This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling
will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Sunday 30th November
The result of yesterday's game between Swansea and Crystal palace – one goal apiece – sits very comfortably with yours truly. Palace started the game abysmally, deservedly going behind to a shot from the Premier League's leading marksman Bony, but were hauled back into contention by a well taken penalty from Jedinak. CPFC climb the table to 14th – get in!!!
Saturday 29th November
8.15am… Back at home, showered and ready to face the day after a massive park run to the sound of Romeo's Daughter @ the Borderline 21.11.14. As there was nobody around I dared to wear the black and fluorescent green lycra outfit for the first time... and no, I WILL NOT post any photos! So do not ask!
The weekend postbag is here and I'm very thrilled to have received a promo CD of 'Live In London', H.E.A.T.'s new concert release, due on Feb 23. 2015. If you are yet to fall under the spell of this great Swedish melodic rock group, do yourself a favour and check out the link.
Friday 28th November
I know I'm in a minority but I've mixed feelings about last night's gig by Accept. The Forum was the wrong venue for the band's return to London: its balcony was closed off and, no disrespect to Voodoo Six, but a better support act would perhaps have enlivened the crowd a little – not to mention swelled their number.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge admirer of what they've done since reuniting four years back; all three of their albums with ex-TT Quick man Mark Tornillo on vocals, including the current 'Blind Rage', were big favourites here at Chateau Ling. Maybe I was spoiled by my previous sighting of the group at the Islington Academy in May 2010 (sadly, I missed a subsequent gig at the Garage), during which they burst out of the traps with classic after classic, including just two new tracks in a set that ran for 130 minutes.
Last night was very different indeed. It took the group five songs to get into their pre-reunion catalogue, and the sense of relief around me was palpable when they burst into the 'Balls To The Wall' cut 'Losers And Winners'. Of the 21 tracks performed, a mere nine were culled from what's considered – rightly or wrongly – as Accept's heyday. I'm always open to hearing bands play their new material, it's the lifeblood of the scene after all, but on this occasion I think Accept overdid it. Set-list reservations aside, the sound was awful, submerged in bottom end. It all just seemed a little impersonal; very little said from the stage, just three or four seconds and straight into the next tune, each despatched with steely, military-style Teutonic precision. It must be pointed out that despite these reservations, my pals Malcolm Dome, Mark Taylor and Steve Göldby all loved every note (many thanks to Mr Göldby for the accompanying pix – mine were shit). Anyway, here's what was performed: 'Stampede', 'Stalingrad', 'Hellfire', '200 Years', 'Losers And Winners', 'London Leatherboys', 'Starlight', 'Dying Breed', 'Final Journey', 'Shadow Soldiers', 'From The Ashes We Rise', 'Restless And Wild', 'Ahead Of The Pack', 'No Shelter', 'Princess Of The Dawn', 'Dark Side Of My Heart', 'Pandemic' and 'Fast As A Shark', followed by 'Metal Heart', 'Teutonic Terror' and 'Balls To The Wall'.
Thursday 27th November
Aaaarg! There's yet another of those annoying schedule clashes, though this time it's music versus footie. 'An evening with Toto' at the Hammersmith Odeon on May 26 takes place on the same night as CPFC keeper Julian Speroni's testimonial game. Looks like I may have to go and watch Mr Lukather and company out of town.
Wednesday 26th November
Jonno... you're a class act. Unlike Gene $immons. AC/DC singer Brian Johnson is the latest muso to decry the 'Rock is dead' claims of Kiss bass player Gene. "With all respect to the lad, he's terribly wrong," is Johnson's response – read it here. Don't misunderstand me – I certainly wouldn't like to be a in a 'new' band right now. But I'm puzzled by the mindsets of the bigger, established acts. Didn't Sammy Hagar recently say that Chickenfoot are unlikely to make another album because it would cost them half a million bucks to do so… what's that all about?! Are they flying in the producer onboard the Rosetta space probe, and putting up his entire family at the Dorchester until its songs are written?! The Red Rocker is one of my all-time heroes and a brilliant guy to interview, but… what bunkum!!!
