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 November
What an utter bastard! I awake to an email from my friend Paul Newcomb titled 'Jeff Beck'. It reads:
G'morning. Not a bad night at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club - Beck was outstanding. The audience included Messrs Page, Iommi, May, Walsh, Flea and Bonham - oh.... and Clapton got up to play the last two songs...
Newcomb, I've always hated you. There's can only be one reponse to such an outburst of shameless gloating. Click here and get back to me, sucker!

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Thursday 29th November
Wow... just received an excellent expanded edition of Wishbone Ash's 1972 masterpiece 'Argus', now swelled by an entire discful of bonus material that includes session takes of 'Blowin' Free' and 'Throw Down The Sword'. Recorded live at London's Paris Theatre that same year, the BBC In Concert recordings are excellent. Love the way that 'Whispering' Bob Harris introduces each track with those inimitably reverential tones of his. Before 'The King Will Come' Harris informs the listeners that Ash will shortly be off to America for a couple of major tours, but "hopefully they'll still be doing this one" when they return for British dates in November. Hahaha... Bob clearly didn't own a crystal ball. A quarter-century later, the band must have performed 'The King Will Come' a gazillion times, the 'Argus' album becoming such a prized gem that two versions of the band now exist - one of which (the Martin Turner-fronted line-up) will be featuring the entire album in next year's live show.
For the past few days I've been inseparable from tracks like 'Cheap Wine And Cheaper Women', 'Stand Up For Rock 'N' Roll' and 'Heartbreaker', which all appear on 'Runnin' Wild', the debut album from Oz-rockers Airbourne . Due for release via Roadrunner on January 28, it's a Rose Tattoo-inspired ass-kicker. Hats off also to Stonerider, a thoroughbred riff-a-second quartet from Atlanta, Georgia, who have the balls to tackle Nazareth's 'Hair Of The Dog' on 'Three Legs Of Trouble', a powerhouse debut that's guaranteed leave you reeling but desperate for more (check it out via Trustkill Records, also on January 28). Don't let anyone tell you that classic hard rock is dead. In the hands of these two fine groups and others like Black Stone Cherry and Stone Gods, the latter AKA The Darkness without those irritating vocals, good times are just around the corner again.
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Wednesday 28th November
There's an adage in football that you should never go back to a club at which you've been successful. Many valid reasons can be cited for the saying's existence (at Palace, David Hopkin's woeful homecoming would be a prime example, though we'd have ended up in the Third Division but for Dougie Freedman's second spell). I winced at the news that Shaun Derry - infamous for a lurid mullet that he once dyed purple, and an inability to pass the ball forwards - was coming back to Selhurst on loan from Leeds. How misplaced my cynicism turned out to be. Derry ran the midfield for Palace last night as Colin Wanker's team registered its second consecutive victory... coming from behind to overcome a toothless-looking Preston side by two goals to one. Older, wiser and mullet-free, Derry is exactly the type of player that the Eagles needed - somebody willing to get stuck in!! The fans opted for Clinton Morrison as Man Of The Match, Shaun got my vote.
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Monday 26th November
Another one bites the dust. I was genuinely upset to hear that Kevin DuBrow had passed on this past weekend. The ever-quotable Quiet Riot frontman's big gob made him quite a few enemies back in the 1980s, but the facts speak for themselves. QR's 'Metal Health' was the first metal album to top the Billboard chart, and the band had indeed sold more copies of said disc than Iron Maiden achieved with 'Piece Of Mind' when DuBrow and company opened for Maiden on 1983's US tour. As a wide-eyed cub reporter I interviewed Kevin back in those long-lost days, and again for the release of this year's 'Rehab' album. We exchanged a few emails afterwards and there did seem to be mileage in the theory that reaching his fifth decade had softened his ego.
"I'm not mean spirited, my sense of humour just gets lost in print," he told me back in the Spring, also adding: "We all know that Quiet Riot doesn't sell platinum anymore, but we still get paid well and we continue to entertain the hell out of people." Amen to that, Kevin, wherever you are.
Oh no... having dropped to 12th in the international rankings after failing to reach Euro 2008, England ended up in Coatia's World Cup qualifying group (alongside Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Andorra) in yesterday's draw. An opportunity for a spot of revenge, or a whole heap of further misery? Right now, with 281 days until the qualifiers kick off, the latter category seems like a red-hot favourite.
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Sunday 25th November
After the paramedics had revived me following news of Crystal Palace's first win under Neil Warnock (a 2-1 victory at Colchester that elevated the Eagles from the relegation zone), Mrs L and I dashed off to Brixton Academy for the much-anticipated Black Crusade festival. En route I received a text from Roadrunner's PR gang revealing that the start time had been moved forwards by half an hour... bugger!
