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 31st October
The day began early with a breakfast-time phone interview with Joey Tempest, who was calling from Sweden where Europe are in the process of recording a new album with Dave Cobb (Rival Sons, California Breed). 15 mins after the receiver was replaced, Sir Daniel of Bowes popped by Ling Mansions for an interview and a cuppa (served in a Thunder mug to make him feel at home). Danny lives locally and prefers to do interviews face-to-face, so I was happy to accept the offer of a visit. Don't look now, but I think somebody was ear-wigging the conversation. Hahaha! "Please throw the ball again mistaaaah!" What a brilliant piece of canine photobombing!
I'm just about to sign off for a night in front of the box and a chilled Halloween evening with my two sons and a nice bottle of white wine. I have bought them some chockies and treats, and we're going to be eating them ourselves. The front doorbell is primed with gelignite… anyone that dares to push it will be blown to kingdom come. So be warned!!!
Thursday 30th October
I *really* enjoyed last night's gig from Bernie Tormé at the Borderline. What an unmistakably unique style the man has, and besides golden oldies such as 'Star', 'Wild West', 'Turn Out The Lights' and 'Getting There' the tracks from his newly released double-set 'Flowers & Dirt' also sounded bloody great. Ditto the versions of 'Trouble' and 'New Orleans', both live favourites from his days as a member of Gillan, that closed the set proper. All of this and a former member of the God-like Shark Island, Chris Heilmann, on bass – need we say more?
BTW, elsewhere on the tour (as you'll see from the small print of the set-list) the band have been varying their choices of encores. Two more Gillan tracks, 'No Easy Way' and 'Vengeance' are also worked up in the repertoire but at the Borderline we got Larry Williams' 'Bony Maronie' and a version of Hendrix's 'Fire' that featured a guest appearance on guitar from an album 'pledger'.
There's fascinating news from SE25: the Telegraph is reporting that a cash-rich American called Josh Harris is weighing up the purchase of Crystal Palace FC for the not-so-trifling sum of £70 million. It seems that he has "ambitious plans for the January transfer window". Flippin' 'eck. How exciting! As long as we're not robbed of our Sarf London identity then I'm all for this!
Wednesday 29th October
How bloody infuriating that Carl Dixon of Coney Hatch and Bernie Tormé both play in London tomorrow evening, about a block away from each other but at the exact same time. Can somebody hurry up and invent the time machine purrr-leaaase?
Tuesday 28th October
Straight back into the melee. Late in the afternoon Michael Schenker called to give the lowdown on his forthcoming album 'Spirit On A Mission', due early next year. Herr Schenker continues to deliver the goods, and he talked it up nicely… I can't wait to hear this.
Monday 27th October
I managed to meet my old friend Dave Craig for brunch despite the twin impairments of sleep deprivation and a monster-sized hangover. There was no side order of cider this morning, however, as my 'working' hat was being worn. Yeh… I had the honour of reviewing the final day of the very last Firefest for Classic Rock Presents AOR. This meant gaining an entrance to the venue, claiming a place on the balcony and remaining there for the duration. I had bought along sandwiches, some crisps and bottle of mineral water as provisions.
Gotta be honest and that that AXXIS, a veteran melodic power metal band from Germany, bored me shitless. In fact, I actually dozed off for a few minutes during their set. I was also a tad worried that Bernhard Weiss, their heavily accented frontman, would whip out a flugelhorn at any moment, though in fairness they did receive a respectable response from the crowd. By contrast, GUILD OF AGES (also known as Caught In The Act) offered one of the tightest and best sets I saw across the entire weekend and the quartet from Denver, Colorado, really should be much, much better known.
Despite getting off to a stuttering start, TOUCH, AKA The Mark Mangold Band (the keysman was the group's sole original member) were quite, suite superb. Tommy Denander had replaced guitarist Craig Brooks and with the much-travelled Göran Edman charged with recreating Brooks' lead vocals an air of trepidation permeated
'Listen (Can You Feel It)' and 'Black Star' but by 'Take It Back', three songs in, Touch 2.0 are cooking with gas, and every last person inside Rock City sang along with the anthemic 'Don't You Know What Love Is'. For those of us that missed Touch's near-legendary set at Monsters Of Rock in 1980 this was a true bucket list moment, and all the better that no bees were harmed in the sequel.
Making their UK debut and based around Emppu Vuorinen of Nightwish, whose considered, tasty guitar solos were nothing less than a revelation, BROTHER FIRETRIBE were welcomed like conquering heroes before they'd even played a note. The minty-fresh, clean-cut melodies of 'I'm On Fire', 'Last Of The Runaways' and 'Love Is Not Enough' brought the house down, and the 'Tribe signed off in style with a terrific remake of 'Winner Takes It All' from Sammy Hagar's from the Over The Top soundtrack.