Tuesday 25th November
Now this feels just plain spooky… re-transcribing an interview you did 21 years ago with a much loved muso who's no longer with us. Very, very weird indeed, especially as the recording quality remains perfect… though entertaining all the same. It was mid-afternoon in Texas when I called Diamond Darrell – he wouldn't become Dimebag for a while yet – and the Pantera guitarist took an age to come to the phone. "No, you didn't get me out of bed," he explained cheerfully, "I'm still in bed."
And talking of interviews, the new issue of Dave Lewis' Zeppelin mag, Tight But Loose, has just arrived. It sees Dave interviewing Jimmy Page in an official capacity for the first time in relation to the new re-mastered re-issues of 'IV' and 'Houses Of The Holy', but my fave bit is the segment comparing the audio qualities of each incarnation of Zep's re-masters, from the original CD re-issue campaign in 1984 to the present day, explaining in plain and simple terms why re-mastering can (and does) make such enormous different to the quality of the music… fascinating!
Monday 24th November
Much fun was had, and many beers sunk, at last nite's 'farewell Leatherhead' party at Pudney Towers. Whoever was responsible for the purchase of this liquorice-flavoured Sambuca had a lot to answer for. Predictably, Neil and I were the last two men standing… or maybe slouching… as we supped until the early hours of the morning. I'd made arrangements to be at our usual pre-game watering hole for 10am so it was quite a shock when my alarm went off at 6.45am. And so, after a shot or two of Sambuca for breakfast, the journey to SE25 began. (Not only did all members of Clan Pudney fail to surface before my departure for Leatherhead station, none of them made the game – what a bunch of friggin' lightweights!)
Anyway, another glorious victory over Liverpool was confirmed as Selhurst Park reverberated to a rousing chorus of: "Can we play you, can we play you, can we play every week?!" From going behind within two minutes, the Eagles bounced back to claim a magnificent 3-1 victory, sealed by a glorious 25-yard free kick from captain fantastic, Mile Jedinak (seen celebrating with delirious team-mates here).
Just before the half time whistle blew, the Reds' Steven Gerrard took a wayward shot that few over Palace's crossbar and headed directly for Eddie and I. Though we took evasive action the ball did, in fact, hit Kevin Denman, a pal who sits a few seats down. This was a cue for my mobile phone to go mad with "Can't believe I saw ya!"-type messages from those viewing the proceedings on TV, the furthest afield being TeamRock Publisher Chris Ingham, who was away in India at the time. Fame at last!
Saturday 22nd November
I broke with tradition for Romeo's Daughter's gig at the Borderline. At most gigs you'll normally find me hovering somewhere adjacent to the mixing desk for optimum sound quality, but last night I fancied something a little bit different. Instead I watched from the second row, directly in front of guitarist Craig Joiner. It felt like a concert in my living room. It was nice to see the band members enjoying themselves so much, sharing jokes and appreciating one another's company and contributions – something that tends to be considerably less apparent from further back… or perhaps it doesn't even happen a great deal in other groups?
Having reunited for a spot at the Firefest in 2009, the band took three years to release a new album, 'Rapture', but will be issuing 'Spin', their fourth record in 2015, along with more live dates. They're making gradual, comfortable progress and I salute them for their faith in 'Rapture'… which took three or four spins to get under my skin but was well worth the effort.
Of the night's 16-song repertoire, half were sourced from said disc, mostly during the show's first half – often a recipe for disaster, though their quality eliminated such concerns. Besides dedicating 'Heaven In The Backseat', their song from A Nightmare On Elm Street 5, to yours truly after I'd whined about its omission last time around, RD also previewed next year's activities with the hook-tastic 'Perfect Plan', which gets better every time I hear it. And then, with the sound of 'Wild Child', famously covered by Heart, still ringing in my ears, there was just enough time to head next door for a nightcap or two at the Crobar before my final train home… a cool way to end a truly splendid night. The set-list ran as follows: 'Trippin' Out', 'Attracted To The Animal', 'Bittersweet', 'Lightning', 'Keep Walking', 'Talking Love', 'Perfect Plan', 'Velvet Tongue', 'Dancing Slow', 'Alive', 'Cannot Be The One', 'I Cry Myself To Sleep At Night', 'Heaven In The Backseat' and 'Inside Out', plus 'Will Be' and 'Wild Child'.
After a boring day occupied by work on my accounts, this evening will be spent in Leatherhead at a party for my friends the Pudney family before their relocation to Oxford. I'm expecting to be more than a little bit squiffy by the time I head back up to Sarf London for tomorrow's 1.30pm rematch between the mighty Eagles and the Mickey Mousers from Merseyside. COYP!
