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.
Tuesday 31st October
I’m bust writing another melodic rock column for Classic Rock. It's Halloween but I'm wondering whether I'll hear anything more horrifying today than 'Blood, Guts & Games', the debut from the former Giuffria duo of David Glen Eisley and Craig Goldy... What a dog's dinner of an album, it's one of the major disappointments of 2017... *shudders*...
Monday 30th October
Well, that was far, far better than I had feared it might be - Steely Dan at the O2 Arena. Well, we say Steely Dan... could it really be so without Walter Becker, who passed recently? I had been worried about Donald Fagen's ability to carry the show alone. Last time I saw Steely Dan, at Hammersmith ten years ago, his voice had seemed to be on the fade. Imagine the joy I felt when Fagen delivered beyond my wildest dreams.
"We are the Steely Dan organisation – a little different than we were a few months ago, but I've got to live with that,” announced Fagen to a crescendo of sympathy and sadness. Larry Carlton had been depping for Becker in the States, but here we got a guy called Jon Herrington… a new name on me but boy did he do wonderful, respectful job, notably on 'Peg' and 'My Old School'.
Fagen complained about only being able to play for 90 mins – "What's the deal with this place? Maybe I'll have a word with the supply teacher” – but despite its brevity the set contained some quite brilliant moments, though sadly there was no ‘Do It Again’, ‘Haitian Divorce’, ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number’ or ‘FM’ (I always think how great it would be if Merv Goldworthy and company were to write a song called ‘Steely Dan’ in response). How thrilling, though, that the show closed with an encore of 'Reelin' In The Years', which was glaringly omitted on both of the previous times that I saw Steely Dan (the first also being at Hammy Odeon in 2000). Is there life after Walter? Amazingly, yes… quite possibly. If Donald wants it, it's there for him.
And what a bloody great warm-up set provided by those Doobie Bros.
You’ve gotta tip the Stetson to any band that can bring the O2 Arena to its fet by purrrring through 'Jesus Is Just Alright', ' Rockin' Down the Highway', ' Takin' It to the Streets', 'The Doctor', 'Black Water', 'Long Train Running', 'China Grove' and 'Listen to The Music'.
Oh, and there was Bill Payne from Little Feat on piano, too - sheer bloody joyousness.
Sunday 29th October
The revival in SE25 continues. Palace equalised against West Sham in the 97th minute during yesterday's clash at Selhurst Park.
Hodgson has got the team playing with confidence once more, and the Eagles deserved their point from that game, should maybe even have taken all three. From my spot in the Holmesdale Road stand, here's where the comeback began – another brilliantly taken penalty kick by Luka Milivojevic. #pumped
Saturday 28th October
Y&T were last night's main attraction at the Islington Academy, but despite the headliners' love of performing extra-long sets I made the effort to arrive in time for a Northampton-based support act whose debut album, 'Swallow', had left me very impressed. Burnt Out Wreck are fronted by ex-Heavy Pettin' drummer Gary Moat who it turns out has a very decent raspy voice that very much suits the AC/DC-ish single entendre of material such as 'Pullin' It Out And Stickin' It In'. The problem was that I just couldn't understand a word the bloke mumbled between the songs. It wasn't just that Moat has a thick Scottish accent, he just seemed so damned... casual? I wanted to cry out: 'C'mon, man, it's a gig and not a bloody rehearsal'.
I’ve been going to see Y&T since their now legendary gigs at the ‘old’ Marquee Club (June 2 and 11, 1982). Since the demise of rhythm guitarist Joey Alves, Dave Meniketti is the last man standing from those halcyon days, but last night’s gig at the Islington Academy was among the very best I’ve seen them play. Year after year they return to remind us how consistent and underrated they are. Meniketti is simply a jewel; great guitarist, the voice is still *incredible*, and as proven by the two-and-a-quarter hour, 21-song set-list (below), their catalogue is a veritable treasure trove. See you the same time in 2018, fellas?
