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 1st November
Wow – what a great display from the mighty Palace. Yesterday's game at Selhurst finished goalless, but the Eagles had the edge throughout the second half and really deserved the three points. Here's hoping that we've turned a corner at last. (And, yes, thanks a lot to the lucky badge!)
And how to celebrate such a fine result? I know… let's spend Halloween with Y&T! Check out my photo of guitarist John Nymann sporting a Scream-style mask during the opening number of a positively rampant two-hour-plus display. The facemelters from San Francisco are like a machine. Each year they come back and deliver a first-rate performance, retaining a core of classics but throwing out some catalogue gems to satisfy those of us that turn up to see them tour after tour, and of course it helps that their 2010 album contains its fair share of corkers!
How about this for a set-list: 'Hurricane', 'LA Rocks', 'How Long', 'Black Tiger', 'Rhythm Or Not', 'Mean Streak', 'Dirty Girl', 'Midnight In Tokyo', 'Take You To The Limit', 'Hang 'Em High', 'Cold Day In Hell', 'I Believe In You', 'Eyes Of A Stranger', 'Contagious', 'I Want Your Money', 'Summertime Girls', 'Rescue Me' and 'I'm Coming Home', with encores of 'Open Fire', 'Don't Stop Runnin'' and 'Forever'.
Saturday 31st October
Well that's a huge relief. I've found the lucky badge. 'The precious' was donated to me a few years ago by DL website regular Mark Willett on behalf of a deceased friend who never got to see the Eagles gain promotion. Sure enough, the 'badge of destiny' got us back into the Top Flight, and kept us there for two seasons but went missing a month ago - just as the club's result began to take a downturn. Was it coincidence, or not? Who knows for sure, but I really thought I'd lost it for good. So… maybe there will be a turn in fortunes in today's home game versus ManUre, then? Followed, of course, by the mighty Y&T at Islington Academy.
Friday 30th October
Though my taste has changed a little in recent years I still love a bit of extreme metal from time to time, and the bill of last night's Deathcrusher event simply couldn't be missed. Sadly, Voivod had already almost done with their jagged, hypnotic space-rock by time I made it across a rain-swept London and into the Forum, and were closing with the signature 'Voivod'. Dammit. I'd really wanted to see them.
My old mates Napalm Death (pictured) were up next, frontman Barney Greenway revealing with a laugh that the guitarist standing in for Mitch Harris is another Midlands resident, "and not Munky from Korn". As ever, 'Suffer The Children', 'Scum', 'Lies' and 'The Kill' displayed head-removing intensity, but material from the latest disc 'Apex Predator – Easy Meat' also sounded truly excellent. Such an undervalued and pioneering band and truly the kings of grind, Napalm deserve all the credit in the world for perseverance in the face of often insurmountable odds.
From the first moment I heard their 1989 debut 'Slowly We Rot', I've always loved Obituary. Back in the days when I worked on RAW Magazine, Ozzy Osbourne called to do a phone interview just as 'Internal Bleeding' hit the death deck and took some convincing that a serial killer hadn't slipped past reception and wasn't busy slitting the throats of the entire staff – true story! Blessed with a crystal clear and extremely loud front of house sound, the gloriously gnarled growls of John Tardy stood out among swampy, neck-snapping riffs to the likes of 'Find The Arise', 'I Don't Care' and 'Slowly We Rot'. It was so bloody great to see them again.
Whether celebrating grindcore roots or acknowledging a later, more melodic death metal sound, headliners Carcass somehow managed to up the stakes further still. As ever bass player Jeff Walker was in playful mood, taking a gentle pot-shot at Viking rockers Amon Amarth ("There's more people here tonight than when we played with them, and such a better crowd") and apologising for the excited state of guitarist Ben Ash, who along with counterpart Bill Steer had been throwing all sorts of rock star shapes during the evening. "We meant to take Ben to the vet this morning to get his balls cut off," quipped Steer, "but instead let's get on with the music." 'Twas a just and fitting end to a night of true metal. I think that the Carcass set-list ran as follows: 'Unfit For Human Consumption', 'Buried Dreams', 'Incarnated Solvent Abuse', 'A Congealed Clot Of Blood', 'Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System', 'This Mortal Coil', 'The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills', 'Captive Bolt Pistol', 'Exhume To Consume', 'Reek Of Putrefaction', 'Corporal Jigsore Quandary', 'Keep On Rotting In The Free World', 'Heartwork' and 'Mount Of Execution'.