Friday 21st November
I had to tear myself away from last nite's gathering in remembrance of my colleague and friend Mark Putterford. White wine flowed as freely as the old anecdotes and stories, and it was great to see Mark's wife Lynn Seager again, along with Xavier Russell, Jerry Ewing, and a bunch of fellow RAW-ites that included Malcolm Dome, Dante Bonutto, Phil Alexander and Steve McTaggart, plus lovable rogue PR agent Roland Hyams and Mark's cousin Vince Riordan of the Cockney Rejects.
I arrived at the Islington Academy with around 15 minutes to spare before Threshold took the stage. Imagine my surprise when Damian Wilson, the band's singer emerged from the dressing room, hopped over the barrier and began circulating with the audience. When he came to say 'hi' to me, I asked: "Damian, do you know you're onstage in five minutes?" "Really… that soon?" he smiled sheepishly before heading back to the dressing room.
I make no bones about my fan-dom of Threshold, whose last three albums have been Grade A world-beaters. Their record label commissioned me to write a biography for this year's 'For The Journey', in which I begged a little latitude from the noose of progressive-metal that hangs around their necks. This, after all, is a group that has proven itself capable of gracing the stage of a leather 'n' studs gathering such as Bloodstock back in 2004, as well as the hard rock all-dayer the Firefest, at which they played three years later, in addition to prog soirees such as Celebr8. A song as exquisite as 'Lost In Your Memory' informs us: Ten albums into this group's career it really is time to dispense with the label of prog-metal.
The show was breathtaking. The front-of-house sound was perfect and Threshold looked completely at home on a big stage, which of course they've got used to through playing more prestigious shows in Europe. If there's a better frontman/vocalist than Damian Wilson in Britain right now then I'd like to know their identity. Wilson, among those that auditioned to replace Bruce Dickinson in Maiden during the 1990s, made regular forays into the crowd which I guess sounds a little cheesy on paper, though such forays really were due to exuberance at being home, also the presence of his father and son up in the balcony. "Why do I spend more time out in the audience than onstage? There's a good reason for that," he explained. "You can have a good gig with a good band, but it's not a great gig without a great audience."
Dating all the way back to the 25-year-old 'Siege Of Baghdad', the set-list was glorious: 'Slipstream', 'The Hours', 'Liberty, Complacency, Dependency', 'Ground Control', 'Unforgiven', 'Siege Of Baghdad', 'Part Of The Chaos', 'Coda', 'Lost In Your Memory', 'Watchtower On The Moon', 'Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams', 'Mission Profile', 'The Box' and 'Ashes'.
I loved the part when Damian divided the crowd down the middle, joking about a moshpit-style Wall Of Death, and then vacated the stage to use the available space as a makeshift walkway from which to sing a pant-wettingly good 'Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams' (pictured here). A real goosebumps moment! Later on, post-gig, as I chatted outside the venue with my friends Marlene Taylor and Annamaria D Amelio, who should emerge from the Academy in search of more fans to talk to than Damian bloody Wilson. What a gregarious guy! And what a fabulous band!
Thursday 20th November
After the previous evening's triple helping of NWOBHM shenanigans, last night was filled by a prog-rock banquet with Jolly, Bend Sinister and the superb Bigelf.
I arrived at the Garage too late for the start of the opening act Jolly but they sounded really interesting and their penultimate track, 'Dust Nation', was built upon a huge hook that got the more undecided members of the crowd on their side. Here's a word of advice to the New Yorkers, though… never call your audience "boring" – even if they're reticent to join in a singalong before the clock strikes 8pm. It has been known to offend…
Though 'Animals', the latest album from Canadian quartet Bend Sinister had lain in my 'to-play' pile for months, I'd only managed to lay ears on the thing some 48 hours beforehand. It had really whetted my appetite. My friend Jerry Ewing had called them "a prog version of Jellyfish", and their madcap stage show lived up to such a billing. Wearing his Pizza Pie Or Die lead singer/keyboard player Dan Moxon was a chubby ball of charisma, and at times Bend Sinister actually appeared quite unhinged – gloriously so. I later found out from my Prog magazine colleague Holly Wright, who'd conducted a pre-show interview, that one of the band actually works in taxidermy… it wasn't a shock. Rarely does one see so much energy and presence in an unknown act. The album's video track 'Teacher' really got the crowd nodding along, while 'Best Of You' offered shades of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. The melodic content really built towards the end of an awesome 45-minute display that wound up with a great cover of Supertramp's 'The Logical Song'.