Here's what they played this time out: 'Black Tiger', 'Lipstick And Leather', 'Straight Through The Heart', 'Dirty Girl', 'Eyes Of A Stranger', 'Mean Streak', 'Lay Me Down' and 'Storm' (Meniketti solo tunes), 'Winds Of Change', 'Masters And Slaves', 'Hang 'Em High', 'I Believe In You', 'Contagious', 'Rock 'N' Roll's Gonna Save The World', 'Summertime Girls', 'Barroom Boogie', 'Squeeze' and 'I'm Coming Home', rounded off by: 'Midnight In Tokyo', 'Rescue Me' and 'Forever'.
Friday 27th October
The third and final night of Tom Robinson’s stint at the 100 Club offered a very special surprise – an encore cameo from the band’s original guitarist Danny Kustow on '2-4-6-8 Motorway' and 'Don't Take No For An Answer'. Vocalist/bassist Tom was celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Tom Robinson Band’s classic debut album ‘Power In The Darkness’, reflecting much of its now still-pertinent political content with updated lyrics. “For our next prime minister it seems we have a choice between a floppy-haired scary clown or the reincarnation of Mary Whitehouse in Jacob Rees-Mogg,” he remarked disparaging whilst introducing ‘Better Decade Which Side You’re On’. Tom’s latest group are *way* more polished than the TRB and the latter's acidic bite was missed, but although the angst had been sucked of the tunes their excellence remained barely diminished. Robinson and Kustow had not played together since 1991, and the 100 Club went crazy at the arrival of the reclusive guitar man. ‘Power In The Darkness’ remains one of the all-time great rock-with-attitude albums, and I felt incredibly thrilled and privileged to be a very small part of such a great moment in rock history.
Thursday 26th October
Very proud to say that I was there the night Nashville Pussy came to play in deepest, darkest New Cross, SE14... at the New Cross Inn, to be precise... swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniel's that was the size of a dustbin and kickin' up their usual kick-ass storm. The South (London) rises again! Yee-haw!
Wednesday 25th October
Last night was spent at a jam-packed O2 Arena in London in the company of the colossus known as Metallica! Superb in the round setting, great seats and amazing sound, though a few too many latterday tunes for my personal liking. What a feast for the eyes and the ears. I particularly liked the squadron of moth-like drones that flew up through the stage during 'Moth To Flame' to buzz majestically around the arena before returning from whence they came. They looked more like fireflies to me but Jeez... what an effect! The thought that I first saw those guys at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street (supported by Jess Cox) is now pretty 'kin scary!!
Sunday 22nd October
I didn’t make it up to Nottingham for this year's Rockingham Festival but having seen them at the final Firefest in 2014 there was no way I was going to miss last night's gig by Brother Firetribe, the AOR alter-ego of Nightwish guiyarist Emppu Vuorinen. It took the Finns 15 years to make it to London, but their capital city virginity was popped with a fanatical fervour rarely seen at UK rock gigs. A packed Borderline was very noisy and excitable indeed, and Jeez... weren't some those punters shockingly young?! "Jesus Christ!" roared Pekka Heino as he disbelieving surveyed the scene before him. Lost for words, the frontman simply blurted: "It was worth waiting 15 years just for this."
Understandably, the focus was paced on the band's newest album, 'Sunbound', its seven selections including 'Indelible Heroes', their tribute to the never ending legacies of fallen idols such Lemmy, Bowie, Glenn Frey and Prince, and the intentional Survivor parody of 'Taste Of A Champion', though there were choices from all three of its predecessors. At certain times - and I'm talking about 'I'm On Fire' and 'Heart Full Of Fire'... these guys seem to *love* fire! - they were more Bon Jovi than Bon Jovi, and I mean that in good way. My only problem was the relative brevity of the show - 13 songs in only an hour and ten minutes? With plenty of time remaining before the 10.30pm curfew I wanted MORE!!!!
Saturday 21st October
As part of the group’s 50th anniversary celebrations and for the second time in less than 12 months, last night Stray returned to the Borderline. Back in November, following a storming display from the band’s current line-up, guitarist/singer Del Bromham was re-joined for five songs by the original permutation. Yesterday that total swelled to nine tracks, many of which (including a brilliant ‘Around The World In 80 Days’) had never been performed live before – and this time they had even rehearsed! Looking on from the front rows, the emotion of the participants was quite overwhelming, especially when frontman Steve Gadd gave guitarist Bromham a brotherly peck on the cheek. At encore time, as both incarnations pooled forces for the Iron Maiden-covered 'All In Your Mind', even the barmaids were dancing along. Yeah, it was a fuggin' great night - one of those evenings that reminds you how much you love rock 'n' roll, and why it's such an enduring and powerful force.
