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 30th September
Only an artist such as Steven Wilson would be brave/foolhardy/ambitious enough to undertake two lengthy, almost entirely different shows over successive nights on a stage as prestigious as the Royal Albert Hall. Throw in the fact that since SW's latest tour rolled through London back in March, two key members of his group have departed; guitarist David Kilmister replacing Guthrie Govan and Craig Blundell filling the drum stool once occupied by Marco Minnemann.
Support came from comedian/progger Matt Berry, who was backed by a five-piece band called The Maypoles. It was a little strange hearing that voice you know from another sphere of entertainment as a singer, a bit like when Charlie Drake and Benny Hill used to make records. No, I'm kidding. It was nothing like that. Despite an association with Vic & Bob, Berry is very serious about his music and his songs such as 'The Pheasant' were performed with integrity. And while I cannot lie, I'd have preferred another 30 mins of the headline act, Berry has genuine prog credentials and I'm glad that I arrived early enough to take a glimpse.
The Prog magazine posse – Jerry Ewing, Russ Fairbrother, Jo Kendall and my good self – had been allocated a box… very posh. Not meaning to sound ungrateful but with hindsight I wish I'd have attended night #1, which saw Steven joined by Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt for 'Drag Ropes', from the pair's collaborative Storm Corrosion album, and also by Ninet Tayeb, the Israeli singer whose voice had rendered 'Routine' a standout of Wilson's latest record, 'Hand. Cannot. Erase' – an album I believe the group performed in its entirety.
"Tonight is going to be a very different show," Wilson announced. "If you weren't here yesterday, you don't know what you missed. It was awesome. Tonight we're basically doing the stuff that we don't know how to play very well." He was joking, of course. SW never lets us down – Im starting to think that tthe man can almost do no wrong.
On night #2, Ninet Tayeb returned for another goosebump-inducing rendition of 'Routine', its other special guests being Guthrie Govan and former Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison, last seen out on the road with King Crimson, also saxophonist/flute player Theo Travis who joined in with Govan on arguably the night's finest song, 'Drive Home'. I felt a little sorry for Kilmister, who hooked up with this line-up following eight years playing guitar for Roger Waters and whose solo 'Don't Hate Me' was excellent, but it was impossible to escape the conclusion that Govan upstaged him during his relatively short time onstage.
'She's Moved On', an obscure Porcupine Tree track, raised a few eyebrows and if the set-list perhaps seemed a little random at times, it was obvious that Wilson was having fun. Following that awesome rendition of 'Routine', he grinned whilst introducing a robust 'Open Car', "The only way to follow that is with some dumb heavy metal." Get in!
Even though SW failed to repeat 'The Raven That Refused To Sing' – in my opinion, the title track of the best album released by anybody during the last decade – it was a wonderful gig from an artist right at the top of his game. And how great it was to see my pal Harj Kallah make a cameo up there on the video screen, too. Hahaha!
Tuesday 29th September
Much of yesterday afternoon was spent on the dog & bone, firstly for an interview with Quo's unofficial fifth member, the only and only Bob Young, discussing the finer points of the next three re-issues. And later on I called New York for a few words with Frank Turner, who has a new Butch Walker-produced album, 'Positive Songs For Negative People', and a UK tour in November. Being honest, I'm not very au fait with Turner's music, but he seemed like a most agreeable fellow. In 2014 he won Celebrity Mastermind by answering questions on Iron Maiden, so I decided to see whether he still had the chops. At the end our chat I chanced my arm with an unscripted question about that band's new album 'The Book Of Souls'. Frank, who admitted that he has yet to learn the lyrics, got it wrong but graciously took it on the chin when I playfully branded him a charlatan. Hahaha!
Monday 28th September
After two disappointing defeats, yesterday afternoon's result was more like it. It wasn't exactly a game for the purist but a Cabaye pen at Vicarage Road was enough to send Crystal Palace back up to sixth place. Beer flowed before, during and after the game, and I was doubly pleased to learn that flying winger Yannick Bolasie has signed a new three-and-a-half year deal with the club. The Eagles are back on track for a European place, and I can't wait till next weekend's home game with the Baggies, managed by Tiny Penis. Err... sorry, Tony Pulis.
Sunday 27th October
I DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE RUGBY, OKAY??!!