Although CONEY HATCH had stolen the honours with ease whilst making a UK debut at Firefest in 2011 there was a degree of uncertainty that they'd fare as well again robbed of the all-important disbelief factor. This turned out a non-issue, I'm happy to report. Introducing a new member, Michael Borkoski, who replaced co-founding guitarist Steve Shelski, the Canadians aired played five of its tracks from 'Four', their first album in almost three decades. This was perhaps a tad excessive, though quality-wise 'Blown Away', 'Boys Club', 'Down 'N' Dirty', 'Connected' and their cover of The Angels' 'Marseille', stood toe-to-toe with golden oldies 'Stand Up', 'Don't Say Make Me', 'Hey Operator', 'Fallen Angel', 'Girl From Last Night's Dream', 'Monkey Bars' and a quite superb 'Devil's Deck'.
With just two more bands to go it was finally time for a wee drinkee. As my pal Nige Roberts saved my place at the rail, I was amazed to discover that Rock City sold the alcoholic lemonade known as Hooch. "Yessir, I'll have three of those!" Like everyone else, I had no clue of what to expect of AUTOGRAPH. No Steve Plunkett? No goddamned keyboard player?! And just one original member, the namely impossibly grizzled bass player Randy Rand? C'mon, this was bound to end in years. And quite possibly tears of laughter. So imagine my shock (and relief) when the Californian group, also making a UK debut, somehow stepped up to seize glory from the mouth of potential disaster. As one high quality track was succeeded by another you really couldn't take your eyes off the stage. Waving goodbye with 'Turn Up The Radio', their biggest hit from the mid-1980s, Autograph departed to thoroughly deserved, rapturous applause.
With hindsight, DANGER fucking DANGER were the only band capable of headlining the Final Fling, especially taking into consideration the returns of original guitarist Andy Timmons, who played the proverbial blinder, and keyboard player Kasey Smith. Reflecting past criticism they talked less and played much more. Playing up to the photographers and going walkabout during the crowd, Ted Poley is very close to being the perfect frontman (indeed, my pal John Dryland was moved to post on Facebook: "Look at Ted up there, just ruling!") Tapping into the swelling emotions felt inside Rock City, 'I Still Think About You' inspired a lump in the throat. The set proper ended with the self-proclaimed "sleaze-rock national fucking anthem", 'Naughty Naughty'.
At encore time the stage filled with assorted band members and Firefest crew, and tears welled up for just about everybody during an unrehearsed version of… what else… 'Don't Stop Believing'. Amid the scrum of bodies, many of whom embraced one another and wept, Bruno Ravel took the mic to ask: "Do you guys want another Firefest?" The positivity of the roar caused the bassist to turn to FF head honcho Kieran Dargan and grin: "You are officially fucked, baby."
Following such an emotive conclusion it seemed a tad rude to just disappear so I joined the revellers at the Crowne Plaze for a few ciders. Once again the evening ended at Fawlty Towers in the small hours of the morning where a very odd Scottish lady dressed as Maid Marian, who was more pissed than John, Lauren and myself put together, invited herself to our table. We had great fun winding her up till she realised what was going on and slurred a wonderful departing pot-shot in the direction of John: "And as for you… do you even know what a hairbrush is??!!" I laughed so much that my bladder almost erupted!
Sunday 26th October
Day #2 of Firefest began with a brunch with my old mate Dave Reynolds. A pint of cider at 10am… okay, you guessed it – yesterday, with Palace playing West Brom at the Hawthorns, was set up to be my drinking day.
Rock City filled gradually for RAGE OF ANGELS, a vehicle for Ten/Tyketto keysman Ged Rylands, now a guitarist and band leader in his own right. High quality melodic rock with strong vocals (from former Mama's Boys/Graffiti man Rick Chase) was the order of the day. The band were smiling because they were having fun and they knew their work was good… it was contagious.
With John McCoy as a stand-in bassist and featuring a vocal contribution from Issa Oversveen on 'Spark And Flame', FROM THE FIRE had waited 24 years to play the UK. Playing songs from a cult favourite album, 'Thirty Days And Dirty Nights' plus a handful of tunes from a brand new record, it was lovely to behold the unbridled joy and disbelief of keysman/vocalist JD Jelly at being involved at Firefest. Three songs in they played 'Tears Cried In The Rain' and I swear to God that the earth moved.
With 3pm approaching it was time to find a public house with Sky Sports coverage. My phone went bananas as Palace took the lead and then added a second as the interval approached, but with the sound turned down it was hard to follow the action. The Baggies pulled one back early in the 2nd half – F**k! Paul 'Braincell' Merson was covering the game for Soccer Saturday and for the first time in my life I found myself giving a shit about what he had to say. Conceding a soft penalty in the 94th minute was tough to take, especially as I'd missed out Boulevard, Babylon AD and Pretty Maids. Apparently, Boulevard were sensational. *Sighs*.
Messrs Dome, Ewing and Dryland and the fragrant Lauren Archer arrived and we met for a snifter or three in the Tumbler, but I had been looking forward to seeing BLACK 'N BLUE again (I was present when they, along with Headpins, opened for Whitesnake at Hammersmith Odeon back in the day). "We've come a long way to be here – all the way from 1984" roared the ever-ludicrous Jamie St James. Their show, which featured 'The Strong Will Rock', 'Wicked Bitch' and 'Hold On To 18′ (all from a hugely undervalued self-titled debut that's now… ulp… three decades old) in its latter stages wasn't to everyone's taste but I really enjoyed them, warts 'n' all.
