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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Monday 30th November
My Sunday was spent in an unusually leisurely manner. Attempting to cover from a post-Palace/Motörhead hangover, I got caught up in the joy of watching England’s cricketers murdering their South African counterparts and decided that a hair of the dog might just be the best option. Most unwise. One bottle of vodka later, I’d also sat and watched the Everton-Liverpool and Arsenal-Chelsea games without even switching on the computer. Yikes! Oh well, with the most hideous of festive editorial deadlines to contend with in the coming weeks, maybe I deserved a bit of a rest…
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Sunday 29th November
Oh, how I enjoyed yesterday. The perfect Saturday began with Palace’s 3-0 all too easy demolition of Twatford at Selhurst Park (Elton John, Graham ‘Turnip’ Taylor, Tina Wisby… your boys took one hell of a beating). Victor Moses… what a player. And Julian Speroni saving that penalty, tremendous. Celebrations took place at Motörhead’s gig at the Hammersmith Apollo. Girlschool offered a crisp, enthusiastic display which ended in memorable fashion with Lemmy strolling on to join them for the Headgirl classic ‘Please Don’t Touch’. I hadn’t seen special guests The Damned for many a long year, but they provided fantastic entertainment from the first chords of ‘New Rose’ to a roadie removing Captain Sensible from the stage as he attempted to follow the last song, ‘Smash It Up, with a spontaneous rendition of his solo hit ‘Happy Talk’. Brilliant stuff.
Motörhead played so loud, I found myself wondering whether that little old man from the GLC still wanders around with a volume-o-meter? If so, it clearly requires new batteries. Even as I type, almost 24 hours later, my ears still ache. The core of the band’s set has changed little these past few years, though they at last they’ve dropped the Bob Seger/Thin Lizzy standard ‘Rosalie’ for another cover tune, none other than Twisted Sister’s ‘Shoot ’Em Down’ – a great choice if you ask me. It was good to see Würzel The Bastard rejoin the band again (albeit temporarily), Lemmy’s son Paul Inder also adding another guitar to the attack. Here’s the set-list: ‘Iron Fist’, ‘Stay Clean’, ‘Be My Baby’, ‘Rock Out With Your Cock Out’, ‘Metropolis’, ‘Over The Top’, ‘One Night Stand’, ‘I Got Mine’, Guitar Solo/‘The Thousand Names Of God’, ‘Cradle To The Grave’, ‘In The Name Of Tragedy’ (including Drum Solo), ‘Just ‘Cos You Got The Power’, ‘Shoot ’Em Down’, ‘Orgasmatron’, ‘Going To Brazil’, ‘Killed By Death’ (with Paul Inder) and ‘Bomber’, with encores of ‘Whorehouse Blues’, ‘Ace Of Spades’ (with Würzel) and ‘Overkill’ (with Würzel).

Saturday 28th November
Last night was spent at the Forum in London’s Kentish Town, watching excellent performances by Gong and Steve Hillage. Having seen both acts at the Lounge On The Farm festival in Canterbury back in the summer (check out the diary for 11th July, 2009) I’ll refrain from going into great detail, especially as the set-lists weren’t hugely different. This time, though, Mike Howlett was playing bass, and being indoors the band used its full range of back projections. The results were stunning.
En route to Kentish Town I stopped off at the Record & Tape Exchange (again), locating some quite decent bargains. A CD anthology from Zappacosta was snapped up (I only have those albums on vinyl), as was Wigwam’s ‘Hard To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roller’. Also stumbled upon ‘Everything In Moderation’, an album by Winterville, whose singer/guitarist Peter Shoulder is now, of course, a member of Luke Morley’s new group The Union.
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Friday 27th November
As promised in yesterday’s diary, a few ciders and voddie ‘n’ Diet Cokes travelled down the neck at last night’s Islington Academy gig from Gun. With ex-Little Angels/Fastway man Toby Jepson having found his feet as replacement for Mark Rankin, the band’s performance deserved to have been seen by a bigger crowd, though the gathering did include Dan Reed, who told me he was in London for some meetings and almost got up to join the band for the encores, ex-Thunder/current The Union guitarist Luke Morley and his manager Malcolm McKenzie, plus three rather ‘refreshed’-looking members of Airrace, Laurie Mansworth, Dave Boyce and Dean Howard. I’ll have a pint of what they’d been on please.
Besides delving into all four of their existing full-length discs (even the previously disowned ‘0141 632 6326’ for ‘Crazy You’), the band introduced three songs from their new mini-album ‘Popkiller’ (five tracks? I’d have said that was an EP, but whatever…). The title cut is a snappy, hook-laden little rocker and, based on a superb Jools Gizzi riff, ‘Let Your Hair Down’ has definite chart potential; Gun have definitely moved their sound into more contemporary territory, though I was marginally less taken with the evening’s final newie, ‘Seraphina’. I laughed as Dante Gizzi handed Jepson his bass to deliver ‘Something Worthwhile’, throwing in a few ridiculous Ali G dance shapes along the way, though as an ardent hater of The Police, the decision to merge ‘Inside Out’ with ‘So Lonely’ almost caused an outbreak of projectile vomiting from yours truly. Here’s the set-list: ‘Welcome To The Real World’, ‘Don’t Say It’s Over’, ‘Seems Like I’m Losing You’, ‘Popkiller’, ‘Money (Everybody Loves Her)’, ‘Taking On The World’, ‘Let Your Hair Down’, ‘Better Days’, ‘Crazy You’, ‘Seraphina’, ‘Something Worthwhile’, Medley: ‘Inside Out’/‘So Lonely’, ‘Steal Your Fire’, ‘Shame On You’ and the inevitable encore of ‘World Up’, the band’s rabble-rousing hit re-make of the Cameo dancefloor favourite.
