last night's concert at the Academy in Liverpool also had negative aspects. When the band played their own songs - i.e. Asia ones - they lived up to all my lofty expectations. Considering all the harm he inflicted upon it during his wilderness years, John Wetton's voice is still sound as a bell. And the entire group played out of their skins on 'Time Again', 'Wildest Dreams' and 'One Step Closer'. However, their version of 'Roundabout' by Yes was wooden; it's a song that only Jon Anderson can sing. I've no idea why they included 'In The Court Of The Crimson King', when Wetton didn't sing the original King Crimson version. And, frankly, I wouldn't care less if I never heard 'Fanfare For The Common Man' or 'Video Killed The Radio Star' ever again.
You're thinking: Didn't you KNOW that the band were going to play songs from their pre-Asia careers? The answer, of course, is in the affirmitive. But I had no idea how intrusive they'd be. A mouse-like PA that sounded like somebody's living room stereo only made matters worse. You could easily talk above the music, and irritatingly, that's exactly what tended to happen - especially through the unplugged versions of 'The Smile Has Left Your Eyes' and 'Don't Cry'.
Yet the show's high-points - 'Without You', 'Cutting It Fine', 'Here Comes The Feeling' and 'The Heat Goes On' - all sent a joyous shiver down the spine (as did the text informing me that Dougie Freedman had grabbed a late equaliser for Palace down the M6 at Molineux). The final run-in of 'Only Time Will Tell', 'Sole Survivor', 'Ride Easy' and 'Heat Of The Moment' was worth all the travelling on its own. Before the show, Geoff Downes revealed that there will be considerable action from Asia in 2007, with just the following year's 40th anniversary of Yes appearing to cloud Steve Howe's schedule. That's bloody great news... if only they'd do it without relying on the crutches of their past.
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Tuesday 26th November
Typing this on the laptop at Victoria coach station. Very excited that I'll soon be witnessing the opening night of Asia's UK tour. Despite having attended (and enjoyed) many, many concerts by the John Payne-fronted band, I wasn't present when the original group played Wembley Arena for two nights back in 1983. If the reports from the US and Japan are anything to go by, this will be well worth being cooped up for five hours each way on a National Express Coach (though with a return trip costing just £16, who's complaining?).
Whilst killing time at the station I picked up Kerrang!'s new one-off magazine, 100 Greatest Albums Of All Time, then very quickly put it down again. What absolute fucking hogwash. Can CDs by System Of A Down, Green Day and Korn seriously be adjudged better than Led Zeppelin's fourth, untitled LP (the one that featured 'Stairway To Heaven', 'Black Dog', 'The Battle Of Evermore' et al)? I mean, Ginger is one of the most talented composers of the modern age, but if you're really trying to make a case for 'Earth Vs The Wildhearts' matching and surpassing the gravitas attributed to Zep's fourth album, well... you're having a bloody giraffe.
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Monday 27th November
As seemed inevitable, Australia won on the First Test by 277 runs, wrapping the contest (and I'm using that word with tongue firmly in cheek) in just 90 minutes of the final day's play. Can England play better in Adelaide? Well, it's hard to imagine them performing any worse.
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Sunday 26th November
Grruuuuuuhhhhhhhhh. Yesterday was Mrs Ling's birthday, and after Palace's encouraging 0-0 draw with Preston we headed to Brixton Academy where the mighty Motörhead were playing. Or so I'm told. With hindsight, those bottles of wine on the bus might not have been a great idea, and my recollections of the evening become blurred after hooking up with a posse from Sanctuary Records that included Steve Hammonds and Jon Richards, plus Steve's lovely wife Jane (well... lovely save for the fact that she's a huge fan of the Darkness). The waterfall of wine that cascaded down the Ling gullets contrived to make us miss the gig's start, and (to our eternal shame) exit a little before the final notes rang out. My glasses also somehow got twisted out of shape, too. Wonder what happened there? But Lemmy and the chaps sounded great.
