This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling
will be updated daily - except after nights of excess.
Sunday 19th October
Yesterday Palace played league leaders Chelski at Selhurst Park… I really liked the idea of fielding two goalies! Sadly, unlike last season's game which was settled by a J**n T***y own goal, there were no surprises in terms of the result. However, refereeing deficiencies notwithstanding a slim 1-2 defeat wasn't the worst score in the world – especially against a team that looks set to run away with the title.
I've just returned from the Tower Of London in the company of my friends Mr & Mrs Pudney, Steve Breese and Lucy Elwell, where we enjoyed a swift but enjoyable lunchtime pint and took a look at the thousands of red ceramic poppies planted in the moat – 888,246 of them to be precise, each representing a British fatality suffered in the conflicts between 1914 and 1918. I'm sure you'll agree, the effect is stunning. It can be seen until Remembrance Day on November 11.
Saturday 18th October
What a great way to end the week. Pre-gig libations with good friends in a cocktail bar – this 'tea' is not as it seems! – followed by a superb two-hour show from Mr Big at Koko in Camden.
With drummer Pat Torpey now suffering from Parkinson's disease, the San Franciscans have brought in Matt Starr of Ace Frehley's band for this tour.
The good news is that Pat was still well enough to play a big part in the show and the crowd cheered him and sang his name at every available opportunity. It was very touching. Mr Big played quite a few chewns from their new CD, '…The Stories We Could Tell', a record that I've yet to spend much time with, but the show didn't suffer at all.
Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert had the drills out for 'Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy' and the solos were kept tastefully short. During a wondrous encore the band swapped instruments during a cover of Judas Priest's 'Living After Midnight', Torpey taking over vocal duties as Gilbert occupied the drum stool, Sheehan moved onto four six strings and singer Eric Martin plucked the bass.
With Mick and Davey from the Heep smiling and waving down from one of the boxes this was a truly magnificent night, topped off by a bottom-heavy rendition of the Free song that gave them their name.
Here's the set-list: 'Gotta Love The Ride', 'Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)', 'American Beauty', 'Undertow', Guitar/Bass Duel, 'Alive And Kickin'', 'I Forget To Breathe', 'Take Cover', 'Green-Tinted Sixties Mind', 'Out Of The Underground', Guitar Solo, 'The Monster In Me', 'Rock & Roll Over', 'As Far As I Can See', 'Wild World', 'East/West', 'Just Take My Heart', 'Fragile', 'Around The World', Bass Solo and 'Addicted To That Rush', followed by 'To Be With You', 'The Stories We Could Tell', 'Colorado Bulldog', 'Living After Midnight' and 'Mr Big'. (Gig photos courtesy of Jim Templeton-Cross)
Friday 17th October
I'm nursing a hangover the size of a blue whale. Did Andy Beare, Jeff Gilbert, Phillippa Douglas and I really go the Crobar following the after show party? (and was Paul Newcomb *still* in there after the Skinny Molly gig?) That's disgraceful behaviour on a school night.
On the strength of 'Full Throttle', a kick-ass rock 'n' roll record that has been winning some rave reviews, I had wanted to take a look at Massive, the Antipodeans who were opening the show. I felt that the first half of their set was a little base and generic; it wasn't till four songs
in that they let rip with the groovesome 'Dancefloor' and then followed it with 'Ghost' and 'One By One' that things *really* took off. Would deffo like to see them again, though…
I'd also intended to watch the middle band, Buffalo Summer, but we went to the bar, met up with some people… and, um, you know how it is. Sorry.