So Shadows Fall were already onstage as we entered the scarcely inhabited hall, the ticket holders largely still queuing around the block as the Massachusetts maulers unveiled a merely average set. Angela Gossow had wisely cancelled some interviews during the afternoon to preserve her voice. It worked, her band Arch Enemy upping the excitement levels by a huge degree. Kicking off with current album 'Rise Of The Tyrant's opening cut 'Blood On Your Hands', they also peeled through 'Dead Eyes See No Future', 'Ravenous', 'Nemesis' and 'We Will Rise', the axe-weilding Amott brothers savouring every last twin-lead break and harmony trade-off. From the moment their backdrop was unfurled, DragonForce elicited a mixture of cheers and boos. The latter reached a crescendo with their lighter-waving ballad 'Starfire', causing guitarist Sam Totman to testily respond: "Oh, boo yourselves". I admit, the response surprised and disappointed me.
To be equally frank, Trivium are a band I can take or leave. You've gotta admire the workrate and enthusiasm of these highly-motivated and increasingly popular young fellas, but as a veteran fan of both Metallica and Iron Maiden, the Floridian thrashers are often leave their influences way too exposed. For a spotty 15-year-old that didn't experience Lars and company touring '...And Justice For All', or is too young to have seen Maiden at the Marquee, the hullabaloo makes complete sense. Luckily, however, I was there first time around.
Machine Head are much easier to empathise with. After returning from the brink of obscurity with 2001's disastrous 'Supercharger', guitarist/frontman Robb Flynn and company have achieved a career rejuvenation of almost unprecedented magnitude - anyone that can blow Slayer off the stage at the Download festival deserves your respect. All through the evening's earlier performances fans had chanted "Machine fuckin' Head, Machine fuckin' Head" during the gaps between songs. There was absolutely no way that Machine Head were likely to be usurped by anyone, and with a set formulated upon their most recent two albums, so it proved. Here's what they played: 'Clenching The Fists Of Dissent', 'Imperium', 'Aesthetics Of Hate', 'Old', 'Halo', 'Ten Ton Hammer', 'A Farewell To Arms' and the timeless 'Davidian'.
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Saturday 24th November
Learning that Terry Venables - a morally bankrupt individual loathed by all Palace fans - has walked away from the England footie set-up a million quid richer, seemingly straight into another job, was the perfect end to a thoroughly dismal week. In dire need of some liquid cheer, I accepted an invitation to an experimental album playback from Earache Records at a central London cinema. 'Experimental', you ask? Well, yes, some bright spark had decided it would be interesting to team up the animated visuals of the Japanese movie 'Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence' with the bombastic, futuristic riffery of Biomechanical's forthcoming album 'Cannibalised'. And whaddya know... it worked. Listen out for 'Cannibalised' (due for release on February 11th)... it's a bloody monster.
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Friday 23rd November
It's taken two full days to come to terms with Wednesday's night disappointment. Having lost 2-3 at home to Coatia, England won't be going to Euro 2008. The following morning I took Bob The Dog for a bracing two-mile walk in a bid to blow away the cobwebs of hangover and despondency. It didn't work. Wrong team selection, wrong tactics, wrong manager - well, at least that last part has been belatedly rectified. It felt symbolic to watch Steve McClaren cower meekly beneath his umbrella whilst his opposing manager prowled the touchline, cajoling his players towards a victory that really didn't matter a jot. Of course, the root cause of the national side's latest dismal failure don't lie excusively at the politeness and inadequacy of McClaren's doorstep. Football simply isn't about football anymore - it hasn't been for a long, long time. The fat cats at the FA, the smugness of the Premier League and Sky Sports and the greed of the players themselves have all conspired to erode away the essence of what once made the game so wonderful.
Supporting a club that resides in the second tier of football, I've long since ceased being envious of the 'big four' and those that court bankruptcy in attempting to compete with them. Fifty quid for a seat at Stamford Bridge? To watch a bunch of foreign mercenaries that don't give a flying shit about the club whose colours they happen be to wearing? No, thanks... give me entry via the turnstiles at Grimsby or Southend, followed by fish and chips, on any given Saturday of the year. English football has made its own bed, and now effectively shat in it. The nation that invented the sport has become a minnow; a laughing stock. To all effects and purposes, the beautiful game is dead as a dodo.