Thursday 29th October
It's 4.16am as I type this, and Eddie and I are sitting in an all-night McDonald's in Penge awaiting the first bus to Catford after a comically bad awayday to the morgue known as the Etihad. "5-1 and you still don't sing!" we roared defiantly, as our team crumbled. There's no doubt about it, City have a great team, but some truly awful fans. This, however, amounts to small beer when placed alongside the seven hour-plus official club coach journey that caused us to miss the first 30 mins of the game (it felt very surreal to still be sitting on the vehicle, listening to the match whilst still on the motorway. The groans were audible as we pulled into the stadium's car park just as City scored their first of the night).
And the journey back? One day, when it rankles a little less, I shall tell you about the service station with one single shop and no functioning till that meant the return trip was made in a state that's best described as parched, pissed off and, of course, embarrassed by our team's woeful display. I'm sure that in the future I will laugh about the whole experience, but it may take some time.
Wednesday 28th October
I've been out here in my office since 6am getting stuff done to free up the day. I just did a lovely new phone interview with Biff Byford of Saxon, the bacon sarnies are made... off to Selhurst to join the coaches up the M1 and M6 for the Eagles' league cup game with Man City. I've been to many away games with City, mostly at Maine Road but once at their new home, but for Eddie this is a first visit to the Eithad Stadium, I think he's quite excited. COYP!!!
Tuesday 27th October
What joyous scenes last night in London on the final night of a UK tour from Dan Reed Network and the Electric Boys. Sadly, I arrived later than expected in Islington and caught just the last couple of tunes by the Electric Boys… such a shame, they sounded wonderful.
But for me at least the night was all about the Network. Dan arrived onstage carrying his tiny son Joshua to begin a killer performance that besides almost two hours of catalogue greats previewed a brand new song, 'Divided', from an album that the group's revised line-up (with Rob Daiker replacing Blake Sakamoto on keys) is set to begin tracking in Portland on November 9. Inevitably, the set proper concluded with a heaving funk-rock jam from all three bands, including openers The King Lot, Brion James trading licks with Conny Bloom on 'Get To You'. It was fantastic… just fantastic!! Come back soon!
I've been kept out of the local park for a week or maybe more by a combination of pressure of work, a nagging foot injury, crappy weather, domestic chores and other miscellaneous bullshit. Fitness levels will need topping up, but it was bloody great to get out there and run again.
Monday 26th October
Annoyingly, last night there were three shows I had wanted to see, all taking place within the confines of Greater London, including Spike & Tyla at the Borderline and the Heavy Metal Kids' anniversary celebration of the life of Gary Holton at the Merton Manor. On any other day, neither would've been missed.
But I'm a huge fan of Raven, whose newest album 'ExtermiNation', was among my fave new releases of 2015. They don't play the UK too often, so there was no real choice… I headed across town alone – my pals were all at those other gigs – to the Underworld. And despite a rather small turnout, what a barnstorming night!
Raven's so-called 'athletic rock' is a sweat-soaked, gurning, banshee-voiced celebration of all that's gloriously, unapologetically stupid and yet somehow noble about heavy metal. Whether its newies 'Destroy All Monsters', 'It's Not What You Got' and 'Tank Treads (The Blood Runs Red)' or golden oldies 'Hard Ride', 'Rock Until You Drop' and 'Break The Chain', their music makes you want to headbang, drink the bar completely dry, charge headlong into the nearest brick wall and sometimes even dance. It is bloody wonderful. There is almost no better way to spend a Sunday night than by soaking up the trio's delights, especially when Grim Reaper's Steve Grimmett joins them onstage for a romp through 'Born To Be Wild' by Steppenwolf. If you weren't there, and the odds are stacked in favour of that statement being true, then you missed a real classic!