P.S. I’ve been having some fun surfing around the new Tigertailz website, www.tailz.tv, which includes all manner of videos and interactive gubbins. Worth a look if you’re a fellow Love Bomb Baby.
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Thursday 26th November
The day started as usual. I was walking Bob the dog around the park, discussing where to meet my friend Steve Way before Palace’s game with Twatford on Saturday. Then everything turned to shit when Steve’s text chat included the words: ‘What a shame about Ronnie James Dio’. Not yet having been online, Monsewer Way (no relation) had to inform me that Ronnie has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Please excuse the pun, but I was gutted. Ronnie is not only a musical hero but, in my experience, a diamond fella. By all accounts they caught the condition in its early stages, but… sweet Christ on a bike… at 67 years young, that sounds nasty. I will raise a glass of cider or three as a symbolic toast to RJD’s good health at this evening’s Gun gig. As the press release from his management states: “Long Live Rock And Roll, Long Live Ronnie James Dio.”
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Tuesday 24th November
Just about now, under normal circumstances, I’d have been vibing myself up for tonight’s Dio gig… but sadly, it’s been cancelled. With Ratt’s show at Islington Academy and Slayer at the Forum also both delayed till next year, it’s gonna be an unusually quiet week. At least I got to talk to Luke Morley and Peter Shoulder of The Union today during a quick interview, and this evening I’m lined up to do a phoner with John Baizley of the excellent band Baroness.
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Monday 23rd November
Compared to the rest of the country, with bridges and people being washed away by torrential rain in the north of England, London got off lightly. As my son and I got soaked to the skin whilst traipsing round Greenwich Market in search of a birthday pressie for Mrs L, I cursed inwardly. Rather selfish when one considers the suffering of others. There was one major consolation: I picked up a mint vinyl copy of Mountain drummer Corky Laing’s 1977 solo album, ‘Makin’ It On The Street’, for little more than a song at Greenwich’s Record & Tape Exchange… bargain!
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Sunday 22nd November
I was pretty happy with the score line of Coventry 1 Palace 1, especially as the home side might’ve taken all three points after the Eagles took the lead – once again courtesy of that man Darren Ambrose (goal #11 for the season so far). With just one defeat in eleven matches CPFC are becoming tough to beat, but those draws must be transformed into victories if we are to have any hope of making the play-offs… nurse, did I really just write that?!
The evening’s Gov’t Mule gig was superb entertainment and, with two whopping great sets, even better value for money (if you paid to see it). The band’s current release, ‘By A Thread’, rates highly in their seven-album catalogue, so I was kinda surprised they only dropped four of its songs into he show. With my two favourite Mule tracks, ‘Thorazine Shuffle’ and ‘Soulshine’, ending the first set and the performance proper, the show’s two hours and 40 minutes seemed to pass by in a fraction of that time. Here’s what they played: ‘Brand New Angel’, ‘Bad Little Doggie’, ‘Blind Man In The Dark’, ‘Steppin’ Lightly’, ‘Mother Earth’, ‘Any Open Window’, ‘Frozen Fear’, Medley: ‘Kind Of Bird’/‘And The Wind Cries Mary’, ‘Thorazine Shuffle’,‘Railroad Boy’, ‘Monday Mourning Meltdown’, ‘Have Mercy On The Criminal’, Medley: ‘Teaneck’/‘Eternity's Breath’/‘St Stephen Jam’/‘Trane’ (including Drum Solo), ‘No Need To Suffer’, Medley: ‘Gameface’/‘3rd Stone Jam’, ‘Broke Down On The Brazos’ and the ever-brilliant ‘Soulshine’.
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Saturday 21st November
Yesterday’s phone interviews included Peter Hammill talking about his upcoming solo gigs, Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia and Jeff Scott Soto on the superb W.E.T. album. I’m sitting here at my desk wishing that I was en route to see Palace playing Coventry – the Ricoh is something of a happy hunting ground for the Eagles, having won there on all four previous visits. Instead, being unable to get back from the midlands in time for tonight’s Gov’t Mule gig, I’m listening to the new Slayer album, ‘World Painted Blood’, at ear-torturing volume. There’s no other way to do it, really. Anyway, ‘WPB’ is definitely one of the best albums of 2009; shame the band has just postponed its UK dates due to Tom Araya’s illness. Have also been listening to Arch Enemy’s ‘The Root Of All Evil’ – a collection of old songs re-recorded by the current line-up – much to the chagrin of the neighbours.
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Friday 20th November
I’ve just received the re-mastered, triple-disc edition of Hawkwind’s ‘Levitation’ from Atomhenge Records. Featuring Ginger Baker on drums, ‘Levitation’ was my very first Hawkwind album; I bought it back in 1980 on blue vinyl and saw the band promoting it at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, with NWOBHM boogie-blizters Vardis as support. Consequently, ‘Levitation’ still occupies a place in my heart. Coincidentally, I’m currently reading Carol Clerk’s excellent book The Saga Of Hawkwind and have just reached the ‘Levitation’ daze, so I feel compelled to correct something I wrote in my diary not too long ago concerning this era of Hawkwind’s complex history. A source informed me that guitarist Dave Brock had ended Baker’s tenure in the band. In fact, as verified by Hawks webmaster Dave Law who sent a recent email, it was bassist Harvey Bainbridge who did the deadly deed – albeit with the blessing of the rest of the group (save for keyboardist Keith Hale, who also headed for the door), resulting in the headline: “The best drummer in the word has been sacked by the worst bass player in the world”.
