Dave's Diary
This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily
(except after nights of excess)

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Sunday 30th September
Having hauled my ass up to Lancashire for last season's clash with Burnley, I resisted the temptation to do so again this year. The result was identical, Crystal Palace taking the lead (last time through Clinton Morrison, who's still stuck on 99 club goals; yesterday via a sixth-minute Mark Hudson header), only to concede an equaliser and for the game to end in stalemate. The radio commentary suggested it was a fair outcome.
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Saturday 29th September
I'd been dying to see Kamelot for many, many moons. As well as having collected their back catalogue, the Floridian group's latest album, 'Ghost Opera', is a big favourite here at Ling Towers. So it's galling to report that last night's appearance at the Mean Fiddler in London was a gigantic disappointment. Why? Well, their sound engineer had absolutely no clue. The band's most siginificant assets are Roy Khan's stellar vocals and the riffery of Thomas Youngblood, but until halfway through the 90-minute show, both were strangulated to almost nothingness, along with the female backing singer who'd been brought in to enhance the band's more melodic moments. It was a crying shame; the records suggest that Khan is a truly phenomenal singer, with all the effortless range of a young Geoff Tate. In fact, Kamelot did well to complete their performance at all given that stand-in bassist Sean Tibbetts suffered a painful injury right at the start.
"Our bass player has actually broken his leg. That's pretty bad," announced Khan two numbers in (no shit, Sherlock). "They're taking him to the hospital, but we're still gonna do this without bass. Hopefully you guys have got good imaginations". After the band struggled through a couple of songs, Tibbetts was assisted back onstage to join them for the 'Epica' album selection 'Descent Of The Archangel', rightfully receiving an ovation for playing the rest of the show perched on (I believe) the drum-riser. The full Kamelot set-list was: 'Solitaire'/'Rule The World', 'When The Lights Are Down', 'Soul Society', 'Mourning Star', 'Descent Of The Archangel', 'Abandoned', 'The Human Stain', Guitar Solo/Jam, 'Centre Of The Universe', 'The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)', 'Forever', Keyboard Solo, 'Ghost Opera', 'Love You To Death', 'Karma' and an encore of 'March Of Mephisto'.
From my own perspective, opening act Threshold were far more satisfying, romping through the best bits of their current disc, 'Dead Reckoning', like they were the event's headliners. I was overjoyed that they included 'Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams', a song that's destined to be among the very finest compositions of 2007. Stagediving and hitting all the notes, original singer Damian Wilson did an enthusiastic job of depping for Andrew 'Mac' McDermott, who quit shortly before the tour on the grounds that he wasn't earning enough to support his family. If Wilson can be persuaded to stay on with the band, Threshold's future looks very bright indeed.
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Friday 28th September
Although people whose opinions I respect assure me it's excellent, I've yet to hear Fish's latest solo album. On the evidence of the four tracks that the ex-Marillion singer performed from it last night at the Shepherds Bush Empire, '13th Star' sounds reassuringly like The Big Man's best work in many a long year. Fish's banter with the crowd and put-downs of hecklers were almost as entertaining as the actual music, which also homed in on Marllion's now 20-year-old classic album 'Clutching At Straws'. The sound mix was absolutely immaculate, with 'Sugar Mice' and the evocative 'Cliché' (the latter based upon an exquisite solo from chrome-domed guitarist Frank Usher) among the highlights of a wonderful evening. Here's the full set-list: 'Slàinte Mhath', 'Circle Line', 'So Fellini', 'Square Go', 'The Perception Of Johnny Punter', 'Manchmal', 'Hotel Hobbies', 'Warm Wet Circles', 'That Time Of The Night (The Short Straw)', 'Dark Star', 'Sugar Mice', 'Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors', 'White Russian', 'Cliché',
'Incommunicado' and 'The Last Straw'.
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Thursday 27th September
Checked out the Alex Skolnick Trio last night - what a surreal experience. The Pizza Express Jazz Café was a central London venue that I'd never visited before, except to eat at. But its dark basement is well suited to live music, and with the sound of knives and forks clattering in the background, the former Testament/Savatage axe hero ran through some cunning jazz rock interpretations of rock and metal classics, including super-smooth reworkings of 'Still Loving You' by the Scorpions, Kiss' 'Detroit Rock City', 'Electric Eye' by Judas Priest, Rush's 'Tom Sawyer' and the Ozzy Osbourne classic 'Revelation (Mother Earth)'. You'd be excused for assuming that it's all some horrendous gimmick, of course, but the Trio's own material is well worth hearing, especially when they heavy things up a little, as witnessed by the evening's final song, 'Western Sabbath Stomp'.