It's hard to believe that almost a year had passed since my last sighting of the headliners, at the Forum as guests of Airbourne. Since then much has changed, notably the addition of an excellent guitarist called Dee Dammers. Though I understand the reason for the need to look a little more age appropriate I cannot tell a lie… I don't like the band's new image, which places them somewhere between Avenged Sevenfold and Biohazard. Complete with aviator shades and slicked back hair, Matt Jones is now a dead spit of M Shadows. However… shut one's eyes and it was just like old times. They played the best songs from their two albums and introduced an impressive sounding track called 'Bloodsucker' that may or may not appear on the next record. It would be hard to ignore The Treatment's energy and sense of fun, encapsulated by the fist-in-the-air 'Drink! Fuck! Fight!' Please don't listen to the ugly rumours that I am to record a version of this same song modelled on my own typical night out, to be titled 'Drink! (Try To Avoid) Fight! Kebab!' It's a filthy lie!
Thursday 16th October
Scaaaarrreeee! Just dug out a T-shirt for tonight's gig by The Treatment – literally, the first one on top of a pile. It wasn't till checking the dates on the back that I realised it's thirty bloody years old. The Crüe played London's Dominion Theatre, where I bought said garment, a few months after breaking their duck at Monsters Of Rock, on November 16, 1984. Jeez, that's just… terrifying!
Wednesday 15th October
What a t'riffic alcohol-free night at the Underworld with Confederate rockers Nashville Pussy, my partner in crime the CroBeare and NP's publicist Roland Hyams. And if you'll believe that then you'll believe anything!
I had made the stooopid mistake of standing behind the biggest mother**ker in the building – seriously, this dude was taller than Dave Everley on stilts! – but for 70 adrenaline-charged, expletive-coloured, headshaking minutes all was well with the world as the quartet charged though an 18-song set, many of which flashed by at around the two-minute mark. Several were culled from the latest LP, 'Up The Dosage', including 'Rub It To Death', 'Everybody's Fault But Mine' and the brilliantly titled 'The South's Too Fat To Rise Again', guitarist Ruyter Suys taking centre stage as they stretched out for more than ten minutes on 'Milk Cow Blues', the Kokomo Arnold chewn popularised by Aerosmith.
Before playing 'Goodbye Baby, Go To Hell' they took a well earned Jack Daniel's break, toasting "a band that we love but nobody knows in America… we're going to drink in honour of Status Quo!" And why not? If you don't know anything about Nashville Pussy but my waffle whets your interest, please check out this interview that I conducted with them for Classic Rock in 2003.
Tuesday 14th October
What a very special night at the Islington Assembly Hall with Flying Colours, who feature members past 'n' present of Deep Purple, Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, Kansas, Transatlantic, Dixie Dregs and more. Now onto their sophomore album, 'Second Nature', these guys have really gelled into a proper band.
However, the evening could've been a disaster. The band had been delayed at customs, hence Mike Portnoy's repeated Spinal Tap-esque reference to cucumbers (a gag that became a bit boring after a while), which meant support act John Wesley went onstage late – ensuring that, regrettably, Mr Shilton and I caught just the last couple of songs – and the headliners were (presumably) forced to cut their own set.
The band's seemingly incompatible mix of prop-rock and pop music is rarely less than harmonious and inspiring. You could almost hear mouths gaping when Casey McPherson took the spotlight to sing a solo version of 'Colder Months', a song by his other Alpha Rev, in what was a real highlight of the night. The set-list ran as follows: 'Open Up Your Eyes', 'Bombs Away', 'Kayla', 'Shoulda Coulda Woulda', 'The Fury of My Love', 'A Place in Your World', 'Forever In A Daze', 'One Love Forever', 'Colder Months', 'Peaceful Harbour', 'The Storm', 'Cosmic Symphony' and 'Mask Machine', followed by an encore of 'Infinite Fire'.
Monday 13th October
Sunday… a day of ups and downs. Very aware of the possibility that things could go horribly, horribly wrong, I set out to cook my first ever Sunday roast evening meal for three by working out the timings, preparing the ingredients and making my excuses in advance. Throw in the fact that England's game against Estonia was due to KO at around the same time and… well, you'll understand why a brief wee nip of the cooking sherry was necessary. Sadly, the Yorkies didn't rise and the meal was a bit on the dry side, hence the addition of some tinned spag bol (!), but the kids said that coming from a complete novice it was worth a good 7/10.