Friday 20th October
Mere days after an appearance from Martin Turner's appearance at the 100 Club, Andy Powell and Wishbone Ash were back in London. A handful of the same tunes (‘The King Will Come’, ‘Warrior’, ‘Throw Down The Sword’, ‘Leaf And Stream’, ‘F.U.B.B.’, ‘Jail Bait’ and ‘Blown’ Free’) were repeated though through the prism of very contrasting styles. With a set based firmly on nostalgia, Turner’s band is by far the more melodic of the pair. Powell, meanwhile, has released five Wishbone Ash albums during the current millennium. The Academy is larger than the 100 Club, and on Thursday it was pretty full, with a light show and lots of smoke. Once again the front of house sound was absolutely exquisite. It's a rock show, basically. And presentation-wise it's also a lot more serious than Mr Turner, who is prone to clowning around – endearingly so in my opinion. Powell and company’s main set closing version of the epic ‘Phoenix’ was simply joyous. Each act has plusses and minuses. I find myself wondering why the rival groups of fans don’t just cease their bitching and enjoy them both?
How absolutely brilliant it was to talk to Iggor Cavalera for the first time in almost 20 years of the days of Sepultura's 'Roots'. He lives in London now... after the 'work' was done we spent a while chatting about his adopted footie team; very disappointed to learn that the bloke is a dirty Gooner! It's very disappointing to have to choose between two great bands in London tonite - Stray at the Borderline and Inglorious over at the Electric Ballroom. But with no time machine at my disposal... well, Stray it is. I hope they play this one again.
Thursday 19th October
Last night, six months after their previous show at the same venue, Mount Holly returned to the Water Rats in King's Cross. Now boasting two former members of Silvertide (bassist Brian Weaver having recently joined the band), the Southern Californians were celebrating the news that their debut album, ‘Faith’, is *finally* to be released on November 3. Revealing its contents from front to back, the music was grooooovy, slinky and kinda dark, at times soothingly mellow. Jameson Burt is an expressive and powerful singer, the perfect foil for guitarist Nick Perri's extensive armoury of tricks. For me, the Zep-like 'Barefoot' and 'In The Dark' were highlights of the set, and Perri went walkabout, falling to his knees, during 'Playing Dead'. By the time their YouTube track, 'Stride By Stride', came along Mount Holly were roared home in triumphant fashion by the crowd. These guys need to get themselves onto a decent support tour. I'm not exactly a fan of Rival Sons... but vibe-wise that would be perfect for them.
As I type it's mid-afternoon and I've just got off the phone with Carl Palmer. It's always a pleasure to interview the affable English drummer, the last remaining member of my beloved Emerson Lake & Palmer. Such a gentleman, and those comments about the future plans of Asia?! Wow!
Tuesday 17th October
"Scream for me, Limehouse!" Amanda and I spent our Monday evening at the Troxy in East London for the launch of Bruce Dickinson's autobiography, What Does This Button Do? Dead centre front row circle, beer tokens and a complimentary signed copy of the book, followed a trip to nearby watering hole with our mutual pal Keith Barton. That's my kinda night!
Monday 16th October
Oh dear. Farewell to comedian Sean Hughes. The 51-year-old was a fellow Palace fan. I spoke to him a few times during my days in the Players' Lounge. According to some accounts the Irishan had a dark side and had been living a troubled life. I hope that he was there at Selhurst on Saturday to see all of the smiling faces. RIP, Mr Funnyman.
