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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Tuesday 30th September
That I was planning to attend a show featuring Pretty Boy Floyd, the BulletBoys and Britny Fox was a source of great amusement to my good pal Jerry Ewing. Certainly, last night’s gig at a sparsely-populated Underworld wasn’t without moments of unintentional comedy. In the interests of parity, each band got to play for half an hour – or that was the plan. Surprisingly, given that Sweden’s Fatal Smile had been added to the bill, it was Britny Fox – once a multi-Platinum band, let us not forget – that went on first. Hindered by a muddy, thuddy sound and the presence of just one original member, Dave Reynolds lookalike bassist Billy Childs, they included a searing version of Nazareth’s ‘Hair Of The Dog’ and ended on a high note with ‘Girlschool’ but they were pretty ropey, to be honest.
In fact, Fatal Smile turned out to be the surprise group of the package. Galvanised by a singer known as Blade – a towering, blonde, bare-chested frontman in the mould of Sebastian Bach and Mike Tramp – their energetic brand of glammy, melodic metal made an instant impact. It was slightly undermined, however, by the fact that Blade suffers from a slight lisp, which doesn’t help when you’re bellowing out a phrase like “We we are Fatal Thmile from Thockholm, Thweden” at the top of your lungs. Nevertheless, I will check them out again when they open for Vince Neil in December. With three-quarters of the line-up that cut 1989’s ‘Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz’ album (only bassist Vinnie Chas was missing), Pretty Boy Floyd were the band of the night by a country mile. Complete with Wrathchild-style chanted backing vocals (All together now: “Cock rock, shock rock!”), frontman Steve ‘Sex’ Summers and company kicked off with the debut album’s title track, purred through Mötley Crüe’s ‘Toast Of The Town’ and a driller-killer version of ‘Rock And Roll (Is Gonna Set The Night On Fire)’ and the bubblegum classic to end ‘em all, ‘48 Hours To Rock’. I was sorry to see the band depart, which is more than can be said of lead-screecher Marq Torien and his BulletBoys, whose interminable headline set was memorable for just two reasons – a cover of AC/DC’s ‘Riff Raff’ and an unforgivable, drawn-out butchering of their own definitive track, ‘Smooth Up In Ya’. There was no version of the first album’s ‘Hot For Teacher’-esque ‘Shoot The Preacher Down’ either… shameful.
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Monday 29th September
I’m almost shaking with rage. That colostomy bag in semi-human form, Eric Cantona, has crawled from beneath his stone not to look back and express regret upon the night in 1995 that he disgraced himself and football by attacking a Crystal Palace fan, but to declare: “I didn’t punch him strong enough.” I was four or five rows of seats behind Matthew Simmons when Cantona leapt feet-first into the stands, having been sent off for a senseless foul on Richard Shaw, who’d man-marked him out of the game. The Crazy Frog should’ve served time, not been banned. Paul Ince, too, deserved retribution for what he did – invite the whole of one whole side of the ground to come and join him on the pitch. You can play the verbal abuse card all you like; I **know for a fact** there was so much noise, Cantona couldn’t possibly have heard a word of what Simmons did or didn’t say. It was just another example of prima donna, above-the-law behaviour. And now he didn’t hit Simmons hard enough?! He didn’t actually ‘hit’ him anyway; it was a brutish, enraged lunge that barely made it over the advertising hoardings. Words fail me. I hope Cantona dies a slow, extremely painful death. The sooner the better.
On a happier note, I’ve just been sent an early set-list for Status Quo’s ‘Pictures: 40 Years Of Hits’ tour, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of their song ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’. That one’s been returned to the show, of course, but I’d given up hope of hearing them play ‘Mean Girl’ as well as several other classics (I won’t ruin the surprise – buy a bleedin’ ticket!).
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Sunday 28th September
My Saturday was very pleasant indeed. Yesterday was spent buying records (at the Olympia Record Fair), then sinking a few jars in civilised company (namely my friends Steve and Jane Hammonds, and Hugh Gilmour), a visit to the Astoria 2 (to see San Franciscan hard rockers Y&T), then a dash home to catch Palace’s televised away clash with Ipswich (which had been recorded on the Sky+).
The Olympia bash is usually excellent. I tend to come home weighed down by 15 or 20 albums but this time I wasn’t able to unearth many bargains. It was nice to finally obtain Home’s self-titled album, released in 1972, which features future AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams and guitarist Laurie Wisefield, later of Wishbone Ash. I also picked up a mint vinyl copy Spirit’s ‘Live Spirit’, ‘Mr Gone’ by Weather Report (really getting into my jazz-fusion!) and a curiosity piece that just leapt out; ‘Electrified Funk’, an album from Wild Cherry of ‘Play That Funky Music’ fame.
