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.
Friday 30th November
It's another of those incredibly annoying days. England's capital city stages FOUR concerts which on any typical evening I would be attending. Bernie Tormé plays a farewell gig at the Black Heart, there's a 50th anniversary bash for Uli Jon Roth at ULU and over on Planet Prog, Southern Empire and Damanek are at the Boston Music Room. Instead, suspecting that I will be witnessing the start of something truly great, I have settled for the UK debut from these guys. Will somebody hurry up and invent a bloody time machine?!
Tuesday 27th November
What fun at the Big Big Train film premiere at Everyman in King's Cross. A top Monday night... lots free wine at a Live Nation networking afternoon, another bottle during the presentation and a fun chinwag with that very nice fella, Mr David Longdon. I wonder what he made of my ‘suitably refreshed’ state! Hic!
Sunday 25th November
What a night at London's 229 Club for the launch of the new Dan Reed Network album, 'Origins'. The venue has a nice, high stage so everybody gets a good view and once those minor issues with Brion James' guitar were fixed - a good ol' physical lead will always trump a wireless connection! - the sound was perfect. Such a shame it took three songs to pinpoint the problem. The band were having a ball and the crowd... the crowd... well, there was dancing, headbanging, swaying and lots and lots of smiles. My own highlight of the night was a swoon-inducing 'Stronger Than Streel', a power-ballad that can always be relied upon to reduce me to jelly. It could easily be argued that there was a little too much onstage tomfoolery, though for Reed the zany interaction with his band-mates represents a big part of the appeal.
Dan was equally irreverent towards the set-list, ignoring an approaching curfew to take an audience request for 'Cruise Together' and swapping songs wherever he and the group felt like it. A hulking, extended 'Baby Now I' was interspersed with snippets from Kiss' 'I Was Made For Loving You', 'Relax' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Earth Wind And Fire's 'Let's Groove Tonight' and the Metallica classic 'Enter Sandman' to loud cheers. Me? I'd rather have heard a few extra original chewns. But hey, I'm nit-picking. The DRN remain among the finest, most unmissable live bands around, and however the unpredictable Mr Reed wants to play things out is fine with me. The world is a much better place with them in it!
A big shout-out, too, for special guests Mason Hill, a bunch of giddy young Scots out on their first ever support tour. Ending with a barnstorming romp through Audioslave's 'Cochise', they were confident, likable and above all highly capable. I shall *definitely* be checking them out as headliners. Such a shame I arrived too late for openers Hollowstar. Next time, I promise.
(Thanks to Trudi Knight for the excellent photograph - my own were complete shit!)
Saturday 24th November
Well well well… a goalless draw at Old Trafford. I'll take it, but dammit we had chances to have claimed a famous victory. COYP! Things can only get better!
Friday 23rd November
Ulp! I’ve been so busy this is my first opportunity to post about Thursday’s excellent unplugged gig from Terry Brock, with support from Newman’s Steve Newman and Shaun Bessant. What a wonderful, warm evening from a bunch of musicians who do what they do purely out of a love of performing. So there were around 30 people at the Hope & Anchor? Knee-jerk reaction: Who cares. Move closer to the stage, make some noise and get involved… become a part of the show. The longer term repercussions are pretty darned terrifying, of course, but deep down inside all of us probably knows that the roots of the UK’s melodic rock scene decayed a long, long time ago. If there’s a way back, I really don’t see it. Let’s just enjoy the twilight years.
Steve and Shaun didn’t let the poor turnout get them down for a second of their 55-minute display; smiling, laughing and giving their all. And what a bunch of excellent tunes: ‘Pray For The Day’, ‘Every Moment’, ‘Feel Her Again’, ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Primitive Soul’, ‘If It's Love’, a cover of ‘Mony Mony’, ‘Coming Home Tonight’ and ‘One Step Close’.
Brock arrived on UK soil after a merciless airport stopover and, worse still, the crushing news of the unexpected death of a dear friend. And yet he managed to smile, revealing news of having met up with "an old friend in Louth" (none other than Ian J Stewart) and declaring the strong possibility of a Strangeways album and tour in 2019.
