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.
Saturday 30th September
There are many, many good things going on in my life right now. So why was my first waking thought: ‘F**k, I dread how many goals Palace will concede against ManUre later on’. The Eagles have no fit specialist strikers are available for the trip Ooop North. What a clusterf**k at the club I love so much.
I must learn to worry less over things I cannot affect. And at least I get to see a rare live gig from Big Big Train in the evening. #calm
Thursday 28th September
Yesterday's office, pictured a couple of overs into the England-W.Indies one-dayer. Gayle went early, which was a shame in terms of the event as a contest.
There was no Cats In Space at the Borderline for me, sadly – the game at the Oval was a day-nighter. On the upside the cherry brandy was open *very* early indeed!
Wednesday 27th September
Yesterday evening was spent at the UK premiere of Scream For Me Sarajevo, the documenary of Bruce Dickinson's daring, audacious journey to play a concert in war-torrn Bosnia in 1994. It's a stirring, heartwarming movie that makes one thank one's lucky stars, and it gets an emphatic thumbs up from yours truly. At the preview I sat next to Roland Hyams, Vruce’s PR of the era who made the trip with the band – there were times when he looked positively ashen-faced at the risks that were taken in the name of rock ‘n’ roll.
Regrettably I had to exit during the early stages of a Q&A with its director and several of the protagonists (including bass player Chris Dale) as Simo, the Nashville-based blues-rock trio based around singer/guitar hero JD Simo, were about to take the stage a few blocks away at the Borderline. To my shame, I was completely new to the band's music but... wow... they were bloody great, offering echoes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Peter Green, the Allmans, The Doors, the Grateful Dead and many, many more, yet somehow summoning an identity of their own. The show's final track, a re-make of 'With A Little Help From My Friends', was simply stunning. I shall *definitely* be seeing them again!
Tuesday 26th September
A year ago Universal Records commissioned me to compile and sequence a budget three-disc anthology of their roster's all-time greatest ballads. I did so, and then forgot all about it. Blow me down, this little beaut has just dropped onto my desk!!!! Being able to choose tracks by Foreigner, Van Halen, The Faces, Skynyrd, Free, Kiss, Rush, Alice Cooper, Thin Lizzy, Bad Co and Deep Purple was a privilege.
And better still… there's a companion Anthems set to follow. So thrilled that just about all of my selections made the cut: these collections are 100% guaranteed free of R*M, Simple Minds and the usual wolf in sheep's clothing MOR dross. Now all I need is a fast car equipped with a decent hi-fi. Oh, and a driver's license!!
Monday 25th September
FFS... Christian ‘Big Ben’ Benteke was injured in yesterday's defeat at Manchester Shitty and could be on the sidelines for up to six weeks; it was so bleedin’ obvious that this was going to happen. Not buying a back-up forward during the transfer window was a humongous oversight. This will surely come back to haunt the club big-time.
Equally sad (but in a different way): Bonzo died this day in 1980. Never to be forgotten.
Sunday 24th September
Another great night spent with Vega. I've seen these guys maybe 20 times (including festivals and supports with Magnum, Joe Elliott's Down 'N' Outz and the Dan Reed Network) and they never disappoint. I love their mix of rock, pop and metal, plus the all-important elements of Marcus Thurson's divebombing shred geetar and the irrepressible presence of frontman Nick Workman. Last night at ULU three of our number - Amanda, her lad Ewan and Andy Beare's missus Tracie - had never seen Vega before but each said they would return in a heartbeat. Put them in front of a crowd and they are guaranteed to go down a storm. That's the sign of a great band, right?
Friday 22nd September
He no longer talks to me, which is a bloody shame, but happy birthday to one of my all-time heroes, David Coverdale. It’s odd to consider that Whitesnake’s leader is 66 years young – until he opens his mouth I still think of him as being in his thirties. This piccie was taken in his suite at Le Mondrian Hotel in LA just before the hurricane known as 'Whitesnake 1987' hit. Those Moody & Marsden-era albums remain night on unbeatable.
Thursday 21st September
Today I found quite a few more very cool things from the 1980s during the house clean-up/changeover. A copy of White Lighting, the fanzine I helped to make with Steve Hammonds (he did most of the work, I did the typing). My tix from the 'old' Marquee to see UFO on November 15/16, 1980 (£2.50 each night - bargain!), and a whole envelope stuffed with stubs from those halcyon days: Sweet at the Lyceum, Rainbow at the Rainbow, Ted Nugent and Wild Horses at Hammersmith, Styx at Wembley on the 'Paradise Theater' tour, Rory Gallagher at the Dominion, Genesis at the Birmingham NEC, Yes at Lewisham Odeon, Motörhead at Port Vale's Heavy Metal Holocaust... aaaaah, what fantastic memories!