Mike Portnoy once memorably said of Bigelf: "They sound like all of my favourite bands – The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Queen – thrown together into a blender." Portnoy's love affair with Bigelf had extended to playing on their current album, 'Into The Maelstrom', and performing select dates with them in the States. Last night the drum stool was filled by band leader Damon Fox's son, Ben, who did such a mighty fine job that his proud dad described him as "Bill Ward in a time machine". But the top-hatted Fox aside, the star of the show was guitarist John Wesley of Porcupine Tree/Fish fame. It's amazing how the addition of a Premier League musician can elevate an already wonderful band to a whole other level of greatness. Though far shorter than the last time they played London at the Underworld in 2010, the set-list included several new chewns and covered all bases. It ran as follows: 'The Evils Of Rock & Roll', 'Madhatter', 'Pain Killers', 'Hypersleep', 'Vertigod', 'Edge Of Oblivion', 'ITM', 'Money, It's Pure Evil', 'Money Machine' and 'Counting Sheep', plus 'Incredible Time Machine' and 'Blackball'.
En route to this evening's Threshold gig I shall raise a glass in honour of a late friend and colleague. Mark Putterford worked on Sounds and Kerrang! before I knew him, first on Metal Hammer and then as a co-founder of RAW Magazine. He spoke his mind at all times. He liked his music, beer and football and you certainly didn't spill his pint. Okay, Mark wasn't to everybody's taste but once you gained his trust he was the kind of geezer that you wanted alongside you in the trenches. It's hard to believe that he's been gone for 20 years. God bless you, Putts.
Wednesday 19th November
After Monday's false start, last night was spent in Islington for a triple helping of good ol' fashioned, heads-down New wave Of British Heavy Metal entertainment. Topping the bill were Diamond Head, the first band I ever reviewed in print, at the Saxon Tavern in Catford way back in February '82 (my words appeared in Kerrang! #12). I've known DH mainman Brian Tatler for quite a few years now. He recently sent me an email that proclaimed: "You have been watching Diamond Head on and off for 32 years, with three different singers and many line-ups." When I bumped into Brian pre-show, he actually joked: "We've got a gold watch for you in the dressing room!"
The evening began with a rousing seven-song set from Witchfynde, another of the very first groups that I ever saw onstage (opening for Def Leppard at the Marquee Club back in 1979 – admission had cost a quid!). Montalo remains their guitarist from those long distant days, and hats off to the guy – he played a blinder. 'Give 'Em Hell', the slower-paced 'Leaving Nadir' and 'Stab In The Back' have all aged extremely well.
Girlschool were, I suspect, slightly peeved to find themselves playing in the smaller of the Academy's two rooms and subject to the aggravation of being part of a three-band show. Kim McAuliffe had wandered by looking mildly stressed and complaining that their set had been slashed to 40 minutes… indeed, they were forced to pull 'Kick It Down' in mid-intro.
However, even persistent equipment issues couldn't dampen those smiles as the band finally hit the boards and there could be no arguing with a flab-free set-list that comprised: 'Demolition Boys', 'C'Mon Let's Go', 'Hit And Run', 'I Spy', 'Never Say Never', 'Screaming Blue Murder', 'Future Flash', 'Yeah Right', 'Race With The Devil' and 'Emergency'.
With the 11-year reign of Nick Tart at an amicable end, the headliners were introducing a new frontman called Rasmus Bom Anderson. And boy, what a find he turned out to be; full of energy and with a voice versatlie enough to handle the myriad twists and turns of the music.