And on a happier note... The acne-ridden, pudding bowl-haired teenager within me would be astounded by this: my sleeve notes accompany a brand new official double-disc anthology called 'Action: The Ultimate Story'. It's Sweet's most thorough retrospective to date, including tracks from the Connolly-less days and the current Andy Scott-led incarnation. Two editions exist, including a deluxe version that includes two specially recorded tunes. The video vaults have also been raided for an exhaustive three-disc DVD set, including an unseen German concert from 1974, plus TOTP appearances and promo clips. I'm like a kid in a Sweet shop!
Saturday 26th September
What a 'p.h.u.q.'-ing great Friday night at Shepherd's Bush Empire with The Wildhearts, the final evening of a trek to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the album of the same name. The sound was very disappointing for my first encounter with Ginger's 'other band', Hey! Hello! (Hollis Mahady's vocals and lead guitar of stand-in member Chris Catalyst way too low in the mix) but by the time they got it right with new song 'Don't Stop Loving The Music' and 'Swimwear', their happy, dayglo powerpop hit the bullseye. I will deffo do my best to see them as headliners in December.
The front of house mix improved drastically for Baby Chaos, the Glaswegians who are back after 17 years away. I found them heavier, darker and more idiosyncratic than HH but, obviously, save for moments such as golden oldie 'Love Your Self Abuse' and 'Have Faith In Yourself' (the latter from the brilliant-titled comeback album, 'Skulls, Skulls, Skulls, Show Me The Glory') considerably less memorable.
Partly as a consequence of a recent interview given to me by Ginger Wildheart, doubts had been raised regarding the long-term future of the Wildhearts ("Something personal [has] happened that affected some band members' relationships, or, more to the point, mine with them," he told me before the current tour took place. "But I'm not going into [the details] in public"). Whatever the problems, nobody would have guessed. Body language seemed fine, and the band lapped up the tidal waves of appreciation that flowed from the audience to the stage.
As advertised, the 'p.h.u.q.' album was performed in its entirety, a few filler tracks surfacing among the gems. "We had too much time and cocaine in the studio, so we'd write silly little pieces of incidental music," explained Ginger cheerfully, but such moments were few and far between. And the main event was followed by a gargantuan 40-minute, ten-song encore: 'Weekend (5 Long Days)', 'Everlone', 'Suckerpunch ', 'Red Light - Green Light', 'Anthem', 'Geordie in Wonderland', 'Mazel Tov Cocktail', 'Sick Of Drugs', '29 x The Pain' and drummer Ritch Battersby's party piece, 'The Duck Song'. Best of all, Ginger said: "I doubt very much this will be our final tour."
Friday 25th September
There were quite a few gigs in London last night. I chose Mike Tramp at the Black Heart. The former White Lion/Freak Of Nature singer is now 53 and has a lifetime of stories. His backing band, a Danish trio called Lucer who also opened the show, weren't even born when White Lion were having hits.
Along with WL and FON numbers the repertoire spanned Tramp's solo years, including selections from the excellent new disc 'Nomad' ('High Like A Mountain', 'Revolution', 'Wait Till Forever' and 'Give It All You Got'). Reminding us how far Tramp has moved on from his hair metal days, the title cut of 'Cobblestone Street' album was suitably Tom Petty-esque and he paid tribute to his hero Phil Lynott by dropping a snippet of Lizzy's 'The Sun Goes Down' in to 'More To Life Than This' and returning for an encore of 'Southbound'.
Of course there was chat in abundance, including Tramp reminiscing about the "special moment" of buying a vinyl album, cranking up the amplifier, placing the disc onto the turntable and dropping the needle for the first time. "Those times are gone but we keep them in our heart forever, they were golden, glorious days."
During two and a quarter hours of music and chat he candidly recalled the grunge purge; why some bands got away with it and others – including his own – didn't deserve to. "There's no time limit anymore, rock stars can be 73 years old and still wear tight pants," he theorized before 'When The Children Cry'. "Rock 'n' roll is what keeps us alive." Amen.