Wednesday 20th September
*Finally* getting to grips with Steven Wilson's 'To The Bone' (it took several attempts to blag a finished CD). I understand why he felt the need to make it, but so far it ain't really for me. I guess it’s my own fault. I would be perfectly happy if SW just kept on re-making 'The Raven...' over and over again with minor variations each time.
Tuesday 19th September
Last night Amanda dragged me along to see one of her bands. Actually, that statement is perhaps a little misleading. I already knew a bit about the Struts, a four-piece from Derby whose debut ‘Everybody Wants’ lies in my collection. Ahead of a massive US tour with Foo Fighters and some dates with the Stones in Europe, their one-off show should have taken place at the Garage but due to public demand was moved to the Electric Ballroom. Amanda saw them a year or two ago as unknowns at the 100 Club and told me: "The lead singer is very Mercurial - he even looks a bit like Freddie." Sure enough Luke Spiller sports dark feather-cut hair, quite a set of gnashers and there are several changes of outfit, including a red, fringed number a la Ozzy Osbourne. What a showman; what a set of tunes… Glitter beats and choruses of pure gold – I was blown away. The Struts will be spending quite a lot of the foreseeable future across the pond… I doubt there will be another opportunity to see them as close up as this. "It's about time rock n roll was fun again,” they said from the stage. The Struts are making it so. I await their next move with baited breath.
Sunday 17th September
Prog magazine asked me to review last night’s show from The Pineapple Thief at London’s ULU and I was chuffed to do so. It had been quite a while since I last saw the band – at the Borderline in 2011, to be precise. Oh my gosh… how they’ve grown! Formed 18 years ago as nothing more than a ‘bedroom band’, from their first ever gig in a skittle alley just down the road from leader Bruce Soord’s house in Somerset, these guys can now sell out halls such as the Assembly Hall in Islington. Gavin Harrison, the incredible drummer of Porcupine Tree/King Crimson fame was a part of the line-up, hence the proliferation of Steven Wilson T-shirts in the audience. The set-list consisted of the current album ‘Your Wilderness’ in its entity plus a fan-voted trawl through the remainder of their ten albums. My fave tune was a ten-minute piece called ‘The Final Thing On My Mind’ that closed the show proper – the proggiest and finest thing that was played all night. If only TPT had a few more that were just as good. I found them enjoyable but a wee bit directionless if I’m truthful, though the place went wild so who am I to moan?
Saturday 16th September
This is starting to sound like a scratched record: No, I don't want to talk about the friggin' football!
Friday 15th September
A rather long Friday evening in front of the office PC beckons. This arrival of this new six-disc boxed set from New Yorkers Riot will make it much less of a chore. A first volume of several, it seems, '...Official Bootleg Box' features shows recorded between 1976 and 1980 - the year they appeared on the bill of the very first Monsters Of Rock Festival. My gosh, they used to play a lot of covers in those early days: Sweet, UFO, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and lots of Montrose. The guys had good taste!
Yesterday presented yet another of those annoying gig clashes. With no London show taking place I toyed with a trip to Dorking in Surrey to see UFO (earlier in the week Amanda and I had *almost* made the trip down to her old stomping ground of Southampton, but also had to cancel those plans).
In the end we made the short trip across London to St Pancras Old Church for a night of beautiful acoustic music with Mr Dan Reed. Some months earlier I'd helped Dan to find the venue, so I was extremely glad that he liked my suggestion - a place of worship that dates back at least as far back as the Norman Conquest. Reed's voice sounded absolutely spectacular as it reverberated and bounced off the walls. During the show Dan spotted me in the crowd and made light of yesterday's brush with Gene $immons: "Why did he make you pay for the call to interview him? Gene should be calling you! You are a legend!" Hahaha, thanks Dan... cheque's in the mail!
Thursday 14th September
Wow... I'm still trying to regain my senses after a Cat-aclysmic gig at the Borderline. Cats In Space, ah... Cats In Space. Yes, I know I blather on about them rather a lot but what a truly fantastic band they are.
Last night the sextet played the best songs from both of their albums (though 'Only In Vegas' was sadly missed), without anything approaching a duffer in sight. Remember the days when groups had superb songs, a wonderful singer, delightful harmonies and a stellar light show (even at the Borderline... hello Scampi!!)? Well, they're back!!! Do NOT miss these guys on their tour. (PS The Cats return to the Borderline on the 27th).