Sunday 15th October
My Facebook post from Norwoood Junction station said it all: ‘Wilfried Zaha I loooooovvvvvvvve yoooouuuuuu!’ What a Saturday afternoon at Selhurst as Palace notched their first goal, points and victory of the season against the much loathed Chelski. The Eagles finally ended their 731 barren minutes when Yohan Cabaye forced the ball down off his chest, which bounced off David Luiz and into the back of the net off Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta. The stadium erupted! Though Chelski equalised Zaha’s goal proved to be winner. I jogged away from the ground as the final whistle blew and couldn't believe the noise levels... it was as though the World Cup had been won in SE25. What truly unbelievable scenes.
Why the haste to get away? I was due to conduct a dressing room interview with Martin Turner, former bassist/singer of Wishbone Ash, and his fabulous band at the 100 Club. Turner (who, it turned out, is a Chelsea fan... ho ho ho!) was celebrating the 45th anniversary of the timeless album 'Argus', filling the show's second half with the pristine, quintessential joys of a record that fully deserves the description of 'masterpiece'. Before reaching that point the band played a solitary contemporary song - the title cut of Turner's 2015 album 'Written In The Stars', trawling through the early Wishbone years with musical finesse and self-deprecating wit. And with the Ash's original sound man Mark Emery (AKA The Hobbit) manning the desk, the audio quality was mind-blowing.
"We've come here for one particular album, shall we play 'Locked In'?" Turner joked, referring to the and only one dud in the classic-era Wishbone canon. Martin's bass playing during 'Sometime World' was little short of incredible and if, towards the show's end, the voice sometime became a little craggy... well, the bloke's 70 years old. For my money, he did a great job. A four-song encore sent us all home with a smile. On their next UK tour in early 2018 Turner and his band will revisit Wishbone's 1974 album 'There's The Rub' and later in the year, their self-titled debut from 1970 - home of the unspeakably excellent epic 'Phoenix'. Just try keeping me away!
Meanwhile, here's the set-list: 'Runaway', 'Written In The Stars', 'Errors Of My Way', 'Front Page News', 'The Pilgrim', 'Silver Shoes', 'FUBB', 'Time Was', 'Sometime World', 'Blowin' Free', 'The King Will Come', 'Leaf And Stream', 'Warrior' and 'Throw Down The Sword', plus encores of: 'Blind Eye', 'Living Proof', 'Doctor' and 'Jail Bait'.
Saturday 14th October
It's hard to believe that Carl Sentance has been the lead singer of Nazareth for three years. Nobody will EVER replace Dan McCafferty but this latest line-up of the band just gets better, better and better. Last night's gig at the 229 Club in Great Portand Street was pleasingly full, the audience old and surprisingly young and boy did they make some noise as the group barreled through 90 minutes of some of the finest, gnarliest and catchiest hard rock of the 1970s - 'Razamanazz', 'Broken Down Anngel', 'Son Of A Bitch', 'My White Bicycle', 'Expect No Mercy', 'Shanghai'd In Shanghai' and 'This Flight Tonight', slowing things down with the über-ballads 'Dream On' and 'Love Hurts'. Afterwards, over a dressing room ale or two, we learned from bassist Pete Agnew that a new album is on the cards to celebrate next year's 50th anniversary. I'm dying to hear it!
Friday 13th October
If you could only see the grin on my face right now. The postie has just delivered the new expanded edition of Quo's 1982 gig from the NEC Arena (watched by Prince Charles). It's a triple-disc vinyl beauty - 'Forty Five Hundred Times' gets a side of its own - and the package has a sleeve essay by yours truly and a collection of vintage cuttings from my scrapbook. This was among my all-time favourite shows. It's boooooogie time!!! (By appointment!)
Thursday 12th October
Wednesday night was blues night with the wonderful Walter Trout and guest spots from Sari Schorr, Stephen Dale Petit and Innes Sibun (pictured). Great venue (Under The Bridge), very shitty location (beneath the main stand of a truly foul football club), but a wonderful, fun experience. My old pal Mr Xavier Russell was there here too!
Meanwhile, I'm reeling from the contents of a newly arrived press release: Is Francis Rossi *really* suggesting a "full on Quo rock album" in 2019?! And am I alone in being appalled by the fact that they have used Rick Parfitt's birthday for such a dubious, provocative announcement?