Thursday 24th September
Eddie and I took in few cold 'uns in the Victory Club with our pals Richard Thompson and Belinda Bullick before last night's League Cup clash with Clowntown Pathetic. Picking up a copy of the Standard on the train to Selhurst I was amused to note that their captain had said: "When the draw [against Palace] came out we rubbing our hands together." What utter foolishness. We wondered whether said buffoon would be feeling quite so boastful at 9.45pm, and of course... he wasn't. Dwight Gayle scored a hat-trick as the Eagles cruised aimlessly into the hat for the next round by four goals to one (the Clowns' token effort handed to them on a silver platter from CPFC's hapless keeper Wayne Hennessey. Bring back Jules – NOW!).
As the Clowns fans proceeded to throw their toys out of the prams in the streets around the ground – these people have no class whatsoever – our party returned to the Victory for celebratory drinkies. So it's Man City away in the fourth round, eh? A toughie, of course… but that's a challenge for another day. My late night Facebook post seemed to say it all: "Charlton you are the worst allegedly professional team in London. Tonight you were SHAFTED! Palace are number one in South London and no mistake!"
BTW, someone on CPFC's discussion board has just pointed out that since Pardew left Newcastle for Selhurst last December the Magpies have accrued a mere 14 points! Despite the second-highest net spend (£46.02m) in the Premier League during the summer. Ain't that shocking? Toon's plight isn't attributable to Pards, of course, far from it… but there's gotta be a little truth in the adage: Beware what you wish for.
Wednesday 23rd September
Even though The Nimmo Brothers have existed on and off for a long time, their current tour being a 20th anniversary celebration, until last night's gig at the Beaverwood Club I'd never seen them before. What a revelation. Besides being expert guitar players Alan and Stevie both have great bluesy voices and there are no keyboards, unlike Alan's other band King King, just generous helpings of sugar sweet yet fiery fret-work. The set-list extended all the way back to the duo's earliest days as the Blackwater Blues Band for its oldest tune of night, 'Reason To Believe', but at 14 minutes long the undoubted highlight was 'Waiting For Your Heart To Fall', a slow, emotive and epic blues tune that saw the siblings taking turns in the spotlight as the song escalated to a glorious, frenetic, almost 'Free Bird'-esque climax. Here's some great, high quality YouTube footage of said tune, filmed days earlier at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton. The material was also punctuated by amusing some entertaining banter, including the tale of the Irish radio deejay who asked during a live broadcast, "when did you guys meet?" And when they encored with the Bobby 'Blue' Bland, Whitesnake-covered 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City' it seemed entirely appropriate. First-rate stuff.
Monday 21st September
A phone interview with Walter Trout was the undoubted highlight of today's workload. To assist preparation I had been forwarded a link to the guitarist's new album, 'Battle Scars' (due on November 13). Given that my last encounter with Trout was a little over a year ago, and he was in a hospital bed, battling the post-op complications of the liver transplant that saved his life, it was great to hear sounding so chirpy. The record also reflects his incredible recovery. Given a willingness to divulge persona issues in his lyrics, Walter's health scare presented untold lyrical possibilities, notably a track called 'Omaha', inspired by the five months spent at a liver ward at the Nebraska Medical Centre. "There were days when somebody in the ward would die while waiting [for a transplant]," he told me. "I'd hear families out in the hall crying and doctors trying to comfort them. And I knew there was a good chance that I'd be the next one to go. I wanted to capture how that felt and sounded." Wow… raw to the bone.
Yippeeeee! Get out the bunting and put the champagne on ice, baby! That odious twat Morrissey, formerly of T*e Sm***s, says that there's every possibility his upcoming UK shows may well turn out to be his last. What truly stupendous news!
Sunday 20th September
Aaaaaah... a lovely, hot, sweaty park run. Sausage sarnies for brunch... the Spurs game kicks off in 90 minutes, and the boozing has begun. A cold bottle of Kronenbourg 1664 in the shower, now there's a first! COYP!!! Bring on the pints of wine!!!
Edit: Spuz 1, Palace 0. Grrrrrr.... Just exacted my rage at the football upon the bushes that have been encroaching on the living room's daylight. I am not one of life's most gifted gardeners and I suspect that in daylight and with the benefit of sobriety it will look less than pleasing in an aesthetic sense, but WTF. To the neighbours, sorry for the bad language.
Saturday 19th September
Yesterday evening saw England's opening game of the Rugby World Cup – a clash with Fiji at Twickenham. I'm happy to say that it was a seven-try rout, completed by a last-minute score that awarded the host nation a priceless bonus point.