Saturday 24th October
Stumbled in from the Crobar at 3am, up for a CPFC awayday to Leicester at 6am - errrr, f**k! Ended up sleeping on top of the bed in my clothes and leather jacket and hoping and praying to hear the alarm... luckily, it worked a treat. A cherry brandy in the early morning cuppa, and Eddie and I were out the door to Victoria Coach Stn. Arriving just as the pubs opened - talk about military precision! – and awaiting the arrival of my buddy Mark Cousins (who is always fashionably late!), we stumbled upon a fairly friendly and surprisingly empty boozer opposite the railway station called The Hind Hotel that met our alcoholic needs and also offered free wifi.
With hindsight, we should've stayed there. The Eagles had looked so comfortable at half time that I'd have put good money on a favourable outcome. Alas, some calamitous defending from Hangeland and keeper Hennessey handled the home side the lead. Palace had plenty of chances to equalise but just couldn't break down the doors, with at least two solid penalty shouts going unrewarded. After that performance the referee should be tarred, feathered and forced to listen to a loop tape of the new Candice Night album for three solid weeks. So with time to kill before the coach home we returned to the Hind for the rugby and yet more cider followed by a really tasty (and fairly cheap) Indian meal. It was hard to ignore the bitter after-taste of a narrow, disappointing defeat. But what the heck... I still love an awayday!
Friday 23rd October
I conducted a really enjoyable interview with Tom Keifer before last night's solo gig at Islington Academy. Yes... he *is* that tall! The show was really good. The Academy was rammed full, the bulk of this 90-minute set comprising material dating back to Cinderella's pre-millennial heyday with tracks from 'The Way Life Goes', a debut solo record that Tom has now toured for almost three years.
Keifer has endured some very well documented problems paresis, a partial paralysis of his left vocal cord – before the show he told me that a doctor once informed him he would never sing again… luckily the quack was wrong, though it took multiple surgeries and a re-learning of the entire process. Keifer's larynx required some time to warm up, and I could've done without those iffy encore cover versions, but the acoustic treatment of the big ballad 'Don't Know What You've Got ('Til It's Gone)', delivered with a big electric finish, was among the show's many highlights.
Here's what he played: 'Bad Seamstress Blues'/'Falling Apart At The Seams', 'It's Not Enough', 'Different Light', 'Somebody Save Me', 'Shake Me', 'Heartbreak Station' (unplugged), 'The Flower Song' (unplugged), 'Don't Know What You've Got ('Til It's Gone)' (semi-unplugged), 'Nobody's Fool', 'Solid Ground', 'Cold Day In Hell', 'Coming Home', and 'Shelter Me', followed by 'It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It)', 'With A Little Help From My Friends' and a final, triumphant 'Gypsy Road'.
Thursday 22nd October
So Blackmore's much-trumpeted 'return to rock music' is definitely happening, then!!!!! There had better be a bloody UK gig, or there will be trouble. Billed as 'Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow', The Man In Black and a –to-be-announced line-up will appear in Lorelei, Germany, on June 17, and two dayes later in Stuttgart. How bloody exciting!
Good luck to organiser David Herron and all of my FB friends on their way up to Nottingham for tomorrow's inaugural Rockingham Festival. Current circumstances here at Ling Mansions make it impossible to leave my kids alone for three nights, but I hope that you all have a ball. Gutted to be missing such a strong bill… I'd have *walked* to Rock City to see Jim Peterik, but them's the breaks I suppose.
Wednesday 21st October
There are times - just occasionally - when I wish that I lived in Germany! Last night Sweet performed a gig in Berlin and were joined onstage by the Metal Queen herself, Doro Pesch, for a great version of 'The Ballroom Blitz'. Footage exists, but for some it won't allow me to post it here... sorry. It's well worth a rummage around, believe me. It really whetted my appetite for the group's winter tour of the UK and I've been surfing around looking at the band's current set-list. Apart from the latter stage, which gets a little too bumblegummy for my taste, it's truly something to behold:
New York Groove
The Six Teens
Love Is Like Oxygen / Fanfare For The Common Man
Fox on the Run
The Ballroom Blitz
Tuesday 20th October
Phew... I just got away with a phone interview with Neil Innes about his Fab Four pastiche the Rutles without having to admit that I don't really like the Beatles. I appreciate their place in the grand scheme of things, but what an overrated band (in my opinion!)