If only I could say the same of England's performance in Talinn against a team that was forced to spend much of the contest with ten men, and *still* struggled to exert any superiority. By the time Rooney swung in a free kick at the near post in the 73rd minute, not only was I too bored to celebrate, I'd almost abandoned the will to live.
Sunday 12th October
I've been a huge Opeth fan for many years, having followed them since their legendary gig at the Camden Underworld on the tour for 2001's 'Blackwater Park' masterwork. Last night the Swedes rolled through London, stopping off at the Roundhouse to promote an eleventh studio set, the excellent 'Pale Communion'. And what a show they put on – two hours and ten minutes of progressive-tinged hard rock and heavy metal, complete with musicianship that can only be described as 'off the scale', a mix of clean and growled vocals and, to lighten the mood, a healthy dose of band leader Mikael Åkerfeldt's mirthsome self-mocking wit.
Surprisingly, they included just three tunes from 'Pale Communion' – 'Eternal Rains Will Come', the Middle Eastern-tinged 'Cusp Of Eternity' and 'Elysian Woes' – though Åkerfeldt later informed me that two further new selections have been rehearsed and will be gradually integrated into the set. Surprisingly, the band delved all the way back to their second ever album, 1995's 'Morningrise', for the night's oldest tune, 'Advent', after which Mikael admitted with a laugh: "I was listening to a band called Wishbone Ash when I wrote that one." No wonder that later on in the show he was forced to observe: "We're a band of contrasts."
Metal Hammer had asked me to go backstage and obtain some post-show comments, which I duly did, exchanging brief pleasantries with Steven Wilson (the man responsible for mixing 'Pale Communion' in a history of close musical collaborations with Åkerfeldt and Opeth) who was just exiting the dressing room. Indeed, but for the mad dash back to Charing Cross in what proved a vain bid to catch my final train back to Catford, it was a fantastic evening.
Saturday 11th October
After what feels like a few months of semi-retirement from gigging it's all kicking in again: Opeth (tonight), Flying Colours (Monday ), Nashville Pussy (Tuesday), a day off on Weds, The Treatment (Thurs) and Mr Big (Fri), followed by Palace-Chelski on Sat and Blackberry Smoke (Sun). Bring it on!! As if we didn't require categorical proof that the Hall Of Fame is a sick, unfunny joke, those talentless jokers The Smiths are among the (No) Class Of 2015 nominees, alongside Lou Reed, Kraftwerk, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, meaning that Deep Purple, Yes, Bon Jovi, King Crimson, ELP and many more are overlooked – yet again. What a farce…
Friday 10th October
Though the result of 5-0 maintained a 100% record in the competition thus far, England made fairly heavy work of last nite's Euro qualifier against San Marino at Wembley – a team so shit that even Clowntown Pathetic's reserves wouldn't fail to beat. The game made me realise how much I hate W***e R***ey. I sighed deeply when he 'scored' the fifth, and then cheered loudly when it was declared on own goal. He's not fit to lace Jimmy Greaves' boots. Anyway, faced with the prospect of yet another Friday night stuck at home, I have cheered myself up by booking travel to the Firefest weekend. In exactly two weeks I shall be watching a bill that includes Shy, Ten and headliners H.E.A.T. - and that's just the opening nite! Hahaha, leafing through the January 2014 issue of Classic Rock in search of a quote for this afternoon's interview with Jimmy O, vocalist/guitarist of the Graveltones, I was amused to spot this gem from Francis Rossi: "Status Quo unplugged? The idea makes my bottom twitch. It would be good for about 20 minutes…" The man does not lie.