England regained some dignity in the Test Match yesterday; if only it hadn't taken us four days to get out of the blocks. The Aussies should have no problems picking off the final wickets of Petersen, Jones and company before lunchtime tomorrow. On a happier note, two excellent new albums came my way yesterday. I've already enthused about Mendeed, the Dumbarton-based quintet whose 'This War Will Last Forever' was an enormous hit here at Ling Lowers. They've gone and done it again with 'The Dead Live By Love', which drops on February 5. Better still is the debut from Outworld, a fantastic Texan combo signed by Olivier Garnier, the Frenchman that discovered DragonForce. These guys have changed vocalists since 'Outworld' was recorded, which could of course cause them problems, but Dream Theater axeman is a huge fan of their work, describing the guitar playing of Rusty Cooley as "intricate, creative and beyond comprehension at times", so I'm far from alone in tipping them for great things.
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Saturday 25th November
Recall that internet and phone-free concrete bunker that I mentioned yesterday? Well, I'm returning there after writing this, and I might just leave the gas oven on. Once again I sat up into the night watching the Test Match, hoping England could claw back some respectability. Dropped early on by Stuart 'Butterfingers' Clark, Kevin Pietersen rode his luck but quickly fell LBW to a Brett Lee delivery that replays showed would've missed the stump, and when Flintoff followed him back into the pavilion for a duck it seemed sensible to turn in. By the time my passport in the Land Of Nod was stamped the rest of the England team were probably out. With the Convicts now 626 runs ahead, England will have to bat out much of the final two days to avoid a humiliating landslide defeat. I'll still be watching, but that's because my view of this car-crash of a game has graduated through blind optimism, groundless hope, teeth-grinding frustration and seething indignation to arrive at a kind of blasé, almost masochistic numbness.
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Friday 24th November
Holy... mother... of... God. Sat up to watch the First Test again last night. England seemed to be playing marginally better than on day one, though the problems with pace bowler Harmison's confidence and line were just as apparent. In the morning, full of trepidation, the TV burst into life again to reveal grim scenes. Before a baying 30,000 crowd at the Gabba, the Aussies had declared at 602-9, with a shellshocked England already three wickets down and just 53 runs on the board. Absolutely disgraceful, but hardly surprising after the opening day's lame-duck display.
Thank God that my first interview of the day, Angry Anderson, isn't a gloater (though I did receive an email titled 'Dad's Army' from ex-Kerrang!/Metal Hammer editor Robyn Doreian minutes after stumps-up on the first day). Instead of rubbing salt into the wound, the talkative Rose Tattoo frontman gave a fascinating interview. Besides the new album 'Once In A Lifetime' (due on February 16), we ventured onto some painful subjects, such as the death from cancer of Tatts' guitarist Pete Wells, and the band carrying the coffin at his funeral. In addition to Wells, co-founding guitarist Ian Rilen died of The Big C in October, another ex-member called Lobby Loyde being given five weeks to live not too long back. No wonder that Anderson urges us fellow chaps to take regular prostate checks in many of his dealings with the media.
Still talking of the Tatts, it's frustrating to see that Raven (the veteran US-based NWOBHM 'athletic rockers' that I probably last saw opening for Spider at the Lyceum) have lined up a rare homeland gig at the Underworld in London on March 4 - on the very same night that Angry and company are across town at the Scala. How bloody annoying. Right... If you're reading this, Robyn, I'm off to a concrete bunker, with no internet or phones.
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Thursday 23rd November
I rarely miss the chance to see Thunder onstage, and last night's gig at the Forum in London lived up to the band's usual high standards. As they opened with 'Backstreet Symphony', I found myself awash with memories; gulping vodka and orange from a vase at Great Linford Manor as they recorded their debut album (well, the glasses weren't big enough), travelling up to Newcastle Mayfair for a Terraplane gig (and having 'I Will Come Out Fighting' dedicated to me from the stage), drummer Harry James saving my ass from a stupid drunken altercation by hiding me in the dressing room at Brunel University (also at a Terraplane gig), Thunder's public debut at the Opera On The Green in Shepherds Bush (complete with guest appearance from Andy Taylor), accompanying them to one of Andy Taylor's legendary toga parties and spewing behind the ex-Durannie's sofa after draining a bottle and a half of vodka (sorry, Andy...), the secret gig as Danny & The Doo Wops at the Woolwich Tramshed, stealing the show from ZZ Top and Bryan Adams at Milton Keynes Bowl, their legendary three-night headline stint at Hammersmith Odeon, playing Wembley Stadium with Aerosmith and of course that triumphant breakthrough at Castle Donington in 1990. The list goes on...