Yessssssss! The Winery Dogs have announced a gig at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire on January 31, 2016. That's a show not to be missed!
My very happy that my retrospective piece on the Tom Robinson Band, which appears in the current issue of Classic Rock (dated November), has been well received. Last night my CR colleague Paul 'Gooner' Elliott posted on Facebook:
If you want to read a really fine and thought-provoking story about a rock group, check out the Classic Rock feature on the Tom Robinson Band by Dave Ling. I have always loved the album Power In The Darkness, but never knew the full context of the era in which it was released. A fascinating story, expertly told.
Coming from a writer as good as Paul, that's a heck of a compliment!
Monday 19th October
What a great gig by Opeth last night at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane - a terrific venue and sensational sound, but shame about some of the crowd. There were so many disrespectful morons, I had to leave before the end (as they returned for their encore, to be precise). What kind of cretin goes to see a group such as Opeth, with a glorious catalogue accumulated over 25 years, and bellows out a request for Skynyrd's 'Free Bird', or worse still 'Freres Jacques'??!! That anyone could think it's funny is just beyond my meagre sense of comprehension. When Mikael Åkerfeldt announced that the band were to a break upon completion of the 'Ghost Reveries' segment of the set, a silly bint behind me roared out: "I'd like to buy you a drink", which caused someone behind her to scream: "She wants to suck your cock". Nobody laughed except the protagonists. It made me seething mad, so I've no idea how Mikael must have felt. I swear to God, had the twat sat directly in front of me actually returned to his seat after the intermission, I'd have lamped him one.
It was such a shame, as Opeth turned in a near-perfect display. 'Ghost Reveries' sounded fantastic, and the show's second half reprised various comparatively unlikely treasures. The set-list ran as follows: Set # 1 - 'Ghost Of Perdition', 'The Baying Of The Hounds', 'Beneath The Mire', 'Atonement', 'Reverie', 'Harlequin Forest', 'Hours Of Wealth', 'The Grand Conjuration' and 'Isolation Years'. Set #2 - 'Eternal Rains Will Come', 'Cusp Of Eternity', 'The Leper Affinity', 'To Rid The Disease', 'Bleak 'Segment)', 'Face Of Melinda (Segment)',' The Moor (Segment)', 'I Feel The Dark', 'Voice Of Treason', 'Master's Apprentices' and that encore of 'The Lotus Eater'.
It's the worst kept secret of the year, and I shall be *very* disappointed if I cannot make it up to Donington Park to see Iron Maiden's spot at next year's Download Festival where they are due to co-headline alongside Black Sabbath.
Sunday 18th October
What an awful, awful, awful result at Selhurst (Is that enough awfuls?!). I was in the bar queuing for half-time Palace Ales when the oaf Clattenberg sent off young striker Dwight Gayle for a second bookable offence. I’m told the decision was debatable but in the cold light of this morning simply couldn’t bring myself to watch MOTD and make up my own mind. Ten-man Palace did a fabulous defensive job throughout the second half but were undone two minutes from time. 1-3 to the visitors. What a sickener. I have no words.
Anyway, I’m really looking forward to tonight's gig by Opeth. The Swedes will play the 'Ghost Reveries' album in its entirety, plus a second set of classics from their 25-year career. Given the magnitude of the evening and the surroundings – the show takes place at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, after ‘production issues’ caused a switch from the Palladium – it’s bound to be more than a bit special...
Saturday 17th October
I’ve been up since stupid o’clock for a long day of ale consumption, perusal of records and CDs, and of course The Beautiful Game (which will no doubt be ruined by M**k Cl*****berg as so-called referee). First up... VIP Fair at Royal Horticultural Halls in Victoria.
