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
Though I’d been looking forward to some gentle training for an important weekend – Palace vs Shiteon is utterly cataclysmic in football terms – I was let down by Monsewer Beare. My drinking buddy isn’t getting any younger and last night he reached a new low by getting in from work, consuming his evening meal and falling asleep on the sofa. This left me to watch Magnum’s gig at the Islington Academy without the aid of a beer roadie. Unforgivable!
After seeing Trillium opening for Delain a few months another prompt arrival had seemed mandatory. Kicking off with the brilliant ‘Machine Gun’, the delectable, golden-voiced Amanda Somerville (a solo artist, vocal coach and collaborator of Avantasia, Kamelot, Epica, After Forever and others) led her band through an effortlessly classy display that pooled metal, pomp and pop into one slinky, seductive whole. I’d love to see them headline before too long!
Thanks to a nasty cold Bob Catley had been experiencing some gremlins though he pulled through thanks to sheer vocal power, gutsy determination and an ever-likable stage presence. It was nice to see the headliners’ new album ‘On The Thirteenth Day’ so well represented, though personally I’d like to have heard ‘Let It Rain’ in there somewhere. On the upside, the ‘Smoke On The Water’-gone-pomp of ‘See How They Fall’ was a snug fit during the encores and a return for ‘The Flood’ from ‘Sleepwalking’ was richly deserved (can we have ‘The Tall Ships’ next time please?). Meanwhile, Catley inadvertently made Mark Stanway’s night by introducing ‘Vigilante’ as ‘Rockin’ Chair’; the keyboardist laughed so much he almost tumbled off his rostrum. Here’s the set-list: ‘All The Dreamers’, ‘When We Were Younger’, ‘Blood Red Laughter’, ‘Wild Angels’, ‘Brand New Morning’, ‘How Far Jerusalem’, ‘The Flood’, ‘Les Morts Dansant’, ‘The Spirit’, ‘The Dance Of The Black Tattoo’, ‘All My Bridges’, ‘All England’s Eyes’, ‘Vigilante’ and ‘Kingdom Of Madness’, plus ‘See How They Fall’, ‘Rockin’ Chair’ and ‘Days Of No Trust’.
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Thursday 29th November
A finished copy of FM’s new nine-song EP, ‘Only Foolin’, has just tumbled onto the doormat. With a playing time of 50 minutes, its AOR-esque reworking of Ozzy’s ‘Shot In The Dark’, a song that dates back to the pre-FM days as Wildlife, is surprisingly cool. And five tracks from the Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig back in March is a bit of a bonus!
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Wednesday 28th November
Crystal Palace’s away game at Hull happened to coincide with a gig by the Electric Boys at the Underworld. Handily, however, my eldest son Eddie did his best impression of SSN’s Jeff Stelling, a steady flow of texts relaying latest events at the KC Stadium and all possible permutations from the evening’s other games. The final score was 0-0 and by all accounts Palace were lucky to get zero, though following the disappointment of the weekend’s slip-up at Leeds the result at least steadies the ship. It’s just a shame that Boro gained some ground.
My companion for the night was fellow CR writer Neil Jeffries, who hadn’t seen the Electric Boys since back in the day. Though I cannot concur with the sentiment, Neil rates the group’s 2011 comeback disc ‘And Them Boys Done Swang’ on a par with their now legendary debut, ‘Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride’. Sadly, we headed for our respective homes united in belief that the Swedes’ performance was below-par. It was one of those nights; guitars suddenly detuned, which wasn’t the group’s fault of course, but at times their performance definitely felt a bit sloppy. Whether or not this was due to a smaller than expected turnout I cannot say, but that’s how it felt. Aside from the puzzling omission of ‘Psychedelic Eyes’ the set-list was pretty good, focusing mainly on the first and second albums. Neil and I both raised an eyebrow and smiled quizzically when the debut’s ‘Electrified’ was introduced by an instrumental medley of Rush’s ‘Xanadu’ and ‘Tom Sawyer’ though for my money the overall verdict of the show still remained in the file marked ‘Good’ and not ‘Great’. Here’s what was played: ‘The House Is Rockin’’, ‘Angel In An Armoured Suit’, ‘Groovus Maximus’, ‘Knee Deep In You’, ‘Mary In The Mystery World’, ‘Tear It Up’, ‘Father Popcorn’s Magic Oysters’, ‘Electrified’, ‘Who Are You’, ‘Rags To Riches’, ‘Who Are You’, ‘Bad Motherfunker’ and ‘Freaky Funksters’, with an encore of ‘All Lips N’ Hips’.