Airing a half-dozen selections from brand new album 'Robert Johnson's Tombstone' - 'Dirty Dream', 'What A Beautiful Day', 'A Million Faces', 'Robert Johnson's Tombstone', 'My Darkest Hour' and 'The Devil Made Me Do It' - was pretty brave, but they're all wonderful tunes and no-one minded at all. Decided to pass on the after show meet 'n' greet in favour of whizzing home in time for the start of the Ashes series. Big mistake. England looked nervous and Roy and Hayley Cropper from Coronation Street seemed more likely to undulge in a bout of swinging with Ken and Dierdre than the bloody ball. No wickets fell by the time I reluctantly turned in, and shameful to admit, I actually had a nightmare about Australia's total still reading 'for nought' when I awoke. The reality wasn't much better... 346 for three. Ulp!
There's still a there's a long way to go, of course, but I'm not looking forward to my phone interview with Angry Anderson from Rose Tattoo in a few hours.
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Wednesday 22nd November
Status Quo's gigs at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon - an intimate and friendly venue just down the road from Francis Rossi's gaff in leafy Purley - have taken on near-legendary status, helping me to fall in love with the band's music all over again. Last night was fourth time in as many years I've seen Quo at the Fairfield, and as my friend Paul Newcomb so rightly pointed out before the lights went down, these gigs have taken on an air pantomime (in the nicest possible sense). Save for one track ('Belavista Man') from the band's disappointing latest album, 'The Party Ain't Over Yet', the two hours onstage were filled with some of the best rock tunes ever written. OK, they still do a shortened 'Forty Five Hundred Times' in a medley with 'Rain', but hearing them do 'Dear John' - the video for which features a spotty, be-denimed and youthful DL, with my old pals Nigel Glazier and Steve O'Connell - for the first time in aeons brought back great memories. I love the fact that Francis still gives a mock-pained look when the audience respond with a roar of "No!" as he sings "Could I be younger?" during 'Most Of The Time', also his schoolmasterly glance of reprimand when they tease him by shouting: "Sell us an ice-cream" (that's how the Rossi family made their money). Long may the Quo rock on.
Reminding us that it can also be drudgery to play music for a living, here's more from the sorry saga of Michael Schenker. Following the debacle of his Tokyo gig being aborted (see entry for Nov 19), bassist Rev Jones has posted an inflammatory statement branding Michael not only as "talentless" but "disrespectful to the band, the crew [and] the loyal MSG fans." He continues: "Myself, Pete [Holmes, drums], Jari [Tiura, vocals] and Wayne [Findley, guitar/keyboards] all gave 110 per cent, but in my eyes Michael gave less than one per cent. We have two more shows and it is OVER." Would love to be a fly on the wall when Herr Schenker learns of that little missive.
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Tuesday 21st November
What a great time I had as the Unholy Alliance tour came to a deafening end at London's Brixton Academy last night. Sadly, opening band Thine Eyes Bleed had been and gone by the time I gained entry and the sets were a little on the short side... but what a fuggin' bill - Children Of Bodom (who ripped the place up with their keyboard-tinged brand of mosh-metal), Lamb Of God (who really slammed the riffs down - sometimes almost scarily so), In Flames (who despite the temporary absence of guitarist Jesper Strömblad put on an incendiary display) and, of course, the mighty Slayer as headliners. Dave Lombardo played drums like an octopus, and they included 'Cult', 'Jihad' and 'Supremist' from new album 'Christ Illusion', plus as many vintage tracks as could be squeezed into 70 minutes. All the same, I could've lived without the more brain-dead audience members who thought it was fun to throw bottles, glasses and even punches at one another during the show. Wankers.
Today's Mirror has an amazingly outspoken interview with Simon Jordan, in which the CPFC supremo says of Iain Dowie: "He couldn't keep my team in the Premiership and couldn't get them back up last season when we had the best squad in the Championship with Andy Johnson, who is one of the top English strikers. Iain is a bigmouth. He thinks he knows everything, but the one thing that he doesn't know is how to manage big Premiership players." Say what you mean, Si!!