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Wednesday 21st November
Just got home from a mid-morning interview with The Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala. What an interesting, easy-going pair of dudes. Both former members of post-hardcore outfit At The Drive-In, they're still in their early thirties but have rather older heads on their shoulders. The US band's new album, 'The Bedlam In Goliath' (due January 29th) is a remarkable piece of work that owes a considerable artistic debt to a Ouija board that Rodriguez-Lopez happened upon in a Jerusalem curio shop (yes, really). Bixler-Zavala's vocals are equally off-the-wall, sounding at their most shrill like Geddy Lee doing an impression of The Chipmunks above the band's dizzying headswim of freaky noise. I've a feeling that 'The Bedlam In Goliath' will be taking residence in the Ling Towers death deck for quite some time to come.
Right, the sun's over the yardarm so I'm off to get absolutely annihilated and watch the England-Croatia game... but probably from behind the sofa.
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Tuesday 20th November
Tristan Greatrex from the UFO website Misty Green And Blue has written a nice email in response to my recent diary claim that UFO's current 'Strangers In The Night'-based set is perhaps in need of a bit of an overhaul. I didn't know it, but the band actually threw in 'Belladonna' from 1976's 'No Heavy Petting' album on their recent tout of Russia, some gig reports and excellent photographs from which can be viewed by going to the MG&B website. That's a good start, I suppose. Now all they've gotta do is throw in 'Blinded By a Lie', 'Just Another Suicide', 'No Place To Run', 'Cherry', 'Profession Of Violence', 'Electric Phase', 'Pack It Up (And Go)', 'Chains Chains', 'When It's Time to Rock' and 'We Belong To The Night'. Well, we can all dream can't we?!
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Monday 19th November
After celebrating the Israel-Russia result till the early hours of yesterday morning, the last thing I felt like doing was attending a gig - especially as evening had brought torrents of icy wind and rain, plus work on the railway route to London. But once a Magnum fan always a Magnum fan, and I braved the elements to visit the Astoria 2 anyway. Amen to that decision, as Bob Catley and company devoted the latter of two sets to revisiting their benchmark album from 1988, 'Wings Of Heaven'. Hearing them book-end the show proper with the 11-minute pomp-rock epic 'Don't Wake The Lion (Too Old To Die Young)' brought a beachball-sized lump to my throat, recalling the days of yore when the band's manager, Keith Baker, would proudly invite a posse of journalists to watch them headlining cattle-sheds like the NEC in Brum, or London's equally cavernous Wembley Arena, then pour copious amounts of alcohol down everybdy's collective gullets at the hotel bar - often with unprintable results (hello, Mr Ewing). We lovingly nicknamed these trips 'lost weekends' and they were golden days, to be sure...
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Sunday 18th November
Football can be such an emotionally draining sport. With no game for Crystal Palace, eldest son Eddie and I headed instead for Leyton Orient versus Broken & Homo Albion. I lived in the East End for many years and regularly attended Orient's games. In fact, in young and foolish days, a fellow Eagle and I attempted to watch them play B&HA - Palace's deadly rivals - in full red and blue regalia. The police ended up moving us both for our own safety to a far-flung corner of the ground, but even as Plod marched us down the touchline there was still time to gesticulate a quick reminder to the travelling vermin of the result of the two clubs' last clash. So why, older and wiser (supposedly), did the hackles still rise so fiercely when a bus transporting a group of away fans sped past Eddie and I outside the tube station, and why did my heart sink so badly when the filthy Seaweed scored both of their equalisers in a 2-2 stalemate - albeit a very exciting one - that really didn't matter?!
Perhaps it's better to dwell instead on the sheer joy I felt when Israel registered a shock 2-1 win over Russia to give England a Euro 2008 qualifying lifeline. As a consequence, just a point is required from Wednesday night's final group fixture, at home to Croatia, though doubtless England'll still manage to screw it up.
Dashed across Shepherd's Bush Green from the pub to the Empire after Israel's last-gasp triumph. Foreigner and Francis Dunnery pulled a sizeable and enthusastic crowd, but it wasn't as great as I'd hoped. At somewhere more intimate like the 12 Bar Club, Dunnery's one-man show would have worked fine, but here the ex-It Bites icon was drowned out in a hubbub of disinterested conversation. And Foreigner, returning to a venue they played as recently as last June, proceeded to rewind through almost the same exact set-list. Don't get me wrong, new singer Kelly Hansen fits the band like a glove, but with just a string of 'greatest hits' to perform and guitarist Mick Jones flying the flag for their classic line-up, that 'Juke Box Hero' line about "Stars in his eyes" sometimes began to ring alarmingly true.