I enjoyed the Y&T gig, though after such a long and alcohol-fuelled day I was flagging by its conclusion. “We’re gonna play every song we know, I swear to God,” promised guitarist/frontman Dave Meniketti at the start, adding: “We’ll play for two hours, even two-and-a-half!” In the end the venue’s curfew slashed that latter estimation by 15 minutes, also preventing the band from playing one of their definitive tunes, ‘I Believe In You’. But Meniketti was right; they did play almost everything else you could have wished for, namely: ‘Hurricane’, ‘Don’t Stop Running’, ‘Lucy’, ‘Dirty Girl’, ‘Don’t Wanna Lose’, ‘Black Tiger’, ‘I’ll Keep On Believin’’, ‘Open Fire’, ‘Fly Away’, ‘Midnight In Tokyo’, ‘Lonely Side Of Town’, ‘Barroom Boogie’, ‘Winds Of Change’, ‘Summertime Girls’, ‘Pretty Prison’, ‘Rescue Me’, a blues song that I didn’t catch the title of, ‘Looks Like Trouble’, ‘Squeeze’ and ‘Forever’… phew, that’s exhausting just to type!
Managed to get home, swigging from a bottle of foul-tasting German white wine, without being informed of the Palace score. I was pleased to have registered a 1-1 draw, despite having the bulk of the play and the lion’s share of scoring opportunities. Okay, the Eagles slipped into the bottom three, but what mattered most was the vastly improved performance.
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Saturday 27th September
It still Bites. Yes, I write this in dazed admiration of a quite amazing gig by one of my all-time favourite bands. I’m often quizzed about It Bites’ appeal by those who’ve only heard 1986’s Top Ten hit ‘Calling All The Heroes’. Those inquisitors really should’ve experienced last night’s show at the Islington Academy. With the flamboyant, inventive keys of John Beck jostling for attention with John Mitchell’s soaring guitar work, we are talking about a group that fuses prog, pop, pomp-rock, metal and electronic sounds into one joyously unique bundle. Mitchell, of course, replaces Francis Dunnery in the band’s current reunion, now cemented into place by one of the albums of the year, ‘The Tall Ships’.
“Oh, this is just glorious,” glowed Mitchell surveying the scene after the group had opened with the new album’s first two songs, then segued into ‘All In Red’. They went on to include four tracks from ‘The Tall Ships’; I’d have liked more, actually. The mid-set acoustic break – tying together the intro of ‘Once Around The World’ and ‘Still Too Young To Remember’ – was a nice touch, and just like the last time It Bites graced the Academy (in December ’06) the audience really raised the roof during the singalong section of ‘You’ll Never Go To Heaven’. An 11-minute version of ‘The Old Man And The Angel’ was simply breathtaking. Yes, the band has recovered incredibly well not only from Dunnery’s non-participation but the departure of bassist Dick Nolan for an alleged “lack of commitment”. Formerly a backing musician for Rick Wakeman, Mike Oldfield and (ahem!) Take That, newcomer Lee Pomeroy actually fits in rather well, his versatile CV giving Mitchell plenty of room for good natured abuse. Sadly, an early curfew scuppered the band’s big encore surprise, but here’s what they **did** play: ‘Oh My God’, ‘Ghosts’, ‘All In Red’, ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’, ‘Plastic Dreamer’, Medley: ‘Once Around The World’/‘Still Too Young To Remember’, ‘You’ll Never Go To Heaven’, ‘Great Disasters’, ‘Old Man And The Angel’, ‘Midnight’, ‘Screaming On The Beaches’, ‘Kiss Like Judas’ and ‘Calling All The Heroes’.

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Friday 26th September
Regular visitors to this page will know that I’m not a fan of the Scala as a rock venue. With its high ceiling, most bands just sound like a booming wall of noise when they play there. Well knock me down with a feather if Firewind didn’t buck the trend with last night’s gig. As you’d expect of any band named after an album by Uli Jon Roth’s Electric Sun, the Greek power metal combo are all about the fret-tastic antics of lead guitarist/chief songwriter/driving force Gus G, but in the likes of ‘Mercenary Man’, ‘Till The End Of Time’ and ‘I Am The Anger’ they’ve some excellent hard rock tunes. Given the reception they received opening for Kamelot and DragonForce I expected a few more people to have shown up – the place was roughly half-full (or, if you’re a promoter, half-empty) – but the show was great; I thoroughly enjoyed it ‘till an encore version of Michael Sembello’s ‘Maniac’ reminded me I had a train to catch and a sock at home just waiting to be darned.