Anyway, almost three decades later ‘Levitation’ stands up incredibly well… does anyone else agree with me that we must get the title cut, ‘Motor Way City’ or ‘Who’s Gonna Win The War’ reinstated to the group’s live set before too long? (Edit: Dave Law tells me the band have been playing ‘Who’s Gonna Win The War’ again recently… part-time Hawks fans like me who needs ‘em?!)
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Thursday 19th November
This latest ‘cheat’ outrage must compel football’s governing authorities to introduce some sort of penalty box refereeing technology. In an incident they’re calling ‘The Hand of Frog’, France have wangled their way to the World Cup finals at the expense of the Republic Of Ireland, courtesy of a goal created by a blatant handball from Thierry Henry. The match should be replayed, no two ways about it. An utterly shameful situation.
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Wednesday 18th November
I don’t suppose many people can claim to have seen Bad Company and Yes on the same day? If so, I’m now along them. I was at the Hard Rock Café for yesterday’s Bad Co press conference (see Classic Rock website story here), at which Messrs Rodgers, Ralphs and Kirke performed four acoustic numbers… ‘Feel Like Making Love’, ‘Shooting Star’, ‘Seagull’ and ‘Do Right By Your Woman’. Looking forward to seeing them play a full-length set at Wembley Arena on April 11.
Afterwards, I trotted up and down Tottenham Court Road seeking a replacement stylus for my turntable. The blank looks on the faces of the shop assistants were pretty hilarious… I might as well have been asking to buy a Penny Black stamp, or a pet Dodo bird. Finally got one in the end, but… phew… £19.95… that’s a bit steep. Anyway, now I know what I’m looking for I’ll pick up a few more online, just to be on the safe side.
Having been warned that Yes would be onstage at 7.30pm prompt, I arrived at Hammersmith Apollo nice ‘n’ early, only to be told that although my name was on the guest list the tickets were still being put into envelopes. At 7.20, I was starting to gnaw my fingernails… kinda pointless as proceedings didn’t begin till 8pm after all. There’s been a lot of cynicism regarding the appointment of a tribute band singer, Benoît David, as replacement for Jon Anderson. I’ll probably hold fire in adding to that until I know what’s **really** wrong with Anderson and whether he is, in fact, ever coming back. Chris Squire has been quoted as saying that the band will make a new studio album next year, presumably featuring newcomer David. Hmmm…
I’ll be honest, the earliest stages of last night’s show were a little worrying. David does sound like Anderson, but his voice seemed to lack the necessary power. And with Squire and an unusually talkative guitarist Steve Howe handling the song introductions, he looked a little out of his depth. For me, including ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’, usually an exuberant encore number, so early in the set, fell rather flat. But gradually things improved. The two tracks from ‘Drama’, ‘Tempus Fugit’ and ‘Machine Messiah’, worked marvellously well, and though I remain a little unconvinced by the contribution of Rick Wakeman’s son Oliver on keys, overall the show receives a tentative thumbs-up from yours truly. Here’s the set-list: ‘Siberian Khatru’, ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’, ‘Tempus Fugit’, ‘Onward’, ‘Astral Traveller’ (including Drum Solo), ‘Yours Is No Disgrace’, ‘And You And I’, Steve Howe solo (‘Corkscrew’ and ‘Sketches In The Sun’), ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’, ‘South Side Of The Sky’, ‘Machine Messiah’, ‘Heart Of The Sunrise’ and ‘Roundabout’, with an encore of ‘Starship Trooper’.
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Tuesday 17th November
Ever had what you think is gonna be a brilliant idea, only for said stroke of genius to turn around and kick you squarely in the bollocks? Instead of going overground from south London and taking the tube, I thought I’d use a different, quicker route to last night’s Alice In Chains gig. But when my train failed to pull up at Kentish Town, before gathering pace and speeding through the next few stops, my pulse quickened. I knew its ultimate destination was Bedford – ulp… that’s Dave Lewis territory! Thankfully I was able to disembark in St Albans (Hertfordshire) and dash across the platform for a London-bound train, but it scuppered the pre-gig meal I was supposed to be having with the record company and, for a time, I was worried I might even have missed the start of the show – my first opportunity to check out AIC since their 2005 reunion.
To my great relief, I arrived with minutes to spare, finding a place in the balcony for what turned out to be a stellar performance. ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’, the band’s first album in 14 years, was among my favourite records of 2009, and the four songs aired from it were on a par with all the old favourites, especially the jarringly heavy ‘Check My Brain’. The audience – both sexes, all ages, from seemingly different rock cliques – was another revelation, singing along to every song. It was hard not to get caught up in their hysteria, especially during an emotionally-draining climax of ‘Rooster’, complete with grainy back-projections of the Vietnam war. I’d have preferred to hear ‘Down In A Hole’ given the electric treatment instead of featuring in the acoustic section, but that’s just quibbling. Here’s the set-list: ‘It Ain't Like That’, ‘Again’, ‘Them Bones’, ‘Dam That River’, ‘Your Decision’, ‘No Excuses’, ‘Check My Brain’, ‘A Looking In View’, ‘Rain When I Die’, ‘Down In A Hole (Acoustic)’, ‘Got Me Wrong (Acoustic)’, ‘Black Gives Way To Blue (Acoustic)’, ‘Sickman’, ‘Acid Bubble’, ‘Angry Chair’, ‘Man In Ihe Box’, ‘Lesson Learned’, ‘Would?’ and ‘Rooster’.