One of his reasons for leaving was that Tart had wanted to make new music. Tatler, on the other hand, had tired of pouring his heart and soul into albums that never gained the exposure they deserved. So it was no surprise that DH's new set-list is an unabashed, nostalgia-friendly workout that includes just three tunes recorded after the seemingly final exit of Sean Harris a decade ago, namely 'Come Alive', 'What's In Your Head?' and 'Give It To Me'. If a cornucopia of brilliantly executed, molten riffery was what the ticket-buyer had sought, then that's exactly what they got. I won't lie, I never really warmed to Nick Tart, so seeing the band with a firecracker of a singer like RBA up front was a bit of a revelation. Especially with a repertoire that ran as follows: 'Play It Loud', 'Lightning To The Nations', 'Call Me', 'To Heaven From Hell', Medley: 'To The Devil His Due'/'In The Heat Of The Night', 'Come Alive', Medley: 'Borrowed Time'/'What's In Your Head?', 'Shoot Out The Lights', 'It's Electric', 'Give It To Me', 'Sucking My Love', 'The Prince' and 'Am I Evil?', plus 'Streets Of Gold' and 'Helpless'. (Thanks to my old mate Dave Craig for his live photographs).
I managed to avoid spoilers of the Scotland-England game to catch up with the highlights upon returning to Ling Towers. Okay, I admit roaring with joy when R**ney scored twice against the Auld Enemy in a fine 3-1 victory, but the realisation that that granny-shagging gutbucket had overtaken Jimmy Greaves – a player whose boots he is unfit to lace – and is now a mere four goals away from becoming England's all-time leading marksman filled me with revulsion. Couldn't we should bring Sir Bobby Charlton out of retirement for a few games? Charlton Junior may be 77 years young, but surely even he could bag a hat trick against San Marino? The campaign to reinstate Sir Bobby as England centre forward starts here.
Tuesday 18th November
Alas, somewhat embarrassingly, my week of gig-going was destined to fall the very first hurdle. News pages were still being closed as the clock ticked towards show-time for Santa Cruz. At gone 7pm there was no way I could shower, grab some nosebag and make it to the Barfly in Camden in time for the show. An evening of cooking for kids, laundry and I'm A bleedin' Celebrity… Gah!
Monday 17th November
The start of a new week and some great nights ahead: Santa Cruz (tonite), Diamond Head/Girlschool (tomorrow), Bigelf (Weds), Threshold (Thurs) and Romeo's Daughter (Fri). I might just need the weekend to recover...
A-ha! It seems we have the title of the new UFO album at last. 'A Conspiracy Of Stars' is released via SPV on February 23, accompanied by a lengthy UK tour in May. Should all go to plan then I will be at London's Forum on the 7th, and maybe try to fit in a trip behind enemy lines to That Unmentionable Place On The South Coast a couple of days earlier.
Sunday 16th November
Back from the Olympia Record Fair with a bagful o'vinyl. Spent a wee bit more than I intended, but you only live once. The bad news: an afternoon of tape transcript awaits. Ho hum…
The date of Julian Speroni's testimonial has been announced. Though the opponents have yet to be revealed, fans will get to celebrate the 'keeper's ten years as CPFC custodian on Tuesday May 26, 2015, at Selhurst Park. In football today such loyalty is rare as rocking horse shit. It deserves to be rewarded.
Saturday 15th November
I've just given Eddie some fatherly advice: Never, ever drink tequila. Last night was spent at Metropolis Studios in West London, checking out the new-look (i.e. McCafferty-less) line-up of Nazareth as they performed a special filmed-for-DVD concert for 125 fans. Could their new singer Linton Osborne cut it? I really hoped so, and approached the gig with an open mind. Osborne is a great vocalist, no doubt of that… but he cannot do gruff – an instant, monumental minus point when following in the Size Tens of an icon such as McCafferty. The falsetto on 'May The Sun Shine' sounded a bit forced to these ears, and he lit up a ciggie to introduce 'Bad Bad Boy' before proceeding to sing it like Vince Neil might have done before middle age set in. The band had tweaked the set-list nicely, which was welcome, ditto the absence of Dan's gruesome bagpipe effect. Their performance was enjoyable enough but something was amiss, and it wasn't purely due to technical issues or the intense heat. 'Miss Misery' and 'Hair Of The Dog', were both started several times over, curious given that the latter is a song that Nazareth must have played thousands of times before ("Don't put this in your blogs", we were told from the stage – whoops… sorry!)