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Tuesday 27th November
Wow, that’s cool – Metal Hammer’s Jonathan Selzer has sent a copy of the Alice Cooper boxed set ‘Old School 1964-1974’ for review. This is a four-disc budget version of a now out-of-print set from last year that sold for a whopping £185. Now available for around twenty-five notes, the condensed edition retains most but not all of the original’s unique features, including two discs of rarities (many plundered from the personal archives of Alice, the Cooper band, their road crew and even fans), a CD of interviews and a bootleg-only live show from St Louis in ’71… all housed in an a clever mini-school desk package. A hefty sleeve essay from Lonn M Friend represents another huge positive.
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Monday 26th November
I awoke earlier than usual to witness England pick off India’s tail enders and score the 57 runs necessary to secure a 10-wicket victory in the Second Test. What a remarkable game of cricket. If only England had seen fit to play their charismatic spin bowler Monty Panesar, who picked up an impressive 11 scalps in the context of game, in the massacre of Ahmedabad.
Several hours earlier I attended Greg Lake’s one-man solo gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Lake conducted it with such unexpected good grace (even the audience Q&A) and turned out to be a terrific raconteur; for me, it really nixed a few negative preconceptions of a man that I’ve always assumed to be a bit surly and egotistical. Playing and singing along to pre-recorded backing tracks – it might sound cheap and nasty on paper, but it worked – he ran through various King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer/Powell and solo tracks, as well as a selection of tunes that influenced him as young musician. Although certain selections were slightly truncated (King Crimson’s ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’, ‘The Court Of The Crimson King’ and ‘Epitaph’, for example), it was great to hear Lake singing ELP’s ‘Still… You Turn Me On’ and ‘Lucky Man’ with such fruity gusto. Could’ve lived without the Beatles or Presley songs, but that’s just a matter of personal taste. Here’s the full-song-list: ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’, ‘Lend Your Love to Me Tonight’, ‘From The Beginning’, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Epitaph The Court Of The Crimson King’, ‘I Talk To The Wind’, ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away’, ‘Touch And Go’, ‘Trilogy’, ‘Still... You Turn Me On’, Q&A Session (including ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’), ‘Shakin’ All Over’, ‘C’est La Vie’, ‘Lucky Man’ and ‘People Get Ready’, followed by ‘Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2’.
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Sunday 25th November
Well, it had to happen – and it was equally certain that Leeds would be the club responsible. Palace’s 14-game unbeaten run came to an end yesterday at Elland Road. The final score was 2-1, though it’s worth pointing out that the Eagles had a goal-bound shot blocked on the line during injury time. Time tells us that the Eagles rarely enjoy the upper hand over Leeds, an all too rare recent exception being a priceless 1-0 victory that helped to maintain the club’s Championship status back in April 2011. Oh well, with next weekend’s crucial showdown the Seaweed on its way, maybe it was good to get a defeat out of the system.
Cardiff having taken over at the top of the league, I felt a moral responsibility to go out and get completely wankered. There was only one port of call: the Crobar. And when that place called final orders, my partners in booze Harj Kallah and Lauren Archer set our sights upon a new target. “Let’s go to a casino,” proposed Harj. It made perfect sense at the time. We soon found ourselves at Leicester Square, outside the building that used to known as the Hippodrome. As Lauren and I pondered upon the best way of gaining access, Harj wasted no such time, bowling right in past an astonished doorman. “Excuse me sir, you can’t come in here,” he protested, “I believe you are inebriated!” No shit, Sherlock!