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Monday 16th November
Having been let down before by the band (or more specifically, the erratic nature of Ian Gillan’s voice), I approached last night’s Deep Purple gig at the Hammersmith Apollo with trepidation. In the end, though, I came away impressed by an above-par display. Restricting the set to 100 minutes and allowing Ian several breaks paid huge dividends, and it was great to see the band mixing up the set-list to include such oddities as ‘Not Responsible’, a bonus track from ‘Perfect Strangers’, and the same album’s ‘Wasted Sunsets’. In the past I’ve felt that Purple gave off a vibe of going through the motions, definitely not the case in this instance. It helped, of course, that my friend Andy Beare and I had been put so close to the stage that we could almost smell which cologne Gillan was using, and it was nice to find we were seated next to Jerry Bloom of More Black Than Purple, who seemed like a decent fella. Having lost a lot of weight, Gillan looked more than a little gaunt but was in jocular form, and his introduction to keyboard player Don Airey, “the number one supporter of Sunderland Nil”, really made me giggle.
Here’s the set-list: ‘Highway Star’, ‘Things I Never Said’, ‘Not Responsible’, ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’, ‘Wasted Sunsets’, ‘Rapture Of The Deep’, ‘Fireball’, Guitar Solo, ‘Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming’, ‘The Well-Dressed Guitar’, ‘Wring That Neck’, ‘No One Came’, Keyboard Solo, ‘The Battle Rages On’, ‘Space Truckin’’, and (grooaaaan) ‘Smoke On The Water’, with encores of ‘Hush’ and ‘Black Night’.
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Sunday 15th November
Yesterday morning was spent at the Olympia Record Fair, the organiser of which, a guy called Rob, is an acquaintance of mine. As I walked in the door, he grinned: “I’ve got a present for you.” It was a mint-condition picture bag copy of Crystal Palace’s FA Cup Final single, ‘Glad All Over’ (b/w ‘Where The Eagles Fly’). Rob also handed over a 7” single of ‘Power To The Palace’, a single from 1975 that’s still sometimes aired on matchdays at Selhurst Park. Oddly it was co-written by someone called Garry James… any relation to Thunder’s ’Arry, I wonder? Picked up a few goodies at the fair, including a couple more cheapo LPs by England Dan & John Ford Coley, whose ‘Dr Heckle & Mr Jive’ I recently acquired and was thoroughly blown away by. Pickings were a little slimmer than usual, though…
Before the evening’s Steve Hackett gig I found a Shepherd’s Bush boozer in which to watch the friendly between Brazil and a makeshift England side. Capello’s injury-depleted team did well enough during the first half, but after conceding an early headed goal never really looked like getting back into the game.
Hackett’s current disc, ‘Out Of The Tunnel’s Mouth’, is his proggiest in many a year and I absolutely loved the Empire show. I’d somehow got it into my head that Chris Squire, who enjoyed playing on Steve’s record so much they almost formed a band called Squackett, would be playing on the tour. With Yes just about to go on the road themselves, that was impossible. However, the Chapman stick-sporting Nick Beggs, wearing headphones, blond hair pulled into pigtails and sporting a leather waistcoat, was such a top-grade replacement that his dodgy past with Kajagoogoo was instantly forgotten. Over the course of two hours and 20 minutes, Hackett got the set-list – an excellent mix of latterday tunes, classic solo material and vintage Genesis classics – just right, and the band behind him, which included his flautist brother John, was superb. On such stellar form, I’d go and see him again anywhere anytime. Here’s the full lowdown: ‘Mechanical Bride’, ‘Fire On The Moon’, ‘Every Day’, ‘Emerald And Ash’, ‘Ghost In The Glass’, ‘Ace Of Wands’, ‘Pollution B’, ‘The Steppes’, ‘Slogans’, ‘Serpentine Song’, ‘Tubehead’, ‘Spectral Mornings’, ‘Firth Of Fifth’, ‘Jacuzzi’, ‘Defector’, ‘Horizons’, ‘Blood On The Rooftops’, ‘Fly On A Windshield’, ‘Sleepers’, ‘Still Waters’ and ‘Los Endos’, plus the encore of ‘Clocks – The Angel Of Mons’.
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Saturday 14th November
Oh, what terrific news – John Waite is coming back to the UK, with a date confirmed at London’s Underworld on March 2. After the disappointment of his gig at the Scala being cancelled, then missing the nearest show to London – in Colchester – back in the summer, I shall be there… with bells on. Likewise, Striper’s gig at Islington Academy on January 24. I’ll never forget that show they did at Hammersmith Odeon back in May 1987. Raining Holy Bibles, it was…
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Thursday 12th November
I’m often asked which bands represent the future of the genre we call classic rock (that’s with a lower case ‘c’ and ‘r’). Among the first names that generally tumble from my lips is The Parlor Mob, a quite superb young combo from New Jersey whose debut album, ‘And You Were A Crow’, was highly placed among my own Top 20 platters of 2009. So last night I had a dilemma. Would I go and check out TPM at the Barfly, or investigate another red hot, up ‘n’ comin’ (though admittedly slightly older) US group, Shinedown? In the end I went with The Parlor Mob. It was a fantastic evening, though not without its frustrations. The band’s performance was plagued by outside interference from the word go, with Mark Melicia’s vocals mixed way too low for the first couple of numbers. After he asked the soundman to rectify the problem, the band’s gear – presumably hired or borrowed – began to malfunction, resulting in long silences between the songs. Eventually, with 70 minutes on the clock and half an hour remaining till the venue’s curfew, Melicia snapped: “Shit fucking equipment, man. Shit fucking equipment. Due to this shit equipment, this will be our last song. Hopefully we’ll see you again… without shit equipment.”