The Ling Towers verdict on Linton Osborne: He's not Dan, but he's good. Whether that will prove sufficient, only time will tell. Meanwhile, the song-list ran follows: 'Silver Dollar Forger', 'Sleeptalker', 'When The Light Comes Down', 'Rock 'N' Roll Telephone', 'Razamanaz', 'Miss Misery', 'May The Sun Shine', 'See Me', 'Dear John', 'Turn On Your Receiver', 'Radio', 'Bad Bad Boy', 'Shanghaid In Shanghai', 'Heart's Gown Cold', 'Holiday', 'One Set Of Bones', 'This Flight Tonight', 'Broken Down Angel', 'Hair Of The Dog', 'Love Hurts' and 'Expect No Mercy'.
I grinned at the news that there would be free tequila at the after-show meet & greet. Curiously, however, there were few takers. After a while the barman started to see me coming and lined them up. Later on, when Jerry Ewing and I ventured over for the umpteenth time, he shrugged: "Nobody's drinking the stuff… you'd better have doubles." Oh, go on then. I recall being at the Bar Of Cros and then waking up on the wrong night bus, luckily in Lewisham from where I could stagger home through the park. (EDIT... Eddie just asked: "Can we get some tequila for this afternoon's England game?" Kids, they never learn).
Talking of which, I was proud to see Nat Clyne get his debut England cap against Slovenia. Clyne is a CPFC youth academy graduate that Kevin Denman and I had tipped for international honours when we saw him in the Palace reserves. I wish he was still an Eagle. Despite a scare when the Slovenians pulled it back to 2-1, the score-line of 3-1 was pretty satisfying.
Friday 14th November
Two days ago Arnie's cat, Nellie, disappeared. I felt so sorry for the little guy standing in the garden calling her name and banging the food dish. There are so many foxes around here and still some idiots with fireworks, my heart of hearts told me she was gone for good but Nellie was by the back door this morning looking disheveled and possibly with a slight limp. It's great to have her home again, the three of us missed her!
Thursday 13th November
Wow… Opeth have announced a special 25th anniversary show at the London Palladium. October 18th, 2015, seems a long way off but I really hope I can get in to see this. The last band I witnessed at the London Palladium was The Sweet!
Fellow Palace fans, and those who were amused when the Rodgers' Reds threw away a three-goal lead at Selhurst Park at the tail end of last season, may like to check out this side-splitting YouTube clip of how things might have sounded had the commentator been a Scouser.
Wednesday 12th November
Eddie and I are watching The Nation's Favourite Queen Song on ITV. Sadly, the lad doesn't have much interest in rock music but he appeared in his school's version of We Will Rock You and we always sing along together to 'Don't Stop Me Now' whenever it's played at Selhurst Park (which is often). It's always been 'You're My Best Friend' for me, but the show certainly made you realise how many all-time classic tunes the group recorded. 'Who Wants To Live Forever' is just gorgeous, ditto the god-like 'Somebody To Love' and 'Killer Queen'. And at the other end of the spectrum, youngest lad Arnie has just walked into the room during the Coronation Street-themed 'I Want To Break Free', given us both a very queer look and walked straight back out again! Haha!
Tuesday 11th November
I'm absolutely loving the new Harem Scarem album, 'Thirteen', as I write my next melodic column for Classic Rock. The way it's looking it will be completed by White Widdow ('Crossfire'), Bailey ('Long Way Down'), Nubian Rose ('Metal Revolution') and Wicked Sensation ('Adrenaline Rush')… all terrific releases!
Whilst date-checking I've just stumbled upon this YouTube gem, a Friday Rock Show recording of the Scorpions' 1979 set at the Reading Festival… check it out.
Still in the realms of YouTube, my good friend Malcolm Dome has just sent over a 'What the fuck was he thinking' moment from Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell. Click here and prepare to be staggered!
Monday 10th November
Well, I didn't see that coming – Starz have signed a deal with Frontiers Records and will record a new album – their first since 1978's 'Attention Shoppers' – early next year with Bruno Ravel of Danger Danger acting as producer. As you'll recall, the Long-running American hard rockers made their UK debut at London's Garage last December, after… ulp… 37 years of existence.
I've been catching up on a bit of telly. I must say I've been enjoying Fox TV's Tyrant, and not just 'cos it shares a title with a classic Judas Priest song. Anyone else looking forward to the weekend's conclusion of series one? Will Barry/Bassam's coup be a success, or has his evil brother Jamal twigged?