I arrived home at 5am, just in time to switch on the telly and see Kevin Pietersen complete his century in the Second Test against India. What a supremely disciplined innings from a man with a reputation as a maverick. Well done KP! Promptly fell asleep on the sofa…
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Saturday 24th November
I was a little bit underwhelmed by Monster Magnet’s ‘Spine Of God’-themed show at the Electric Ballroom. Almost exactly a year had passed since Dave Wyndorf and company revisited the US band’s 1995 album ‘Dopes To Infinity’ with a spectacular sell-out gig at London’s Koko. Although now regarded as an early space/stoner rock benchmark, the bonkers ‘Spine Of God’ is a considerably more demanding release. Don’t misunderstand me, the show contained some great moments but was somewhat light on what you might call crowd-pleasing delicacies. Whereas ‘Dopes To Infinity’ offered at least one hit of sorts in the shape of ‘Negasonic Teenage Warhead’, with the band stretching things out to Herculean lengths – the album’s title cut was extended to include a segment of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ – the nearest we got to an actual short, sharp shock was ‘Snake Dance’, with its sample lyric of: “Go go go/Yeah baby smoke them bones/Go go go/I'm so fucking stoned”. When Wyndorf strapped on his own guitar there were three axes blazing, but for non-diehards such as myself the music’s sluggishness and density gradually began to feel more and more oppressive, the atmosphere inside the Electric Ballroom sagging appreciably once a gladiatorial welcome had subsided.
Posters for the show had promised ‘Spine Of God’ “plus the hits”. This was to prove misleading, the bulk of a five-song encore being culled from various slightly obscure EPs. Though not exactly a ‘hit’ per se the comedy classic ‘Tractor’, a track from ‘Powertrip’ that repeated the line “I’m driving the tractor on the drug farm… alright!”, briefly roused those of a less partisan disposition. Indeed, as the acoustic subtleties of ‘Lord 13’ were drowned out by the annoying hum of chit-chat that now seems to be a tragic prerequisite during the quieter moments of most rock gigs, the euphoria of that Koko show suddenly felt very, very far away indeed.

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Friday 23rd November
There ain’t too many bands whose singer can bellow a greeting of “Hello ladies and lady-boys!” without threat of retribution. Then again there are very, very few groups like Turbonegro, the Norwegians professed to restoring homoeroticism to rock ‘n’ roll. Now fronted by an Englishman, former Dukes Of Nothing man-mountain Tony Sylvester, last night Turbonegro rolled into Camden for a lively and engaging show at the Electric Ballroom – a first appearance here in the capital for seven long years.
Their debut with Sylvester on vocals, ‘Sexual Harassment’ is among my fave albums of 2012 – think Motörhead, Black Flag, the Ramones, Iggy & The Stooges, vintage Alice Cooper and (appropriately) AC/DC. Wisely, they elected to play just about all of said opus during the show’s first half before digging deeper into a nine-album catalogue. Truth told I felt somewhat naked without an obligatory little white sailor’s hat or a denim cut-off embossed with the words ‘Turbojugend Catford’ (or equivalent) that most of the crowd seemed to be sporting, but it was hard to resist the band’s excellent music or indeed their raucous sense of humour; Sylvester didn’t even bat an eyelid when he was introduced to as “the lovechild of Arthur Scargill, Benny Hill and Jimmy Savile”. His drug-addled predecessor Hank von Helvete is long gone and it’s great that the band seem intent upon dwelling in there here and now. It can only be a matter of time before the entire world realises why Turbonegro’s celebrity fans including Dave Grohl, Nick Oliveri, James Hetfield, Mike Patton and Jello Biafra adore the band the way the do. Meanwhile, here’s the set-list: ‘Hello Darkness’, ‘All My Friends Are Dead’, ‘Mister Sister’, ‘I Got A Knife’, ‘You Give Me Worms’, ‘T.N.A. (The Nihilistic Army)’, ‘Shake Your Shit Machine’, ‘Buried Alive’, ‘Dude Without A Face’, ‘Deathtime’, ‘Wasted Again’, ‘We’re Gonna Drop The Atom Bomb’, ‘Fuck The World’, ‘Turbonegro Must Be Destroyed’ and ‘Get it On’, with encores of ‘The Age of Pamparius’, ‘Back To Dungaree High’, ‘Denim Demon’, ‘Are You Ready (For Some Darkness)’, ‘I Got Erection’ and a cover of Pere Ubu’s ‘Final Solution’.