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Wednesday 24th September
My long-suffering postie must have a hernia. A limited edition copy of the new Metal Hammer just dropped onto the mat and almost went straight through the floorboards. Celebrating the return of Metallica, it sports a COVER MADE OF OF METAL (what else??!!), complete with embossed Hammer logo!!! Just 4,000 of these little babies exist, and they look incredible. Included in the new issue of Hammer are my interviews with Greek melodic power-metallers Firewind and my favourite new band of the moment, Finland’s Swallow The Sun.
P.S. Also in the pile of new goodies is ‘Back In The Saddle – Live’, a DVD/CD of FM’s reunion at the Firefest. Have yet to play the thing all the way through, but the sound quality of the audio disc is really good.
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Tuesday 23rd September
Jon Anderson is pissed off, and though I’ve had my differences with Yes’ weasel-like frontman, I don’t blame him. According to a posting at his site, Anderson is “disappointed and very disrespected” that Yes have replaced him with the singer of a tribute band for a US tour that begins in Hamilton, Ontario, on November 4. “With the exception of one phone call from Alan [White, drummer], none of the guys have been in touch since my illness, just to find out how I’m doing, and how we foresee the future for Yes,” moans the singer, concluding that: “This is not Yes on tour...”. Perhaps they should be going out under the name Maybe instead?
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Sunday 21st September
Look… I don’t wanna talk about the football, okay? After the afternoon’s debacle at Selhurst, my spirits needed a drastic elevation. The Wildhearts were just the band to do it. Their 1993 debut ‘Earth Vs The Wildhearts’ is one of all all-time favourite albums, so I’d been looking forward to see them play its in its entirety. With the band steering clear of alcohol – pre-show, at least! – the night turned out to be a complete joy. Seated up in the balcony, with a terrific view and an awesome sound mix, an earful of ‘Greetings From Shitsville’, ‘The Miles Away Girl’, and ‘Suckerpunch’ was just what the rock ‘n’ roll doctor ordered. Er… what’s that you say? Palace lost at home to Plymouth Are Gargoyles?! I clean forgot!
Not only did the Wildies play ‘Earth Vs The Wildhearts’, after a short interval they returned for a whole other hours’ worth of music, running through the album’s singles and B-sides, a whopping 10 tunes. If you expected the quality levels to drop you’d have been wrong. ‘Beautiful Thing You’ is arguably the best song that Cheap Trick never wrote, and ‘Shut Your Fucking Mouth And Use Your Fucking Brain’ is a track that perfectly encapsulates Ginger’s no bullshit manifesto. Having introduced his small son Jake to the crowd earlier in the evening (“He’s in a band called Thunderbike – how cool a name is that?”), the frontman/guitarist ended by namechecking a few people that didn’t make it this far, including the band’s former singer Snake (of Tobruk fame) and 3 Colours Red/Skyclad drummer Keith Baxter, proclaiming: “Thank yourself lucky for every breath that you take.” A nice touch. Here’s the set-list: ‘Greetings From Shitsville’, ‘TV Tan’, ‘Everlone’, ‘Shame On Me’, ‘Loveshit’, ‘Miles Away Girl’, ‘News Of The World’, ‘Drinking About Life’, ‘My Baby Is A Headfuck’, ‘Suckerpunch’, ‘Love You Till I Don’t’, ‘Dangerlust’, ‘Show A Little Emotion’, ‘Down On London’, ‘Girlfriend Clothes’, ‘Caffeine Bomb’, ‘Shut Your Fucking Mouth And Use Your Fucking Brain’, ‘And The Bullshit Goes On’, ‘Beautiful Thing You’, ‘Two-Way Idiot Mirror’ and ‘29 x The Pain’.