During the afternoon I was contacted out of the blue by Nigel Spennewyn, guitarist of So!, a mighty fine band that featured Spennewyn on geetar, a certain Steve Overland and Pete Jupp, plus Bob Skeat of Wishbone Ash. During the earliest days of Classic Rock, Jerry Ewing, Andrew Ryan and I had the album, 'Brass Monkey', on near-permanent repeat in the basement at Bolsover Street. It still sounds like Crowded House jamming with Squeeze. Hearing it again during the build-up to the rugby was like going for a few pints with an old mate.
Edit: Kids have gone to bed and I'm basking in the rugby triumph... felt compelled to open another bottle of wine and those vindaloo flavoured cashews, it's been a long week (health drama with my dad top of the list)... cheers everyone!
Friday 18th September
I really enjoyed last night's gig from Chantel McGregor at the 100 Club. She played all but two of the ten songs from the forthcoming second disc, 'Lose Control', a couple in solo acoustic form ('Home' and 'Anesthetise'), plus a handful of old favourites from her 2011 debut 'Like No Other'. 'Lose Control' is a big step up for Chantel, a progression from the blues-rock genre in which she is bracketed, and of the new tracks 'Burn Your Anger', 'Take The Power', the so-called prog-rock number 'Walk On Land' and, above all, 'Southern Belle' stood out as future greats. And anyone who dares to tackle Robin Trower's epic 'Daydream' with such abandon and confidence, adding their own twist – c'mon, the bugger was 18 minutes long! – can only be armed with an especially huge set of cojones (speaking metaphorically, of course!). Thanks to Laurence Harvey for this fantastic photograph from the show.
Thursday 17th September
Yesterday's interviews included phone chats with Marq Torien, whose band the BulletBoys are about to embark on a rare UK tour, and the Metal God himself, Judas Priest's Mr Rob Halford. Beisdes being a performer, Halford is a full-blown metal enthusiast and towards the end of our chat I asked the singer about the contents of his iPod: What was he listening to at the moment? Without a word of hesitation Rob replied: "Two horns up for Iron Maiden and the incredible 'The Book Of Souls'," before going on to list various other acts. What a bloke.
Eddie and I are really enjoying Channel 4's on-the-run surveillance show Hunted. Dr Allen playing mindgames with his pursuers is really superb. I hope that he evades their grasp. I'd really love to be on the next series. After all, I'm such an inconspicuous kinda guy! Ahem...
Wednesday 16th September
Before hanging up at the end of yesterday's interview Steve Harley advised me to seek out this YouTube clip from a few days ago with the words: "My old mate Jim [Cregan] rips off this three-minute solo that makes you cry. He's a beautiful man and an incredible musician." Mr Harley did not lie. Check out the footage here.
Edit: It's evening. Winding down for the day and I'm getting a bit choked up as I look through some old photographs. It's hard to remember my kids being this young and cute... and l'il Bob is nothing but a furball of a pup. #happiertimes
Tuesday 15th September
It's been a rather good day. A lively mid-morning phone interview with Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel, my first park run in a few days (pesky rain!) and some highly animated words with former Warlock frontwoman Doro Pesch before she jets off to play at Rock In Rio. I love it when artists that have been around for decades still display such a childlike excitement about music. Oh, and 'Hot Streak', the second album from The Winery Dogs just landed on my desk.
Monday 14th September
Oh yes, here's a date for the desk diary. Symphony X play a show at London's Islington Assembly Hall on February 19. It's the final performance of a six-gig British trek from the New Jersey-based progressive metal masters, whose new album 'Underworld' is a huge hit here at Chateau Ling. What a way to start the week!
Sunday 13th September
Following a well drilled and determined display from the home side, the outcome of yesterday's top of the table clash (!) with Man City was decided in stoppage time, last-minute substitution Iheanacho nudging home with his first touch of the game following a speculative shot from outside of the box. Palace's keeper McCarthy should've much done better, and in my opinion the Eagles deserved a point. Gutted but unbowed, I moved onto the Borderline for Kip Winger's fourth annual solo show at the Borderline.