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Thursday 22nd November
Just received my copy of the Classic Rock fan pack edition of Rick Wakeman’s long awaited studio version of ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’. An official 132-page magazine accompanies this brand new recording. It features personal pics from Rick’s own archive, a detailed interview about the original album and its sequel, a replica of the original official programme sold at the Royal Festival Hall on January 18th, 1974, and a poster, plus various other Wakeman-themed delights (some it penned by yours truly, but don’t let that put you off!). Another first-rate editing job by Philip Wilding. FM’s Jem Davis also seems to have his own copy, he just wrote on my Facebook wall: “One V happy keyboard player, where’s me cape : )”. Order it here.
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Wednesday 21st November
Yikes! Have I really been going to see Doro Pesch since the summer of 1985, when the diminutive German debuted on these shores as a member of Warlock? Not too far off the big Five-O, Pesch, whose main claim to fame is having been the first woman performer at the Castle Donington Monsters Of Rock festivals, is still going strong with a new album entitled ‘Raise Your Fist’. Last night at the Garage she didn’t force its contents down the audience’s collective throat, though the Ronnie James Dio-inspired ‘Hero’ was one of the evening’s most impressive selections.
Around half of the show was culled from Doro’s tenure with Warlock. Its two low points were the toe-curlingly awful ‘Metal Tango’ (cringe!) and a lengthy drum solo from Johnny Dee. The former Britny Foxx/Waysted man has had one of the best jobs in rock ‘n’ roll for the last 19 years – c’mon fellas, how many of you would turn down the chance of gazing out at Ms Pesch’s shapely, leather-clad derriere night after night? – there was absolutely no need to rub salt into the wound.
All joking aside… Doro enjoys a touchingly close relationship with her audience, and a combination of fist-punching metal anthems and occasional more sophisticated moments such as ‘Für Immer’ and ‘Love Me In Black’, for which one, sometimes even two keyboard players were utilised, ensured that this was a great show. The set-list ran as follows: ‘I Rule The Ruins’, ‘Burning The Witches’, ‘Fight For Rock’, ‘Night Of The Warlock’, ‘Hellbound’, ‘True As Steel’, ‘Raise Your Fists In The Air’, ‘Für Immer’, ‘Metal Racer’, ‘Earthshaker Rock’, ‘Drum Solo’, ‘Earthshaker Rock (Reprise)’, ‘We Are The Metalheads’, ‘Revenge’, ‘Metal Tango’, ‘Hero’, ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘All We Are’, followed by ‘Love Me In Black and ‘East Meets West’.
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Tuesday 20th November
Better late than never, I’m *really* enjoying Steve Hackett’s ‘Genesis Revisited 2’, with an illustrious guest cast that includes Steven Wilson, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Francis Dunnery, John Wetton, Steve Rothery, Neal Morse... wondrous! In fact, I wish I’d got it in time to have included in my end of year Top 20 for Prog Magazine. Its glaring omission makes me look a bit of a plum.
Here’s a nice YouTube chat between my old buddy Steve Price of ARfm Radio and FM drummer Pete Jupp which sheds light on the latter’s new EP ‘Only Foolin’’, also the release of a new studio album entitled ‘Rockville’ which drops in time for their eight-date UK tour in March.
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Monday 19th November
Ooooh, look – more Frantic Four reunion dates!! Added shows in Manchester, Wolverhampton and Glasgow and an extra London gig at Wembley Arena. Tickets for the first batch of shows sold in less than an hour! Wonderful news…
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Sunday 18th November
Could Crystal Palace extend their remarkable unbeaten run to 14 games with yesterday’s home clash against Derby County, thus remaining top of the league? Indeed they could! Comfortably so, in fact… by three goals to nil.
After the final whistle blew I grabbed a couple of quick drinkies with Kev Denman and his son Jack before boarding a Brixton-bound bus. Managed to sink a few more cold ’uns before heading into the Academy in time for Anthrax’s warm-up set. Although Charlie Benante was taking a leave of absence from the current bout of touring Jon Dette (ex-Slayer, Testament) did a creditable stand-in job. Allotted 60 minutes, the New Yorkers featured just two selections (‘Fight ’Em Till You Can’t’ and ‘Hymn 1’) from their current release, ‘Worship Music’, concentrating instead on a neck-snapping selection of golden oldies (‘Caught In A Mosh’, their cover of Trust’s ‘Antisocial’, ‘Indians’, ‘Madhouse’, ‘Got The Time’ (originally by Joe Jackson), ‘Be All End All’ and a sweat-sodden ‘I Am The Law’). I thought they were great.