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Saturday 20th September
Although I’ve seen them many, many times, all over the globe (Jerusalem and San Francisco being two far-flung examples), it’s pretty hard to credit that Paradise Lost have now been around for two decades. There was no way I would miss their anniversary gig at the Forum, one of my favourite London venues – especially with My Dying Bride and Anathema as support acts. Aware that there are often immense queuing problems at the Forum, I arrived 90 minutes before the doors opened, a move that paid dividends not only due to snagging a dead-centre front row balcony seat, but because three-quarters of the crowd were still outside when Anathema kicked off with ‘Deep’. With doom-death roots long since severed, the Liverpudlians – only two years behind PL in terms of age – now favour a mellifluous, symphonic and deeply warming strand of art-rock that doffs its hat at Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta, Mogwai and Tool. With just the rampant ‘A Dying Wish’ inspiring outbursts of frantic headbanging, it was the shimmering, sultriness of ‘A Natural Disaster’, during which frontman Vincent Cavanagh stepped back to give female singer Lee Douglas the spotlight, that confirmed how far Anathema have come. But for my money, My Dying Bride just about pipped PL to the post as the night’s best band. Certainly, if anyone played a more inspirational song than ‘The Cry Of Mankind’ (from the 1995 masterpiece ‘The Angel And The Dark River’), then it didn’t register with me.
Kudos to the headliners, who restricted their set to an hour and a quarter to give Anathema and MDB a decent crack of the whip. I was surprised and thrilled that they brought back the title cut of their second album, 1991’s ‘Gothic’, though with Nick Holmes refusing to growl the lyrics as they’d been recorded – ditto, to a lesser extent, of ‘As I Die’ – it kinda smacked of obligation. Ultimately, I enjoyed PL a lot, and their latest disc ‘In Requiem’ (from which four songs were lifted) is a giant leap back to the sound for which they’re best known, but this wasn’t **my** idea of what they should’ve played on a 20th anniversary celebration. Here’s the set-list: ‘Hallowed Land’, ‘Remembrance’, ‘Never For The Damned’, ‘Erased’, ‘No Celebration’, ‘Ashes & Debris’, ‘As I Die’, ‘Elusive Cure’, ‘The Enemy’, ‘Gothic’, ‘Shadowkings’, ‘Enchantment’ and ‘Requiem’, with encores of ‘Say Just Words’, ‘One Second’ and ‘The Last Time’.
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Friday 19th September
I'd been toying with the notion of going to see Duff McKagan's new band, Loaded, at the Islington Academy. So the offer of writing a review for Metal Hammer swung the decision. I've interviewed McKagan a couple of times, and I like him; he's honest, talkative and seems a good deal more modest than you'd expect a former member of Guns N' Roses to be. The Loaded gig also gave me a chance to check out The Black Hand, who not too long ago I visited at Abbey Road Studios as they worked on an EP with legendary producer Eddie Kramer (Hendrix, Zeppelin, Kiss). Though the Academy later filled out nicely, just a handful of early-birds witnessed the band's 30-minute display, which was a shame as their earthy, slightly Southern-tinged blues-rock comes with lashings of twin lead guitar. A mid-set rendition of the Free classic 'I'm A Mover' really got the rapidly growing crowd on their side.
McKagan isn't an exceptional singer but his star quality is undeniable and I really enjoyed Loaded, who were previewing a second album (called 'Sick') which drops next year. Things were pretty informal, with a guitar tech sitting in awhile, and various instruments getting swapped. Of their self-penned repertoire 'Executioner's Song' and 'IOU' really stood out, but the Stones-flavoured '10 Years' from Duff's solo 'Believe In Me' was far better than I remembered it, likewise 'Good News', from a mid-90s album by the Neurotic Outsiders (who also featured Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Matt Sorum on drums and Duran Duran bassist John Taylor). The audience went bananas when the band played GN'R's 'Dust N' Bones' and 'It's So Easy', before ex-Damned guitarist Brian James made McKagan's night by joining them for 'New Rose' and Iggy & The Stooges' 'I Wanna Be Your Dog'. Amazing stuff. Here's what they played: 'Sick', 'Queen Joanasophina', 'IOU', 'No More', 'Dark Days', 'Seattlehead', 'Wasted Heart', 'So Fine', Factory', 'Executioner's Song', 'Good News', '10 Years', 'Translucent', 'Dust N' Bones', 'It's So Easy', 'New Rose' and 'I Wanna Be Your Dog'.
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Thursday 18th September
The postie just delivered a nice haul of fresh goodies, including finished copies of three Pat Travers albums – complete with sleeve notes from yours truly. To the best of my knowledge ‘Radio Active’ (1981), ‘Black Pearl’ (1982) and ‘Hot Shot’ (1984) have never been available on CD before, so it’s great to own them on that format at last. The first-named pair are also really good; better than ever in fact after a small tweaking of the sound, though PT had gone off the boil a little by the time he got to ‘Hot Shot’. Also added to the ‘in’ pile is Trivium’s newie, ‘Shogun’, and a deluxe, five-disc collector’s edition of Dream Theater’s ‘Chaos In Motion 2007-2008’ concert DVD. Can’t wait for the weekend to settle down and absorb the latter.