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Tuesday 25th September
It's hard to believe that John Bonham died 27 years ago today. Wonder what on earth Bonzo'd think of Zeppelin's reunion...?
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Sunday 23rd September
That's a bit bloody annoying, Ratt's UK dates - their first here since October 1990 - have been cancelled, with the band claiming it's more important to write a new album than fulfil a commitment to those who've bought tickets. How disgraceful.
Still attempting to recover from yesterday's splendid victory over Sheffield United (after a dismal run of results, Palace have deserved a little luck; I admit it, the last minute penalty decision was harsh on the visitors), I'm trawling through various magazine cuttings as I pen some sleeve notes for the first two Spider albums, 'Rock 'N' Roll Gypsies' and 'Rough Justice'. In Kerrang! #58, I stumbled upon a very entertaining feature... the stars and their New Year's pledges of 1983/84. Here are a few crackers that I thought I'd share:
• Ozzy Osbourne - "To bite Malcolm Dome's nose off".
• Manowar: "To kill off all false metal" (we're still waiting)
• Neil Murray - "To play as many gigs in '84 as I was seen at in '83!"
• Pete Way of Waysted - "To earn lots of money to buy lots of drugs".
• John Lodge of the Moody Blues: "To work harder so I can get more money to extend my garage."
• Steve Clark of Def Leppard - "To give up all my vices" (ouch).
• Phil Collen of Def Leppard - "To take up all the vices that Steve is giving up" (thank goodness we has kidding).
• Michael Schenker - "To continue to keep myself under control and not drink any alcohol".
• The Killer Dwarfs: "To spread heavy metal midget mania everywhere".
• Eric Martin of Eric Martin Band: "Not to tease Ross Halfin about being one of the Seven Dwarves."
• Steve 'Dobby' Dawson of Saxon: "To have dinner with Mr Creosote".
Uli Jon Roth: "To help change the world."
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Friday 21st September
What a bloody treat. My good friend Paul Newcomb happened to have a spare ticket for last night's Sunflower Jam, an annual bash held to raise funds for a charity of the same name run by Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice's wife Jacky. Last year's inaugural event generated over £90,000 and featured appearances from Robert Plant, Ian Paice and Jon Lord, David Gilmore, Bernie Marsden and Paul Weller among others. Mr Newcomb was in need of a drinking partner and wondered if I'd be up for joining him in a night of rock 'n' roll decadence. He didn't have to ask twice.
Well, come mid-evening I found myself sat at a table at London's plush Porchester Halls, sipping champagne (accompanied by white wine chasers) and indulging in some exquisitely-prepared nosebag. Up on the stage the house band was rotating an obscene amount of talent that included Paice, Lord, Roger Glover - yes, three-fifths of Deep Purple - plus Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzarena, Gary Moore and lead vocalist Linda Lewis, who belted her way through Ike & Tina Turner's 'Nutbush City Limits' with aplomb.
Moore then took over the stage for his own set, still backed by Glover and Paice, before Status Quo trooped on for their own mini-performance, running through 'Caroline', 'Roll Over Lay Down', 'Down Down' (which is exactly where the drinks were going), 'Whatever You Want' and a triumphant 'Rocking All Over The World'. By this point, I'd lost all pretence of decorum and Mr Newcomb and I were boogieing away like loons while other less inebriated souls danced around thir handbags or looked on in amusement/disgust. It was an incredibly enjoyable evening for a great cause and I now owe my esteemed (or, in this instance, well and truly 'steamed') amigo the mutha of all favours.
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Thursday 20th September
I witnessed a little piece of history last night at the Underworld when Ginger of the Wildhearts joined guitarist Warner Hodges, bassist Kenny Ames and drummer Fenner Castner - better communally known as the instrumental players of Jason & The Scorchers - for a set of some of the celebrated US cowpunk band's finest songs (under the guise of Ginger & The Scorchers, natch). I won't pretend to be a huge fan of the nomally Jason Ringenberg-fronted outfit, though I have picked up three or four of their albums from the cut-out bins. Besides an encore cover of Creedence Clearwater's 'Fortunate Son', I had no trouble in recognising 'Lost Highway', 'Help There's A Fire', 'Shop It Around', 'Golden Ball And Chain', 'Crashin' Down', 'I'm Stickin' With You', 'Harvest Moon' and 'White Lies'. Ginger's assertion that the show would be "an evening's entertainment you won't forget in a hurry" was right on the money - and then some.