An extremely long day’s supping began to catch up on me as Motörhead began their headline display. Along the way there were one or two pleasant surprises – notably ‘I know How To Die’ from ‘The Wörld Is Yours’ and an encore cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Are You Ready’ – but I’m getting pretty tired of hearing ‘Metropolis’, ‘Going To Brazil’ and ‘Dr Rock’ year after year, tour after tour. When one considers the depth and quality of the group’s catalogue it’s becoming bleedin’ repetitive and something really needs to be done to freshen things up.
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Saturday 17th November
Strops, raised voices, slammed doors, threats and unpleasantness… strewth! After an exceptionally stressful day and evening here at Ling Towers, last night’s unplugged gig from the mighty Opeth was exactly what the doctor ordered. Thanks to its strict volume limit (I’m pretty sure the place is equipped with a device that cuts out the sound at a certain point), Union Chapel isn’t the greatest of London venues at which to witness a rock or metal band but it’s perfect for these quieter, more understated performances.
Special guests Anathema also got into the less-is-more spirit. Strumming at acoustic guitarists, Vincent and Danny Cavanagh held the show together for 40 minutes as band-mates Lee Douglas and Daniel Cardoso wandered on and off, contributing occasional vocal and keyboard parts. Shimmering versions of ‘Dreaming Light’ and ‘Untouchable, Part 2’, from 2010’s ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ and the current ‘Weather Systems’, were lovely… just lovely. Hard to say more than that, really.
This was the first unplugged performance of Opeth’s current European tour, which sees them flitting from the usual electric format to a more intimate, stripped-down state. Several of the night’s songs had never been performed live before or had been hastily rearranged. Band leader Mikael Åkerfeldt, who has a wonderfully droll and self-deprecating sense of humour, was once again at his finest. “We’re throwing ourselves off a cliff here but it might be fun,” he observed playfully at the start, reiterating: “We really don’t know what we’re doing up here tonight.” The inclusion of two covers versions, the former by a Swedish group called Hansson de Wolfe United, the latter a Black Sabbath classic, might well have spelled disaster. Despite Åkerfeldt’s apparent apathy – “People are just gonna say that Pantera’s version was better,” he mused – the low-ley ‘Solitude’ from ‘Master Of Reality’ was perfectly suited to the evening’s overall dignity. “That was different, wasn’t it?” he grinned again after a radical reworking of ‘Demon Of The Fall’, before deadpanning: “‘Different’ is just another word for ‘shit’, though, isn’t it?” In fact Opeth seemed to thrive on the pressure and by the end of the encore-less, 80-minute display actually appeared to be having fun. Here’s what they played: ‘Heritage’, ‘Credence’, ‘In My Time Of Need’, ‘Häxprocess’, ‘Var Kommer Barnen In’, ‘Solitude’, ‘Benighted’, ‘Demon Of The Fall’, ‘Hope Leaves’, ‘Atonement’ and ‘Marrow Of The Earth’.
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Friday 16th November
The arrival of a finished copy of something that you’ve worked closely upon – be it a magazine, a CD or just about anything – brings a sense of satisfaction. Having received some kind and positive emails, it was great to lay my hands upon ‘All Right Now – The Collection’, a 19-song budget anthology of the band Free that I was asked to compile for Universal Records. I also penned a short sleeve essay for it, too. Wow – it looks and sounds great! I believe it can be bought in Tesco stores for around three quid… now that’s what I call a bargain!

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Thursday 15th November
Double disappointment… triple, in fact, should you factor in the fact that I missed a gig by ex-The Scream/Mötley Crüe/Union singer John Corabi in order to watch England’s televised friendly with Sweden. Thanks to four goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the last of which was truly unbelievable, the home side won by four goals to two. Personally speaking I thought the result flattered the home side, the game’s outcome changing as result of multiple substitutions. Palace’s wonder-kid Wilf Zaha was among the six second-half introductions from the bench, but to have brought him on with just five minutes to go…?! What a waste of everybody’s time. On the plus side, however, we might get another million for him on the sad (but inevitable) day that Wilf elects to leave the club.