How incredibly frustrating for both performers and the packed audience. Melicia has an effortlessly high-pitched voice reminiscent of Robert Plant, Geddy Lee of Rush, Cedric Bixler-Zavala from The Mars Volta and Budgie’s Burke Shelley, and the band weave the most incredible sonic tapestries I’ve heard in years. In addition to what was presumably a brand new song, the title of which was not introduced, the best bits of ‘And You Were A Crow’ were trotted out, with special praise for a jammed rendition of the ‘Dazed And Confused’-esque ‘Tide Of Tears’, their most commercial song, ‘Hard Times’, hitting an almost perfect patchwork of classic-era 1970s rock (the way the guitar work of Paul Ritchie and David Rosen ebbed and flowed reminding me at times of the Allman Brothers) and crackling contemporary energy. For all the technical flaws, I’m convinced what I saw last night will be referred to as a seminal concert in years to come. Here’s the set-list: ‘Real Hard Headed’, ‘Dead Wrong’, ‘The Kids’, ‘Everything You’re Breathing For’, [New song], ‘Carnival Of Crows’, ‘When I Was An Orphan’, ‘Tide Of Tears’, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Bullet’.
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Wednesday 11th November
I write this upon returning home from school. Yes, really. A few days ago my youngest lad, Arnie, brought home a printed sheet which requested the classroom presence of a parent/guardian with whom to conduct some “one-on-one workshop activities”. Yours truly drew the short straw. How utterly surreal it felt to take my place at a desk and sit quietly whilst the teacher blathered on about ‘number lines’ and all sorts of new educational techniques I’d never heard of… so I nodded politely and let Arnie do all the calculations. I was always way better with words than numbers. Some things never change, though, and I did risk a detention by scribbling ‘CPFC rule okay’ under the desk when I thought nobody was looking.
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Tuesday 10th November
I’ve just been reviewing the new Spin Gallery album for my melodic column in Classic Rock – ‘Embrace’ is so good, I had to drop guitarist Tommy Denander a line and congratulate him on a job well done. 18 months in the making it cross-pollinates the West Coast-style melodic craftsmanship of Mr Mister, Toto, Giant and Steely Dan with the hi-tech modernism of Floyd, Peter Gabriel and Sting. In a word: Brilliant. Metal Hammer have also asked me to review Lita Ford’s comeback disc, ‘Wicked Wonderland’. Jeez… Lita, what on God’s green earth were you thinking, luv? Awash with industrial-lite production effects, loops and detuned guitars, I’m sorry to say that it borders upon the comedic. At least the latest set of Procol Harum re-issues (‘Exotic Birds And Fruit’, ‘Procol’s Ninth’ and ‘Something Magic’) are here from Salvo/Union Square to restore a little sanity. Released in 1975, ‘Procol’s Ninth’ is, in my opinion, one of the group’s best records and I’m chuffed to finally have it on CD.
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Monday 9th November
In all the years I’ve been going to see Saxon – the first time was at Motörhead’s Heavy Metal Barn Dance at Bingley Hall in 1980 – I’m pretty sure they’ve never played a duff gig. Last night’s show at Koko in Camden was another first-class effort. Suidakra, a Celtic-tinged melodic death metal from Germany, opened proceedings with a decent 30-minute display. But I was really looking forward to seeing special guests Anvil again. “This beats the fuck out of doing deliveries for a catering company,” roared irrepressible frontman Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow, even playing slide guitar with a dildo at one point as the Canadians blitzed through ‘March Of The Crabs’, ‘666’, ‘School Love’, ‘Winged Assassins’, ‘This Is 13’, ‘Mothra’, ‘White Rhino’ and, as Lips put it, “the national anthem of heavy metal” itself, ‘Metal On Metal’. The audience responded warmly, and I was pretty chuffed for the guys.
With Biff Byford throwing around amusing quips and amending the set-list as he saw fit – ‘Broken Heroes’ was interjected unexpectedly in honour of it being Remembrance Sunday, the classic ‘Motorcyle Man’ another spontaneous addition – Saxon were amazing. Just like Y&T the night before, they appeared to be having bags of fun and during the encores Byford declared: “We’ve got time for one more… maybe even two more. What are they gonna do? Throw us out? I don’t think so.” I’m not a fan of Koko as a venue, but the sound was better than usual and I’m glad I gave up a precious Sunday night to have been present. Here’s the set-list: ‘Battalions Of Steel’, ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’, ‘Dogs Of War’, ‘Hellcat’, ‘Dallas 1PM’, ‘Are We Travellers In Time’, ‘Broken Heroes’, ‘Motorcycle Man’, ‘The Power & The Glory’, Medley: ‘Solid Ball Of Rock’/‘Back On The Streets’, ‘Iron Wheels’, ‘Lionheart’, ‘And The Bands Played On’, ‘Ride Like The Wind’ and ‘Wheels Of Steel’, with encores of ‘Live To Rock’, ‘747 (Strangers In The Night)’, ‘Crusader’ and ‘Princess Of The Night’.