Revisiting their eponymously titled debut from 1990 in its entirety Saturday nite's top dogs FIREHOUSE got off to a great start with a blissful barrage that included 'Shake & Tumble', 'All She Wrote' and 'Rock On The Radio, though their set sagged desperately in its mid stages as various band members took on lead vocals – a crime, given the outstanding quality of CJ Snare – and, worse still, indulged in solo spots. It was worth waiting around for a final triumphant run-in of 'Overnight Sensation', the über-ballad 'Love Of A Lifetime', 'Reach For The Sky' and 'Don't Treat Me Bad', though by that point the crowd that thinned out by some degree.
So… back to the Tap & Tumbler to top up the alcohol levels and onto the bar of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where the bands were staying, for additional foolishness. In amongst the fog I seem to recall being filmed mouthing the words to a Vega song for an upcoming lyric video. We ended up at Fawlty Towers in the room that I was now sharing with Mr Dryland, talking bollox and draining two litres of pear cider till 6.30am. Rawkenrawl!!
Saturday 25th October
I arrived in Nottingham in plenty of time for the start of Firefest. Took a taxi to the hotel which turned out to be a 20-minute walk from Rock City to drop off my bag only to discover there was no check-in till 2pm. Arse! Off to the venue, leaving my gear behind the front desk… which made me a little nervous.
As winners of an 'unsigned band' competition, it was down to ANGELS OR KINGS to kick things off. Singer Baz Jackson seemed incredibly pumped up, though his vocals weren't quite as effortlessly impressive as on the CD. Indeed, the keyboard-led, reborn 1980s rockers had only just hit their stride with the tasty 'Kings Of Nowhere' when it was time for them to go.
Surreally, former Jaded Heart singer Michael Bormann took to the stage at 2.20pm with the words: "Good morning, Firefest". He seemed a bit more rotund than I had remembered but was in fine voice with his current band REDRUM. I'd like to have watched a little more but instead trekked back to the hotel to ensure that my property was safe. This meant missing Circus Maximus, who were playing their final song as I returned. Sorry.
For yours truly, the Tony Mill-fronted SHY signalled the start of Firefest proper. Their late guitarist Steve Harris was sadly missed but I loved a set that paired two latterday gems (the superb 'Skydiving' and 'Breakaway') with the cream of their heyday output. The omission of the ballad 'Reflections' was perhaps understandable given Harris' absence, and 'When The Love Is Over' worked fine in its stead, and the band had Rock City eating out of their hands with 'Break Down The Walls'. So the decision to sign off with 'No Other Way', an epic tune from 2011's 'Unfinished Business', was a gigantic blunder.
I had divided the weekend into three categories. Friday, spent largely alone as the London posse wouldn't arrive till 24 hours later, would be a 'settling in' day. I'd watch a few bands, potter around and have a few quiet, relaxing pints. I can take or leave THE POODLES. Heard them play 'Metal Will Stand Tall' and 'One Night Of Passion' and following chinwags with Steve Newman, Tommy Denander, Escape Music's Barrie Kirtley and fellow scribe Rob Evans I headed out for a cider at the Tap & Tumbler.
Despite its sickeningly distasteful title (sorry… a joke for my fellow CPFC followers), TEN have made one of the albums of the year in 'Albion'. And with their former guitarist Vinny Burns looking down and smiling from the balcony, they turned in a commanding display. Newie 'Alone In The Dark Tonight' worked splendidly onstage, and it was great to hear 'Still Of The Night' (AKA 'Spellbound'), 'The Robe', 'After The Love Has Gone' and 'The Name Of The Rose' again.
However, headliners H.E.A.T. took things up to another level. Superb songs, an amazing singer, bags of charisma and perfect sound contributed towards an all-time great Firefest performance. Deep Purple's 'Highway Star' was slipped into 'Beg Beg Beg' instead of the usual 'Rock And Roll' by Led Zep and the decision to play Survivor's 'Rebel Son' for Jimi Jamison (RIP) was a moving moment. When Erik Grönwall dived into the crowd before departing the stage, the audience carried him above their heads all the way back to the mixing desk… indeed, returning to terra firma the scamp almost trod on my bloody foot! The sky's the limit for this fine band. I was left awed by their display, wondering whether anyone might surpass such a stellar set.
Uncharacteristically, I was back at the hotel and asleep by 11.30pm though this had more to do with exhaustion from travelling and concerns over the security of my room than a lack of desire to paint the town red… LOL!
Friday 24th October
I'd love to have attended last night's gig at the Garage by Haken, Leprous and Maschine and had made plans to do so until the last minute confirmation of two evening phone interviews: Robb Flynn of Machine Head and the delightful Teri Tims (see Diary, Oct 8). Anyway, I'm packed and ready to leave for the Final (f)Ling! Off to Nottingham! It's gonna be emotional (and lots of fun), Fawlty Towers-esque hotel notwithstanding!