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Wednesday 14th November
May I present a few of the more surreal moments from last night’s Classic Rock awards, which took place at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm? 1) Alan Lancaster suggesting that the Frantic Four conduct a nude photo-session. 2) Talking to Vic Reeves about the comedian’s love of Rival Sons. 3) Meeting fellow Crystal Palace fan Captain Sensible and finding out that he has a season ticket in the Arthur Wait stand because “it can get a bit rowdy” on the Holmesdale, where Eddie and I have ours (this from a member of The Damned, remember). And 4) Ross Halfin being nice to me. No, I didn’t make up that last one!
Earlier that morning the pre-sales of the Frantic Four reunion had sold out in ten minutes flat, and as we sat together in the North London venue’s bar it was wonderful to see Francis, Rick, Alan and John so comfortable, happy and confident in one another’s company, hooting at jokes from many moons ago. Don’t be surprised if extra dates are added to the UK schedule or, should the March gigs go to according to plan, they decide to play some shows quite a lot further afield.
The awards were bigger than ever before. Previously I’ve handled all of the backstage acceptance interviews – i.e. grabbing the winners as they come offstage and getting reactions before they are released onto the red carpet for the paparazzi and radio/TV bods – but this year that responsibility was carved up among various different writers. I was quite happy to do less of the chasing around and actually catch a bit more of the event than usual. I even got to watch some of the live music from Lynyrd Skynyrd and St Jude among others. One by one my tape recorder was thrust under the noses of Billy F Gibbons of ZZ Top, whose band were honoured as 2012’s Living Legends, Russ Ballard (hailed as Classic Songwriter), Roger Chapman (who took home Family’s very first award – Spirit Of Prog), and I reacquainted myself with members of the Frantic Four, who had won the Classic Album category for the seminal ‘Live!’ album. Michael Brown of Tracer, the Aussies who had been anointed Best New Band, was a bit like a rabbit in the headlights but seemed like a lovely fella. Hanging around at the night’s end to get a few words from Billy G, who had insisted upon remaining at his table to watch Skynyrd and was then surrounded by hordes of well-wishers, I later calculated that I was in the Roundhouse for a full 12 hours. That meant taking a night bus home, but overall it was a wonderful if slightly draining experience…

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Tuesday 13th November
I enjoyed a few pints with my friend Monsewer Beare during Lynyrd Skynyrd’s gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire… not too many but just enough to take the edge off our emotions. Andy has a nasty funeral too attend in a few days, which along with my own feelings for my much-missed Mum (RIP) made ‘Free Bird’ quite a lot more emotive than usual, and I was also slightly nervous at the idea of facing the Frantic Four for an interview set to take place before this evening’s Classic Rock Awards.
Having opened for Skynyrd on the latter’s last UK tour back in June, Red White & Blues were once again invited to perform warm-up duties. Great credit goes to the headliners for allowing them what seemed like full access to both lights and sound. As their 30-minute set progressed, the muscular power ballad ‘Counts For Nothing’ setting many on the band’s side, the audience really got into proceedings, allowing themselves to be cajoled into singing along with the choruses. Matti Alfonzetti remains one of the best lead singers outside of hard rock’s Premier league elite… is it too romantic a notion to hope that maybe someday (like the mighty Eagles??!!) he will get another shot?
My wish to hear some brand new material from the mighty Skynyrd was destined to come true, the excellent ‘Good Teacher’ one of three tracks lifted from the brilliant current album ‘Last Of A Dyin’ Breed’. The amazing 95-minute show ran as follows: ‘Last Of A Dyin’ Breed’, ‘What’s Your Name?’, ‘Down South Jukin’’, ‘That Smell’, ‘Saturday Night Special’, ‘One Day At A Time’, ‘I Know A Little, ‘Simple Man’, Medley: ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’/ ‘Whiskey Rock A-Roller’/‘The Needle And The Spoon’/‘Tuesday’s Gone’, ‘Good Teacher’, ‘Gimme Three Steps’, ‘Call Me The Breeze’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, followed by the timeless ‘Free Bird’.