Backed by his lovely wife Anna Portalupi on bass, Brock performed a set based on his career, including tunes from The Sign, Roth Brock Project, his solo record ‘Diamond Blue’ and, of course, those halcyon Strangeways days. ‘Love Lies Dying’ featured a cameo from Steve Newman (who he's also set to work with next year), while Matt Backer of ABC, Elton John, Julian Lennon fame joined in on guitar during several tunes not mentioned on the set-list (BB King’s ‘The Thrill Is Gone’, ‘Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone’ and ‘Lean On Me’ by Bill Withers), plus the latterday Strangeways cut ‘Borderline’ and another from The Sign, ‘Forever Again’. Brock’s voice remains strong and pure and it was lovely to see how happy he looked alongside the delightful Ana, those little sideways glances and the smiles and in-jokes so important during a time of loss.
You shoulda been there. Really you should have.
Thursday 22nd November
Brekkie time phone interview with Jean-Jacques Burnel who predicts that the Stranglers' next album with be "prog-punk!" Blimey!
Wednesday 21st November
Just home from a the latest in a long line of mirthsome chinwags with these two fine gentlemen – Messrs Morley and Bowes. It took place in a West End members club (the stag's head in the background was supplied by Ted Nugent… lol) over… um… several pots of tea. How times have changed, eh?
Tuesday 20th November
Check out my recent interview with Slade's Jim Lea, from the pages of Bass Guitar.
Sunday 18th November
Pandemonium has erupted here at Gentling Towers! An 85th minute winner from Harry Kane... take that, Croatia! Fantastic performance, much deserved victory and what a dramatic game! A place in next summer’s inaugural Nations League Finals is at last confirmed.
Saturday 17th November
It’s Saturday night and I’m imbibing some dark noise fest with the one and only Killing Joke at a packed-to-the-rafters Roundhouse. It was the final show of their tour. Superb sound and great view (save for the pillar). Inevitably, there was some highly politicised content. I wonder whether Jaz Coleman spouted those same 9/11 conspiracy theory comments at their gig in New York? Gotta say that for all the excellence of KJ's music such sentiments really don't sit well with me, I'm afraid.
Thursday 15th November
Just found a bottle of Croft Indulgence port in the office. I've absolutely no idea how old it might be - looks like it may have been won in a tombola. Delicious in a disgusting kind of way. 20% alcohol by volume. The England game kicks off in an hour a half... and counting. Amanda might be putting me to bed tonight.
Wednesday 14th November
All hail! Manowar have confirmed their only two UK shows as part of a farewell tour, The Final Battle. Birmingham Academy April 19 and 20, 2019. Set sail for the Midlands! Road trip ahoy!
Tuesday 13th November
Of course I will never be able to interract with Muddy Waters, but what fun I had chatting on the phone to his eldest son, Larry 'Mud' Morganfield ahead of an appearance at January's London Blues Week. Mud is now 64 years old and quite a character. I swear there were chickens clucking away in the background and I kid you not, he actually used the exclamation of "hot diggety dog!" to emphasize a point. The last of three great phoners conducted this afternoon, this was a wonderful way to have ended the working day.
Monday 12th November
Oh gosh, Marvel creator Stan Lee has died at the grand old age of 95. As a young kid I was an ardent collector. This is very, very sad.
Sunday 11th November
With Michael Schenker Fest playing the Forum and Palace's home game with Sours delayed till 5.50pm for the Sky TV cameras, Saturday presented one of those annoying rock versus footie clashes. The Eagles missed the sidelined Wild Zaha and suffered a narrow 0-1 defeat. Zooming across London I was almost certain to miss the start of the show, and so it proved. FFS! All was going well Herr Schenker took to mic for a bizarre rant about his brother Rudolf. No love lost there, then. This is something he's been doing all tour, apparently. I found it a bit unnecessary.
Friday 9th November
What a lovely pic of two men and their dogs. I was due to conduct a Friday afternoon interview with Ginger Wildheart in London. He had his adorable hound, Maggie, by his side. When I suggested: "Oh... I will bring Bob, too" Ginger replied: "I don't mind!" They got along famously!
Thursday 8th November
Shinedown at a sold-out Brixton Academy…. Wow, save for last summer’s arena spot opening for Iron Maiden it had been five years since my last sighting of Brent Smith and company. I was unprepared by how enormous the Floridians have become. The Academy was rammed with a crowd of all ages, though mostly young 'uns – and maybe a third to a quarter of those were female. The outpouring of love they displayed was at times quite extraordinary.
Gotta be honest, though… I’m not a fan of such audiences; the ones that routinely invade your personal space, mosh around spilling beer, talk through the quiet bits and believe they have a divine right to hold up their mobile phones throughout. Gimme a peaceful, wrinkly ol’ crowd any day of the week. However, save for Smith’s trademark reach-out-to-the-people-to-your-left-and-right shtick, and an speakably horrid acoustic Oasis cover – FUCK! I HATE THAT BAND! – the show was excellent.