Wednesday 11th October
My heart went out to Martina Edoff at last night’s London gig. Having pulled fairly decent numbers elsewhere on the UK tour, the Swede was rightly disappointed by a very small turnout for its closing night. Nambucca, I told her during a short pre-show chat, was totally the wrong venue for her… situated at the top end of Holloway Road and well outside of the capital’s central catchment zone. Matters weren’t helped by almost zilch pre-arrival promotion, and yet the brunette songstress and her band pulled out all the stops for those that found out about the gig and turned up, playing their full show and an encore. Fair play to the gal.
Having seen her blow off the doors at last year’s Rockingham Festival, I wasn’t gonna miss this – crap location of otherwise. Sure enough, the set-list contained just about all of her newly issued and rather excellent Jona Tee (H.e.a.t keyboardist)-produced third album ‘We Will Align’ – among them opener ‘Turn Our Pages’, ‘Alive’, ‘Champions’, ‘Lay Down Your Arms’, ‘I'm Invincible’, ‘Truth Came Knocking’, ‘Set You Free’ and the encore of ‘Alive’ – plus catalogue selections that included ‘Unity’ and an utterly irresistible ‘World Has Gone Mad’. Her sound is a glacial mix of Scandi-AOR and mild but decidedly kick-ass heavy metal influences, and having played a back up role to some very big names in the past, Martina’s vocals were absolutely stellar from start to finish. She’s really got what it takes; I hope and pray that Edoff comes back for another, better publicised run, though in all honesty I couldn’t blame her if she decided to cut her losses and stay home instead.
Tuesday 10th October
Really sorry to hear this news about Al Fritsch. The lead singer of Drive, She Said. I only ever met Al the once - we shared a joke in a lift on the way to a Firefest after-show party in 2009 - but I was a massive fan of Drive, She Said. He will be much missed. Here's one of DSS's very best.
Monday 9th October
Classic Rock wanted to know my ten LPs of 2017. Unable to limit it to ten, I gave them my Top 20:
1. Cats In Space – 'Scarecrow'
2. Lionheart – 'Second Nature'
3. H.e.a.t – 'Into The Great Unknown'
4. Big Big Train – 'Grimspound'
5. Black Country Communion – 'BCC IV'
6. Mr Big – 'Defying Gravity'
7. Black Star Riders – 'Heavy Fire'
8. Eclipse – 'Monumentum'
9. Hawkwind – 'Into The Woods'
10. Art Nation – 'Liberation'
11. Pride Of Lions – 'Fearless'
12. Riverdogs – 'California'
13. Deep Purple – 'InFinite'
14. LA Guns - 'The Missing Peace'
15. Inglorious – 'Inglorious II'
16. Cheap Trick – 'We’re All Alright!'
17. Vain – 'Rolling With The Punches'
18. Sparks - 'Hippopotamus'
19. The Lemon Twigs – 'So Hollywood'
20. Anathema - 'The Optimist'
Saturday 7th October
It's Saturday night and the South is rising again at Tufnell Park in North London with most of the usual gig-going suspects and those ever-wonderful Kentucky Headhunters - plus a guest appearance from Aaron Keylock on 'Going Down'. Yeeeeee and indeed Hawwwww!!!! (Something tells me my head will hurt in the morning).
Friday 6th October
Amanda and I are back at our favourite pizzeria on the South Bank, scene of our first date, to celebrate a month since she moved in. Cheers!
Thursday 5th October
Yippeee! It's absolutely tipping it down here in Catford but inside my office it’s another day of midsummer melodic rock bliss. Collating a melodic rock column for the December issue of Classic Rock (yes, at this time of year we work that far ahead!), I'm busy sampling the delights of the newies from Heaven And Earth, Revolution Saints, Pink Cream 69, Sweet & Lynch, Steve Walsh, Jeff Scott Soto and Babylon AD among others, plus Target’s unreleased third album.
I'm also remembering the late, awesomely great Brian Connolly on his birthday. He will never be forgotten here in London SE6. Here's one of his finest moments.