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Wednesday 19th September
Being at Selhurst Park last night felt a bit like attending a pantomime. With visitors Coventry City managed by a certain Iain Dowie, and their squad including more ex-Eagles players than is advisable, the game was punctuated by boos whenever The Elephant Man walked down the touchline or the likes of Borrowdale or Adebola received the ball, then resounding cheers as the spherical object came to Dougie Freedman. The latter was ironic as after Palace weathered an early storm to take the lead, Freedman was guilty of several glaring misses that would've sealed the game. With no substitutions being made, a visibly tiring CPFC appeared to sit back and invite the visitors onto them as the clock ticked down, resulting in an inevitable 87th minute equaliser that they simply didn't deserve. Everybody in the ground could see it looming, so why didn't Taylor? Sick as the proverbial parrot I exited thinking, 'I could've gone to see Kip Winger or Alter Bridge tonight, and I chose this?' Then again, my mood had become particularly sombre even before leaving home after learning of the death of Tigertailz bassist Pepsi Tate from pancreatic cancer. Pepsi was just 42 and, in my limited experience, one of the good guys. Dowie may or may not be a despicable, lying traitor. Peter Taylor quite probably is a useless manager that deserves the chop. At the end of the day, there are more important things in life.
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Tuesday 18th September
Encouraging reports emanate from the rehearsals for Van Halen's reunion tour. An old friend of Edward and Alex, Toto's Steve Lukather was moved to proclaim: "I had a fucking tear in my eye. They are ba-a-a-ack! If this ain't the rock 'n' roll event of the year then I'll be your fucking septic tank salesman!" Some days earlier, Scott Ian had posted with similar enthusiasm after witnessing another bout of preparation. "Finally... a real full-blown arena rock act!" trumpted the Anthrax guitarist, adding: "It's like listening to the soundtrack of America since 1978. The kings are back!". I've watched some of the YouTube footage that's out there and... well, something seems to be missing. I guess you've gotta be there to take it all in.
One thing that did stop me in my tracks is the new album from Down, the New Orleans supergroup featuring members past 'n' present of Pantera, COC, Crowbar, Superjoint Ritual and more. 'III: Over The Under' is nothing less than a monumental Southern-friend sludgefest. Buy or die on September 24.
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Monday 17th September
Curtailing a weekend away with the family, I zoomed back to London to attend yesterday's world premiere of Tarja Turunen's new album, 'My Winter Storm', followed by a press conference from the former Nightwish frontwoman. Given that Turunen made negligable contribution to Nightwish's creative process, I was pleasantly surprised by the eight tracks that were played (Tarja explained that the finished album will contain 14 songs, nine of which she co-wrote - one called 'Oasis' being entirely self-penned). Sadly, her version of Alice Cooper's 'Poison' wasn't available to be played, but Turunen's two-and-a-half octave voice remains bewitchingly unmistakable. 'Lost Northern Star' and 'Ciarán's Well' were both far heavier than expected, 'Sing For Me' an epic-sounding mesh of opera, symphonic-pop and soft-rock, but more appealing than that description might sound. The song Tarja wrote on her own, 'Oasis', is blissfully serene; clear and refreshing as an alpine valley. I'll be truthful, some of what was played sounded non-descript and forgettable, missing the hooks that Tuomas Holopainen integrates into Nightish's music with such apparent ease. But the highs were well worth the less inspirational parts.
The question and answer session that followed wasn't too illuminating. Along with representatives of several fanzines, a group of readers of another UK rock mag had joined the grilling. So I can die happy knowing which type of shoe Tarja would like to be reincarnated as (**sighs deeply**). Alas, despite confirming that she has heard one song from Nightwish's new album, 'Dark Passion Play', Turunen stubbornly refused to divulge her opinion of it, even professing innocent unawareness of 'Bye Bye Beautiful', the song that Holopainen wrote about her sacking from the group. Did I believe her? Hmmmmmm. Not really. But in a way, whilst its lyrics seem unconnected to the controversy, Tarja's own incredibly beautiful song 'I Walk Alone' might be interpreted as the perfect response. I did manage to tease some interesting comments from her in a one-on-one interview that took place once the gathering had dispersed (look out for them in an upcoming issue of Classic Rock), but it was a bit like getting blood from a stone.