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Monday 20th November
Can't remember the last time I missed a Napalm Death show in London. But due to looming editorial deadlines that's exactly what happened last night. Had the pleasure of hooking up with Richie Ranno of Starz for a lengthy phone interview instead. Starz recently released a CD of a reunion show from 2004, though sadly they don't have any further activities planned. Which isn't to say that they've folded again - just that they await suitable offers. If any UK promoters happen to read this, the guys have four-fifths of their classic line-up in place (bassist Peter Sweval died of AIDS in the mid-80s), still rock like demons and would love to come over and play their first shows here.
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Sunday 19th November
At last! Just as I was thinking it'd never happen, Crystal Palace registered their first victory in nine games yesterday. Barnsley were soundly beaten 2-0, though the visitors were so atrocious that there was little real indication of whether Peter Taylor's men have really turned the corner. Put it this way: I'm just glad that I won't be attending either of our next two games; scary-looking away fixtures against bogey teams Wolves and Preston.
And back in music, sad to report that Michael Schenker's live comeback looks equally shaky. Michael ended a show at Nakano Sunplaza Hall in Tokyo after just three songs due to what's being termed "bad health condition". Web reports say that frustrated by his inabaility to play UFO's 'Let It Roll', Michael threw his guitar down on the stage at exactly the same spot that he famously demolished a Flying V back in 1988, and disappeared into the wings, leaving a shocked backing band to finish the song alone. The following night's gig in Sapporo (on November 18th) was completed, however. Extraordinary stuff, though little that Schenker does now can really shock anyone... can it??!!
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Saturday 18th November
Yesterday Mrs L and I made a rare visit to the cinema. We simply had to see Sacha Baron Cohen's controversial film Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. If you like politically incorect humour (and I most certainly do), it has scenes that will leave you crying with laughter. However, the film's success has generated several lawsuits, and the smile was wiped off my face by learning that whilst 20th Century Fox hauled in £27 million in worldwide box office receipts for its first week of release, the peasants from a rural outpost in Romania that appear in the movie's opening scenes were apparently tricked into thinking they were making a documentary. Those so-called occupants of Borat's home village in Kazakhstan received a fee of just £3 each - exploitation on a shameful scale.
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Friday 17th November
Ulp! Just received an advance promo of Twisted Sister's new 'Twisted Christmas' album (soon to be available via Demolition Records in the UK), and I'm virtually lost for words. It's quite, quite preposterous. They've done 'O Come All Ye Faithful' in the style of 'We're Not Gonna Take It', complete with cowbells. During 'On The First Day Of Christmas' they subsitute three French hens and the like with pairs of spandex pants, studded belts, quarts of Jack Daniel's and cans of hairpsray. Lita Ford duets with Dee Snider on 'I'll Be Home For Christmas', but it's all rendered odder still when you consider that 'Twisted Christmas' could well turn out to be Twisted Sister's last will and testament. Not exactly a glorious one.
Far more up my own personal alley is the re-issue of the first two Trouble albums, 'Psalm 9' (1984) and 'The Skull' (1985). As part of the build-up for a brand new studio record from the Chicago-based white metal doomsters, Escapi Records have just expanded these two masterpieces, each with a bonus DVD disc. I simply cannot stop playing them.
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Thursday 16th November
I fulfilled a personal ambition by meeting and interviewing Steve Hillage yesterday, ahead of two batches of EMI Records re-issues. My timing was pretty fortunate in that Hillage, who for the past few years has worked in the realm of ambient dance music, seems to coming around to playing some rock again. Steve informs me that he and partner/keyboard player Miquette Giraudy appeared at The Gong Family Unconvention in Holland earlier this month, playing a few of their songs from the 70s along the way. The experience was such fun that they're considering taking things further, though busy with so many other things he wouldn't commit to any sort of time-frame.
In the evening, England drew 1-1 in a friendly with Holland. The team's performance was certainly an improvement upon recent piss-poor displays, though allowing the Dutch to equalise as the game drew to a close reeked of the national side's usual sloppiness.
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Tuesday 14th November
Well, the hundredth issue of the UK's fastest growing music title - take a bow, Classic Rock - just dropped onto my doormat. To commemorate this momentous occasion we asked 100 different musicians, promoters, producers, sports stars, photographers and rock enthusiasts from varying fields of entertainment to wax lyrical about their all-time musical icon. It goes on sale tomorrow. And you know what? I'm really chuffed with the way the centenary issue came out. It seems scarcely possible that the magazine was conceived in a basement in London's Bolsover Street eight years ago, the words of industry naysayers ringing in our collective lugholes. Here's a slideshow of all 100 covers so far - how many do you own?