Timing-wise the arrival of this cool stuff was absolutely perfect, as today I’m a little downhearted after spending last night watching Palace’s reserves throw away a 2-1 lead to (ahem) Gillingham’s second-string. I was very taken by French-born youngster Leandre Griffit, whose determined contribution helped The Eagles to control the game with ease but never quite kill it off. So you knew that with five minutes to go, a suckerpunch was wholly inevitable. And, yes, it ended up finishing 3-2 to the visitors. Typical f@@@ing Palace!!!!!!!!!!
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Wednesday 17th September
It’s tough getting to Palace’s away matches in midweek, especially when we’re closing an issue of Classic Rock, so during the build-up to last night’s tricky encounter with Wolverhampton Wanderers I sat in my office and kept busy with a news surf, pint of cider before me and the volume cranked up for Whitesnake’s 30th anniversary triple ‘best of’ (Coverdale’s historical notes are extremely entertaining, though given the pivotal role that Geffen Records’ John Kalodner played in his US superstardom during the late-80s, you’d have thought DC might’ve spelled his name correctly).
By kick-off I’d moved onto the settee and tall glasses of vodka; a wise call as top-of-the-table Wolves hit the back of the net after just 19 seconds. BUGGERATION! However, eldest son Eddie and I went mad as Paul Ifill inspired a refill, levelling after 30 minutes. Alas, with all of our already depleted frontline ruled out through injury, you sensed that Wolves would win if/when they got their noses ahead for a second time, and so it proved on the hour. Molineux-mad Glenn Hughes was at the game and emailed to say how highly he rated Palace’s Man Of The Match, 17-year-old midfielder Kieran Djilali, whose cross set up Ifill’s goal on his first league debut, so I suppose that’s something. But CPFC still languish towards the table’s basement, and I really don’t see that situation changing too drastically.
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Tuesday 16th September
Mentally counting the minutes to last night’s Metallica gig at the O2 Arena, I’d been having a really good day till the in-box pinged. ‘Pink Floyd founder Rick Wright dies at 65’ said the email. Jeezus, I didn’t even know he was ill. I never actually met Wright, but I’m a great admirer of his underrated contribution to the seminal band. Had to interrupt work and take Bob The Dog to the park for a while, just to clear my head. Farewell Rick, hope you enjoy that Great Gig In The Sky.
Back to Metallica. My copy of ‘Death Magnetic’ arrived just after lunch; with interview transcription to be getting on with, there was no time to check it out before the gig. In the end, the band played five songs from their new baby. ‘That Was The End Of Your Life’ worked well as an introduction to their two-hour album launch bash, though the O2 crowd was so pumped-up they could’ve got away with playing ‘Humpty Dumpty’. The stage had been set up ‘in the round’, and the sound was absolutely incredible – maybe the best I’d ever heard at an arena show. Safe in the knowledge that ‘Death Magnetic’ had just entered the UK chart at Number One, the band were in fantastic spirits. “This is from the very well-loved ‘St Anger’ album,” grinned James Hetfield before ‘Frantic’, advisedly requesting the crowd put away its mobile phones (“You can call your mum later, there’s no glory in putting up two seconds of blurry Metallica on YouTube”) at the start and simply enjoy what turned out to be a special night. Consisting of Queen’s ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ and two debut album neck-looseners, the encore was so enjoyable that it didn’t occur to me till later that ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ or ‘Whiplash’ were overlooked. Here’s what they **did** play: ‘That Was Just Your Life’, ‘The End Of The Line’, ‘The Thing That Should Not Be’, ‘Of Wolf And Man’, ‘One’, ‘Broken, Beat And Scarred’, ‘Cyanide’, ‘Frantic’, ‘Until It Sleeps’, ‘Wherever I May Roam’, ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’, ‘The Day That Never Comes’, ‘Master Of Puppets’, ‘Blackened’, ‘Stone Cold Crazy’, ‘Jump In The Fire’ and ‘Seek And Destroy’.
And my verdict on Metallica’s album? Well, this morning I’ve played it twice. There are some forgettable tracks, but a good half of it rocks my world. I tend to agree with Jon Hotten’s insightful critique in the new issue of Classic Rock: “It has arrested their precipitous decline. They sound like a band again, flawed and human, but united.”
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Sunday 14th September
What a relief – yesterday saw Crystal Palace’s first win of the season… a fairly unconvincing 2-0 home victory over Swansea City. But, hey, I’ll take three points however they come.