Thursday 23rd October
At the request of Classic Rock magazine I'm compiling my favourite albums and songs for 2014. The Top Five looks like this:
1) H.E.A.T. - 'Tearing Down The Walls' (Ear Music)
2) Work Of Art - 'Framework' (Frontiers)
3) Bigelf - 'Into The Maelstrom' (Inside Out)
4) Magnum - 'Escape From The Shadow Garden' (SPV)
5) Uriah Heep - 'Outsider' (Frontiers)
Wednesday 22nd October
Last night I was privileged to attend a friends & family-style intimate rehearsal for Quo's acoustic gig for the Beeb. Some 24 hours in advance the band played the same venue (the Roundhouse) before an invited audience of around 200 people. For my money, the 'Aquostic (Stripped Bare)' album is a bit hit and miss but the gig was much, much better than I'd feared. Barring the gruesome twosome ('Excretion Time' and 'Dumping Fridges') it was very good, actually. I was glad that I went along. However, I do appreciate that the project is something of a Marmite phenomenon. I attended the show with Steve O'Connell, an old friend of many, many years standing. He pushed to the front and I stood in the middle where the sound was best. When we met up again afterwards I asked his thoughts. "It's just not for me", replied Steve in emphatic terms, before informing me that he had wanted to kill the according player. Yes… there were 16 musicians up on the stage. At times it was all a bit much but the string section worked brilliantly on 'Mystery Song', 'Pictures Of Matchstick Men' and 'Rock 'N' Roll', the latter of which was enhanced by some grand piano from Andrew Bown. I've never been a fan of 'Rock Till You Drop' but last night's version felt quite poignant. Indeed, it wasn't till later that I was hit with a wave of sadness, as barring any future Frantic Four gigs this will probably be the last time that I'll ever see Quo… especially when I realised that they'd closed their 90-minute set with 'B***ing B***ges' of all songs. How's that for a headstone?
The set-list ran as follows: 'And It's Better Now', 'Break The Rules', Again And Again', 'Paper Plane', 'Mystery Song', 'Little Lady', 'Rock And Roll', 'Caroline', 'What You're Proposin'', 'Softer Ride', 'Down Down', 'Pictures Of Matchstick Men', 'Down The Dustpipe', ' All The Reasons', 'Reason For Living', 'Rolling Home', 'Don't Drive My Car', 'Claudie', 'Rain', 'Excretion Time', 'Na Na Na', 'Whatever You Want' and 'Rocking All Over The World', plus an encore of 'Rock Till You Drop' and… er, that unmentionable piece of plop.
Steve and I nipped into a pub over the road for a post-gig nightcap. Imagine the look on my face when John 'Rhino' Edwards came over for a chat as he knows that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Lancaster man. Rhino referred to some "shit review" of the album that I'd written - probably a reference to the Dave's Diary entry of September 21. However, he told me: "I like to read all of the negative stuff about us, I go on the Forums all the time… most of it is quite funny." We had a quite a laugh actually, and even shook hands at the end. Phew!
Monday 21st October
All hands to the pump, it's the start of yet another production week for Classic Rock. I've got my 'news editor' hat on. It's interesting and of course very sad that AC/DC have issued their first publicity shot of the post-Malcolm Young era who, it has been confirmed, retired due to dementia. For those that might not know, the band recently spent time in London for the filming of two videos from their new album, namely 'Play Ball' and 'Rock Or Bust', though eyebrows were raised by the absence of drummer Phil Rudd, later explained away as a consequence of a "family emergency". His place was filled by my old mate Bob Richards, a Welshman who has played with Man, Asia and the solo band of Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith, currently a member of the highly rated Buck & Evans.
A finished copy of Vega's new album, 'Stereo Messiah', has arrived and I'm pleased to report that it *IS* a grower… big-time! It's always hard to review an album to its fullest potential when there's a deadline, unfortunately.
And here's an early Christmas present - I'm thrilled that The Cadillac Three are to return to the UK before 2014's end. I am so, so going to be there at the Garage on December 9!
Monday 20th October
I dashed back from the Tower Of London, bunged a couple of pizzas into the oven for the Linglets who barely looked up from their computer games and headed straight back out of the door for another cross-town dash. Back for the third time in less than a year, Blackberry Smoke were playing at a sold out Shepherd's Bush Empire. Make no mistake, I *love* this band, and it was great to see the venue so rammed full. Earache have done a fantastic of building their profile. Current album 'The Whippoorwill' was a Top Thirty release, and there was also priceless radio and newspaper support. With a new Brendan O'Neill-produced album already in the can the Georgia-based quintet previewed one of its selections, 'My Baby Made Me Rock 'N' Roll Again' - great stuff. They also threw in a couple of snippets of classic tunes, veering into 'Midnight Rider' by the Allman Brothers during 'Sleeping Dogs' and wound up the set proper by adding a portion of Zeppelin's 'When The Levee Breaks' to 'Ain't Much Left Of Me'.
Call me Mr Picky, but I was disappointed by the front of house sound which was a tad murky and way too quiet. This situation rendered the band vulnerable to those selfish dickheads intent on chattering throughout - a sizeable proportion of those in attendance, as it turned out. I shouldn't have allowed it to take the edge off my enjoyment but, sadly, that's exactly what happened.