P.S. I’m still tittering at having seen Ch***ton Pathetic crash out of the FA Cup on live TV to non-league Northwich Victoria, whose fans taunted the Clowns with a cry of: “You’re just a small town in Welling”. Just to rub salt into the wound, Northwich are managed by former Eagle Andy Preece. Take a bow, Agent P.
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Sunday 8th November
Y&T’s song ‘Barroom Boogie’ has a great lyrics which go: “Woke up next morning with a trashcan head”, and that’s exactly what happened to me a few hours ago. My Saturday began with way too many vodka and Diet Cokes before the Palace vs Middlesbrough game, which I’m happy to say the Eagles won by a single goal, courtesy of top scorer Darren Ambrose. I then rushed across London to Y&T’s show at the Islington Academy, hoping to arrive in time for a solo spot opening from Ron Keel. I was in luck. “It’s been 23 years!” hollered Keel to begin his one-man set, dipping in and out of material by Steeler (‘Serenade’), Keel (‘Tears Of Fire’) and Iron Horse before previewing a song called ‘Does Anyone Believe?’ from Keel’s upcoming reunion album, ‘Streets Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’ (due via Frontiers Records in January 2010). Ron still has a terrific voice, but for me the acoustic route didn’t really do him too many favours.
However, the face-melters from San Francisco were quite sensational, playing defiantly through a power cut during ‘Meanstreak’, to take the audience’s cheers as the sound kicked in again. Dave Meniketti still has a voice that most singers would envy, and his band are committed to giving the fans exactly what they pay for. Towards the end of a show that lasted for two-and-a-quarter hours, and with the clock ticking towards the venue’s curfew, Meniketti told us: “We’re gonna take it till the last possible second before they try to kick our asses out of here.” With the group threatening to release a new studio album of their own next summer – their first since ‘Endangered Species’ in 1997 – and still among the most consistently great live acts out there, I wish them nothing but the best. Oh, and the night got better still when my friend Andy Beare and I later stumbled upon a public house that sold delicious (and extremely potent) scrumpy cider… hence the aforementioned trashcan head.
Here’s what Y&T played (**takes a deep breath**): ‘Open Fire’, ‘Don’t Wanna Lose’, ‘Hang ‘Em High’, ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark’, ‘Meanstreak’, ‘Dirty Girl’, ‘I Surrender’, ‘Hurricane’, ‘I Believe In You’, ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’, ‘Midnight In Tokyo’, ‘Contagious’ ‘Summertime Girls’ (w/guest Ron Keel), Blues Instrumental, ‘Black Tiger’, ‘Squeeze’ (including drum solo), ‘Hell Or High Water’ and ‘Forever’, with encores of ‘Barroom Boogie’ and… wait for it… the quintessential ‘Rescue Me’. Fugging brilliant.
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Saturday 7th November
Even from a fan like yours truly, Magnum have taken some stick for their unadventurous set-lists of the past few years. Last night’s gig at London’s Islington Academy saw them respond belatedly, but with surprising force. With such staples as ‘Just Like An Arrow’, ‘Start Talkin’ Love’, ‘Days Of No Trust’, ‘How Far Jerusalem’ and ‘Rockin’ Chair’ all ruthlessly axed, the band played for almost an hour before airing anything recorded before 2004’s ‘Brand New Morning’ album. So there was a sense of relief when the opening bars of the ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ classic ‘Les Morts Dansant’ rang out. And then Bob Catley once again said the words: “This song’s from the new album,‘Into The Valley Of The Moonking’”. Personally speaking, I had no issues with the band having dropped so many classics; it was about time they mixed things up. There were a few grumbles on the way to the door but it was the brevity of the set, which lasted for just 95 minutes, that frustrated me, also how packed and uncomfortable the Academy was (hardly Magnum’s fault, of course). Anyway, here’s the set-list: ‘Cry To Yourself’, ‘Take Me To The Edge’, ‘Brand New Morning’, ‘The Moon King’, ‘When We Were Younger’, ‘No One Knows His Name’, ‘Dragons Are Real’, ‘A Face In The Crowd’, ‘We All Run’, ‘Les Morts Dansant’, ‘All My Bridges’, ‘All England’s Eyes’ and ‘Vigilante’, plus a superb ‘Don’t Wake The Lion’ and ‘The Kingdom Of Madness’.
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Friday 6th November
What deep joy! Have just received a set of two-on-one double-discs from Ironbird Records. The Europe one (‘Out Of This World’/‘Prisoners In Paradise’) is especially welcome as I’ve never owned either record on CD before, and both are among my favourite records of all time. But the package also contains similar releases from Dangerous Toys (‘Dangerous Toys’/‘Hellacious Acres’), Riot (‘Thundersteel’/‘The Privilege Of Power’), Corrosion Of Conformity (‘Deliverance’/‘Wiseblood’) and Britny Fox (‘Britny Fox’/‘Boys In Heat’). Sadly, there are no bonus tracks but the sleeve notes have been shared by my buds Malcolm Dome and Jerry Ewing, who share pretty much everything these days, I hear… even toothpaste and duvets. But that’s another story.
P.S. The Playlist and YouTube pages have just been given their monthly overhaul.