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Friday 16th November
There have been a few emails from fellow Quo-heads, wondering about my opinion of the band's new album 'In Search Of The Fourth Chord'. I'll be totally honest; despite receiving 7/10 in Classic Rock, at first it did very little for me. It's certainly an improvement upon the ropey 'The Party Ain't Over Yet', undeniably hosting a handful of good tunes, though it kinda sticks in my throat that most of them were penned by their annoying bassist John 'Rhino' Edwards.
Last night I went to see the band play at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. In the pub before the show, my friend Paul Newcomb and I discussed the fact that Quo include so little of their new (or relatively current) material at their concerts; wheeling out a tried 'n' trusted greatest hits set-list year after year. Our inescapable conclusion was that the band can't have a great deal of faith in what they're doing these days. So the show we witnessed an hour or two later was a bit of an eye-opener. The band included two cuts from '...Fourth Chord' ('Beginning Of The End' and 'Gravy Train'), with three from 2002's 'Heavy Traffic' ('All Stand Up (Never Say Never)', 'The Oriental' and 'Creeping Up On You') standing their ground. I had absolutely no problem with that, but maybe they might've broken 'em up instead of playing everything in a big block? Rick Parfitt's voice was plainly knackered at the start, but shepherded by Francis Rossi he sung his way through the pain barrier. Our tickets were in the Fairfield's balcony - the first time I'd sat there. Every time someone uses the words 'Quo' and 'balcony' in the same sentence it's hard not to think of the famous Glasgow Apollo, which according to legend bounced up and down by nine inches each time the denim hordes went into a jig. At Croydon, with the crowd seemingly welded to their seats, the closest we got was about a ninth of an inch when the suit-wearing lard-arse two rows away went off to buy more popcorn. But the show was fun anyway, especially as the unspeakably vile 'Burning Bridges' remained off the menu.
Here's what they played: 'Caroline', 'Somethin' 'Bout You Baby (I Like)', 'Don't Waste My Time', 'Forty Five Hundred Times'/'Rain', 'Down Down', 'Beginning Of The End', 'Gravy Train', 'All Stand Up (Never Say Never)', 'The Oriental', 'Creeping Up On You', Medley: 'What You're Proposing'/'Down The Dustpipe'/'Little Lady'/'Red Sky'/'Dear John'/'Big Fat Mama', 'Gerdundula', Drum Solo, 'Roll Over Lay Down', 'Down Down', 'Whatever You Want', 'In The Army Now', 'Rocking All Over The World' and 'Bye Bye Johnny'.
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Wednesday 13th November
Heaven And Hell's gig at Wembley had clashed with my trip to Hard Rock Hell, so last night I caught the band's show at the NEC Arena instead. Birmingham-bound, I had lots of chuckles reading the latest (Autumn) issue of More Black Than Purple, Jerry Bloom's excellent Ritchie Blackmore fan-magazine. Blackers was up to his old tricks on the last Blackmore's Night tour, playing short sets, refusing encores and even throwing a tantrum with Bloom - who'd written an unofficial biography - who'd dared to buy a ticket for a show in York. Hard to credit that Ritchie's mother-in-law/manager Carole Stevens would go so far as to place a 'minder' on Jerry for the performance, in order to prevent him from shouting for Deep Purple songs. Highly amused, especially as the show included four Purps songs anyway, Bloom asked the bamboozled venue empoyee: "So is it okay if I shout for Rainbow songs?" You just couldn't make it up.
Given that Birmingham is Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler's home town, I was amazed to find the NEC half-empty (or indeed half full, should you view things that way). With the seats out on the floor that's still a creditable turnout, but surely more people should've attended such an important show? Though seemingly an unknown quantity to an overwhelming percentage of the audience, Iced Earth used their 30 minutes exceptionally well. Having called the unresponsive crowd "a herd of syphilitic pussies", special guests Lamb Of God were less ecstatically received. Hmmm... I wonder why?
And so to the headliners, who played and sang as marvellously as I'd hoped, but for reasons best known to themselves hung around for just 90 minutes. There was no sign of regular set-opener 'After All', likewise the pair of newly-recorded songs ('Shadow Of The Wind' and 'The Devil Cried') that had graced many of the group's earlier concerts. More disappointing still, the 'Heaven And Hell'-era masterpiece 'Lonely Is Word' was also cruelly overlooked. The show ended so early that I could've got a train back to London, thus avoiding splashing out to stay overnight in a hotel. Bah.