Anyway, here's the set-list: 'Like I Am', 'I'd Be Lyin'', 'Crimson Moon', 'Six Ways To Sunday', 'Good One Comin' On', 'Pretty Little Lie' 'Sleeping Dogs' (including 'Midnight Rider'), 'Rollin & Tumblin'' (Snippet), 'Sanctified Woman', 'The Whippoorwill', 'Everybody Knows She's Mine', 'Ain't Got the Blues', 'Up In Smoke', 'My Baby Made Me Rock 'N' Roll Again', 'One Horse Town', 'Restless' and 'Ain't Much Left Of Me' (plus 'When The Levee Breaks'), followed by encores of 'Up The Road' and 'Shakin' Hands With The Holy Ghost'.
Sunday 19th October
Yesterday Palace played league leaders Chelski at Selhurst Park… I really liked the idea of fielding two goalies! Sadly, unlike last season's game which was settled by a J**n T***y own goal, there were no surprises in terms of the result. However, refereeing deficiencies notwithstanding a slim 1-2 defeat wasn't the worst score in the world - especially against a team that looks set to run away with the title.
I've just returned from the Tower Of London in the company of my friends Mr & Mrs Pudney, Steve Breese and Lucy Elwell, where we enjoyed a swift but enjoyable lunchtime pint and took a look at the thousands of red ceramic poppies planted in the moat - 888,246 of them to be precise, each representing a British fatality suffered in the conflicts between 1914 and 1918. I'm sure you'll agree, the effect is stunning. It can be seen until Remembrance Day on November 11.
Saturday 18th October
What a great way to end the week. Pre-gig libations with good friends in a cocktail bar - this 'tea' is not as it seems! - followed by a superb two-hour show from Mr Big at Koko in Camden.
With drummer Pat Torpey now suffering from Parkinson's disease, the San Franciscans have brought in Matt Starr of Ace Frehley's band for this tour.
The good news is that Pat was still well enough to play a big part in the show and the crowd cheered him and sang his name at every available opportunity. It was very touching. Mr Big played quite a few chewns from their new CD, '…The Stories We Could Tell', a record that I've yet to spend much time with, but the show didn't suffer at all.
Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert had the drills out for 'Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy' and the solos were kept tastefully short. During a wondrous encore the band swapped instruments during a cover of Judas Priest's 'Living After Midnight', Torpey taking over vocal duties as Gilbert occupied the drum stool, Sheehan moved onto four six strings and singer Eric Martin plucked the bass.
With Mick and Davey from the Heep smiling and waving down from one of the boxes this was a truly magnificent night, topped off by a bottom-heavy rendition of the Free song that gave them their name.
Here's the set-list: 'Gotta Love The Ride', 'Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)', 'American Beauty', 'Undertow', Guitar/Bass Duel, 'Alive And Kickin'', 'I Forget To Breathe', 'Take Cover', 'Green-Tinted Sixties Mind', 'Out Of The Underground', Guitar Solo, 'The Monster In Me', 'Rock & Roll Over', 'As Far As I Can See', 'Wild World', 'East/West', 'Just Take My Heart', 'Fragile', 'Around The World', Bass Solo and 'Addicted To That Rush', followed by 'To Be With You', 'The Stories We Could Tell', 'Colorado Bulldog', 'Living After Midnight' and 'Mr Big'. (Gig photos courtesy of Jim Templeton-Cross)
Friday 17th October
I'm nursing a hangover the size of a blue whale. Did Andy Beare, Jeff Gilbert, Phillippa Douglas and I really go the Crobar following the after show party? (and was Paul Newcomb *still* in there after the Skinny Molly gig?) That's disgraceful behaviour on a school night.
On the strength of 'Full Throttle', a kick-ass rock 'n' roll record that has been winning some rave reviews, I had wanted to take a look at Massive, the Antipodeans who were opening the show. I felt that the first half of their set was a little base and generic; it wasn't till four songs
in that they let rip with the groovesome 'Dancefloor' and then followed it with 'Ghost' and 'One By One' that things *really* took off. Would deffo like to see them again, though…
I'd also intended to watch the middle band, Buffalo Summer, but we went to the bar, met up with some people… and, um, you know how it is. Sorry.
It's hard to believe that almost a year had passed since my last sighting of the headliners, at the Forum as guests of Airbourne. Since then much has changed, notably the addition of an excellent guitarist called Dee Dammers. Though I understand the reason for the need to look a little more age appropriate I cannot tell a lie… I don't like the band's new image, which places them somewhere between Avenged Sevenfold and Biohazard. Complete with aviator shades and slicked back hair, Matt Jones is now a dead spit of M Shadows. However… shut one's eyes and it was just like old times. They played the best songs from their two albums and introduced an impressive sounding track called 'Bloodsucker' that may or may not appear on the next record. It would be hard to ignore The Treatment's energy and sense of fun, encapsulated by the fist-in-the-air 'Drink! Fuck! Fight!' Please don't listen to the ugly rumours that I am to record a version of this same song modelled on my own typical night out, to be titled 'Drink! (Try To Avoid) Fight! Kebab!' It's a filthy lie!
Thursday 16th October
Scaaaarrreeee! Just dug out a T-shirt for tonight's gig by The Treatment - literally, the first one on top of a pile. It wasn't till checking the dates on the back that I realised it's thirty bloody years old. The Crüe played London's Dominion Theatre, where I bought said garment, a few months after breaking their duck at Monsters Of Rock, on November 16, 1984. Jeez, that's just… terrifying!