Wednesday 4th October
As a follower of Alter Bridge since their earliest concerts in the UK, I was thrilled to be invited along to the last of the band's two sold-out orchestral shows at the Royal Albert Hall (thanks Kirsten!) Reviews of the first show had been little short of ecstatic but, somewhat bafflingly, it took quite a while for the sound team to balance the band's hard rock bombast with the pomp and circumstance of the 52-piece Parallax Orchestra. Although I had purposely stood right by the mixing desk Mark Tremonti's guitar was virtually inaudible for a large chunk of the first set and during the opening three or four songs I began to harbour some pretty massive doubts over Alter Bridge's ability to make this work. Judging from the grumbles around me during the interval, I wasn't alone.
And then, after the break - hey presto, welcome to a game of the proverbial two halves. All of the elements were loud and clear. The audience responded by singing along with such force that long-haired conductor and musical director Simon Dobson was forced to turn around and wave his baton at them. The rarely played 'Words Darker Than Their Wings' which featured a jaw dropping vocal from Myles Kennedy, almost tore the roof off this legendary venue and deposited it across the road in Hyde Park's Serpentine. With the orchestra soaring behind him, Myles' one-man acoustic renditions 'Wonderful Life' and 'Watch Over You' were simply sensational, and the final run-in of 'Broken Wings', 'Blackbird' and 'Open My Eyes' was greeted by scenes of lighter-waving and singalong gusto. With 22 songs performed in two hours and 20 mins, even allowing for the false start this was something to behold; the DVD will look - and no doubt sound - bloody sensational.
Tuesday 3rd October
Well, I wish I was being paid a tenner for every time that Airbourne's Joel O'Keeffe uttered the word 'fuck' during that last phone interview. I'd be bloody minted! Hahaha!
Monday 2nd October
Here are the monthly updates at the Playlist and YouTube pages.
Sunday 1st October
I am lucky enough to attend a lot of concerts. As pointed out by my Classic Rock colleague Dave Everley, who sat alongside me in the gallery, Big Big Train’s second night at Cadogan Hall felt like no mere gig – this was an event. On night #1, attended by Tony Banks of Genesis, the band had experienced some pretty severe sound problems. 24 hours later these were all but eradicated, though David Longdon’s voice was a touch lower in the mix than it could have been during the first half of the show.
For those unaware of BBT – where the frick have you been?! Though the band has a more than quarter-century history, their career took an upturn six albums ago with Longdon’s arrival. Live appearances have been few and far between, heightening the sense of mystique. More than two years have passed since their last UK dates, and they seize the opportunity of playing on a bigger stage, with no support act.
Save for a fairly perfunctory drum solo from esteemed ex-Spock’s Beard percussionist Nick D’Virgillio, scarcely a second of their 150 minutes is wasted. A prodigiously gifted seven-piece line-up includes two, sometimes three (Beardfish guitarist Rikard Sjöblom doubles up), keyboardists, and floral dress sporting violinist Rachel Hall, plus a fulsome, fruity five-piece brass section. Longdon – who has come on in leaps and bounds as a performer – adds all-important chirruping flute parts, contributing to a warm, rich and deeply intoxicating palette of sound that, despite the varying nationalities of the players, comes across as quintessentially English.
Impressive back projections enhance the colourful storylines; steam-driven locomotives pound through the countryside to accompany ‘East Coast Racer’ while ‘Swan Hunter’ sees an ocean liner taking shape, forcing a terrace of houses into shadow as it grows. Elsewhere, appropriately, as a precursor to ‘The London Plain’, Longdon reminds us that the song the band are about to perform tells the tale of a capital city – England’s own, obviously – developing around a tree.
Where employed, the addition of brass only heightens the timeless feel of the traditional prog-rock elements, and Big Big Train produce textures of sound that few of their contemporaries would dare to consider. ‘Folklore’, ‘A Mead Hall In Winter’, ‘Victorian Brickwork’ and ‘Telling The Bees’ are all breathtakingly beautiful, often rewarded by standing ovations. With open-air shows planned for 2018, somebody really needs to book them for next year’s Ramblin’ Man Fair. If you’re attending tonight’s final show, for which I expect the sound to be 100% spot-on, you are a very, very fortunate person.
P.S. One very important lesson that I learned today: zumba is not for me. No, sir. I'm never doing that again.