Friday 16th October
I had a bloody great time last night watching Michael Monroe at the Electric Ballroom, though regrettably the same cannot be said of the support act (well okay… Hardcore Superstar were co-headliners, if we canna be pedantic). Click here for my report, posted at the Classic Rock webite.
Twisted Sister have been confirmed as one of the Friday night headliner of next year’s Bloodstock Festival as part of the band’s ‘Farewell 1976 – 2016’ tour. Not exactly a favourite haunt of mine – my last trip to Catton hall in Derbyshire was back in 2008 – but it will be their only British show, so long as my usual childcare issues can be resolved I’ll be there with bells on.
Oh, and what a great way to finish the working week. A nice conversation with Derek Dick about retirement, those re-issues, writing books and the upcoming ‘Farewell To Childhood’ tour, on which he will be playing the ‘Misplaced Childhood’ album in its entirety for the final time, on the record’s 30th anniversary. I shall deffo go along to one of the London dates on December 4 or 5. #fishonfriday
Thursday 15th October
I darted back from an early morning appointment with my chiropractor to place a call to Ian Gillan about Deep Purple's latest nomination to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Gillan had been “blissfully unaware of this latest turn of events” until receipt of CR's interview request, having been away on holiday. Given past quotes, I suspected that he would be ambivalent about the subject, and I was right. "Whatever I say will be interpreted as sour grapes," he told me, "so I probably shouldn't say anything... but I'm going to." Read the story at the Classic Rock website here.
Wednesday 14th October
I cannot stop playing 'Courting The Widow', a mesmerisingly prog-tastic album from Nad Sylvan, the singer of Steve Hackett's solo band, co-starring Mr Hackett, Roine Stolt, Nick D'Virgillio, Nick Beggs, Jonas Reingold, Doane Perry and more. I particularly like the quirky l'il ditty about the ship's cat. Check out the album teaser clip here.
Tuesday 13th October
As expected, last night England cruised past Lithuania with an easy 3-0 victory in Vilnius to complete a perfect qualifying campaign – 10 wins from 10. Blimey! Now watch 'em fuck up when the tournament kicks off next summer. It’s as obvious an inevitable as night following day. Yay! A guest list place is confirmed for Michael Monroe (with support from Hardcore Superstar) at the Electric Ballroom on Thursday. It's likely to be my one and only gig this week. I’m really looking forward to this one... the ex-Hanoi frontman's last few albums have been complete and utter belters, and current opus 'Blackout Stakes' is no exception.
Monday 12th October
You know you're an Englishman when you come downstairs, spy your faithful hound wagging his tail, pleased to see you, and find yourself greeting him in rich, fruity, Coverdale-esque tones: "Aaah... good morning Robert, how absolutely splendid to see you, my fine sir". #help! I just couldn't delay it any longer... the central heating is on at last. Aaaaah, that's better! I've just spent an hour tearing out my hair whilst ordering a new 16+ Oystercard for Arnie. Oh look, it's 6pm. Isn’t that past yardarm o’clock? How jolly fortunate. There's another England game tonight... a cider or 27 could well be in order, methinks.
Saturday 11th October
If Raheem Sterling is really worth 49 million quid then I'm a duck billed platypus. During last night's game between England and Estonia I happened to post this opinion on Facebook, and the torrent of agreement kinda took me back. When I suggested that Sterling also runs like a girl, my friend Rich Wilson (a Liverpool fan) was quick to put things right: "No", said Rich, "he runs like Forrest Gump who has shit his pants!" The victim of everybody's ire got on the scoresheet in the 85th minute as Hodgson's men made it nine wins out of nine in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win, but given the standard of opposition and quality of the goal, what can I say except... #overratedasfuck
Friday 10th October
Wow... is it that time of year already? I'm busy selecting my albums of 2015 for Classic Rock and Metal Hammer. #1 is beyond debate - Iron Maiden's 'The Book Of Souls' - but the rest? FM, Thunder, Halestorm, Steven Wilson, UFO, Motörhead, Lonely Robot, Raven and Revolution Saints are all dead certs for my CR list, but let's not forget that there were also high quality new releases from Symphony X, Saxon, Ghost, Spock's Beard and many, many more. Hmmmm... this could involve some brain power...