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Monday 12th November
Bah! I was looking forward to seeing last night’s gig from Uli Jon Roth at the Purple Turtle in Camden till the receipt of a text informing me that it wouldn’t be happening after all. Oh well, at least I didn’t have to make a wasted journey across town on the worst night of the week…
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Sunday 10th November
Holloway's Red & Blue Army!! My beloved Crystal Palace have returned to top of the league with two dramatic late goals during yesterday’s game at Peterborough United! Take that, Fergiesbum, you Son Of The Devil…
P.S. A Stato writes: the result marked the Eagles’ 13th game unbeaten, with 33 points collected from a possible tally of 39. Palace last lost a league game back in August. It’s the club’s best start to a season in 37 years! Now where did I put that bottle opener??!!
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Saturday 9th November
Attention my fellow South London blues fans: Last night I found a deserted venue in Catford called the Cyphers Music Bar where I saw a great l’il four-piece combo called BluesMix. Admission was free, and in addition to some strong original tunes they also played covers by Howlin’ Wolf (‘Worried About My Baby’, ‘Smokestack Lightnin’’ and ‘Howlin’ For My Darling’), Albert Collins (‘Black Cat Bone’) and T-Bone Walker (‘T-Bone Shuffle’) among others. Met them in the bar during the interval and happened to mention my love of the Allman Brothers Band so for my benefit the band threw in ‘One Way Out’, the Elmore James standard from ‘Eat A Peach’. An unexpectedly great night! And a short walk home!
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Thursday 8th November
Since the release of an excellent self-titled debut back in May, also a rather cool feature that appeared in Issue #1 of Classic Rock Present Blues, I’d been dying to take a look a the Royal Southern Brotherhood. Well, last night the five-piece band, based around Gregg Allman’s 40-year-old son Devon on guitar, played in London as part of their first European tour. They’ll have been slightly disappointed by the turnout at the Jazz Café in Camden, but boy… what a great show. I was lucky enough to have sat in the venue’s top bar eating a tasty meal as they ran through most of the album’s songs, including a spellbinding 15-minute jam of its take on the Grateful Dead’s ‘Fire On The Mountain’. As an ABB devotee I dug out a fabbo tie-dye garment that I bought when I saw the Brothers performing at the Greek Theatre in LA in 1995… one of my all-time favourite gigs. Anyway, I digress… RSB will be back in the UK next year again after the release of an in-concert DVD and some solo albums. Believe me – they’re well worth checking out.
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Wednesday 7th November
As Mick Box might say: “Happppppy dayzzzz!” Crystal Palace are now on top of the Championship after last night’s 5-0 annihilation of Ipswich Town. What a fantastic evening. 15,517 fans and a wonderful atmosphere beneath the Selhurst Park floodlights. I had to laugh when Brazilian midfielder André Moritz came on as a sub after Glenn Murray completed his hat-trick to a playful roar of: “Get Moritz, get Moritz out, get Moritz out for the lads!” Great times to be an Eagle.
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Tuesday 6th November
If Nightwish don’t make Floor Jansen their singer on a full time basis after last night’s triumphant gig at Brixton Academy then they are a bunch of idiotic plums. Tarja Turunen has said that the only way she would consider returning is if all of the band and its management was changed, which I thought a pretty hilarious comment, but with Floor on board permanently they wouldn’t need her. The contrast between the Finnish group’s last Brixton show in March 09, with Anette Olzon failing badly, was little short of resounding.
The hiring of ex-After Forever/current ReVamp singer Floor Jansen, until the end of the band’s current touring plans, is a masterstroke. The Amazonian Dutchwoman sounded and looked perfectly at home, delivering material from all stages of Nightwish’s career, even singing ‘Amaranth’, originally voiced by Olzon, with all of Turunen’s operatic gusto. Her voice also meshed brilliantly with that of Marco Hietala, the bearded bassist who handles all the gruffer parts, leaving band leader Tuomas Holopainen to smile his approval from a bizarre-looking keyboard contraption that suggested a cross between church organ, coral reef and the Batmobile. When Floor nailed the final high note at the end of ‘Ghost Love Score’, the epic track from 2004’s ‘Once’, the Academy bellowed its approval.