Sunday 9th November
ManUre 1 Crystal Palace 0, and another game of 'what ifs'. Yesterday's fixture was the Eagles' best chance in many years of a league victory at O*d Tr***rd, and the sides were equally matched throughout the first half. If only Fraiser Campbell had put away his chance in a one-on-one. The home side's goal came from distance and arrived out of almost nothing at all, and for once Julian Speroni seemed at fault.
Oh almighty feck. The caller ID of 'Accountant' revealed it was the one I'd been dreading: "How soon can I have your data for 2012/13?" Arse, arse, arse!!!!! I'd vowed to be much better prepared this year but of course it hasn't happened.
On a happier note, Thunder are "over the moon" that guitarist/keysman Ben Matthews has been given the all-clear by the oncologist. Apparently, Ben was well enough to have participated in yesterday's cover shoot for the group's new album, "though he was quite tired, he did a fine job (with his new short hair)." Fantastic news!
As the final whistle blew in Palace's game I headed across town to the Garage for a few beers with my old gig buddy Ian Mansell and the chance to see Vega and their special guests Newman. Newman's drummer Pete Newdeck was in the pub and broke the bad news: The singers of both bands had been struck down by laryngitis. Nick Workman's was so bad that Vega actually considered cancelling the show, though with fans have coming from as far afield as Spain, Brazil, Germany and California they decided the show must go on.
It's not often the support act plays for twice as long as the headliner, though these were exceptional circumstances. Newman (the band) played a blinder and as well as great, hummable songs with quality musicianship there was lots of messing around between the songs, including a spontaneous version of the theme from Postman Pat.
When he threw a selection of plectrums into the crowd before the final song, 'One Step Closer', Steve Newman roared with laughter when a pick hit yours truly in the face. "Okay, I'm not gonna start this till Dave Ling sticks a plectrum to his forehead," he challenged. "Come on, Dave… lick it first." Hilarious!
Shortly before Vega took to the stage they were informed that due to a stupid curfew, they had a mere 25 minutes left. Much respect to them for managing to put on a performance of any description. "Anyone who's reviewing, please put your pens away," requested Workman. Though nobody can halt a medical condition, some anger seemed to bubble away beneath the surface.
Justifiably, 'What The Hell!' became 'What The Fuck?', and as Nick introduced one of two songs from the new album 'Stereo Messiah', he grimaced: "Tonight we really are giving you 'All Or Nothing At All'." I look forward to seeing Vega on tour with Joe Elliott's Down 'N' Outz in December.
Saturday 8th November
Saddle up! The joke's getting a bit old, I know, but I love Hayseed Dixie's new version of 'Don't Stop Believing'. They've also banjo-ed up 'Eye Of The Tiger', 'The Final Countdown', 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' and '(Don't Fear) The Reaper' on their new album, 'Hair Down To My Grass', due in January. Its version of 'Livin' On A Prayer' is also pretty hilarious, though they sadly resist the temptation to have re-named Tommy and Gina as Billy-Bob and Daisy. Oh well. The NWOHAOR (New Wave Of Hillbilly AOR) starts here.
Friday 7th November
I really enjoyed Thunder's 'secret' free gig at the Brooklyn Bowl, a new venue housed inside the O2 Arena. To read my review at the Classic Rock website go here. Drinks flowed before during and after the show as we celebrated the birthday of my friend Tyrina Gallagher, but I was happy to accept the offer of a lift home from my friends Darryl and Andy, as it was raining cats and dogs outside. We got soaked to skin walking back to Darryl's car. I'd have caught pneumonia returning by public transport.
During the afternoon I had spoken to Klaus Meine of the Scorpions, who sounded very excited about the prospect of playing at next year's Ramblin' Man Festival, and an hour or so later to Leslie West. Also managed to sneak in a park run before the heavens opened… Now that's what I call a productive day!
Thursday 6th November
Brrrrrrrrr... winter is finally here and that's quite enough shivering. It's time to start warming up the office before I come out here to my office, and although I'm at a Thunder show tonite the central heating in the house is going on.
Wednesday 5th November
Last night I had a phone chat with Ricky Warwick, followed by a call from Scott Gorham. Both men gave me the lowdown on the forthcoming second album from Black Star Riders. Ricky and Scott couldn't have been more complimentary about Nick Raskulinecz, the Grammy-winning producer that the band worked with in Nashville when scheduling difficulties prevented Joe Elliott from manning the console. When I asked Warwick whether the results sound less like Thin Lizzy and more like Black Star Riders, he chortled: "That's a great question". You'll have to pick up the next issue of Classic Rock to read his full response.
