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.
Wednesday 31st October
Am I alone in thinking Halloween a gargantuan pain in the arse? Can it be over soon please? Yours hopefully, Grouchy of Catford.
Monday 29th October
Just conducted a phone interview with Blaze Bayley about Wolfsbane's December UK tour - that could have been very awkward, as a few years ago, after leaving Iron Maiden, Bayley wrote a song about what a complete twat I am (I've never heard said song!). But we had a really nice half-hour conversation with quite a few laughs, especially when asked how middle age was treating the singer and he replied: "Well, I’m not middle-aged. There is no middle age in Wolfsbane, just rock ‘n’ roll age – that’s why people attend our gigs. Come and see us and you will revert to your favourite age in life. We absolutely guarantee that, and we’ll also make you more attractive." 'Twas all very civilised; at the end, he asked me: "So, how are the kids, Dave? One is called Eddie, isn't he?" I'm quite relieved, I don't mind admitting...
Another surprise: My favourite Rush album is 40 years old today... released on October 29th, 1978. Jesus H Christ!
Sunday 28th October
Selhurst Park goes bananas as Super Luca drills a second perfect spot kick past Arse keeper Bernd Leno to level for Palace. 2-2 at FT.
At the time it felt like a well-deserved point... and then TV revealed the blatant handball from Lacazette just before the visitors' second goal. Same old Gooners, always cheating.
And did the ref or any of his officials see the indiscretion? Of course not. FFS!
Thursday 25th October
I just started the working day with a phone interview with this guy. Always a pleasure.
Wednesday 24th October
Take it from me - you won't hear a better live collection all year than this. Five brilliant-sounding discs of It Bites and Francis Dunnery at the very height of their powers, from 1986 to 1990. I 'kin love it!!!
Sunday 21st October
Oh no! I see that Biters have split up, or to be more precise 'gone on an indefinite hiatus'. What a shame. Those guys were great. Fantastic songs and an irresistibly unpredictable offstage presence. They will be missed.
Wednesday 17th October
When Ling met Laing. I'm back at home following a rather lengthy but hugely enjoyable interview with Corky, the celebrated drummer of Mountain. 50 years of great rock 'n' roll yarns and excellent company. This one is gonna be fun to write!
Tuesday 16th October
In the best tradition of The Likely Lads, I managed to avoid to score of last night's game between Spain and England whist I was at Glenn Hughes' Electric Ballroom gig.
Wow... what a wonderful night.
The venue was chocka and Hughes and band played those vintage Deep Purple tunes magnificently.
And then, just when you thought things couldn't get any better, The Voice Of Rock brought on a very special guest - a certain Joe Bonamassa! - for stellar versions of 'Mistreated' and 'Highway Star'.
Sunday 14th October
12 hours on and I'm still coming down to earth after last night’s audience with Punky Meadows and Frank DiMino. The opportunity to stand and watch from mere feet away as Angel’s guitarist and lead singer purred through their set was mind-blowing. Angel had never played the UK and sharing oxygen with the pair generated the same feeling of elated disbelief I’d experienced when Starz broke their UK duck at the Garage five years ago. Could this really be happening?!?
To a lesser degree, it was echoed by seeing Heavy Pettin again. Back after three decades away, only two original members remain but the band’s boisterous spirit carries on. With a tartan scarf draped over mic stand and leaving no rock star shape un-thrown, Hamie led the band from the front, a female backing vocalist helping to fill out an already expansive sound. They wandered away from the set-list, adding ‘Rock Me’ and ‘Shout It Out’ instead of playing a scheduled encore, but the swansong of ‘Hell Is Beautiful’ sent shivers down the spine. And luckily their current drummer doesn't play in his Y-fronts like his predecessor Gary Moat. *Shudders*
Welcomed to the stage by an astonishingly loud London crowd who roared along to every verse and chorus, Punky and Frank began with the pant-wetting strains of ‘On The Rocks’ before going back-to-back with two songs – ‘Wild And Hot’ and ‘Bad Time’ – from one of my Desert Island Discs, the ‘Sinful’ album. I’m pretty sure a bit of wee might have slipped out… apologies to whoever was stood in front of me. ‘Lost And Lonely’, a song from Meadows’ solo album that featured DiMino, and ‘Never Again’, which saw the favour returned, both appeared mid-set. Though the Bowie-penned Mott standard ‘All The Young Dudes’ had appeared on ‘Live Without A Net’, I was a little surprised by its inclusion. However, the rest of the show was filled by one long-lost Angel gem after another.
