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 15th March
What a great review from the UK leg of the tour by Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin ad Rick Wakeman. I'm loving that set-list, and very much looking forward to seeing the show at Hammersmith on Sunday.
Another date for the Diary (if slightly further down the road): former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy is to perform that band's 12 Step Suite Live at London's Koko on June 28 backed by a group called The Shattered Fortress. Its line-up comprises members of Haken and the Neal Morse Band. Okay... I'm there!
Tuesday 14th March
My Monday evening was spent at Screen On The Green in Islington at a launch party for Steve Hackett's new album 'The Night Siren''. SOTG was, of course, "scene of Mr Rotten's first sterling effort (of a live gig with the Sex Pistols)", according to the gracious host. In 5.1 the album sounded very good indeed... from the bar!
Oh, and here's an official announcement on behalf of myself and Nick Beggs, bass player for the bands of Messrs Hackett and Wilson: There is no physical resemblance between us, okay? It makes us a little annoyed when people make such outlandish claims. (Luckily my kilt is out of shot).
The death of Joey Alves, Y&T's original rhythm guitarist, is incredibly sad. Those two legendary gigs at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street in June 1982 were among the best shows I ever saw. 'Earthshaker' remains a desert island disc. "This is a great loss for all the Y&T family and faithful," said Meniketti. "Joey now joins Phil and Leonard in rock and roll heaven" after bassist Phil Kennemore died of cancer in 2011 and drummer Leonard Haze lost a battle with heart disease last year. RIP, Joey.
Monday 13th March
Lita Ford at Islington - I would have to file that under 'good but not great'. Rock Goddess put on a favourably received support slot, their 50 minutes included a preview of material to be included in a new EP at the end of May. I really liked their newie 'Back Off' but felt it was rather puerile of the band to make such a meal of getting the crowd to sing back 'fuck off' at them, even separating us into thirds and demanding that each roared louder than its rival… sorry, that was a bit rubbish. A final run-in of 'My Angel', 'Heavy Metal Rock 'N' Roll' and the encore of 'Make My Night' soon sweetened the taste.
The crowd was very decently sized for a Sunday night and I'm not sure whether Lita was nervous but some awfully quiet moments filled the gaps between songs onstage and off (I know she broke a couple of strings, but...). The atmosphere remained quite stilted until the final third. Ford still looked great, but despite those boasts of her six-string prowess during the 1980s she delegated a big chunk of the solos to male band member Patrick Kennison, even taking the damned thing off during 'Hungry For Your Sex'. That said the pair did a fine job feeding off one another during 'Back To The Cave'. What puzzled me most was Lita's lackadaisical references to songwriting credits. She made a big deal of bigging up a Nikki Sixx co-write on 'Falling In And Out Of Love' and of course Ozzy with 'If I Close My Eyes Forever' ("He had some help"). Curiously, "my dear friend Sir Elton John" (!) received a namecheck for a cover of 'The Bitch Is Back' but Lemmy's input on 'Can't Catch Me' went unmentioned. And as for 'Black Leather' having been written "by The Sex Pistols"... er, hello? Steve Jones and Paul Cook, maybe... The show was fun but ultimately there were too many question marks. And my accountant will be relieved to hear that on the way out I ignored the temptation to buy a signed promo photo for £20!
Sunday 12th March
How fantastic. I've just stumbled across this Polaroid (remember those?) in a drawer of my office desk. It would have been 1995 and snapper Peter 'Bignose' Cronin and I were on an assignment for RAW magazine, visiting a studio in Surrey to cover the Wildhearts, who were working on 'p.h.u.q.'. Pete asked me to be a model while he tested out his lights.
And so onto less favourable and happy territory. Colour Of Noise, the band featuring former Little Angels/b.l.o.w. guitarist Bruce John Dickinson, have split up. As yet there has been no explanation for the decision, and I must say I'm rather pissed off about it all. They were a fuggin' great band.
Soon I depart for this evening's homecoming for Lita Ford at the Islington Academy, with special guests Rock Goddess. The ex-Runaway hasn't played the city of her birth for almost three decades, though of course I saw her numerous times 'back in the day': twice with Rainbow at the Michael Sobell Sports Centre and at her own Marquee gig in 1983, at numerous stops across the UK and Europe the following year backing Twisted fucking Sister with 'Stay Hungry' - anyone remember the Heavy Sound Festival in Poperinge?! - and once again as headliner at the 'old' Marquee, in Dublin on the opening night of the Jove's 'New Jersey' trek in 1988 (where I ended up in the cells overnight - true!) and at the legendary 'new' Marquee bash which saw her joined by Jon, Richie et al for 'We're An American Band'. This is one of my favorite songs of Lita's, for obvious reasons...