Aaaaaaah, those were the days. A beautiful bird on each arm, two beers on the go simultaneously and a Nottingham Rock City backstage pass adorning the chest. Anyone got a time machine I can borrow pls?
Thursday 9th October
Wow! Taken at a top secret location somewhere in London, here's a lovely new photo of the mighty Heep with former members Ken Hensley and Lee Kerslake in rehearsals for the upcoming reunion gig in Russia. It makes me *really* wish that I was going along on October 15. In a recent statement, Mick Box called the event "an exciting one-off", so who knows whether it will be repeated? Adds the guitarist: "This will be a night full of classic Heep music, a night full of emotion, and a very, very special night for the fans! 'Appy days!"
How awesome: With his Royal Albert Hall show now sold out, ex-Supertramp man Roger Hodgson has announced an additional gig, at London's Palladium, 24 hours earlier (April 28, 2016). The Palladium holds just 2,286 people – half as many as the RAH. It wouldn't be the most intimate show I've seen from Hodgson, in August 2000 he played a one-man promo showcase for his 'Open The Door' album at the comparatively miniscule Talk Of The Town in London, but that's by the by… I really hope I can get a ticket for the Palladium!
Wednesday 8th October
As I type, I'm enjoying a melodic rock/AOR-filled afternoon, writing my pink & fluffy column for the November 4 issue of Classic Rock. As usual, there's *way* too much to include - five albums is the maximum that the format allows. Very frustrating. It took a while but I've narrowed down the contenders. Under the microscope we have... Escape Music's Naked, fronted by the estimable Peter Sundvall and with keyboard arrangements from Alien's Tony Borg; the UK's own Corvus; 'State Of Rock' by COP, comprising three members of the cult Swedish favourites Grand Illusion; 'Elefanté' by the BulletBoys, and best of the lot, 'Unity', an exhilarating sophomore set from the Swedish songstress Martina Edoff, backed by the instrumental members of H.E.A.T. and including songs co-penned with Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse/W.E.T.), Ammunition's Åge Sten Nilsen and Matti Alfonzetti of Skintrade. It's a case of air keyboards a-go-go here at Cheateau Ling!!!
Wednesday 7th October
Back to the Borderline as Biters, a spiky-topped, leather jacket-clad "punk 'n' roll' foursome from Atlanta, Georgia, rolled into London as part of their first headlining jaunt around this country. I don't mind admitting, I was a bit late to the Biters party. The band have been nominated in the Best Newcomer category at this year's category at the Classic Rock Awards, and talking of their full-length debut CR purred: "If anyone's going to bring the good times back, you'd do worse than to put your money on Biters."
It's easy to see why they've got people talking. Not only does the music kick serious amounts of ass but the fella entrusted to sell it, Tuk Smith, is a natural born motormouth of a frontman, prefacing the songs – sometimes interrupting them – to compliment audience members on their facial hair or in order to praise a cool band T-shirt, but more likely to relate wide-eyed redneck tales of depravity and excess. 'The Kids Ain't Alright', for instance, was dedicated to Smith's sister, "who has three babies by three different daddies, no job and smokes a shit-ton of weed." According to the tale, his sis got her one-year-old baby son so stoned on weed that he couldn't stop eating pudding. Cue the intervention of stepdaddy Rick who produces a pistol, holds it to the sister's head and threatens to pull the trigger. Her response: "Zero fucks given". "So my stepdad ripped the door off its hinges and kicked my sister out of the house and now she's on welfare, that's why I wrote this song," he explained to an aghast audience. Let's save the story about visiting a crack den with the notorious Uncle Alvin for another day, shall we?
Towards the end, Smith took a stage dive into the front rows and ended up dangling above them from a pipe. Yeah, it was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it type of a show. At times the lack of originality was quite comical, their inadvertent covers of 'The Boys Are Back In Town' (AKA 'So Many Nights') and The Cars' 'My Best Friend's Girl' (revised as 'Melody For Lovers') almost left me rolling around the floor with laughter. I mean… really?!? But at least they were honest enough to include a *real* version of Lizzy's 'Cowboy Song' during the encore. So, yeah… it was extremely good. Biters are a fiery, charismatic band and I will deffo be seeing them again.