P.S. Basement boys Charlton 'parted company' with Iain Dowie yesterday. What a shame; he's such a trustworthy and physically attractive man. If only he'd been given the time to do the job properly and relegate them. See you in court shortly, Elephant Features.
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Sunday 12th November
Well, Palace's run of defeats could only go on for so long... or so I thought. Yesterday we lost again, this time to a stupid Stoke City goal that Gabor Kiraly should have covered at his near post. The team's taken a solitary point from the last 21, succumbing to five consecutive home defeats. We lack guile, motivation, pace, bottle and confidence and I can see no end to the misery. When I was a kid, current manager Peter Taylor was my hero. Now, like fellow Crystal Palace icon Steve Kember (and to a lesser extent Alan 'Bald Eagle' Smith), that's become irrelvant. It's all ruined. Out, out, out... now! My sole consolation is a large package sent by Jacqueline from Precious PR. It contains Peter Hammill's new album, 'Singularity', and a bunch of vintage expanded re-issues from the Van Der Graaf Generator frontman's solo career. My Classic Rock colleague Geoff Barton hit the nail on the head when he recently wrote: "Hammill is an acquired taste, but perseverance eventually pays off". This is maudlin, sometimes crazed-sounding music that's charged with uneasy passion and dark sorrow; the perfect soundtrack for a good old self-pitying wallow when League One seems to be staring you in the face.
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Saturday 11th November
Managed to get three interviews done - Andy Sneap of the temporaily reunited Sabbat, Quo's Francis Rossi and MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer - during a typically hectic Friday. In the evening I went back to the Underworld for a great gig by Doro Pesch. She's changed so little, it's hard to believe that I first saw this petite vocal powerhouse with her band Warlock at London's Marquee in the summer of 1985. More than two decades later she's still belting out that group's songs, indeed fan-pleasers like 'Earthshaker Rock', 'I Rule The Ruins', 'Burning The Witches', 'True As Steel', 'Metal Racer', 'All We Are', 'Hellbound', 'Metal Tango', 'East Meets West' and an emotional 'Für Immer' constitute half of her 95-minute show. But with a kick-ass band that includes ex-Britny Fox/Waysted drummer Johnny DiTeodoro, Doro also has a catalogue of super-hummable solo tunes. She takes requests from the front row, most of whom she seems to know like old friends. Having interviewed Ms Pesch a few times I know that she's one of the most sincere and likeable people in the metal kingdom. Lita Ford and Rock Goddess succumbed to the babymaking gene, of course. But despite her continued ability to slip into those tight leather pants, I'm pretty sure that Doro remains single. "You guys are everything to me, you are my family," she tells us before the new album's aptly-titled 'You Are My Family'. Cheesy to some, maybe, but I found it kinda moving.
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Friday 10th November
Yesterday I attended the Opeth and Paradise Lost gig at the Roundhouse - a newly reopened and renovated North London venue and scene of some legendary shows in the 60s and 70s. Ever the bridesmaids, Paradise Lost (whose last London stint was supporting Nightwish) really shouldn't be playing second fiddle to anyone. But their current plight is all of their own making. For all its quality, last night's set was all over the place, going back to the mid-90s for 'Hallowed Land', 'As I Die', 'Embers Fire' and 'Pity The Sadness', but also dipping into their Depeche Mode-influenced era. Judging by the crowd reaction, it seems you're a fan of one or the other.
Headliners Opeth remain one of the most inspiring bands on the planet right now, their blend of black/death metal, prog, psychedelia, hard rock and even folk as bewitching as the first time I heard it. The fact remains, though, that they've been regular vistors to the UK for their eighth and current album 'Ghost Reveries'. Their set deserved every last round of applause and in the highly appealing environs of the Roundhouse will undoubtedly look great when released on DVD, but I'm sure I wasn't alone in thinking it's time the Swedes turned their thoughts to a new record.
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Thursday 9th November
There are two new additions to the Gallery section, both from Monday's Classic Rock Awards - myself with Jeff Beck and Ronnie James Dio. We are not even worthy of typing the word 'worthy'.