"One of reasons I'm doing this," says Gene $immons, of the boxed set that he is delivering personally to the homes of his fans for the price of $50,000, "is because I'm rich, and I can." So it kinda stuck in the throat a little that his US PR just asked *me* to stump up for this afternoon's Transatlantic call to talk about it. (And no, Classic Rock does not cover my phone bill). "You can have half an hour with Gene," I was told. Believe me, it was done in a fraction of that time.
Tuesday 12th September
Farewell Frank BeBoer, who has been sacked by Crystal Palace. Not exactly a shock. I had high hopes for the Dutchman's reign but his status as a dead man walking was all too apparent. It begs the question: why sign such a big name and fail to equip him with the players to integrate his preferred style? Here's an extremely good summation of the pantomime going on in SE25.
[Edit: It's evening and, as expected, Palace have announced the hiring of Roy Hodgson as the club's next boss. I've absolutely no idea what to make of this but his 'welcome' interview was pretty good, displaying more life and excitement than was evident during FdB's entire, short tenure. He's a local lad who represented the club at junior level and stood on the Holmesdale terrace. I'm trying very hard to put the dreaded Iceland game out of my mind when I say... good luck, Roy. And before everyone else chimes in: You're gonna need it].
Monday 11th September
How bloody fantastic. I’ve just found this whilst clearing out more room for Amanda’s shoes: a fanzine that I put together by myself back in 1981. Heavy Metal Thunder – named after the opening track of Saxon’s ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ album. It contains my interviews with Girl’s Philip Lewis, Sean Harris of Diamond Head Spider bassist Brian Burrows. Out of small acorns, etc…
Sunday 10th September
12 hours after last night’s gig from The Dowling Poole and I *still* cannot get ‘The Ballad Of Adam And Eve’ out of my head. It reverberated around my skull as I enjoyed a post-show nightcap in the Crobar and I relived its nagging hook and dancey beat in my dreams. No doubt about it, Willie Dowling (The Grip/The Wildhearts, Honeycrack, Jackdaw 4 and more) and Jon Poole (Cardiacs, Wildhearts) are extraordinarily gifted songsmiths. Their show boasted killer harmonies, absorbing arrangements and witty between-song banter; Dowling’s angry tirade at Trump ("The moron could push the button tonight! This could be your last ever gig!") that preceded 'Empires, Buildings & Acquisitions ' made me chuckle, and there were lots of in jokes about prog-rock (Poole also plays with hobbit botherers Lifesigns, tho they have little in common with The Dowling Poole).
"This one sounds like mid-period Split Enz," observed newbie Robert Corich after a few numbers, and later on he would liken them to Crowded House and, er... Devo. But luckily there’s nothing clever-clever about this band. And yet there was a certain edginess on display. Dowling confessed to calling the previous night’s audience in Bedford "cunts" for a lukewarn reception. At the Borderline numbers were also small but enthusiasm great. There was dancing, playful heckling and we smiled broadly whilst basking in those radiant yet sometimes unpredictable choruses. For what it’s worth, I don’t blame TDP for being sarcastic and a wee bit angry. Bands this good should not be playing to 200 people on a Saturday nite.
Saturday 9th September
The day began in dramatic fashion when, just as I was about to do a 10am phone interview, Eddie called me on his mobile to say that he had locked himself in the bathroom. Ascended a ladder but couldn't quite reach the window and eventually had to kick in the door. It felt like being in an episode of The Professionals.
Today is a day of moving, opening and emptying boxes, taking apart my old bed and replacing it with a much nicer one, replacing the bathroom lock, keeping an eye on the Test Match and trying to avoid getting sucked into the football at 3pm (Palace play Burnley on Sky tomorrow lunchtime).
So tonight I am *REALLY* looking forward to a cold cider or three at the Borderline with Robert Corich, and the fabulous, criminally underrated The Dowling Poole. If you're going, see you there. And if not... why not?!?
Friday 8th September
What a great time at Sparks' album launch party for 'Hippopotamus' at the ICA in The Mall. Russ and Ron in da house! Along with their producers Muff Winwood and Tony Visconti and a whole load of drunken loonies, including Amanda and Rob Corich. From the looks on their faces the Maels are obviously thinking: Who is this buffoon??!!
Thursday 7th September
Well, yesterday afternoon and evening were quite pleasant: A nice little chinwag with the Riffmeister Mr Iommi, the man that started it all. Followed by a quick beer and off to the press preview of Sabbath's farewell concert movie, The End. Plus a Q&A with my old mucker Mr Jerry Spewing.
Wednesday 6th September
I woke up to the news that The Power Station studios in New York are to be refurbished, and I just cannot get this song out of my head!