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Tuesday 12th November
I've just finished reading an excellent book on the life of late, great AC/DC singer Bon Scott. 'Highway To Hell' was methodically researched by Australian author Clinton Walker during the mid-'90s, but somehow stayed off my radar until now. The unauthorised tome contains some interesting revelations, the most notable of which being that AC/DC considered Scott "disposable" and even contemplated sacking him before they broke big with 'Highway To Hell'. Incredibly, when Mark Evans received the order of the bullet from the Young brothers in 1977, the bassist telephoned band manager Michael Browning to relay the news. According to Evans, Brown was aware that a dismissal was in the air, but his response was: "Oh fuck, I thought it was going to be Bon". Scott, for his part, is quoted as being "bored of it all" before his tragic passing; craving the need to put down some roots and live a normal life.
Rich Wilson's upcoming official book on Dream Theater also contains some shocking bombshells. Rich forwarded me a few chapters of 'Lifting Shadows' and I was gobsmacked to become aware that the prog-metal masters also came close to axing their own singer James LaBrie back in 2002. "Towards the end of the 'Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence' tour, several of us were really starting to question our future with James," admits drummer Mike Portnoy. An "ultimatum" was issued (you'll have to read the book to find out the full details). As we all know, LaBrie overcame his disappointment, reacting positively to the challenge and remains with the group to the present day. For details, go to: www.dreamtheaterbook.com.
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Monday 12th November
Gruhhhhhhhh, arrived home from the Hard Rock Hell festival yesterday evening. Minehead was five hours' drive from London in my friend John Dryland's souped-up Flashbomb Fiat Brava, but to be honest I'd willingly have walked there barefoot to witness Raven's return to an English stage. It was even worth missing Clinton Morrison's 100th Crystal Palace goal, notched in what by all accounts was a drab 1-1 draw with QP-Hahaha at Selhurst (yes - the first home game I've missed since Tony Clarkin wore short trousers).
Billed as "a 48-hour winter maelstrom of rock and metal", Hard Rock Hell managed to squeeze an obscene amount of fun - somewhere in the region of 40 bands - into just one weekend. Against all the odds, it was also incredibly well organised, with (mostly) brilliant quality sound and friendly staff. A segment of the pavilion had been converted into a metal market/village and within 30 minutes of dumping our gear in a nice, warm chalet, I'd picked up a mint second-hand vinyl copy of the first Heavy Metal Kids album for just three quid (complete with poster)... bargain! And the sun wasn't even over the yardarm!
Here's a quick breakdown of Friday's most interesting bits:
• Zodiac Mindwarp: One song... he's only got one song! But at least Mr Manning has a bassist by the name of Jack Shit!
• Lauren Harris: Steve's daughter got the party underway with a set that included UFO's 'Natural Thing' and a cover of 'Steal Your Fire' by Gun. Her own songs are good, too. The months on the road have really started to improve Harris' confidence. I'm looking forward to hearing the album next year.
• Vixen: Some huge highs and lows. 'Crying', 'How Much Love', 'Love Is A Killer' and the Richard Marx/Fee Waybill-penned 'Edge Of A Broken Heart' are all top-dollar songs. It's great that the girls are still touring and apparently having fun, but perhaps they should cut down on the motorway food a little.
• Girlschool: For me, the best band of the first night by a significant distance. I love the fact that recently deceased guitarist Kelly Johnson bequeathed a portion of her ashes to each of her band-mates. "Next time we go into the studio we'll bring in our little jars, and shake 'em about in front of the mic," reveals guitarist/singer Kim McAuliffe. "Then Kelly will be on the next Girlschool album!"
• Crucified Barbara: Was it just me or were the Swedish trash queens badly out of their depth? They looked delicious enough to eat, but resorting to covers of 'Shout It Out Loud' by Kiss and Motörhead's 'Killed By Death' perhaps kinda said it all. At around 3am I watched a few numbers of Tokyo Dragons' show-closing set, but exhaustion was taking its toll and the offer of a few glasses of Jack and coke with Girlschool's Jackie Chambers and Denise Dufort was just too tempting.
And onto Saturday's festivities.
• GMT: The T-shirt count around the site rightly suggested that these guys would be popular. The trio's enjoyable set was based on the excellent 'Bitter And Twisted' album, plus covers of 'New Orleans' (popularised by Gillan) and 'Smoke On The Water' (Zzzzzzz), and the place went absolutely mad when Twisted Sister's Dee Snider walked on from the wings to join them for an encore of 'Amaheevull', a song that he and guitarist Bernie Tormé recorded in their long-lost Desperado days.