Presented in a fabulously informal manner, these events are enjoyed by the performer and his audience. "If I only did one gig a year it would be this gig", announced Winger from the stage. During almost two hours onstage Kip called his partner in crime from Winger, Reb Beach, on his mobile phone and invited the guitarist to perform his best David Coverdale impression – the place erupted with laughter as Beach responded: "Reb, you look ravishing this morning." Caught up in the mood, Kip tried to call Old Cov, only to learn that since the pair last spoke Whitesnake's leader had changed his number. Brilliant stuff.
There were two more moments of personal significance: As he'd promised me a few weeks earlier, Kip performed 'Under One Condition' in its entirety. He also revealed that writing for a new album from Winger (the band) begins shortly, when he meets up again with Reb. Don't rule out another solo album, either…
The set-list ran as follows: 'Easy Come Easy Go', 'Who's The One'. 'Headed For A Heartbreak', 'Hungry', 'Steam', 'Blind Revolution Mad', 'Cross', 'Under One Condition', 'Rainbow In The Rose', 'Nothing', 'Hungry', 'Runaway', 'How Far Will We Go', 'Miles Away' (a duet with Kirsty from Surrey!), 'Time To Surrender', 'Spell I'm Under', 'Down Incognito', 'Madalaine' and 'Seventeen'.
Saturday 12th September
Up early for a park run before heading off to Selhurst for Palace vs Man City – I guess you might say that a big and hectic day is looming.
Facing the club that already seems set to run away with the Premier League title, today's game is a huge test. Are we really destined to finish towards the top? Last year Palace won the corresponding game, but with Citeh spending 80 million as the window closed (on top of buying Sterling) a point would be a stunning result.
During the evening I am *really* looking forward to hearing my all-time favourite song by Winger performed tonight by the Kipmeister at the Borderline.
Saturday 12th September
My Friday evening was spent at the Boston Music Rooms where I'd agreed to review a three-band bill for Prog magazine. That was the plan, at least. However, it wasn't till checking the tube map at the start of my journey across London that I learned of the long term closure of Tufnell Park station. This added an extra 45 minutes to the trek, which meant that Ghost Community, the opening act which featured my ol' mate Matthew Cohen on bass, were already into their final number by the time I arrived. Gah! Fortuitously, Jerry Ewing was on hand to get me out of jail.
Essentially a multi-musician and vocalist, Franck Carducci, whose bass guitar was decorated with a Union Jack, was clearly thrilled to be making his debut in London. Promoting an excellent second album, 'Torn Apart', that features a cameo from Steve Hackett, the Frenchman's show was crisp and melodic but delivered with bags of force and no little degree of techno-flash. He and his group like to put on a decent show, too. 'Artificial Love' included a slightly bizarre digeridoo solo, and his onstage foil, the blonde-haired, barefoot beauty Mary Reynaud, took on the role of Alice during the Wonderland-themed 'Alice's Eerie Dream'. Other highlights included 'A Brief Tale Of Time', a terrific slice of pomp that was punctuated by bursts of keys worthy of Dennis De Young (Styx) or Starcastle themselves, also a rendition of 'As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)', AKA the concluding segment of Genesis' 'Supper's Ready', that drew a well-deserved ovation. Both of Carducci's albums can be streamed at his website and are well worth a listen.
Specialising in dark, often violin-dominated and largely instrumentally based prog-rock, headliners Cast were mostly of Mexican origin but also featured Chilean and Italian members. Having travelled so far to play for, at best, fifty people, I felt a little sorry for them. Arriving far later than billed and hindered by onstage sound issues, they became visibly agitated by the circumstances of the show, and their body language would only worsen as things progressed.
I was kinda enjoying the performance – coloured by its combination of male and female vocals, though the energetic posturing of Bobby Vidales was slightly on the camp side – but the elephant in a scarcely populated room was all too obvious. Earlier in the afternoon Cast had apparently soundchecked at length and at ridiculously high volume. That same sonic assault continued during the show proper, masking any subtleties in the music and causing the audience to trickle out of the door.
By the time they reached the 25-minute epic, 'The Rescue', patrons had dwindled to single figures and a sense of disbelief had descended upon yours truly. When the bar staff outnumber the punters, you know there's a problem. And then, just as I had begun to contemplate my journey home with a sense of dread, the band huddled in discussion.