DiMino looked incredibly elated to be here after all these years, and his voice was far, far better than I’d feared. And of course Meadows simply oozed rockstardom from the very first riff to the last – the show closed with a monumentally pompous encore rendition of the debut album's ‘The Tower’.
Quite simply, if you consider yourself a disciple of the North American hard rock scene of the 1970s and missed out on this wonderful night… well, you'd better have a decent excuse.
Saturday 13th October
Something for the weekend, sir? Now that's what I call a book. Dave Lewis & Mike Tremaglio's extremely hefty new tome Evenings With Led Zeppelin: The Complete Concert Chronology is here. Meticulously, lovingly compiled, it revisits very date and each set-list over more than 500 appearances, from 1968 to 1980, along with adverts, posters, tickets, photos, historical reviews and press reaction of the era. It's a stunning piece of work.
Friday 12th October
Just about to crack open a bottle of vino or two after one of the most trying weeks of my time on earth. England take on Croatia in the European Nations League in an empty stadium as the hosts are punished for their latest bout of flagrant racism. Just for once, it's a shame that the odious Jonjo Shelvey isn't playing in this one - a throwback to his days with Clowntown Pathetic.
[Post-match edit: That was one of the most dismal games of association football I've ever had the misfortune to see. Or maybe the second worst; back in the 1990s I accompanied Malcolm Dome to Selhurst Park to see his beloved Everton play Wimbledon who were squatting at the Home Of Football. A 90th minute shot over the bar from the visitors was the only goalmouth action. This was spookily reminiscent.]
Thursday 11th October
Just home from Primal Fear at the Dome. What a night of high quality, fist-in-the-air Teutonic heavy meta-a-a-a-a-l! Though pressure of work ensured I missed the start of their set, Riot V - the band formed from the ashes of Riot following the death of founding guitarist Mark Reale - turned in a blistering special guest slot. I'm no great scholar of their material (the Guy Speranza and Rhett Forrester-fronted line-ups were always my preference) but after this I'm inclined to dig into what I've been missing. The final three songs, 'Swords And Tequila', 'Warrior' and 'Thundersteel', were pretty spectacular.
The past two decades have seen Primal Fear adopt a simple formula and work it with typically unrelenting German efficiency. Think: two guitars, one amazing vocalist and a rhythm section that steamrollers the listener like a Panzer tank. The proverbial gentle giant, Ralf Scheepers is built like an NFL quarterback with a fearsome voice to match the bodily muscle. The shaven-headed ex-Gamma Ray frontman was, of course, among those considered by Judas Priest as a replacement for Rob Halford and at 53 he still ranks among the best lead singers the genre has to offer. The set featured a healthy crop of tunes from the current album 'Apocalypse', plus a treasure trove of neck-looseners that appeared on their previous 11 LPs. It's hard to think of too many better national anthems to leather and studs than 'Metal Is Forever', but my own favourite was the encore's first song 'Fighting The Darkness', at nine minutes an epic in every sense of the word. It's still rattling around my head!
Here's the set-list: 'Final Embrace', 'Chainbreaker', 'Blood, Sweat & Fear', 'Face The Emptiness', 'Hounds Of Justice', 'The Ritual', 'Under Your Spell', 'Nuclear Fire', 'Eye Of The Storm', 'King Of Madness', 'The End Is Near', 'When Death Comes Knocking' and 'Metal Is Forever ', plus the encore: 'Fighting The Darkness' and 'Running In The Dust'.
Wednesday 10th October
A cowbell-tastic night of classic bluesy hard rock at the 100 Club from drummer Corky Laing and his rather fine backing musicians Chris Shutters, who supplied scorching lead guitar, vocals and flute, and bassist, keyboardist and singer Mark Kikel. In addition to belting seven bells out of his kit, the ever-loquacious Laing entertained us with song explanations and yarns from yesteryear, revealing his part in the inspiration behind Mountain's all-time great ‘Mississippi Queen’ and adding that besides bottling the dangerous euphoria of being on a boat by tugged along by a harpooned whale, ‘Nantucket Sleighride’ is “metaphor for the rock music industry – it’s about getting the big one; hanging on for dear life and going after it.” Like those dragged beneath the waves by the whale, he acknowledged, “some don’t come back.”
Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi, gunned down by his wife Gail in 1983, is among those that fall into the above category. Guitarist/vocalist Leslie West is still with us, of course, but since losing a leg in 2011 hasn’t played on a British stage in almost a decade. So now, seemingly, it’s all down to Laing.