Thursday 9th October
I really enjoyed last night's gig from Kobra & The Lotus, the female-fronted Maple Leaf Mayhem Merchants (© Paul Suter) who were playing songs from their strongest album to date, 'High Priestess'. It was by far the best show of the six shows I've seen them perform. However, three LPs into their career they really should be doing bigger places than the Barfly...
I made a conscious effort to catch the main support act. Not to be confused with 'Monuments', the UK progressive-metal combo, the singular Monument are capital-based, very much in the vein of Maiden and Priest and fronted by Peter Ellis (once of the excellent White Wizzard). Annoyingly, their half-hour slot was beset by technical problems: some mic issues caused a whole chunk of 'Carry On' to become lost, just like a lot of the higher register notes... the very ones that I really wanted to hear!
Luckily those frustrations were not echoed by the headliners, whose supremely versatile Kobra Paige turned in one hack of a vocal masterclass. They're an interesting group, once discovered by Greg Godovitz of the mighty Goddo, fact fans. Stylistically speaking K&TL have been on the money for some time but it's only fairly recently that songs of genuine quality were added to the mix. All but four of the night's 14 tunes were pulled from 'High Priestess'; it seems as though they agree with me! At times the band were reminiscent of a female-fronted Queensrÿche, though the ballad 'Lost In The Shadows' can be viewed as their 'Beyond The Realms Of Death' moment, having supported Halford and company at Hammersmith in 2012 that's certainly the vibe they were aiming for. Here's the full set-list: 'High Priestess', 'Nayana', 'Battle Of Wrath', 'Hold On', 'Warhorse', 'Soldier', 'Welcome To My Funeral', 'Forever One', 'Visionary', 'Willow', 'Lost In The Shadows' and 'I Am, I Am', with encores of 'Heartbeat' and '50 Shades Of Evil'.
Wednesday 8th October
'Play Ball', the new single from AC/DC – and the first thing to be made public since Malcolm Young retired from the group – is better than I'd been fearing... much better. I can almost imagine Jerry Ewing singing its chorus in the Crobar, doing his best Jonno impersonation! Listen to it here.
Anyway, it's another pink 'n' fluffy day here at Ling Towers, I'm writing my melodic rock column for the next issue of Classic Rock. Though it sticks in my throat to say anything complimentary about a record entitled 'Albion', the new album by UK hard rockers Ten is amazing, their best in many a long year. I wish the same could be said of the self-titled debut from Rated X, a unit built around ex-Rainbow/Deep Purple singer Joe Lynn Turner and featuring fretless bassist Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder) and drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Murder). On paper this one really should be a killer, but barring the odd gripping moment it's just too dull and hackneyed. Far more preferable is the self-titled album by Teri Tims, a ravishing and gifted singer from Keithville, Louisiana, whose husband – the one and only Paul Sabu – co-wrote many of its superb, instantly memorable songs. The press release says that her voice "will make a married man wish he was single, and a teenage boy wish he was a man." I couldn't have put it better myself!
Tuesday 7th October
Hearty congratulations to my colleague Paul Elliott on a superb cover story in the new issue of Classic Rock (dated November). Gooner got on so well with Jimmy Page that the Zep-meister offered him to job of fronting his new solo band ("are you volunteering?"). Dunno why but Paul's reply of: "Come on, Jimmy. Don't be silly" really made me giggle. A great visual image from Ross Halfin, too. JP looks so much better for binning the hair dye a while ago!
I just got off the phone with Eric Bloom, who was talking up Blue Öyster Cult's spot at next month's Hard Rock Hell Festival. Our conversation kinda made me wish I was attending the show, but it's in Wales… *grimaces*… Naah, really can't see that happening.