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Thursday 5th November
The newspapers are full of Bon Jovi fans griping about being fleeced anything from £45 (for places at the back of the hall), to £200 (for floor-level seating) to an outrageous £1,275 (for those with a decent view of Jon Bon Jovi’s nasal hair). To be perfectly frank, I would probably pay £1,275 to **not** see Bon Jovi these days.
Uriah Heep, however, are another matter. Last night my friend Steve Way and I zoomed across London for the band’s low-key gig at the Garage, which took place as part of Classic Rock’s Awards week. Approaching north London we couldn’t believe the traffic. Then we spotted a roadside sign offering ‘Match-day parking’ and realised that the Arse had a game in the Champions League. Oh great – that was gonna make parking easy. Somehow we located a space and took our place inside a packed hall for a short but marvellously entertaining display. To avoid unnecessary duplication my review for the Classic Rock website can be viewed here, along with some of Steve’s Brownie-cam shots. For the anoraks among us, here is the full set-list: ‘Wake The Sleeper’, ‘Overload’, ‘Tears Of The World’, ‘Stealin’’, ‘Sunrise’, ‘The Book Of Lies’, ‘Gypsy’, ‘Look At Yourself’, ‘What Kind Of God’, ‘Angels Walk With You’, ‘Shadow’, ‘July Morning’ and ‘Easy Livin’’, plus the encore of ‘Lady In Black’.
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Wednesday 4th November
After grabbing a few hours of shut-eye following the Crocks, then preparing questions for today’s interviews, I dashed off to central London for a hugely enjoyable encounter with Europe’s Joey Tempest. From there I grabbed the tube for a rendezvous with Pearl Aday, who has just signed a deal for Classic Rock’s label Powerage Records to release her debut album, ‘Little Immaculate White Fox’. Pearl, who you’ll probably know is Meat Loaf’s daughter, was recently quoted as saying: “There is no real female rock anymore. I will be the chick to bring it back.” She definitely gives good interview. Afterwards I sat around to exchange stories for a couple of hours with Pearl, her ‘other half’ Scott Ian of Anthrax and Powerage’s Derek Oliver and Darren Toms. Though I’d interviewed Scott many times we had never really socialised before. We chatted about his obsession with AC/DC (the depths of which astounded me though, incredibly, Scott never got to see the band with Bon Scott on vocals), and in ‘off the record’ mode we shot the breeze about the prospect of a tour from the ‘Big Four’ of Thrash and, of course, Dave Mustaine. I was also able to tease a couple of great anecdotes about Jim Steinman from Pearl. Gosh… I hate my job (not)!
As a point of principle, I’d long since decided against splashing out thirty quid to attend Palace’s away game with QP-Hahaha. Those jammy buggers have already got more than enough money, thanks very much. 1-1 was a pretty useful result.
Instead of adding to Ecclestone’s coffers I headed north to where Gotthard, one of my favourite up ‘n’ coming bands, were headlining the Garage. Having recorded nine studio albums during the past 17 years, the Swiss combo turned in a performance so exceptional it made me wonder what exactly they must do to get a break in this country. Steve Lee is one of the best and most likable frontmen doing the rounds and I’ve never seen them play anything approaching a bad show. Deserving of a far better turnout, last night was no different. ‘Sister Moon’ is the best song that Whitesnake have never recorded, the acoustic section was great and though I’ve always regarded their cover of Joe South/Deep Purple’s ‘Hush’ as a bit of a filler, as a crowd participation number last nite it got the whole place rockin’. Gotthard **do** have what it takes to make an impression in this country (I’m told their regional gigs were far better attended), I just hope they’ve the patience. Here’s what was played: ‘Unspoken Words’, ‘Gone Too Far’, ‘Top Of The World’, ‘Need To Believe’, ‘Sister Moon’, ‘Hush’, ‘I Know You Know’, ‘Right From Wrong’, Guitar Solo, ‘Unconditional Faith’, ‘Heaven (Acoustic)’, ‘Let It Be (Acoustic)’, ‘All I Care For (Acoustic)’, ‘One Life, One Soul (Acoustic)’, ‘Shangri-La’, ‘All We Are’, ‘I Don’t Mind’, ‘The Oscar Goes To You’, ‘Lift U Up’ and encores of ‘Mountain Mama’ and ‘Anytime, Anywhere’.
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Tuesday 3rd November
I was among the revellers at last night’s fifth annual Classic Rock Awards. Well, to be truthful there wasn’t much revelling going on from me, as I was handling the interviews with those that had won awards, or presented them. As ever, the night took a long while to reach boiling point. I turned up at 6pm and the work didn’t really begin for three hours. That said, I had fun for a while with the Uriah Heep fellas (it was good to meet drummer Russell Gilbrook for the first time), also Steve Hogarth and Pete Trewavas from Marillion. Carl Palmer took me to one side to reveal that Emerson Lake & Palmer are to reunite next year – it was later confirmed that they will headline Classic Rock’s inaugural High Voltage shindig, billed as “Britain’s biggest and best Adult Rock Festival”, in London on July 26th – and after a gap of way too many years I caught up with Joolz Gizzi from Gun.