• Raven: Despite foolishly overlooking 'Hard Ride' and 'Don't Need Your Money', two classics from their first album, Raven turned out to be one of the festival's major triumphs. As proven by vintage tracks like 'Take Control', 'Live At The Inferno' and 'All For One', bassist Mark Gallagher still sings like a wounded screaming banshee on angel dust, and three tunes from the forthcoming 'Walk Through Fire' album bode equally well for the future. [Alas, with the Crazy Horse stage running late, I was forced to miss McQueen... bah].
• Fastway: With Toby Jepson delivering one of the finest vocal displays of the weekend and a terrifically loud 'n' clear sound that pinned you to the wall, the reunited band have come on in leaps and bounds since their debut show in June. The experience was akin to watching a stadium rock band in a small club. An album must surely beckon?
• Saxon: Didn't watch all of their set as nosebag had started to become a priority, but all power to drummer Nigel Glocker for playing after being assaulted by a complete nutter from the band 3 Inches Of Blood. A disgraceful incident.
• Twisted Sister: Dee Snider is the world's greatest heavy metal frontman. End of story. And Twisted Sister are perhaps the ultimate festival band. I hope and pray they can squeeze out a few more shows before calling time on an excellent career.
• UFO: There was no shame whatever in coming second to Twisted Sister in the showmanship stakes. But Phil Mogg still has a few tricks of his own. "Welcome to an evening of partial live music," exclaimed the singer mischievously, perhaps in the belief that some of the other bands had mimed, or even that the graveyard was soon to beckon for them. Who ever really knows what someone as off the scale as Phil Mogg is likely to be thinking? Content-wise, UFO's 'Strangers In The Night'-based set is in major need of an overhaul, but they remain one of the most charismatic and consistent groups on the circuit.
• Tesla: Allotted just an hour (of which they used just 50 minutes), and with the crowd thinning out badly, you had to feel sorry for Tesla. Jeff Keith is one of the best hard rock singers on the planet, but throat problems had caused the cancellation of a gig in Dudley just 24 hours earlier. In the end the Sacramento bruisers made the best of a bad situation... but following the magnificence of their Shepherds Bush Empire gig in June there was a marginal whiff of anti-climax in the air.
• Diamond Head: Faced with a battle-scarred though Lilliputian-sized group of fans, my heart went out to Brian Tatler and his faithful cohorts. The band fulfilled their side of the bargain, delivering old classics and songs from the post-Sean Harris era alike, but were onto a losing bet from the first note. I'm reliably informed that Hard Rock Hell 2008 is already booked, likewise its headline act. My only major criticism of this inaugural bash would be the early morning stage-times. Perhaps it should run for three days next year; spread the groups out and give everybody that plays a sporting chance?
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Wednesday 7th November
Sorry to learn of the death of Bob Muldowney, a guy with whom I traded many live cassettes during the mid-80s. Muldowney's fiercely opionated reviews for his fanzine Kick-Ass Monthly played a role in the breakthrough of Metallica and many more - according to folklore it was Bob that passed the then unknown band's 'No Life Till Leather' demo to the man that signed them for Megaforce Records, Johnny Z. Because Bob lived in Baldwin, New York, he saw then also unsigned Twisted Sister on a regular basis. I was a regular at the Marquee Club and all over London, so in those pre-internet days we took great pleasure from swapping tapes of the shows we'd seen; even now my office has an entire wall full of TS performances at mysteriously-named venues like Beggars Opera in Queens, Mad Hatters in East Quogue, Zaffey's in Piscataway, the Northstage Theatre in Glen Cove and and the legendary L'Amour in Brooklyn, where Dee Snider and company made a speciality of playing lengthy covers sets. I never met Bob, who notched 44 years before being struck down by cancer, and we hadn't communicated in decades, but my condolences go to his family and friends.
Onwards and upwards... Palace recovered from a goal defecit to claim apoint from last night's difficult away clash with big-spending Cardiff. Covering the game for Sky Sports, CPFC legend-turned-pundit John Salako described the team's second half performance as "excellent", suggesting that if it can be replicated on a regular basis the Eagles should ascend the league table with ease. Fingers crossed.
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Tuesday 6th November
Astonishingly, given that last night Classic Rock's third annual awards ceremony took place, I awake in a blissfully hangover-free state. With the event being the biggest and most lavish so far - Aerosmith's Steven Tyler was on hand to present Jimmy Page with a Living Legend award - there simply wasn't time for boozing. The guest list was amazing. Quo's Rick Parfitt made my night by walking in with Francis Rossi, barging into me on purpose and playfully exclaiming: "The barnet's looking good, mate - best ever, in fact!" I managed to get my photo taken with all of Heaven And Hell and cogitated upon the dubious merits of current CPFC boss Neil Warnock with Sheffield United nut Joe Elliott, who along with Ian Hunter was presenting the Tommy Vance Inspiration Award to Mick Ronson's wife Suzi (for the record, when asked whether he'd like Warnock back at Bramall Lane, the Def Leppard singer replied: "You're fucking welcome to him").