"Blimey, this is going to fall apart", I thought. Sure enough, after a lengthy silence Cast began to break down their gear. And that was it. With keyboard player Alfonso Vidales' woefully inept explanation of: "It's out of our hands" the gig was abandoned. It was a painfully embarrassing scenario, remaining punters looking on in bemused fashion. Never having experienced anything like it in more than three decades of gig-going I knew exactly how they felt. Thank God, then, for Franck Carducci.
Friday 11th September
Oh, Mr Postie… you sexy muthafunker!!!! Just in time for the weekend, my finished copy of Iron Maiden's newie 'The Book Of Souls' is here, along with the Rock Candy Records expanded re-issues of the White Lion gems 'Pride' and 'Big Game'. The latter are boosted by rather good sleeve essays from my pal Malcolm Dome and various bonus tracks. Never owned them on CD before… thrilled!
Here's another piece of great news to warm up for the weekend. In the wake of last year's triumph in Hyde Park, Jeff Lynne's ELO have signed a deal with Columbia Records and are working towards a new album. It will be the first new ELO music in 15 years, though as yet there's no idea of a projected release date. A nice blast of the 'Out Of The Blue' album on blue vinyl to kick-start the day, I think!
Thursday 10th September
You've gotta love Jakko Jakszyk of King Crimson's post from a couple of days ago:
You know, when someone makes the effort to come back stage after a show and then shakes you're hand vociferously telling you just how fantastic the gig was and how good you were, it's a genuinely lovely and touching thing. However when that person turns out to be Kate Bush, whose work I have admired so greatly over the decades, then it turns Crimson's second night at Hackney into an evening I will never forget. The bloke she came back stage with said he loved it too. His name was Peter Gabriel!
Wednesday 9th September
Hahaha! I know what Eddie is going to be getting for his Christmas pressie! (And who will have the most fun with it!) I love this replica-scale toy of the stadium after which he was named. My pal Neil Jeffries just sent the link with the words: 'You know you want one'. I do, I do!!!!!!
It's 6pm as I type and I'm winding down from a long day and preparing to open a few bottles for this evening's England-Switzerland game with 'Truth Is A Wolf', the forthcoming album from Mollie Marriott, daughter of the late, great Steve. Here's the album's video track, 'Ship Of Fools'. I'm always very wary of the whole nepotism thing but this is really great. Lazy, hazy and seductive in a Fleetwood Mac-ish kinda way, its contents also include a handful of Judie Tzuke co-writes, which can never be a bad thing.
Edit: England maintained their 100 per cent record in Euro 2016 qualifying with this evening's 2-0 victory over Switzerland. The odious R***ey scored a late penalty at Wembley after Harry Kane broke the deadlock. Hummmmmph.
Tuesday 8th September
King bloody Crimson at Hackney Empire - quite simply, it was one of the best gigs I've ever attended. The choice of venue (which holds a mere 1,275 people) was immaculate and my ticket was five rows back, dead centre. The sound was every bit as immaculate as the view. I have no pix of the show as the band requested that cameras and phones shouldn't be used during the performance, but this pic was taken just after I found my seat in the auditorium. The concert was unlike just about any other I'd seen as there was no dialogue between artists and audience, not even song introductions, and the drum kits of Messrs Mastelotto, Harrison and Rieflin were lined up along the front of the stage, with the rest of the group on an elevated plinth behind them.
And the music? Oh, the music. The Crimson oeuvre is deliciously varied, flitting from quiet, enigmatic passages to sprawling soundscapes and levels of dark, brooding heaviness that make the listener feel as though their head is being crushed between two giant anvils. We got 'One More Red Nightmare' instead of 'Red', which is a minor quibble, though the two-hour set-list was pretty monstrous! I almost shed a tear during 'Starless', voiced brilliantly by guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, and concluding with an encore that included 'The Court Of The Crimson King' and '21st Century Schizoid Man', I joined in a standing ovation as the musicians left the stage wordlessly. This is a show that I could watch over and over again, given the opportunity. If the band comes to your town on this tour then don't miss them… heaven knows when such an opportunity might present itself again.