Saturday 11th March
And so it begins. Seven and a half hours of chat for the Wishbone Ash boxed set coffee table book. My only intended break is for this afternoon's 6 Nations clash between England and Scotland. *Pulls brave face and enters transcript mode*...
Friday 10th March
I've just arrived home from a wonderful night at the 100 Club as the Dan Reed Network rolled into town. A pair of bloody excellent bands, good friends (too many), a few beers (not too many - a long weekend of work lies ahead), and I managed to stay out of the Crobar post-gig and the kebab shop at Catford Bridge.
Despite omitting their best song, 'White Knuckle Ride' (whaaat?!), Vega put in a rousing warm-up stint; some of those around me who'd shown indifference at the start of their set were punching the air at its conclusion and humming the melody to the singalong swansong of 'Saving Grace' during the interval. And a big shout out to Nick Workman who sang the ballad 'Fade In To The Flames' manfully, in spite of annoying mic gremlins throughout their shift.
This was the fifth time I'd seen Dan Reed Network since a reunion that had never seemed possible, and I'd go to their gigs seven nights a week if I could. Why? Two answers: 1) no other band has as much fun onstage and 2) each show is different. In between staples such as 'Rainbow Child', 'Ritual' and 'Get To You' the band invited Inglorious' Nathan James to join them for a stomp through Kiss' 'Rock And Roll All Night', guitarist Brion James accepted a challenge to sing a Steely Dan song ('Rikki Don't Lose That Number') and they fooled around in fanboy mode with several Rush tidbits ('Overture', 'Limelight' and 'YYZ'). Yeah, there was a *lot* of chatter, which I know winds up some of their fans, but heck... it was entertaining! Downside: the buggers left out 'Tiger In A Dress', but like I said, each show is different and I expect it to return when the Network does (Dan signed off by revealing that a new album is being planned). Come back soon, fellas!
Thursday 9th March
How great to see Mike Tramp back at the Black Heart in Camden. The hard working former White Lion/Freak Of Nature singer has built things up over last six years from solo unplugged performances to the current electric band scenario. His three-piece group - including Soren Andersen, also Glenn Hughes' current guitarist - suits him exceptionally well, and if Tramp now focusses a little less on his past than previously, the Dane has every justification - the last three solo releases have all been superb. The show took place on the day that a latest set, 'Maybe Tomorrow', went to Number #2 in his national chart (also topping the vinyl listings), and in 2017 Tramp is in a very good place indeed. "Lord, all I ask is one thing - give me twenty more years," he pleaded from the stage. "I don't want to be any younger or older, I'm happy the way I am." Perhaps inevitably many of the glory-era tunes were re-worked. Again... I had no problem with that, particularly enjoying the revision of the 'Pride' album classic 'Lady Of The Valley'. Tramp's inner contentment, and the pleasure of a smiling crowd, were all too obvious. "Being with friends and playing music is what it's all about. It's not worth earning a billion dollars if you don't enjoy the people you're with," he admitted. "It took me almost thirty years to learn that."
Blimey, I've just played the first three tracks of the new Vain album, 'Rolling With The Punches' (out on the 24th of this month)... wow. I'm blown away. I'm not kidding when I say it's on a par with 'No Respect', their immortal debut from 1989.
Tuesday 7th March
It's mid-evening as I type and I'm back at Ling Towers after a few local pints of scrumpy with my PR pal Nick White who had some hot-off-the-press Heep re-issue goodies for me - CDs of 'Look At Yourself', 'Demons Ands Wizards' and 'The Magician's Birthday', plus the new 180gm edition of 'Live 1973' on double-gatefold speckled vinyl. Better still, I picked up a Chinese on the way home, and with both Linglets out it's time to settle down for Walking Dead, Talking Dead and Billions. #peaceandquiet #nocooking #vinyl
Monday 6th March
Oooh, very nice indeed. The Status Quo vinyl singles box volume one has just thudded onto the mat. 13 seven-inch 45s from 'Paper Plane' to 'Living On An Island' with original B-sides and sleeves reproducing the period graphics – plus my sleeve notes. Thanks a lot, postie.
Sunday 5th March
How nice to catch up with one of my bestest mates in the whole world, Harj Kallah, at a venue beneath a pizzeria in the West End of London over some nosebag, pinot and jazz-rock from the Alex Skolnick Trio. Skolnick is best known as a guitarist of Testament, also a former member of power-metal gods Savatage and, until a few years back, a touring player with the progressive rock-meets-Broadway behemoth known as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but the AST provides a radically different outlet for his extraordinary talent.
This evening we heard versions of Aerosmith's 'Dream On', 'Revelation (Mother Earth)' by Ozzy Osbourne, ' an Al Di Meola-ized rendition of 'Breaking The Law' and the 'Made In Japan' version of Purple's 'Lazy' amid a raft of self-penned tunes. It was great fun... someday all gigs will be like this!