Wednesday 15th October
What a t'riffic alcohol-free night at the Underworld with Confederate rockers Nashville Pussy, my partner in crime the CroBeare and NP's publicist Roland Hyams. And if you'll believe that then you'll believe anything!
I had made the stooopid mistake of standing behind the biggest mother**ker in the building - seriously, this dude was taller than Dave Everley on stilts! - but for 70 adrenaline-charged, expletive-coloured, headshaking minutes all was well with the world as the quartet charged though an 18-song set, many of which flashed by at around the two-minute mark. Several were culled from the latest LP, 'Up The Dosage', including 'Rub It To Death', 'Everybody's Fault But Mine' and the brilliantly titled 'The South's Too Fat To Rise Again', guitarist Ruyter Suys taking centre stage as they stretched out for more than ten minutes on 'Milk Cow Blues', the Kokomo Arnold chewn popularised by Aerosmith.
Before playing 'Goodbye Baby, Go To Hell' they took a well earned Jack Daniel's break, toasting "a band that we love but nobody knows in America… we're going to drink in honour of Status Quo!" And why not? If you don't know anything about Nashville Pussy but my waffle whets your interest, please check out this interview that I conducted with them for Classic Rock in 2003.
Tuesday 14th October
What a very special night at the Islington Assembly Hall with Flying Colours, who feature members past 'n' present of Deep Purple, Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, Kansas, Transatlantic, Dixie Dregs and more. Now onto their sophomore album, 'Second Nature', these guys have really gelled into a proper band.
However, the evening could've been a disaster. The band had been delayed at customs, hence Mike Portnoy's repeated Spinal Tap-esque reference to cucumbers (a gag that became a bit boring after a while), which meant support act John Wesley went onstage late - ensuring that, regrettably, Mr Shilton and I caught just the last couple of songs - and the headliners were (presumably) forced to cut their own set.
The band's seemingly incompatible mix of prop-rock and pop music is rarely less than harmonious and inspiring. You could almost hear mouths gaping when Casey McPherson took the spotlight to sing a solo version of 'Colder Months', a song by his other Alpha Rev, in what was a real highlight of the night. The set-list ran as follows: 'Open Up Your Eyes', 'Bombs Away', 'Kayla', 'Shoulda Coulda Woulda', 'The Fury of My Love', 'A Place in Your World', 'Forever In A Daze', 'One Love Forever', 'Colder Months', 'Peaceful Harbour', 'The Storm', 'Cosmic Symphony' and 'Mask Machine', followed by an encore of 'Infinite Fire'.
Monday 13th October
Sunday… a day of ups and downs. Very aware of the possibility that things could go horribly, horribly wrong, I set out to cook my first ever Sunday roast evening meal for three by working out the timings, preparing the ingredients and making my excuses in advance. Throw in the fact that England's game against Estonia was due to KO at around the same time and… well, you'll understand why a brief wee nip of the cooking sherry was necessary. Sadly, the Yorkies didn't rise and the meal was a bit on the dry side, hence the addition of some tinned spag bol (!), but the kids said that coming from a complete novice it was worth a good 7/10.
If only I could say the same of England's performance in Talinn against a team that was forced to spend much of the contest with ten men, and *still* struggled to exert any superiority. By the time Rooney swung in a free kick at the near post in the 73rd minute, not only was I too bored to celebrate, I'd almost abandoned the will to live.
Sunday 12th October
I've been a huge Opeth fan for many years, having followed them since their legendary gig at the Camden Underworld on the tour for 2001's 'Blackwater Park' masterwork. Last night the Swedes rolled through London, stopping off at the Roundhouse to promote an eleventh studio set, the excellent 'Pale Communion'. And what a show they put on - two hours and ten minutes of progressive-tinged hard rock and heavy metal, complete with musicianship that can only be described as 'off the scale', a mix of clean and growled vocals and, to lighten the mood, a healthy dose of band leader Mikael Åkerfeldt's mirthsome self-mocking wit.
Surprisingly, they included just three tunes from 'Pale Communion' - 'Eternal Rains Will Come', the Middle Eastern-tinged 'Cusp Of Eternity' and 'Elysian Woes' - though Åkerfeldt later informed me that two further new selections have been rehearsed and will be gradually integrated into the set. Surprisingly, the band delved all the way back to their second ever album, 1995's 'Morningrise', for the night's oldest tune, 'Advent', after which Mikael admitted with a laugh: "I was listening to a band called Wishbone Ash when I wrote that one." No wonder that later on in the show he was forced to observe: "We're a band of contrasts."
Metal Hammer had asked me to go backstage and obtain some post-show comments, which I duly did, exchanging brief pleasantries with Steven Wilson (the man responsible for mixing 'Pale Communion' in a history of close musical collaborations with Åkerfeldt and Opeth) who was just exiting the dressing room. Indeed, but for the mad dash back to Charing Cross in what proved a vain bid to catch my final train back to Catford, it was a fantastic evening.