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Wednesday 11th November
What a barmy coupla days I've had. Yesterday I attended the press conference for Genesis' reunion tour. As suspected, Messrs Collins, Banks and Rutherford confirmed that they will be without Gabriel and Hackett when they play two UK shows in July. There are no immediate plans for a new album and they'll be doing all the hits, from all eras of their career. The group's back catalogue is also being re-issued... again. To be honest, the conference (which went out live via www.genesis-music.com) was a bit of a joke. The questions being asked were dull or just plain ridiculous - one writer asked if they'd consider taking a rap band out with them on tour. I decided to ask about Steve Hackett. Tony Banks, who looks and speaks alarmingly like Tony Blair these days, fobbed me off with a bland answer. So, as a Devil's advocate, I wondered how Steve had felt about the decision to exclude him? Again I received an equally unfulfillingly response - sadly, that's the nature of these events; you rarely get to the real nitty-gritty - but before returning the microphone I asked if they're thinking of including 'Supper's Ready', the band's 23-minute, seven-suite magnum opus from 1972's 'Foxtrot' album, in the set. The answer was negative. Bah!
I was collared by a couple of camera crews afterwards and voiced my frustration at the band's plans on BBC TV's Newsnight programme, then again on BBC Breakfast Time this morning. Cheers to all that sent emails of support. James Summerson wrote from Newcastle to thank me for "asking the only decent questions" at the conference, and wanted to know my real thoughts on the reunion. Frankly, James, I'm apathetic. It's a missed opportunity for Genesis. But nobody would dismiss the notion of a second tour involving Gabriel and Hackett in a year or two's time - that's the one I can't wait for.
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Tuesday 10th November
Uggghhhhh... Hit the sack at 5.30am this morning after Classic Rock's second annual awards ceremony. Let's get the red-hot news out of the way first; Ronnie James Dio told me that the rumours of Heaven & Hell's tour are "absolutely true", also that their year-long 2007 touring plans include a show at Monsters Of Rock in the UK - not Download, as has been reported elsewhere - plus "eight or nine more shows" in Britain at the end of the year.
What a galaxy of stars turned up! I've heard so many tales about Jeff Beck being difficult, but he thoroughly enjoyed the night ("The chocolate mousse was fabulous," he told me), and as the evening wore on was seen in the foyer pouring glasses of champagne to all and sundry. Still on the subject of Jeff Beck, I had a chat with David Coverdale, who accepted two awards during the evening, one from his former Deep Purple colleague Glenn Hughes. Asking if either had been inclined to speak to Jeff by that point, David responded: "Are you serious, man? I’d shag him in a New York second." Er... yes... okay.
The spirit of camaraderie and pleasantness was quite disturbing - even Ross Halfin was nice to me for a while. I was thrilled for Roadstar, who seemed quite astonished to receive a deserved gong for Best New Band (kindly thanking me from the stage in the process). Besides the names I've already mentioned, the guest list included Alice Cooper, Brian May and Roger Taylor from Queen, Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith, Yes bassist Chris Squire, all of Asia except Steve Howe, Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham and Philomena Lynott, Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs, Danny Bowes and Luke Morley from Thunder, most of the Alex Harvey Band, all of Saxon, Frankie Miller, Jazz Coleman, The Answer and promoter extraordinaire Harvey Goldsmith, plus rather oddly, Sir Tim Rice and TV comedian Justin Lee Collins. Hic... Here's to next year!
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Sunday 5th November
It's Guy Fawkes day, and after yesterday's [insert your own expletive here] defeat to QP-Hahaha, I'm inclined to put my Palace season ticket on the bonfire, pour kerosene and/or the contents of Pete Way's stomach onto it, and light the Goddamn match. Once again we went ahead twice in a game, once again we conceded Special Olympics goals to throw it away. Losing 4-2 to a mediocre team like Rangers is inexcusible; they just wanted it more, and of course were considerably better organised. Tic, tic, tic... Peter Taylor will be gone before you know it.