Tuesday 6th October
After last week's gallivanting, I'm planning to take things a little easier. Looks like I've just one gig over the coming days. So I've been catching up on some tellybox. I thought that the conclusion to This Is England 90 was simply superb. A superb, harrowing script, engaging cast and wonderful acting – the series had it all. I really hope that wasn't the final episode. According to director Shane Meadows, it's one of those 'never say never' scenarios'. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
As usual, please feel free to drop by the Playlist and YouTube pages for their monthly revisions.
Monday 5th October
Hahahaha, how brilliant is this? I've just found a photo of myself, Asia's John Payne and Richey James from the Manic Street Preachers reviewing the singles for RAW back in mid-1992 (courtesy of snapper PG Brunelli) whilst squirrelling through a pile of old magazines. Richey knew that I didn't like his band, the first album of theirs I really dug was 'Everything Must Go', but I recall him being a real sweetheart all the same. I know what you're thinking: After such a traumatic experience it's no wonder that he went missing… don't be so bloody cheeky.
A very happy 65th birthday goes to 'Fast' Eddie Clarke of Motörhead and Fastway fame. The guitarist is one of the cheeriest, most forthright and quotable peeps that I've ever had the pleasure of interviewing. To celebrate, the TeamRock website has just posted two of my stories. Click here and enjoy.
Sunday 4th October
Though the boozing started a little later than usual, it continued way into the night – partly in celebration of Palace's fabulous victory and then, later on, to anaesthetise the ghastly, disbelieving horror induced by another sporting event. AND, NO, I STILL WON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE SODDING RUGBY!!
Let's dwell on the positive, my photo shows Cabaye netting from the spot for 2-0 to Palace, returning an abysmal WBA to their Black Country slums. Pardew hands Pulis his arse on a silver platter – justice given the dour, joyless yet admittedly successful football served up so ritualistically by the latter's teams. WBA were the worst side I'd seen at Selhurst during out current Premiership spell, clueless in a tactical sense and time-wasting from the tenth minute. COYP – Eagles up to third!
Saturday 3rd October
I still cannot believe the drunken conversation about a heavy metal version of Strictly Come Dancing that took place after the London gig from Spock's Beard. Are sequins, bullet belts and Lying V guitars really compatible, I hear you ask? Well, Malcolm Dome has been taking tap dancing lessons... true fact. Honestly!
Anyway, as I type I'm back at home, happy to have resisted the lure of the Crobar (unlike Messrs Dome and Beare!), cider-ed up and kebab in hand, after my umpteenth gig by the Californian neo-proggers. I'm pretty sure I've seen Spock's Beard on each of their UK tours to date. More people should know about this fantastic band. What incredible musicianship… what a catalogue of songs… what a good-natured bonhomie they project – the Islington Academy should have been rammed to the hilt, and not half-full. Those that used a feeble excuse to stay away… and I'm talking to you, Nick Shilton… pah, you are beneath contempt.
In Ryo Okumoto, the crazed, headband-sporting kamikaze keyboardist whose name the crowd chanted during quiet moments, Spock's Beard have a truly fascinating character. This evening he had some kind of laptop display that was visible to the audience that revealed the kind of effect he was using – 'choral', 'cello', etc – and its many permutations. I found it fascinating.
Naturally, the two-hour-plus set was dominated by the band's just-issued album, 'The Oblivion Particle' (their 14th in a recording career that dates back to the mid-1990s). I've no objection to hearing so much fresh material so long as it's good, and with Spock's that's just about always the case. Perhaps the only gaffe was the exclusion of 'Bennett Built A Time Machine', which the crowd demanded to hear so loudly that the band threw together a spontaneous acoustic version at the start of their encore. Here's what they played: 'Tides Of Time', 'On A Perfect Day', 'Hell's Not Enough', 'The Good Don't Last', 'Minion', 'A Better Way To Fly', 'Afterthoughts', 'To Be Free Again', 'June' and 'Waiting For Me', followed by 'Bennett Built A Time Machine (Excerpt)' and a half-hour version of 'The Water' that included a snippet of Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition'.