Here's the set-list: 'Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part I)', 'Pictures Of A City', 'Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind)', 'Meltdown', 'Hell Hounds Of Krim', 'The ConstruKction Of Light', 'Level Five', 'Epitaph', 'Banshee Legs Bell Hassle', 'Easy Money', 'Interlude', 'The Letters', 'Sailor's Tale', 'One More Red Nightmare' and 'Starless', followed by 'Devil Dogs Of Tessellation Row', 'The Court Of The Crimson King' and '21st Century Schizoid Man'.
Monday 7th September
I arose early and am currently psyching myself up for a day that includes a bit of a bucket list moment - my first onstage experience of King Crimson. Tonight I'm off to the Hackney Empire. Oh yes! It's pretty shameful that I've never seen Robert Fripp onstage till now. Here's a rather embarrassing story: In the summer of 2003 I went to Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland to cover an appearance by Yes. I arrived there the night before Yes performed and was thrilled to find I'd been booked into a fabulously expensive hotel. So I opted to stay in the opulence of the room; pampered myself with a long, hot shower and watched some telly, ate a great meal. Imagine my dismay to pick up the event's official programme the following morning and realise that KC had also been on the bill, and that my weekend-long pass would have admitted me to their show at the Miles Davis Hall. Gah!!! Lesson well and truly learned. Always check the internet before departure!
Sunday 6th September
It's a Spock's Beard Sunday. Anything else would be illogical, Captain. I'm leafing through past interviews, record label biographies and assorted collected gubbins as I write an intro for a new retrospective release from the Californian proggers. Wish that I could say a little more about what I'm up to, but have been asked to keep things schtum until an official announcement; this double-set has a unique twist, the king of thing that only a band like Spock's would be ambitious enough to attempt.
Oh, and by the way, those monthly updates to the Playlist and YouTube are uploaded.
Saturday 5th September
With no game for Palace, I'm getting as much work done as I can before hitting the bottle for England's game with San Marino. I really enjoyed transcribing last week's phone interview with Mikael Åkerfeldt. When I asked about Opeth's recent appearance at Bloodstock, and whether it's a festival probably better suited to the band's older, heavier identity, he chuckled and replied: "Oh, I don't know… we just do the show and have a beer. One day we can play at a death metal festival, the next day we can share a stage with the Pet Shop Boys. We're flexible." That's brilliant! I love Åkerfeldt's deadpan humour!
Edit at 1pm: So this afternoon there's England football, cricket and rugby on the telly box. Eddie is out with mates and Arnie is upstairs, presumed lost on the Planet Zombie Warfare World Of Death. I've done the shopping and laundry and a couple of hours of work, also been out for a massive park run. Sheesh... what's a poor boy to do. Pass the bottle opener!!! It's wine o'clock!!!
Edit at 5pm: England won by six clear goals at the Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle, but the headlines were all about that odious grannyshagger W***e R***ey, whose penalty was enough establish him top of the list of England's all time goalscorers. There are no words to describe how much I hate the bloke. He's not fit to lace Sir Bobby Charlton's boots. I'm off for a sulk and a couple more beers.
Friday 4th September
It's 8am and I'm watching the Channel 4 show Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners before heading out to work. Hmmm, methinks I'm more Nesta from Stafford who lives in a shit tip than the OCD-diagnosed Carly from Hertfordshire, who vacuums the air before the dust settles (!) and uses a bottle of Fairy Liquid a day. Sample quote: "This room used to be a dining room..." Squelch! "This is my worst nightmare, there is faeces everywhere!" It's always a bit of a comfort, this one.
I was always such a huge fan of Paul Merson. Such a witty, intelligent man. Ahem... *shuffles nervously*... but I so hope he's right about this. In his latest bout of Sky Sports predictions Merson reckons that Crystal Palace will finish the season in fifth place - above Liverpoool, Spurs, Everton, etc etc. Wow, I can only assume he's back on the ale. But that's a very flattering thing to say.
Okay, it's late afternoon. Right about now I'd be jumping in the shower and selecting a T-shirt to wear but, sadly, there's no Von Hertzen Brothers @ the Camden Underworld for yours truly. Tonight I shall be washing walls, cleaning down the patio doors and fitting my new living room curtains. #puttingthehousebacktogether
Thursday 3rd September
I'm sporting a hangover of the king-size variety after last night's gig from Nazareth and their new singer Carl Sentance at the Brooklyn Bowl inside the O2 Arena. The experience was far, far more satisfactory than the last time at Metropolis Studios, fronted by the short lived Lynton Osbourne (see Diary, November 15, 2014]. Sentance, who has sung with Persian Risk, Geezer Butler, Krokus and more – he's also a member of Don Airey's solo band – doesn't sound a lot like Dan McCafferty… let's face it, would could? But he's a great, likable and authorative frontman, with a strong versatile voice. And that's exactly what Nazareth need at this point in their career.