With the artists being funnelled from the stage to the waiting paparazzi, then to Ross Halfin for exclusive CR photographs and finally to me, things kicked into gear once the ceremony began. By necessity some of the interviews (Ron Wood, Mick Ralphs and Slash, for instance) were conducted far quicker than I’d have preferred, though I spoke to just about everyone on the magazine’s wish-list, including Joe Perry, Nicko McBrain, Brian May, Joe Bonamassa, Billy Gibbons, Steve Harley, Mike Portnoy and Rick Wakeman (the latter had just presented the former with a new Spirit Of Prog category), Tony Iommi and Biff Byford (Saxon’s mainman was named Metal Guru), Pearl Aday (who had Scott Ian on her arm), the Anvil guys and Kiss manager Doc McGee. John Bonham’s Tommy Vance Inspiration Award was collected by his mum Joan, 83, and sister Debbie, who were both lovely. Paul Rodgers, who is not always an easy interview, was also an absolute sweetheart on this occasion. And Andy Copping who, collected Event Of The Year for the Download Festival, went all coy when I pointed out that Bon Jovi’s O2 residency has a gap during the weekend of next year’s event.
As the night’s top dog Iggy Pop was generous with his time, and Chrissie Hynde (who presented him with his going for Living Legend) looked absolutely stunning in skin-tight jeans and thigh-high boots. Annoyingly, Pete Townshend declined to come to the media area after presenting Wood’s Outstanding Contribution prize, and as for Ginger Baker… well, what they say about never meeting your heroes has never been more true. On the other hand, sitting in a corner of Halfin’s enclave and indulging in a leisurely natter with Jimmy Page was probably my own personal highlight of the night, despite having looked on agog as Slash, Wood, Perry, Page, Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers lined up for Ross’ lens. Having avoided alcohol at the awards – in such volatile environs it’s always best to – I dropped into the After Show bash at the Embassy, where the Quireboys were playing. Their set included a less than pristine blues jam with Mick Ralphs, though it was kinda fun. And then, having stepped over Saxon bassist Tim ‘Nibs’ Carter en route to the door, it was back to Trafalgar Square and the long night bus journey back to South London. Oh joy!
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Monday 2nd November
Francis Dunnery’s gig at Bush Hall was good, sometimes very good, other times like listening to muzak renditions of It Bites songs. I don’t know why he chose to call his band The New Progressives. FD would probably agree; at one point he joked about making the show more prog-friendly by putting keyboard player Tom Brislin, who has played with Yes, into a cape, further validating the tag by playing an instrument he actually invented – the Tapboard – during a performance which included ‘Back In NYC’ by Genesis. Marillion’s Steve Rothery walked onstage to play a lovely solo on Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. During the encore, Dunnery tantalised the crowd by fooling around with the intro to Genesis’ ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’. Okay, I hear you cry… so why was the gig just not prog enough??!! For me, Dunnery and his band were merely deconstructing (and indeed slowing down) a selection of IB favourites, noodling away to extend them beyond all real necessity. Francis provided some hilarious banter and at times it worked marvellously, especially a delicate stab at Japan’s ‘Still Life in Mobile Homes’. It was fun to have seen once, but I probably wouldn’t go again. Here’s the set-list: ‘Kiss Like Judas’, ‘Whole New World’, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, ‘Calling To You’, ‘Still Life in Mobile Homes’, ‘Holiday’, Tapboard/Keyboard Duet, ‘Sister Sarah’, ‘Underneath Your Pillow’, ‘Yellow Christian’ and ‘Back In NYC’ with encores of ‘Let Us All Go’ and ‘Still Too Young To Remember’.
Killin some time beforehand I dropped into the Record & Tape Exchange at Notting Hill Gate. My bargain-hunting sometimes goes horribly wrong. Though it only came out in March I picked up a brand new CD copy of Chris Cornell’s Timbaland-produced ‘Scream’ for the princely sum of a quid. Jeez, what a waste of moolah. It’s horrid, horrid stuff. The same applies to a blind purchase of ‘One Size Fits All’, an album by the Canadian quartet The Nylons. “Hmmm, they look like a bunch of fey new-wavers,” I thought whilst scouring at the sleeve. However, a guest spot from Saga drummer Steve Negus and the fact that it was on Attic Records made me take a gamble. Um… anyone wanna buy an album from Canada’s answer to the Flying Pickets?!
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Sunday 1st November
Today offers another of those frustrating dilemmas: Europe’s intimate soiree at the Garage, or Francis Dunnery’s New Progressives at Bush Hall? I’m going with the second option, purely because there will be a second opportunity to see Europe at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in February.
Anyway, I’m just home from a record fair in Orpington. I wasn’t sent a copy of Aerosmith’s blues album ‘Honkin’ On Bobo’ when it came out in 2004, so didn’t mind paying a couple of quid for it. Found a nice Counting Crows bootleg CD (‘Launching The Satellites’) for the same price. Elsewhere I managed to plug a couple of gaps in the collection with vinyl albums by Sparks, BJH, Colin Blunstone and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. It wasn’t until scouring the credits that I realised Glenn Hughes supplies b/vs on the Climax Blues Band album that I picked up (‘Lucky For Some’), though Frankie Miller’s ‘Dancing In The Rain’ was specifically of interest due to featuring Brian Robertson on guitar. Likewise, ‘Loaded & Live’ by the King Earl Boogie Band, who feature Quo’s John Coghlan on drums, found its way into the bag for nostalgic reasons. Another nice one was a mint, double-gatefold edition of the Charlie Daniels Band’s ‘Volunteer Jam II and IV’, which features cameos from members of the Marshall Tucker Band, Grinderswitch, Sea level and several more. Time to crank up the turntable!