Saturday 11th October
After what feels like a few months of semi-retirement from gigging it's all kicking in again: Opeth (tonight), Flying Colours (Monday ), Nashville Pussy (Tuesday), a day off on Weds, The Treatment (Thurs) and Mr Big (Fri), followed by Palace-Chelski on Sat and Blackberry Smoke (Sun). Bring it on!! As if we didn't require categorical proof that the Hall Of Fame is a sick, unfunny joke, those talentless jokers The Smiths are among the (No) Class Of 2015 nominees, alongside Lou Reed, Kraftwerk, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, meaning that Deep Purple, Yes, Bon Jovi, King Crimson, ELP and many more are overlooked - yet again. What a farce…
Friday 10th October
Though the result of 5-0 maintained a 100% record in the competition thus far, England made fairly heavy work of last nite's Euro qualifier against San Marino at Wembley - a team so shit that even Clowntown Pathetic's reserves wouldn't fail to beat. The game made me realise how much I hate W***e R***ey. I sighed deeply when he 'scored' the fifth, and then cheered loudly when it was declared on own goal. He's not fit to lace Jimmy Greaves' boots. Anyway, faced with the prospect of yet another Friday night stuck at home, I have cheered myself up by booking travel to the Firefest weekend. In exactly two weeks I shall be watching a bill that includes Shy, Ten and headliners H.E.A.T. - and that's just the opening nite! Hahaha, leafing through the January 2014 issue of Classic Rock in search of a quote for this afternoon's interview with Jimmy O, vocalist/guitarist of the Graveltones, I was amused to spot this gem from Francis Rossi: "Status Quo unplugged? The idea makes my bottom twitch. It would be good for about 20 minutes…" The man does not lie.
Thursday 9th October
I really enjoyed last night's gig from Kobra & The Lotus, the female-fronted Maple Leaf Mayhem Merchants (© Paul Suter) who were playing songs from their strongest album to date, 'High Priestess'. It was by far the best show of the six shows I've seen them perform. However, three LPs into their career they really should be doing bigger places than the Barfly...
I made a conscious effort to catch the main support act. Not to be confused with 'Monuments', the UK progressive-metal combo, the singular Monument are capital-based, very much in the vein of Maiden and Priest and fronted by Peter Ellis (once of the excellent White Wizzard). Annoyingly, their half-hour slot was beset by technical problems: some mic issues caused a whole chunk of 'Carry On' to become lost, just like a lot of the higher register notes... the very ones that I really wanted to hear!
Luckily those frustrations were not echoed by the headliners, whose supremely versatile Kobra Paige turned in one hack of a vocal masterclass. They're an interesting group, once discovered by Greg Godovitz of the mighty Goddo, fact fans. Stylistically speaking K&TL have been on the money for some time but it's only fairly recently that songs of genuine quality were added to the mix. All but four of the night's 14 tunes were pulled from 'High Priestess'; it seems as though they agree with me! At times the band were reminiscent of a female-fronted Queensrÿche, though the ballad 'Lost In The Shadows' can be viewed as their 'Beyond The Realms Of Death' moment, having supported Halford and company at Hammersmith in 2012 that's certainly the vibe they were aiming for. Here's the full set-list: 'High Priestess', 'Nayana', 'Battle Of Wrath', 'Hold On', 'Warhorse', 'Soldier', 'Welcome To My Funeral', 'Forever One', 'Visionary', 'Willow', 'Lost In The Shadows' and 'I Am, I Am', with encores of 'Heartbeat' and '50 Shades Of Evil'.
Wednesday 8th October
'Play Ball', the new single from AC/DC - and the first thing to be made public since Malcolm Young retired from the group - is better than I'd been fearing... much better. I can almost imagine Jerry Ewing singing its chorus in the Crobar, doing his best Jonno impersonation! Listen to it here.
Anyway, it's another pink 'n' fluffy day here at Ling Towers, I'm writing my melodic rock column for the next issue of Classic Rock. Though it sticks in my throat to say anything complimentary about a record entitled 'Albion', the new album by UK hard rockers Ten is amazing, their best in many a long year. I wish the same could be said of the self-titled debut from Rated X, a unit built around ex-Rainbow/Deep Purple singer Joe Lynn Turner and featuring fretless bassist Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder) and drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Murder). On paper this one really should be a killer, but barring the odd gripping moment it's just too dull and hackneyed. Far more preferable is the self-titled album by Teri Tims, a ravishing and gifted singer from Keithville, Louisiana, whose husband - the one and only Paul Sabu - co-wrote many of its superb, instantly memorable songs. The press release says that her voice "will make a married man wish he was single, and a teenage boy wish he was a man." I couldn't have put it better myself!
Tuesday 7th October
Hearty congratulations to my colleague Paul Elliott on a superb cover story in the new issue of Classic Rock (dated November). Gooner got on so well with Jimmy Page that the Zep-meister offered him to job of fronting his new solo band ("are you volunteering?"). Dunno why but Paul's reply of: "Come on, Jimmy. Don't be silly" really made me giggle. A great visual image from Ross Halfin, too. JP looks so much better for binning the hair dye a while ago!
I just got off the phone with Eric Bloom, who was talking up Blue Öyster Cult's spot at next month's Hard Rock Hell Festival. Our conversation kinda made me wish I was attending the show, but it's in Wales… *grimaces*… Naah, really can't see that happening.