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Saturday 13th September
How very kind; Canadian author Martin Popoff just sent me a set of his new paperback books, titled Ye Olde Metal. Available exclusively from his website [www.martinpopoff.com], there are four limited, numbered editions spanning the years 1968-1977 , each crammed with ‘story of the album’-pieces on seminal releases from Quo, Sweet, Nazareth, Cactus, Mountain, Trapeze, Boston, Alice, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, New York Dolls, Scorpions, Kansas etc. Have taken a cursory skim, and they look absolutely fascinating.
At the moment I’m still reading The Wright Stuff, Rick Glanvill’s unofficial biography on Palace hero-turned-villain, Ian Wright. I thought I knew a lot about Wright, including the fact that he was rejected after trials with both Scumwall and Shiteon, but I was blissfully unaware that Ian actually grew up supporting the vile, racist scumbags from Cold Blow Lane, also that he raised his sons Shaun and Bradley in the Honor Oak estate – not too far from Ling Towers. The book has certainly brought a few old emotions to the surface; ecstasy at Wrighty’s strikes as a substitute in the 1990 Cup Final (a game I was lucky enough to witness), utter despair when he moved across London to become a Gooner, and the worst kind of hatred when he kissed his Arse shirt after scoring a goal that relegated the Eagles at Highbury on the final day of the 1992/’93 season (among my darkest, most desperate moments as a football fan). After that incident Ian Wright became a pariah, to the point where I wanted him to fail whenever Graham Failure picked him for England. I’m not yet at the shirt-kissing segment, but I hope he has some sort of explanation.
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Thursday 11th September
Revenge is sweet and you join me as I bask in the afterglow of England’s tremendous 4-1 victory in Zagreb. I haven’t felt this satisfied by a football game since the national team blitzed the Germans 5-1 in Munich seven years ago. I’d like to dedicate Theo Walcott’s glorious hat-trick to the two Croatian donuts that insisted upon walking around in the blazing heat of the Sweden Rock Festival draped in flags and scarves, done up like Christmas trees in the polyester of their country’s red and white chessboard strip. Excuse me whilst I burst into a quick chorus of: “And it’s all gone quiet over there”…
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Wednesday 10th September
Yesterday I did two very different interviews. In the morning I went to a Shepherds Bush hotel to meet Keith Emerson for a chat about his rather fine new album, ‘Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla’. Due via Edel Records on September 22, it sees the keyboard maestro returning to his prog-rock roots with a ‘Tarkus’-like 20-minute song called ‘The House Of Ocean-Born Mary’ (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating the ELP connection there, but the album is surprisingly good). Grilling Emerson turned out to be harder than expected, as like many musos of his generation he tries to turn every response into an anecdote, so you end up having to go back and re-ask the question. He was also wearing dark glasses which made eye contact difficult. To be honest, I enjoyed the evening’s phone conversation with ever-quotable ex-Manowar guitarist Ross The Boss a lot more.
There are some amazing goings-on in Yes Land, with the band reportedly recruiting a tribute band singer to replace Jon Anderson, who is suffering from reactive airway disease, an asthma-like condition that renders him unable to tour or record. Benoit David comes from Canadian group Close To The Edge. It sounds utterly barmy to me, though I said the exact same thing about Journey hiring Arnel Pineda and look how that turned out. Meanwhile, a 40th anniversary reunion tour for Mott The Hoople reunion is being mooted on the message board at Ian Hunter’s website. Odd when you consider that as recently as last summer I asked Ian whether the original band would ever play together again and he replied: “In a way it would be a bit like going back to school. You recall it as great, but was it really as good? And seeing a bunch of old geezers doing it would be a bit of a letdown, wouldn’t it?” There’s even talk of the original Angel line-up getting back together… unreal!!!
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Tuesday 9th September
It’s been pointed out that I often begin my post-gig comments at this site with the disclaimer, ‘I had minimal expectations…’. Well, I had **no clue** what to expect of last night’s Blind Melon show at the Astoria 2. Not having heard their reunion album ‘For My Friends’, various questions were buzzing around my mind. Minus Shannon Hoon, the long-since deceased singer who was such a crucial part of the US band, how would they fare with replacement Travis Warren? Would they still play their hits? Equally importantly, after a decade away would anyone still care enough to show up?