Afterwards there were a few minor moans about an acoustic mid-section that surprisingly housed the hit ‘Nemo’, and of course the usual grumbles were voiced about a perceived reliance upon pre-recorded orchestras and choirs (yawn, yawn, yawn…), but from my own perspective the show was about as close to perfect as you can get. So much so that I’m gonna go back for another listen to Nightwish’s new conceptual album, ‘Imaginaerum’, which I’ve found pretty impenetrable till now. Anyway, the set-list ran as follows: ‘Storytime’, ‘Dark Chest Of Wonders’, ‘Wish I Had An Angel’, ‘Amaranth’, ‘Scaretale’, ‘Slow, Love, Slow’, ‘I Want My Tears Back’, ‘The Islander’, ‘Nemo’, ‘Last Of The Wilds’, ‘Planet Hell’, ‘Ghost River’, ‘Ever Dream’, ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’, ‘Ghost Love Score’ and ‘Last Ride Of The Day’.
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Monday 5th November
Last night was spent at the Borderline watching Vega, one of the best relatively new acts around. What a great little set! Their new song ‘White Knuckle Ride’ is gonna be buzzing round in my head again for days to come… bastards! We were treated to quite a few selections from a forthcoming second album entitled ‘What The Hell’ that drops in January and many road-hardened tunes from their highly regarded 2010 debut, ‘Kiss Of Life’ (viz ‘Kiss Of Life’ itself, ‘Stay With Me’, ‘SOS’, ‘Hearts Of Glass’, ‘Headlights’ and an encore of ‘Into The Wild’). I’ve been privileged to receive an upfront listen to ‘What The Hell’ and can report that it sees the British band taking more chances than ever before, whilst maintaining a firm grip on the hook-infused hard rock that makes them so special. ‘Not There For You’, ‘Bless My Soul’, future crowd favourite ‘Hands In The Air’ and its highly rhythmic title cut all work exceptionally well onstage. If Vega play their cards right then 2013 could be a very special year.
In the morning I defied the rain to visit the Orpington Record Fair. Picked up a copy of an album I’d never seen this before – ‘Now Hear This’ by Status Quo... basically a re-titled US version of ‘Whatever You Want’, complete with revised sleeve artwork and running order. Well worth a quid! Also purchased mint vinyl editions of Roger Chapman & The Shortlist’s ‘Live In Hamburg’ and a Jimmy Buffett that I didn’t have (‘A1A’ from 1974).
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Sunday 4th November
How Dougie Freedman must be regretting his decision to walk away from Crystal Palace, who yesterday extended their unbeaten run to 11 games (yes, ELEVEN!) with a convincing 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers, with new boss Ian Holloway looking on contentedly from the director’s box. Amazing stuff. Long may it continue!!
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Saturday 3rd November
Well, that was the toughest secret that I’ve ever had to keep but the news of Status Quo’s ‘frantic four’ reunion tour is finally out there in the public domain and there are some pretty excited folks over at the group’s message board. My exclusive interview with all four band members appears in the issue of Classic Rock dated November 6. When Rick Parfitt told me that the ‘Live’ album from the Glasgow Apollo “will be the template of the set” I swear I almost soiled my underwear. A précis of the story from the Classic Rock website is here. P.S. Can I have a season ticket please, guys?


Oh, and look, just as Eddie and I prepare to leave for Selhurst Park to see Palace’s game against Ipswich the club have confirmed Ian Holloway has signed a four-and-a-half-deal to fill the manager’s chair. I feel a bit of a cider frenzy coming on…
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Friday 2nd November
Sky Sports News say that Crystal Palace are in “advanced talks” with Blackpool boss Ian Holloway over the club’s managerial vacancy… wow, what a coup that would be! In fact, co-chairman Steve Parish has just told reporters he is “confident” of landing the ex-QPR, Plymouth, Bristol Rovers and Leicester manager, who loves to play the game as it’s intended and gives the best post-match press conferences in the business. All footie fans will have their own fave Ollie pearl. Mine came in the wake of a particularly unlucky game when he pronounced: “If I fell into a barrel of boobs, I’d come out sucking my thumb!”
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Thursday 1st November
A nice day’s work lays ahead with the transcription of an interview with Sir Steve of Overland of the mighty FM. Always a pleasure and never a chore. Meanwhile, I’ve found the time to update the Playlist and YouTube pages.