Case in point – in true Spinal Tap style, due to a cock-up behind the scenes, the band's intro tape blared twice before the group took the stage. The audience stood around disbelievingly as it cut out and began rolling for a third time. "Let's kill that fucking tape, for God's sake!" roared Carl, striding from the wings, taking the bull by the horns when a lessor communicator might had opted to hide behind a flight case. "We're going to have a good time tonight, let's kick some fucking ass."
And that's exactly what happened. The band looked happy, Sentence sang his ass off and the set-list was rather good: 'Silver Dollar Forger', 'Miss Misery', 'Ramananaz', 'This Flight Tonight', 'One Set Of Bones', 'Dream On', 'Holiday', 'This Month's Messiah', 'Turn On Your Receiver', 'Bad Bad Boy', 'Beggar's Day', 'Changin' Times', 'Hair Of The Dog' and 'Expect No Mercy', followed by 'Morning Dew', 'Love Hurts' and 'Broken Down Angel'.
Monsewer Beare and I ventured backstage for dressing room beers, and some laughs and chatter but my suggestion that 'Love Hurts' should be dropped from the set wasn't too well received... c'mon, it's Dan's signature song!! Oh well, a great night all the same!
Wednesday 2nd September
Oh shit, it looks like we have now reached the point of no return for Motörhead. The second aborted show in a week, with the bassist/vocalist Lemmy Kilmister walking offstage with the declaration: "I can't do this". Lemmy still wants to keep on playing live, and we all agree he has earned that right, but who is gonna insure or promote him? Breaks my heart to say it but if you ask me, next year's 40th anniversary dates (with Saxon and Girlschool) really should be a farewell tour – keep on making records, of course, but go out in final blaze of glory.
What great news that Kansas have signed up to make a new studio record - their first new music in 15 years. Obviously, I hope that Kerry Livgren and to a lesser extent Steve Walsh will be involved in the writing process, even though neither remains with the group.
Many thanks to my old mate Dave Lewis for sending the latest issue of his fine Led Zeppelin magazine Tight But Loose, which focuses on the final batch of the reissue campaign, the albums 'Presence', 'In Through The Our Door' and 'Coda'. Dave had a chat with Jimmy Page at Olympic Studios, there's a really nice vibe between the pair, and it's nice that Pagey closes with the words: "Thanks, Dave – keep flying the flag for us." Mr Lewis is alright… for a Spurs fan!
Tuesday 1st September
I've just completed a fantastic, hour-long phone interview with Mr Rossi going over the nuts and bolts of the classic-era Quo albums 'On The Level', 'If You Can't Stand The Heat...' and 'Whatever You Want'. There were so many great stories, my sides are aching!! I had no idea that Alan Lancaster's cry of: "Here we go with fearful fingers..." at the start of 'Bye Bye Johnny' is 'cos FR could never play the intro correctly. And another interesting tidbit: until I informed him of the fact Francis himself was unaware that Jacquie O'Sullivan, one of the female backing singers on '...Stand The Heat...' went on to become a member of Bananarama. There's a killer pub quiz question for you, right there. #ilovemyjob
Today is the final day of the transfer window. Luckily, Palace did just about all of their business well in advance of the shutter slamming down. I'm very sorry to see striker Glenn Murray move on to Bournemouth. It's always sad when a much-loved favourite player departs for pastures new. Good luck to Glenn at the freshly promoted Cherries, a club where I suspect he will do a great job, and thanks for four years of incredible memories and those 44 goals scored in red & blue... especially the one against his former club, That Unmentionable Team From The South Coast. Connor Wickham, Murray's replacement at Selhurst, is still only 22 years old: A newer model, if you like. And with Jedinak and Gayley both opting to stay, that's a killer window for Pardew's Eagles. Jamie Rednapp and Thierry Henry were just expressing that exact sentiment on Sky Sports News.
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