On my way back to the pub for a few post-show swifties with the rest of the fellas, Okumoto was lurking at the merch desk and I couldn't resist having my photo taken with him.
[Edit: After a few hours of kip I'm just about to head over to Selhurst for a vital game against the Baggies. A win would steady the ship. Just for once, I'm giving the early drinking at the Victory Club a swerve. Six pints of cider and a few vodka and diet cokes on an empty stomach, followed by a pitta full of meat, onions and chili sauce, does not a well boy make – especially for a lunchtime KO.]
Friday 2nd October
What a coincidence… an invitation to a tasting of Iron Maiden's extra-strength ale, Trooper 666, at the Crobar, with Gun's gig taking place at the Borderline, just a few doors away and within easy staggering distance. Free booze, live music, and a night out at my favourite watering hole… um, what's not to like?
I'm here to tell you, Trooper 666 kicks like a mule. As I stood at the bar swigging merrily with a gang that included my ol' mate Xavier Russell it was hard to break away to the gig, but I'm glad that I did so. The Borderline was so packed that Malcom Dome and I were forced to stand at the bar… well, that was my excuse anyway!
As Malcolm points out far more eloquently than I ever could, especially after a bellyful of Eddie's evil brew, Gun were on triumphant form. Dante Gizzi, their former bass player, has now grown fully into his role of fronting the Scottish band.
Since the switch I've seen them five, six, maybe seven times? And on each occasion the development is obvious. As Gun quit the stage and prepared for their encore I snuck back up the stairs to see whether the bar tab was still going at the Cro. Though it had long since run dry, my mate Dave Shack, a former journo and record label employee who is now a vital cog in Maiden's wheel, was on hand to supply more liquid refreshment, plus a generous helping of footie and music industry goss. What a great way to end a superb evening. Now all I had to do was navigate my way back to Catford… eeeeek!
Thursday 1st October
Okay… I'll be completely and utterly truthful, I only agreed to attend Rich Robinson's one man show at the Jazz Café out of politeness, having conducted an enjoyable interview together a couple of months back. As Rich had promised during our chat, Black Crowes songs were thin on the ground, two obscure examples (The 'Warpaint' album's 'Oh Josephine' and 'What Is Home?' from 'Before The Frost... Until The Freeze') being the sole selections culled from the repertoire of his former group. According to www.setlist.fm, the show changes each night and depending on the time and place Robinson also does 'Thorn In My Pride', 'Wiser Time' and a couple of others. That's fair enough. My beef wasn't really about the material he had chosen.
At times the excitement levels dipped just a little too far, but strapping on an electric for a mid-set revision of 'Blackwaterside', the Bert Jansch/Led Zeppelin-popularized folk classic, provided welcome mid-set relief. Despite the obvious restrictions of the 'unplugged' format, Robinson's expertise with the geetar shone through, and his covers – 'King Woman' by Buffalo Springfield, Dylan's 'Girl From The North Country', 'Oh! Sweet Nuthin'' from the Velvet Underground and the Little Feat great 'Roll Um Easy' – confirmed what we already knew of his roots.
I had expected a little more chat; some detail behind the music, maybe... during our conversation he had promised "insight into the way that I write, which is on an acoustic guitar", but Rich's persona is just a little too laid back. Was it enjoyable? Yeah, I guess so… for the most part, at least. But would I go and see Robinson again? Um… can I plead the fifth on that?
Aw, bless. Eddie just came out to my office with that beseeching look that he does so well. "Da-a-a-a-a-d". Another pout. "The ticket details of the League Cup game have just been released. They're really cheap; £25 for you and a fiver for me." Shuffles anxiously in the doorway. "It's a Wednesday night, but it is only in Manchester..." God, I love the little blighter!!! He's more Palace barmy than me!!! And I suppose we'll have to go…
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