But before I get into any of the above, let me reminisce awhile about Hoon, a sometime Guns N’ Roses backing vocalist who died of an overdose in 1995. I was lucky enough to meet Shannon several times, the most memorable occasion being during a trip to Los Angeles for the band’s second album, ‘Soup’, in 1995. We got on swimmingly during the interview, and when it came to having his photograph taken I accompanied snapper Peter Cronin up onto the roof of the famous Capitol Records building in Hollywood. Hoon had obviously done sessions there before and nearly gave Cronin a coronary when he jumped off the side of the building… onto a ledge concealed below, crouching and snickering there till we poked our heads nervously over the side, expecting to see a dead lead singer on the pavement. Hoon had just found out his girlfriend was pregnant and seemed to be loving life (ironic quote from the story: “Lisa and I were initially apprehensive about bring a child into this world, but we decided that not to do it was too selfish”). I interviewed him once more in London and suddenly he was gone, at the age of just 28. What a waste.
Back to the show again: The turnout in London was very impressive; the reaction from a word-perfect audience overwhelmingly positive. Musically, the band were **amazing**, and Travis Warren did a fine job, dedicating a moving mid-set rendition of ‘Change’ to his illustrious predecessor. As a frontman he seemed eminently sincere and likable, and though you’d never describe them as identical, Warren certainly has the same type of pixie-on-helium voice as Hoon. I’d go and see them again anytime.
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Sunday 7th September
Last night England registered three vital points towards World Cup qualification, though they made us wait till the second half before breaking the spirited resistance of their lowly opponents, Andorra (rated 186th in the world, and with just one professional player). Quite rightly jeered from the pitch after 45 minutes, England looked comfortable enough after two early Joe Cole strikes, though the performance was less than emphatic. Here in the UK the match was shown on Setanta Sports, a channel that Ling Towers does not subscribe to. So, accompanied by two friends from Sweden, Stefan Johansson and his lovely girlfriend Anette, I took my boys Eddie and Arnie to our usual pre-match haunt, a working men’s club that lies a stone’s throw from Selhurst Park. There we were met by my old CPFC mucker Kev Denman and his son Jack, for fun, frolics and a few games of darts. Anything to detract from the rubbish being screened on Setanta. Being Swedish, Stefan couldn’t believe that a round of drinks – including a treble house vodka and Diet Coke for yours truly – could cost as little as a tenner. But having watched the game with us, he understood our quest for oblivion. I’m feeling a little frail this morning, I admit.
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Friday 5th September
Girlschool are a band whose concerts I never tire of watching, even though I’ve seen them maybe 40 times from 1980 onwards. Last night the gals hosted a release bash for their 30th anniversary album – a great plan save for the fact that ‘Legacy’ (which features cameos from Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Lemmy, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, Jay Jay French and many more) has actually been delayed till October 27. “Only Girlschool could throw an album launch party when the album isn’t coming yet,” remarked guitarist/singer Kim McAuliffe from the stage, adding: “well have to have another party in a month’s time.”
There will be no more releases of any type from special guests the Tokyo Dragons, who were pulling the plug on a two-album career, or as guitarist/singer Steve Lomax put it “hurtling towards the dustbin of rock ‘n’ roll”. Like many others, I suspect, the TDs are a band I’ve blown hot and cold upon. Mainly the latter, truth told. There have been moments of Bad News-style genius (‘Get ‘Em Off’, for instance) but overall they’re what Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts might’ve sounded like had they been a Thin Lizzy tribute band.
The Dragons’ swansong certainly contributed to the 100 Club being so full – unexpectedly, Lips from Anvil was there, too. Girlschool ended up previewing four songs from ‘Legacy’, including ‘I Spy’, the one that Dio sings on the album. It was a real dark, riff-based bastid – I loved it. Other new songs included the groovy, hook-laden ‘Spend Spend Spend’ and ‘From The Other Side’ – the latter dedicated to, and written about, late guitarist Kelly Johnson, whose ashes were actually shaken in the studio to provide extra percussion to the fourth and final track, ‘Everything’s The Same’. A slightly unusual idea that Johnson would no doubt have been greatly amused by. Here’s the set-list: ‘C’Mon Let’s Go’, ‘Not For Sale’, ‘Hit And Run’, ‘I Spy’, ‘Spend Spend Spend’, ‘From The Other Side’, ‘Screaming Blue Murder’, ‘Future Flash’, ‘Never Say Never Again’, ‘Everything’s The Same’, ‘Race With The Devil’, ‘Demolition Boys’, ‘Emergency, ‘Yeah Right’ and ‘Take It All Away’.