Monday 6th October
Last night I got around to watching the BBC's documentary on Genesis, Together & Apart… oh dear. So many reservations, where to start? I couldn't agree more with Steve Hackett, whose feathers have been well and truly ruffled by its glaring omission of his solo work. It's almost as though Genesis are trying to airbrush him out of their history - the guitarist was excluded from the Six Of The Best show at Milton Keynes Bowl (till he turned up anyway) and left out of their last reunion tour - disgraceful! Now this!! Not even a mention of the Ray Wilson line-up, either. I daresay the full-length DVD edition will be superior, but whoever edited the footage for telly is a plum of the highest order.
However, there were some unexpectedly good bits, for example Tony Banks on Phil Collins' solo success; "I wanted him to do well... but not that well. For about 15 years he was ubiquitous." But hearing the odious 'I Can't Dance' again for the first time in years reminded me that it is an aural turd to rival Quo's own 'B***ing B***ges'. Overall though, given the level of access they had Together & Apart can only be filed under: 'Missed opportunity'. Once again the Beeb pretends to care about rock music, and fails miserably… Let's all pretend to be shocked.
And in happier news, there's a wonderful six-minute YouTube teaser of Steven Wilson's new album, work on which recently took place at London's AOR Studios. I'm so bloody excited… February 2015 can't come quickly enough!
Sunday 5th October
Despite the Palace result I had an enjoyable Saturday night at Shepherd's Bush Empire where Ian 'Unter & The Rant Band were supported by my mates from Stockport, Federal Charm. Met up for a couple of pre-gig pints in the Defector's Weld with my Classic Rock colleague Neil Jeffries and the inimitable Mark Taylor before scooting across the Green to catch Federal Charm's warm-up set. Although allocated just 25 mins to show what they could do the quartet acquitted themselves admirably, 'I'm Not Gonna Beg' and 'Too Blind To See' displaying a measured, earthy groove, while their cover of Lowell Fulson's 'Reconsider Baby' gets better and better every time I hear them play it. Next up is a series of gigs with ex-Black Crowe Rich Robinson… watch their progress continue.
And so onto Mr 'Unter… Neil and I had a fantastic view of the stage from our seats at the front of the balcony, but it was hot inside the venue and the music was a little one paced, after a while it began to been a bit soporific so I walked about and took a few photos. Def Leppard's Joe Elliott was backstage but just for once declined to join in on the encores, though Ian's Mott buddy Mick Ralphs was less elusive. Being the last night of the tour there was a pleasant, carefree vibe and although I could never claim to be a great student of IH's solo catalogue it was a fun evening all the same. Very glad that I resisted the temptation to drink too much.
Saturday 4th October
Yesssss… get in! Thanks a lot, postie! I've just received a package of goodies from Derek Oliver at Rock Candy Records, including 3 x Toto re-issues ('Toto', 'Hydra' and 'Turn Back'), five of the best ones made by Swiss metalheads Krokus, and the debuts from Danger Danger and the BulletBoys. Now... which to play first? It's gotta be Krokus' 'Metal Rendez-vous', I think!
Ah well, the first defeat of the second Colin Wanker era has just been registered - Hull 2 Palace 0. Watched the game on an internet stream and the result kinda flattered the home team, their second goal coming as the Eagles pushed up in search of an equaliser. I cannot stand losing to Flatnose Bruce, and it rarely happens - the Tigers had beaten Palace only once in 15 meetings - but nothing lasts forever, eh?
Friday 3rd October
Oh look, what a brilliant photo I've just found! My boys with their 'Uncle' Michael Monroe in the Hanoi Rocks dressing room at the Rock & Blues Custom Show way back in 2006. Eddie looks a wee bit nervous but Arnie is loving it! Sax 'n' ligs 'n' rawkenrawl!!!
Thursday 2nd October
Cool… Metal Hammer have asked me to review Opeth's gig at the Roundhouse this weekend! Better still, they also want me to nip backstage afterwards and ask Mikael Åkerfeldt a few 'how was it for you'-type questions. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday nite!
Wednesday 1st October
Ooooh, exciting! Having realised that a reunion of Led Zeppelin "doesn't look likely", Jimmy Page is making plans to reactivate his solo career . Now *that's* something I'd pay to see.
One of the best things about my job is that I never know what's around the corner. For instance, the Jesus & Mary Chain are a band so far off my radar they might as well reside on Uranus. And yet last night I ended up chatting with Jim Reid, their once hard-as-nails frontman, about a series of upcoming dates. I'd prepared a few Qs of my own and some others were sent via a better informed source from the office (hi, Dave Everley). We were getting along fine till I asked one of the 'suggested' questions, namely did the Scotsman - whose violent relationship with sibling William was a thing of legend - mellow out in the late 1980s, or just pretend to? Cue: a frosty silence, and then, emphatically, and sounding offended: "We've never mellowed out. The Mary Chain don't do mellow."
Thank Gawd there were several miles of phone line between us!
© 2014 - www.daveling.co.uk - All Rights Reserved
Web design by Frau Fledermaus Sitebuilding, FFS!