Doing the vox-pop interviews as people came off stage meant that I saw none of the actual ceremony - I'm told Planet Rock Radio's Nicky Horne did a good job as MC. Weirdest moment was trying to grab Tyler, who wanted to visit the loo, for a chat. He hopped from one leg to another trying to control his bladder as we spoke, but was charismatic as ever. Post-ceremony, the media room developed into one huge scrum, but fortunately Ross Halfin used his influence to obtain me an audience with Mr Page. I gather that Jimmy's acceptance was preceded by a lengthy cinematic tribute that caused Jeff Beck to admit: "I'd forgotten how much he'd done - I had to stand up and applaud". Obviously, what was discussed during those few precious minutes must be saved for my Classic Rock story, but Page seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the reaction from so many household names of rock. My thanks to Monsewer Halfin, who despite worries voiced in this diary informs me that Rush will **definitely** be touring again at some point in the future - this comes from the band themselves - for his invaluable role as 'mr fixer'.
Other attendeees included Alice Cooper and Lemmy (both previous Living Legend winners), a chirpy Bruce Dickinson, Chris Squire and wife Scotland, Duff McKagan and the astonishing leggy blonde that scarcely left his side, Ian 'Unter and Mick Ralphs, Fish and his band's bassist Steve Vansis, Glenn Hughes and Chili Peppers sticksman Chad Smith, Ian Paice and wife Jackie (whose barnet bore a striking resembence to my own - yes, it was that magnificent!), Scott Gorham, the delectable Joan Jett, Biff Byford, Danny Bowes and Luke Morley, Phil May of the Pretty Things, Scott Ian, straight-talking Kerry King (who stayed in the country to present his childhood hero, the ever-modest Tony Iommi an award for Metal Guru), Toby Jepson, Floyd London from The Almighty, Jaz Coleman, The Answer and ex-Wimbledon champ Pat Cash. I'm told that Pink Floyd's Nick Mason was around, though sadly I didn't see him or get to thrust a tape recorder under his nostrils.
Accepting a lift to the after-show 'do' from a Roadrunner Records posse that included Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and Richard Barbieri, the latter were very happy indeed to have exited with an Album Of The Year gong for 'Fear Of A Blank Planet'. Barbieri was also thrilled to have met Alice Cooper and renewed his acquaintance with Chris Tsangarades, recalling with amused horror how his former band Japan had sent the producer to hospital by setting him on fire during the recording of an early album. However, the Café Royale was so rammed to the hilt that I decided it was best to do a Captain Oakes and simply head home. All the same, a bloody terrific night was had by all.

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Monday 5th November
After their triumph at the Firefest, FM's spanking new website went live this morning. If like myself you're a fan, there's much to enjoy - some video clips (yes, including the hilariously naff promo for the incredible 'Frozen Heart') and enjoyable diary stuff. Get that pink suit out of the wardrobe and drop by.
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Sunday 4th November
Immediately after the radio commentary of Palace's 0-0 stalemate at S****horpe - a game the Eagles perhaps should have won during the second half - ended, I headed off to the Y&T/Tigertailz show, which I'd been tipped off was scheduled to commence at the unearthly hour of 6.45pm... others must have bowled up at 7.30-ish, having missed a chunk of what they'd paid to see.
I'm not alone in being unable to remember when Tigertailz last graced a London stage. Guitarist/singer Kim Hooker - along with axeman Jay Pepper a last remaining link to what's considered the definitive line-up of the Welsh band - thinks it might've been 15 years ago, but even he's unsure. With Glenn Quinn filling in on bass, the 'Tailz fulfilled their commitment to this tour depite the death of bassist Pepsi Tate, making the shows a tribute to their fallen comrade rather than promoting the new album 'Thrill Pistol' (from which just 'Long Live The New Flesh' and the infectious title cut were lifted). Despite an absence of punters, most of whom filed in belatedly, the likes of 'Sick Sex', 'Living Without You', 'Shoot To Kill', 'Dirty Needles' and, above all, the mighty 'Love Bomb Baby', have lost none of their (lip-)gloss. Moved by the response, Pepper signed off by declaring: "You've given us a reason to continue".