On a darkly lit stage the band’s lasers looked great, and the front of house sound was clear and loud, with a discernible synthesised feel which complemented its ton-of-bricks bottom end. Closing the set proper, my favourite Shinedown song, ‘A Second Chance’, made me grin from ear to ear.And how nice to be close enough to the stage to catch one of these excellent guitar picks! A wonderful night.
Tuesday 6th November
Though extremely enjoyable - conductor Mike Batt and the Docklands Sinfonia Orchestra appearing on some but not all of the 115-minute performance - Hawkwind's symphonic gig at the London Palladium provided as many as many new questions as it did answers. Firstly, with an orchestra on hand why wasn't all of their symphonic 'Road To Utopia' album brought to the stage? I'd really been looking forward to hearing them do 'Quark, Strangeness And Charm' among other selections.
More importantly, what's going on with the line-up? Since the latest cull the Hawks are now a four-piece once more. Following the apparently sudden exit of long-serving Mr Dibs, drafting in Arthur Brown for this tour was a masterstroke. The show's mid-section of 'The Black Corridor', 'The Watcher', 'Sonic Attack' and 'Damnation Alley' was quite superb. But in terms of recruiting a permanent frontman, what will happen now? I suspect that at 77, Dave Brock neither has the stamina for such a task nor wants such a role. And what happened to Haz Wheaton, the young bassist who Brock said so many times had electrified the band's internal chemistry? Hawkwind thrives on changes, we know that by now, but with Captain Brock telling Prog "I'm always aghast when anyone says we'll go beyond the next gig", let alone another year, well... the future is gonna be fascinating.
Here's the set-list: 'Assault And Battery', 'The Golden Void', 'Shot Down In The Night', 'Paradox', 'We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago', 'The Black Corridor', 'The Watcher', 'Sonic Attack', 'Damnation Alley', 'Zarozinia', 'Intro The Night', 'Down Through The Night', 'Have You Seen Them' and 'Arrival In Utopia' , with encores of 'Spirit Of The Age', 'Hymn To The Sun' and the timeless 'Silver Machine'.
Sunday 4th November
I had a restricted side stage view last night at Wembley Arena for the London farewell of one of the finest and most important heavy metal bands of all time - the mighty Slayer - but the sound from there was simply unbelievable. Still fuelled by the astonishing vocal roar of John Tardy, Floridian veterans Obituary kicked off the show in fine style, 'Slowly We Rot', the title cut of their debut album from 1989, inspiring the first of many tennis court-sized moshpits.
Before Anthrax took the stage a small figure sporting a Freddie Mercury outfit strutted at the side of the stage, miming furiously and accurately to the interval music, including Iron Maiden's 'The Number Of The Beast'. I late discovered that the toddler was Anthrax mainman Scott Ian and Pearl Aday's son Revel Young Ian - a chip off the ol' block and no mistake! Check out the cuteness of this link. A seven song set from the New York masters included just one track from the current millennium ('Evil Twin', from 2016's 'For All Kings'), and the band departed to a standing ovation.
Gotta be honest, my expectations of Lamb Of God were pretty minimal. Eleven years ago I'd seen them open for Heaven & Hell at the NEC in Brum, and they didn't go down well. Indeed, frontman Randy Bythe rounded on the crowd, calling them a "herd of syphilitic pussies". Last night, with the volume levels boosted to the max after the 'Thrax, they were like a completely different band. Assured almost to the point of nonchalance, that they will soon be headlining halls such as Wembley is a complete no-brainer.
On tonight's evidence, Slayer could surely continue for years to come - so why are they calling it day? Right now there's no explanation, all we can do is enjoy this mind-blowing, explosively staged farewell lap. The quality of the band's recent albums has varied, but watching them live is still like having your head repeatedly slammed against a brick wall. Music aside, we will also miss Slayer for guitarist Kerry King's scathing out-downs of their rivals: who didn't cheer, snigger or punch the air when he dismissed W.A.S.P. as "just a Punch And Judy Show decorated with chains?" For those of us who have followed the band's career over a long period of time - I witnessed them in Manchester and at Hammersmith on the 'Reign In Blood' tour - it was hard not to feel pangs of sadness of as the final notes of 'Angel Of Death' rang out and an emotional Tom Araya seemed unwilling to leave the stage before a final sigh of: "I'm gonna miss you guys"...
Thursday 1st November
The latest Playlist is here.