Getting away from Loftus Road as speedily as possible, I cheered myself up by hooking up with Mrs L and getting suitably 'refreshed' at a posh hotel in south London's Blackheath. The event was a 40th birthday celebration for Floyd London, genial bassist of The Almighty. One of the business' real nice guys, Floyd is in remission from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, having been given a 50/50 chance of survival in late 2004. He now seems fighting fit again, but three years must pass before the doctors can declare him cancer-free. His lovely partner Sophie really pushed the boat out to make it a special night; there was an ice statue/shot shute in the shape of the Rolling Stones logo, a casino, bangers 'n' mash 'n' mulled wine, a live band and enough alocolic spirits to anaesthetise away at least some of the afternoon's hurt. Singer/guitarist Ricky Warwick lives in the US these days, but the rest of the band - guitarist Pete Friesen and drummer Stumpy Munroe (the latter quite spectacularly inebriated) - were on hand to toast Floyd's good health. Long may it continue. Now where did I put that Alka Seltzer?
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Friday 3rd November
My job is rarely dull, and I love the fact that the artists I write about can be so musically and culturally diverse. Since watching the Rammstein DVD a day or two ago I've found myself talking to John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes of Asia, Europe's ever-cordial Joey Tempest and former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. It was cool to strike up an instant repartee with the latter, who along with Robby Krieger and The Cult's Ian Astbury is now a part of a band called Riders On The Storm. Let me tell you, when a living legend like Manzarek hangs up the phone with the words: "Good interview, nice questions" you feel rather good.
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Thursday 2nd November
Yesterday afternoon was spent at the conference room of Universal Records for a preview of Rammstein's 'Völkerball', a concert/documentary DVD that's due on November 20. Shot in a Roman ampitheatre and featuring all manner of pyrotechnic toomfoolery, it's a colourful summation of the German band's ferocious live performance. To be honest, Rammstein's music doesn't move me one iota, but it's impossible to look away when the flamethrowe-wielding singer tries to incinerate a lederhosen-clad keyboard player who's hiding in a gargantuan cooking pot. Surreal isn't the word.
Afterwards, I zipped across to a sold-out Mean Fiddler for a double-header featuring The Answer and Roadstar. Both of these bands are so young and fresh-faced, it's bloody sickening. Roadstar's new guitarist Andy Glover doesn't look old enough to be drinking in the Fiddler, let alone playing on its stage. Sighhh... the New Wave Of Paper-Boy Metal must be on its way.
Anyway, from my own perspective Roadstar gave The Answer a bit of a roasting. For all the critical praise that the latter have received - from Classic Rock as well as their musical mentor Jimmy Page - I find them a little underwhelming. Which isn't meant to belittle their contribution to the UK's rock 'n' roll resurgence - far from it. I just think Roadstar have better songs.
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Wednesday 1st November
Yikes! I've just heard a promo of Whitesnake's 'Live... In The Shadow Of The Blues' album. Quite apart from the fact that the running order has been completely screwed up - CD1 begins with 'Bad Boys', while the show's first half is on Disc Two - what a dog's dinner Coverdale's younger cohorts have managed to make of classic tunes like 'Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues' and 'Take Me With You'. The phrase 'Over-egging the pudding' doesn't come anywhere close. At least the four newly recorded tracks, Whitesnake's first in more than a decade, are miles better than I'd feared.
Meanwhile, still in the realms of Doldrums-ville... if Palace boss Peter Taylor was staring down the barrel after last weekend's embarrassing home defeat to Plymouth, chairman Simon Jordan's finger must be stroking the trigger after YET ANOTHER 90th minute goal. Despite going ahead twice in last night's game at at Sheffield Wednesday, the Eagles lost 3-2 to a club that on paper shouldn't be lacing our boots. Taylor's grim record speaks for itself: One solitary win in the last 15 games. Self-confidence and even basic tactical nous are conspicious by their absence - and with the possible exceptions of Scowcroft and Cort his summer signings have been laughably ineffective. Just five points off the relegation trapdoor, we're sinking like a stone. A manager should be given time to stamp his identity on a new club, of course, but there's absolutely no sign of improvement here. Should we lose to QP-Hahahaha at the weekend, Palace hero or no Palace hero, Taylor walks the plank and Jordan must bust a gut to bring in somebody like Luton's Mike Newell, or perhaps scour the lower leagues for an uncut gem. The latter's a dangerous ploy, admittedly, but if PT stays we're doomed.