Tuesday 4th November
It's hard to find the words to sum up my disappointment. With Palace's rivals all losing or drawing at the weekend, a win against Sunderland would have lifted the club several places in the table. Sinking a few pre-game ciders with pals the talk was of taking the game to our opponents, using the wing play of Zaha and Bolasie to get in their faces. Sure enough, the Eagles came out of the traps at high speed and should have had a penalty within a minute. But to my dismay Sunderland took the lead completely against the run of play. Selhurst erupted in howls of fury as somehow the Black Cats survived what looked like another stonewall penalty – referee Phil 'Specsavers' Dowd really is a colossal wanker. Palace equalised in the second half but went on to concede two further goals. Worse still, captain Mile Jedinak – our most important player – was sent off in the final stages after being shown a second yellow card, and will be suspended for Saturday's trip to ManUre. Eddie and I slunk back home in silence with our tails between our legs.
Monday 3rd November
Under normal circumstances last night I'd have been at Shepherd's Bush Empire to see the new line-up of Asia. I was invited, and the offer of free beer was every bit as tempting as the chance to have kept an eye on the fortunes of a band that I've loved for decades. But I couldn't get my mind off John Wetton's Tweet about my review of the current album 'Gravitas' (see Diary, March 27), so in the end I replied: "Thanks very much but I think I've an appointment to rearrange my sock drawer."
Well, it's official! Dunno how I kept this one to myself for so long! From the makers of the High Voltage Festival, it's the Ramblin' Man Fair : The Scorpions, Gregg Allman, Camel, and the Marills together in the UK next summer... and that's just for starters!
Sunday 2nd November
Last nite was spent the at Islington Academy watching Bay Area melodic rock legends Y&T, such a consistent band. Amazingly, they're now four decades old. "1974 to 2014, 40 years of rock n roll – that's older than me!!" quipped guitarist/frontman Dave Meniketti. A stupid Saturday night curfew ensured that time ran out on a promised 'Knock You Out', though the quartet played for two hours and ten minutes. 'All American Boy', from 1985's 'Down For The Count', was an interesting addition to the set and had never been played live till last month, while 'Cold Day In Hell' sounded so good it made me think I should go back and reinvestigate the album from which it was lifted, 1995's somewhat overlooked 'Musically Incorrect'. 'I Believe In You' is one of those songs that I just got lost in each time I hear them play it live... it would be definitely in my Top 30 Desert Island Discs.
Here's the full 22-song set-list: 'Hurricane', 'Black Tiger', 'Boys Night Out', 'Lucy', 'Lipstick & Leather', 'Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark', 'Meanstreak', 'Dirty Girl', 'All American Boy', 'Midnight In Tokyo', 'Cold Day In Hell', 'Winds Of Change', 'I'm Coming Home', 'I'll Cry For You', 'Surrender', 'Rescue Me', 'Contagious', 'I Want Your Money', 'Summertime Girls' and 'Rescue Me' plus 'Open Fire' and 'Forever'.
I've just been to the local Harvester for Sunday lunch with my dad and the boys. Dad happened to mention that next year he turns 80 and, inevitably, I asked whether he's going to have some party. "I expect so," he replied. "Oh that's great!" remarked Eddie casually, "will there be any strippers?!!" I've never been so lost for words in all of my life.
Saturday 1st November
What a great quote given to me last nite by Rival Sons vocalist Jay Buchanan: "Music journalists… most of you are very evil characters. Everybody knows that. You are the scum and the dregs of what music should be." Why, thanks! None taken! On paper that looks pretty provocative, right? But he said it in a nice way, complimenting Classic Rock's writers for bucking the stereotype, so Buchanan is excused.
Awesome!! In exchange for my spare copy of the Quo Live box, Ross Halfin said he'd bring me back a bootleg treat from Japan. You can't beat a numbered 4 x disc set of Judas Priest's 'Unleashed In The East'… two shows (4pm and 7pm) with the full set-list, including non-vinyl tracks 'Delivering The Goods', 'Starbreaker', 'Rock Forever' and 'Well Bent For Trevor'. Domo arigato, Ross!!
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