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Sunday 16th September
Eldest son Eddie and I sat through yesterday's mundane game between two incredibly average Fizzy Pop League football teams, Norwich and Crystal Palace. Frustratingly, the only goal went to the home side, leaving the travelling Eagles faithful singing "We're shit and we know we are" and the club stranded one place above the relegation zone. Something's gotta change - and fast.
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Saturday 15th September
In harsh contrast to last Saturday, yesterday wasn't a good day to be an English sports fan. After Kevin Pietersen told the Australians he would like to "humiliate" them in their ICC World Twenty20 clash, the batsman's words were stuffed down his throat in no uncertain style, the Convicts registering an eight-wicket victory. Then, in the evening, England were annihilated 36-0 by South Africa in the Rugby World Cup. 'Embarrassed' isn't the word. My beloved Palace have an away fixture at Norwich, a team with an almost identical record as us: one win, one draw and two defeats. Manager Peter Taylor told the South London Press last week: "At the moment, we are a team of passers, instead of a team of dribblers." He's fooling himself. We're a team of tossers and journeymen. Anyway, despite that previous statement I'm off shortly to Sparrow Road...
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Friday 14th September
The BBC is reporting that 20 million fans have logged on to claim tickets for Led Zeppelin's reunion gig - it's hardly a surprise, is it? So there are 22,000 tickets up for grabs, and the registration process closes at midday on Monday. Hmmm, sounds like I'll be at home watching the Led Zeppelin DVD with a few cans on November 26. On a positive note, Harvey Goldsmith is refusing to rule out the possibility of a tour. "You have to take it one step at a time," says the promoter. "Obviously there's frustration for all the fans who can't get tickets. I hope [the band] does something else because they're really enjoying it, and because this show is fantastic."
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Thursday 13th September
So the much-discussed Led Zeppelin reunion is now confirmed. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham's son Jason will attempt to wind back the years for the benefit of 22,000 lucky fans at a charity show in London on November 26, with tickets distributed by raffle. The website went into meltdown after Harvey Goldsmith's press conference, but I was able to make my own application at 7.30am today - not that I stand a snowball in hell's chance of getting in. But you've gotta try...
To be honest, I'm amazed that I could even type my name and address this morning. With England playing Russia last night in a vital Euro Championships qualifying match - and winning 3-0 - I drank enough cider to anaesthetise a small family of grizzly bears. The flags are still up all over the house, and there are peanuts and bits of broken glass on the floor from the pint that managed to slip out of my hand. What a bloody marvellous result. But what a skull-fuck of a hangover. As I told my puzzled son Eddie this morning, it's worth the suffering when you win...
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Tuesday 11th September
One of the coolest things about having your own website, and writing for two heavyweight magazines, is that people surf by and offer you all sorts of free stuff. I could only manage a couple of chapters of William Irwin's unfathomable Metallica And Philosophy: A Crash Course In Brain Surgery, but I've higher hopes for Defenders Of The Faith, an unofficial book on Judas Priest written by UK scribe Neil Daniels. A cursory flick-through reveals plenty of quotes lifted from my own interviews with the band, including KK Downing's 2001 humdinger: "I can state categorically that Rob Halford will never sing with this band again, because he doesn't fucking deserve it."
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Sunday 9th September
What a weekend! Music Convention North East (see Friday's diary) was very interesting, addressing quite a few subjects that new hard rock/metal bands must address if they're to forge any sort of career - making demos, playing gigs, hiring a manager, finding a label, approaching the press, touring, etc. I learned about some things that I'd rarely considered before. After a bite to eat and watching two respectable local bands (Exitbyname and Massacre On Broadway), I retired to the hotel bar with Dave Thorne, Eric Cook and Eric's brother/Demolition Records colleague Ged to sink some vodka and recount a few old war stories. Ged took great pleasure in reminding me of the time when, back in the late 80s, I accompanied his band Atomkraft on a trip to Poland and got arrested for being drunk and disorderly after... ahem... mistaking a police car for a taxi and attempting to climb into it.