"I still love playing these songs,” Corky told us from the stage. “Thanks for coming out to hear music that's now fifty years old." One thing was clear – Mountain’s catalogue is just too important to fade away.
[PS, For my fellow set-list nerds, 'Sitting On A Rainbow' and 'Don't Look Around' were both dropped on the night].
Monday 8th October
I’ve just finished the final few pages of KK Downing's autobiography, Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest. The guitarist has been criticised for its revealing tone. Some have even called him mean-spirited and disloyal for its comments about band-mates and members of the group's inner circle. Sorry but I don't see it that way. What's the point of writing a book unless the author tells the complete truth as they see it? Downing has always been a bit of a loose cannon and prone to emotional outbursts. When I interviewed him during the band's days fronted by Tim 'Ripper' Owens he told me that Rob Halford "should never sing again with Judas Priest because he doesn't fucking deserve it." At the time, he meant every word but that's KK... he wears his (metal) heart on his sleeve.
I love that the book would divulge his resignation letter including the words: "One of the main reasons I'm leaving is that I've hated you two [Glenn Tipton and band manager Jayne Andrews] ever since 1985." Wow... what a statement. I had to put the bloody thing down, clean my glasses, take a deep breath and re-read it all over again.
Sunday 7th October
After the Newcastle match it was back to the New Cross Inn for Day #2 of the Four Sticks Classic Rock Weekender. Occupying the melodic end of the spectrum, Praying Mantis were always the odd men out of the NWOBHM. 35 years later they still straddle the same divide - offering the very best of both worlds. Fronted by the estimable John Jaycee Cuijpers and driven by those pesky Troy brothers, the current line-up is quite possibly the best they've had since Day One. #pomptastic
Saturday 6th October
Yesterday the mighty Diamond Head returned to South London turf. Back in those halcyon NWOBHM days I was lucky enough to see the group perform at the Saxon Tavern in Catford and Peckham's Bouncing Ball Club. Mixing classics from their heyday era with more contemporary material, yesterday's show at the New Cross Inn was a revelation. Current frontman Rasmus Bom Andersen has injected a whole new fire, and his fine voice also suits the old Sean Harris-vintage tunes down to the ground.
Brian Tatler is one of rock's great survivors and it's wonderful to see him still playing with hunger, style and conviction that would put most young bucks to shame. More of the same tonight please from Praying Mantis, also at the New Cross Inn. Bring it on!! And no, I don't want to comment upon Palace's home defeat to newly promoted Wolves except to say that things in SE25 have got to improve.
Friday 5th October
I've taken a little bit of stick from the AOR anoraks for giving Steve Perry's comeback album 'Traces' 9/10 in Classic Rock. Do I give a damn? Not in the least. It's a great record. Since my finished CD arrived a few days back I have barely stopped playing it. If you want to hear 'Raised On Radio' then play 'Raised On Radio'. Here's Steve's guide to its contents, in conversation with yours truly.
Wednesday 3rd October
Last night was spent at the Union Chapel in Highbury as prog label Kscope celebrated its tenth anniversary. With a cast that included Nosound leader Giancarlo Erra, Glen Kolyadin of iamthemorning, Godtsicks, Paul Draper of Mansun and Anathema, it was a bit of a mixed evening. With most of the acts playing unplugged, well... there's always a tendency for music delivered in such a way to sound earnest and repetitive. And thus it proved. Kolyadin was joined onstage by Steve Hogarth for 'The Best Of Days', who then sat at the piano for two great Marillion pieces - 'Fantastic Place' and 'The Hollow Man'. Headliners Anathema plugged in, and with iPhones illuminating the Chapel like a swarm of celestial fireflies, swansongs of 'Untouchable Part 1' and 'Part 2' were simply breathtaking.
It’s only October but that time of year has come around again. This morning I shall be selecting my albums of 2018 for Classic Rock and Metal Hammer. Frontrunners include Halestorm, FM, Steve Perry, Heep, Ghost, Night Flight Orchestra, The Magpie Salute, Airrace, W.E.T., Ted Poley & Degreed, Ginger Wildheart, Lizzy Borden, Vega and many, many more. It ain't gonna be easy!
Monday 1st October
Well, the new single from Nazareth is out. 'Tattooed On My Brain' features Carl Sentance, who's been with the band since 2015, on vocals and is the title cut of an excellent album. This one is a bit of an earworm and no mistake. Oh, and here's the Playlist for October.