Tuesday 5th September
Oooooh, the 50th anniversary tour dates for Yes have just been announced. Two nights at the London Palladium (March 24/25). And on an equally upbeat note... Look at the bloody state of my office... this can only mean one thing - the shoe collection has arrived in Catford! #movinginday
Monday 4th September
RIP Walter Becker. Feb 20, 1950-Sep 3, 2017. So very glad that I got to see Steely Dan twice. I’m also sad to hear of the passing of original Molly Hatchet guitarist Dave Hlubeck, especially on the same day as Mr Becker. Back in 2004 I was lucky enough to conduct a sit down interview with him and he signed my Hatchet vinyl. Dave was a member of Skinny Molly at the time, and keen to vent upon his ex-bandmates - Bobby Ingram in particular. "The name [of Molly Hatchet] used to mean something, till [Ingram] got a hold of it by a clerical error. I hear these days they play good show and bad ones. But all good things come to an end and, believe me, there's a finale on the way." Today I shall be spinning those very same Hatchet discs in Dave's honour.
This is a good story. Fair play to Ian Gillan who always calls it as he sees it. There’s to be no Deep Purple reunion with The Man In Black because Ritchie Blackmore is “[not] playing [so] great these days.”
As I type following England's match against Slovakia, Gareth's Three Lions stand five points clear at the top of Qualifying Group F. Just two more required from as many games. I predicted that we'd go behind and come back to win 2-1. Wish that I'd put some money on it.
Sunday 3rd September
Well, I knew they'd be good, but I didn't think they'd be THAT good. Last night Leatherwolf wound up a six-date jaunt around the UK, the first time that they’d been here since supporting Vow Wow back in 1989. The show took place at … of all places… the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden. For band that had travelled from Los Angeles and after such a prolonged absence, it had threatened to be an insalubrious way to sign off. However, nobody looked peeved to be playing to less than 100 people in a pub – quite the opposite, in fact. Singer Michael Oliveri laughed and joked about enduring a shopping trip with his wife that afternoon and being the subject of photos on Facebook of lugging around her bags when he'd rather have been supping a beer, but he was warm and grateful to those that turned up. You knew without a doubt that this was five guys that really loved being in a band. It was a beautiful thing.
Far from going through the motions at the request of an audience member Leatherwolf went off set-list to add ‘Spirits In The Wind’ from the album ‘Street Ready’ in the show’s latter stages.
Musically, they sounded amazing. Hair flailing all across the tiny stage, the energy levels surged as their fabled ‘triple axe attack’ worked its magic, meaty rhythms colliding with melodic, tuneful arrangements. This was classy, classy stuff. Along with everyone else in the Fiddler’s Elbow I grinned like an idiot when they broke into my fave chewn ‘Hideway’, and for three minutes and 56 seconds I was back in 1989. Later on I stared in disbelief and amusement as Amanda and Belinda did the bump (whilst trying not to spill their drinks) during ‘The Calling’.
A brilliant, brilliant night. Please don’t leave it another 28 years, fellas.
Saturday 2nd September
I cannot abide the increasingly popular phrase ‘it is what it is’; a glib cliché trotted out by lazy people who cannot be bothered to properly articulate themselves, but yesterday’s Richie Kotzen gig at the Islington Assembly Hall? Well, ahem… let’s go with the flow… it was what it was.
The show had attracted a decent sized Friday night crowd but a handful of numbers including the rather fine ‘My Rock', one of several delivered seated at the electric piano, was all it took to realise that something was up with Kotzen’s normally stellar soulful croon. He quickly explained that his voice was in "recovery mode" after a recent bout of illness collected on his travels for the new album ‘Salting Earth’. There were also some technical gremlins that saw him angrily call out somebody at the side of stage. Perhaps inevitably, a bass solo within 15 mins was followed by a fairly lengthy drum workout half an hour afterwards, though the crowd remained sympathetic.
And let’s be clear, the music was also extremely good. "We're giving you a very different set tonight to accommodate my issues,” said Richie as his bass player took the mic for ‘High’, proceeding to blow us away by playing the solo – usually performed on a guitar, of course – on an upright instrument with a bow… very cool. Julia Herzog from the night’s support band The Konincks stepped up to sing 'Remember' and we were into the home strait. There was plenty of shredding during the final quarter, which of course I adored. Given the circumstances I was amazed that Kotzen managed an hour and 20 mins, returning for an encore of 'This Is Life' he admitted: "Two days ago I couldn't even speak." This was a somewhat brave choice but just like the show itself Richie made it through with pride and reputation intact. What a trooper.
Friday 1st September
Crikey, it's September already?! No doubt my friend Tyrina Gallagher will have her Christmas tree up in a few days’ time. Here's this month's Playlist and YouTube.