Yesterday saw England playing three crucial sporting fixtures; football, rugby and cricket. The law of averages had suggested that we'd win at least once, so I'd booked myself onto an early train home and ordered an alarm call for 6.30am. Alas, I didn't get to my hotel room till 4.30 on Saturday morning... skulking into Catford in a tragically sleepless and hungover state. The only sensible course of action was to drink a lot more; then cheer like a loon as England's cricketers sealed a comfortable seven-wicket triumph over India to win the series, then imbibe more as Shaun Wright-Phillips, Michael Owen and Micah Richards put Israel to the sword, and finally, finish off the empties as England scraped past the part-timers of USA with that other, oddly-shaped ball in the first round of their attempt to retain the Rugby World Cup. The latter looks a vain hope, but three nil to the Ingerland anyway... I'll have another pint of cider, plus a cherry brandy chaser please.
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Friday 7th September
Very shortly I'll be heading off to be a guest speaker at the Music Convention North East. My fellow waffle merchants include former Mercury/Vertigo Records big cheese Dave Thorne (who now manages Arch Enemy) and current Demolition Records boss Eric Cook, the poor soul who used to be in charge of getting Venom into the same room together, then keeping them there without killing each other. The train journey to Stockton-on-Tees is quite a haul, so it's terrific timing that the postman has dropped off a weighty, six-disc Emerson Lake & Palmer boxed set titled 'From The Beginning', plus four solo re-issues from Peter Hammill (1981's 'Sitting Targets' through 'And Close As This' in 1986).
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Thursday 6th September
Well done Michael Anthony, who's biting his lip and responding with dignity to questions about Van Halen's decision to reunite with Edward Van Halen's 16-year-old son on bass. Despite learning of his exclusion via the internet like the rest of the planet, Anthony has gone on record as stating: "Wolfie is a great kid, so don't judge him too harshly. I'm sure he'll do just fine!" What a gracious fella.
P.S. Some new Ask Daves have just gone up - sorry about the delay in replying.
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Tuesday 4th September
Editor Bruce Mee has kindly mailed me the latest issue of Fireworks magazine, which contains a lovely interview with Paul Gilbert. The former Racer X/Mr Big guitarist has always been refreshingly modest in my own experience, and writer Mónica Castedo-López presents him in the same flattering light. Given a platform to say whatever he likes at the story's end, Gilbert doesn't resort to lamely plugging a latest CD but replies: "Please buy 'Go For What You Know' by Pat Travers and 'Bridge Of Sighs' by Robin Trower, they are the great albums that most of the modern heavy metal kids don't know. I got so much of my style from those two records." A good point, well made.
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Sunday 2nd September
I'm still smarting from yesterday's capitulation to Clowntown Pathetic. To come out second best in a local derby is never pleasant, but for such a game to be decided by a solitary Keystone Cops-style goal is utterly infuriating. And that's before we get into the visiting players rolling around and faking injures, consistently getting away with climbing over our players in ariel challenges and the two clear-cut penalties that the so-called referee failed to award in Palace's favour.
On a happier note, a new package from Rock Candy Records arrived whilst son Eddie and I were suffering at Selhurst. The return of Dante Bonutto and Derek Oliver's splendid re-issue label is a wonderful thing. The three newies are Zodiac Mindwarp's full-length debut, 'Tattooed Beat Messiah', 'The Language of Thieves and Vagabonds' by The Throbs and, best of all, the self-titled album from the Sea Hags.
This afternoon I nipped into central London and hooked up with my old pals Steve Overland and Pete Jupp for an enjoyable chat about FM's appearance at the Firefest. After 12 years away, the duo have been pleasantly shocked by the response to their reunion and whilst they were understandably cagey about the current bout of activity leading to an album or perhaps some further live work, it wasn't something they were ready to rule out. It all depends on how much they and the audience enjoy the gig in Nottingham on October 27.
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Saturday 1st September
The latest Playlist and some new Quotes have been added to the relevant pages. The Alice Cooper ones come from an hilarious interview that appears in the current issue of Classic Rock.
On Friday I sat glued to Sky Sports News as English football's transfer window finally slammed shut, and whaddya know? We managed to offload the hapless Shefi Kuqi onto Fulham, until January (on loan, at least). Craven Cottage boss Lawrie Sanchez must've been on the wacky backy, that's all I can assume. The Eagles actually signed another loanee player of their own.
Manchester City's Paul Dickov is a dirty bugger that I've always despised in games against us. Probably something to do with the small man synrome. To be honest, I'm not that keen on seeing him in a red and blue shirt, but will reserve judgement until I've seen how the 34-year-old performs. The Palace bulletin board was a hive of activity as the clock ticked towards midnight, arguably the most astute posting of the night coming in the Dickov thread. It read: Are we now offically a donkey sanctuary? Um, perhaps so. Eey-aww and out.