Saturday 4th March
My Friday evening was spent in the company of my gig buddy Robert Corich watching Procol Harum's 50th anniversary gig at the Royal Festival Hall. I'm a little ashamed that I've only see this legendary band once before; back in March 2003 they played the Broadway Theatre (formerly the Town Hall) here in Catford. It was a stunning gig. The band had a little soiree in the bar afterwards and I got my copy of their then-current disc 'The Well's On Fire' signed by Gary Brooker, hit the kebab shop and was home in a matter of minutes - lovely!
Their RFH gig offered a night of drama, colour, pageantry and courage. Now 71 years old, Brooker took a really bad tumble leaving the stage at the end of set #1, and for a while nobody was sure that he would be able to return – especially when the interval was extended. So when the singer/pianist came back with a bandaged head the place gave him a standing ovation. The poor fella had also injured his hand, which meant adapting the set (organist Josh Phillips covered some of his parts). What a trooper to carry on. Most rock bands tend to use classical players simply for embellishment purposes but Procol stepped back and allowed the Senbla Symphony Orchestra and English Chamber Choir to blend and percolate with their music. From those exquisite swooping seagull sounds at the start of 'A Salty Dog' to a robust, heroic outburst during 'Symphathy For The Hard Of Hearing', Geoff Whitehorn's guitar playing was exemplary.
The only part of the show that I disliked was when Brooker invited singer Sam Brown and a couple of fellow female ukulele players to participate in 'Neighbour', a quite hideous ditty from 'Novum', the band's brand new studio album, which sounded like a bad Chas & Dave B-side. However, this was one hell of a birthday party - I'm really surprised they didn't film the thing. It made me proud to be English, and that's not a phrase I use too often anymore.
Wow, I've just spotted a fact on John Coghlan's Facebook page. 'Status Quo Live', the greatest concert album ever turns 40 years old today. What a strange and unnerving thought!
Anyway, its 5.15pm as I type: Palace win... Shiteon lose... Boro lose... Hull lose...
Twatford lose... CPFC exit the dreaded bottom three, with Eagles fans singing: "Oh Tony Pulis, we're having your house." God I *hate* Tiny Penis! Beating him at last when we really needed it feels so, so sweet. Hmmm… a visit to the pub may be in order, methinks!
Friday 3rd March
Last night I sat up late for a phone interview with Joe Bonamassa (er... is 11.30pm considered late?) As we spoke, Joe had the guitar cradled in his lap and was playing away in the background whilst spilling the beans on the new Black Country Communion album... gosh, I hate my job! Thank God I got it back! We laughed about the fact that JB dolls are now available via his Facebook page. The blurb claims: "They come with a better personality, more talent and better hairline than the real thing." "That was my endorsement," he giggled. "It's true. I really don't take myself too seriously."
Oh goodness gracious me. Lionheart and Airrace have teamed forces for a few UK dates in December. "Hello, is that Matalan Catford branch? Good. I'm in urgent need of some new underwear. And lots of it!" I will deffo be in London and may also just put together a bit of a road trip... Newcastle or Wolverhampton, possibly?
Thursday 2nd March
I'm sitting back in my office chair and smiling like a loon, attempting to pick a track from Night Ranger's newie, 'Don't Let Up', for the Heavy Rotations (office jukebox) section of the next Classic Rock. There's a problem, but it's a nice one... every song is superb!
Here are this month's Playlist and YouTube updates.
Wednesday 1st March
I'm very, very sad to see the perilous state of my second team, Leyton Orient, who face a winding up order for an unpaid tax bill and could well be relegated from the football league unless they buck up their ideas. During the 1990s as a bachelor I spent eight very happy years in Leytonstone and would often attend Orient games when I couldn't make Palace's away fixtures. It's amazing and rather depressing to think that only three years ago they were beating Rotherham 2-0 in the League 1 play-off final, only to lose on pens.
A 'non-football'-type friend of Facebook has just posted that he cannot understand why fans get upset when clubs are threatened with extinction; after all, they are business like everything else. What utter bunkum! It's the supporters who pay the price for the negligence or stupidity for those charged with running things. Clearly the bloke that bought Os doesn't give a shit if they drop out of the league or go bust, but fans invest their lives in the clubs they support. It ain't their fault. Quite the opposite, in fact. Are they supposed to remain dispassionate? I'm extremely proud that when Palace were in danger of going bust I got off my arse to attend several protests, including the one at Lloyds Bank in the City that saved the situation.
Anyway, rant over... as I type this I'm prepping for a phone interview with Erik Mårtensson via a blast of the appropriately titled new Eclipse masterpiece, 'Monumentum' (out March 24th). What a fabulous band!!