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Thursday 4th September
Three cheers for Roger Glover. Yesterday I emailed Deep Purple’s bassist in the hope that he would provide a little additional insight to a sleeve notes project upon which I’m currently working (I’d rather not be too specific at this stage). Not only did Glover reply within the hour, he typed responses to my questions overnight. What a gentleman.
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Tuesday 2nd September
Phew – yesterday I accomplished quite a lot. After lunch it was off to North London studio to hear the new Kreator album, which is likely to be titled ‘Hordes Of Chaos’ when it arrives via SPV Records in January. Guitarist/frontman/songwriter Mille Petrozza sat in on the playback as he hadn’t heard the final mix, handled by Colin Richardson of Machine Head, Napalm Death, Slipknot and Carcass fame. Like him, I was extremely impressed by what I heard, stand-out tracks including the title song, plus ‘War Curse’, ‘Destroy What Destroys You’, ‘Radical Resistance’, ‘Absolute Misanthropy’ and the balls-out, 100-MPH thrash of ‘Demon Prince’. No exaggeration, listening to ‘Hordes Of Chaos’ left me feeling like I’d been run over by a Panzer tank… driven by Rik Waller.
Following a few looseners at the Crobar, Malcolm Dome and I traipsed across to the Rock Garden for Marseille’s reunion gig. Back “after 25 years and five divorces” (according to the intro tape), the band were simply out to have fun, and it was pretty damned contagious. Highlights included ‘Rock You Tonight’, ‘The French Way’ and the surging commerciality of ‘Over And Over’, a still finely-tuned combination of muscle and melody spiced up by a liberal dose of good-time boogie. Now in their forties, the quintet realise all too well that some of what inspired them as spotty youths now sounds ludicrous, Paul Dale sniggering whilst confirm suspicions that ‘Lady Of The Night’ was written about “a hooker on the Liverpool Docks”. Resisting the temptation to outstay their welcome Marseille hung around for a mere 50 minutes, which was a little annoying as I’d also like to have heard ‘Not Tonight Josephine’, ‘No Time To Lose’ and the utterly ludicrous ‘Percival’, their absurd ode to a gigolo that falls for a transvestite, possibly even the third album’s ‘Walking On A High Wire’ had Dale been up for singing a song he didn’t originally feature on. Whatever, I suspect the band enjoyed themselves way too much to leave things for another 27 years. Here’s the set-list: ‘Are You Ready’, ‘Rock You Tonight’, ‘You’re A Woman’, ‘Over And Over’, ‘Heat Of The Night’, ‘Motherly Love’, ‘Lady Of The Night’, ‘Walking Through The Night’, ‘Can Can’, ‘The French Way’ and ‘Some Like It Hot’.
Arriving home I plonked down on the sofa as transfer window closed on Sky Sports News, more out of vain desperation than genuine belief that new talent was Selhurst Park-bound. In fact, the Eagles ended up flogging Dougie Freedman (expected) to Southend and Tom Soares to Stoke (not expected at all). Congratulations Warnock, that’s brilliant thinking – let’s unload the scorer of Palace’s only goal of the season so far from open play. While newly minted Manchester City were busy splashing the cash for Robinho, CPFC couldn’t persuade Batmanho, or even The Jokerho to sign for us. Oh well, at least Ben Watson stayed put.
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Monday 1st September
Last night was spent at the Islington Academy reviewing 3 Inches Of Blood, a band I’d never actually seen before as headliners. With billed openers Toxic Holocaust failing to materialise, the job went to Outcryfire, whose independent six-tracker ‘Ruination’ attained brief but heavy rotation here at Ling Towers. That was in 2007, however, and the band remains unsigned. Singer Matt Hayday informs me that a new set of songs have peen penned in order rectify this situation. I hope it works out for them. On the last night of a European tour, 3IOB made the best of a bad situation – a rainy Sunday night, with little or no advertising for the gig, and having parted with Roadrunner Records – to send the audience home rubbing sore limbs and necks. Fashioned upon Iron Maiden-style dunka-dunka-dunka galloping riffs, dandruff-shakers like ‘Destroy The Orcs’, ‘Crazy Nights’ and ‘Trial Of Champions’ all pass the no bullshit test with ease. Are the Canadians ever likely to headline multiple nights at Wembley Arena? Frankly, I doubt it. But here in a tiny club, the whites of their eyes visible and moshpits erupting all around, they are in a perfect environment.
P.S. Look out for monthly updates at the Quotes, Playlist and YouTube pages.
ick! Let’s get it on!” Now **that’s** one fight I’d pay to see.