Including a spot beneath Whitesnake at Wembley Arena in '03, last night represented the fourth time I'd seen Califorian hard rockers Y&T since 2001's reunion - three of those encounters occurring in the same hall (though for some mysterious reason the Mean Fiddler seems to have reverted to the name of Astoria 2). So fair play to guitarist/singer Dave Meniketti and chums for straying from the beaten track, delving back to 1989's 'Ten' for 'Hard Times', also the 'In Rock We Trust' album for 'I'll Keep On Believin' (Do You Know)' and, at the request of some diehard fans, throwing in another 'Ten' cut - 'Ten Lovers'. I don't think they played the song 'Contagious' in its entirety at those previous Fiddler dates either, or the same album's 'Eyes Of A Stranger'. Mostly, though, the foursome delivered the standards you'd expect: 'Open Fire', 'Dirty Girl', 'Meanstreak', 'Hurricane', 'Midnight In Tokyo', 'Black Tiger', 'Rescue Me', 'Summertime Girls', 'I Believe In You' and an ecstatically-received finale of 'Forever'.
The most amusing part was Meniketti remarking about the gig being last of Y&T's "last UK show of nineteen-ninety... no, hang on, it's 2007". Imagine not even knowing which decade - let alone which century - you're in. But I know how you feel, Dave. It's how I earn my own living, too.
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Saturday 3rd November
Under normal circumstances I'd be on my way to Palace's glamour fixture with S***thorpe United, especially as Glanford Park is among the very few league grounds that I've yet to visit. However, until some kind of handy teleportation device is invented there was no way I could see the match and be back in London in time for tonight's show at the Mean Fiddler. I've had the pleasure of attending Y&T several shows these past few years, but I'm particularly excited about seeing special guests Tigertailz again for the first time since... cripes... I think the last time was at the 'new' Marquee in Charing Cross Road. All power to the 'Tailz for continuing after the recent death of bassist Pepsi Tate.
Limbering up for tonight's show and a tense afternoon in front of Sky Sports Soccer Saturday, I've been flicking through another excellent issue of Fireworks magazine whilst watching the
excellent new AC/DC DVD, 'Plug Me In', also giving repeated spins to 'Just Getting Started', a brand new album from Maple Leaf mayhem merchants Loverboy. Both are highly Recommended.
Speaking of which, the latest Ling Towers Playlist is now available, also this month's YouTube of the... er... week - sorry it's been a while since the latter was updated. Blame it on catching up after a weekend away at the Firefest and those confounded pre-Christmas editorial deadlines.
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Thursday 1st November
It's not often that you can leave your house, hop onto a London bus, pay a fare of 90 pence and get to watch one of the greatest bands in the world playing an intimate, low-key (2,500-capacity) show. But last night that's exactly what I did. The Eagles made a rare visit to South London to promote their new album 'Long Road Out Of Eden' with an invite-only performance at the Indigo2 (part of the oversized, overpriced tent formerly known as the Millennium Dome), admission allegedly "reserved for music business VIPs".
To be honest, I've yet to hear 'Long Road Out Of Eden' but given the quality of what was aired that's just a temporary setback. "We began the show with four songs from the new Number One album in England," announced guitarist Glenn Frey, slightly smugly. "It took us 28 years and two days [to make]." The Eagles then procedeed to run through a dizzying set of all-time classics, also dipping in an out of their solo careers. Related to that last comment, the band are perhaps fast becoming the Don Henley and Joe Walsh show. Why? Well, each got the opportunity to remind us of their own tunes but Frey's 'The Heat Is On' and 'You Belong To The City' were conspicuous by their absence - ditto anything by bassist Timothy B Schmit. But, hey, in a wonderful venue like this and with such jaw-droppingly perfect sound, who could possibly complain?
Not me. Oh no. I just settled back in my comfy seat for 105 minutes, sipped at some tasty white wine and savoured a bunch of songs that Frey described as coming from "way, way back - when the Dead Sea was only sick". Here is the set-list: 'How Long', 'Busy Being Fabulous', 'I Don't Want To Hear Any More', 'Guilty Of The Crime', 'Hotel California', 'Peaceful Easy Feeling', 'One Of These Nights', 'Lyin' Eyes', 'The Boys Of Summer', 'In The City', 'The Long Run', 'Life's Been Good', 'Dirty Laundry', 'Funk #49', 'Heartache Tonight' and 'Life In The Fast Lane', with encores of 'Take It Easy' and 'Desperado'.
P.S. I'm hearing that Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire, Alan White and Simon Kirke have assembled a supergoup to support Led Zeppelin at the O2. That combination is something I'd like to see almost as much as the headliners!