Monday 6th October
Last night I got around to watching the BBC's documentary on Genesis, Together & Apart… oh dear. So many reservations, where to start? I couldn't agree more with Steve Hackett, whose feathers have been well and truly ruffled by its glaring omission of his solo work. It's almost as though Genesis are trying to airbrush him out of their history – the guitarist was excluded from the Six Of The Best show at Milton Keynes Bowl (till he turned up anyway) and left out of their last reunion tour – disgraceful! Now this!! Not even a mention of the Ray Wilson line-up, either. I daresay the full-length DVD edition will be superior, but whoever edited the footage for telly is a plum of the highest order.
However, there were some unexpectedly good bits, for example Tony Banks on Phil Collins' solo success; "I wanted him to do well... but not that well. For about 15 years he was ubiquitous." But hearing the odious 'I Can't Dance' again for the first time in years reminded me that it is an aural turd to rival Quo's own 'B***ing B***ges'. Overall though, given the level of access they had Together & Apart can only be filed under: 'Missed opportunity'. Once again the Beeb pretends to care about rock music, and fails miserably… Let's all pretend to be shocked.
And in happier news, there's a wonderful six-minute YouTube teaser of Steven Wilson's new album, work on which recently took place at London's AOR Studios. I'm so bloody excited… February 2015 can't come quickly enough!
Sunday 5th October
Despite the Palace result I had an enjoyable Saturday night at Shepherd's Bush Empire where Ian 'Unter & The Rant Band were supported by my mates from Stockport, Federal Charm. Met up for a couple of pre-gig pints in the Defector's Weld with my Classic Rock colleague Neil Jeffries and the inimitable Mark Taylor before scooting across the Green to catch Federal Charm's warm-up set. Although allocated just 25 mins to show what they could do the quartet acquitted themselves admirably, 'I'm Not Gonna Beg' and 'Too Blind To See' displaying a measured, earthy groove, while their cover of Lowell Fulson's 'Reconsider Baby' gets better and better every time I hear them play it. Next up is a series of gigs with ex-Black Crowe Rich Robinson… watch their progress continue.
And so onto Mr 'Unter… Neil and I had a fantastic view of the stage from our seats at the front of the balcony, but it was hot inside the venue and the music was a little one paced, after a while it began to been a bit soporific so I walked about and took a few photos. Def Leppard's Joe Elliott was backstage but just for once declined to join in on the encores, though Ian's Mott buddy Mick Ralphs was less elusive. Being the last night of the tour there was a pleasant, carefree vibe and although I could never claim to be a great student of IH's solo catalogue it was a fun evening all the same. Very glad that I resisted the temptation to drink too much.
Saturday 4th October
Yesssss… get in! Thanks a lot, postie! I've just received a package of goodies from Derek Oliver at Rock Candy Records, including 3 x Toto re-issues ('Toto', 'Hydra' and 'Turn Back'), five of the best ones made by Swiss metalheads Krokus, and the debuts from Danger Danger and the BulletBoys. Now... which to play first? It's gotta be Krokus' 'Metal Rendez-vous', I think!
Ah well, the first defeat of the second Colin Wanker era has just been registered – Hull 2 Palace 0. Watched the game on an internet stream and the result kinda flattered the home team, their second goal coming as the Eagles pushed up in search of an equaliser. I cannot stand losing to Flatnose Bruce, and it rarely happens – the Tigers had beaten Palace only once in 15 meetings – but nothing lasts forever, eh?
Friday 3rd October
Oh look, what a brilliant photo I've just found! My boys with their 'Uncle' Michael Monroe in the Hanoi Rocks dressing room at the Rock & Blues Custom Show way back in 2006. Eddie looks a wee bit nervous but Arnie is loving it! Sax 'n' ligs 'n' rawkenrawl!!!
Thursday 2nd October
Cool… Metal Hammer have asked me to review Opeth's gig at the Roundhouse this weekend! Better still, they also want me to nip backstage afterwards and ask Mikael Åkerfeldt a few 'how was it for you'-type questions. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday nite!
Wednesday 1st October
Ooooh, exciting! Having realised that a reunion of Led Zeppelin "doesn't look likely", Jimmy Page is making plans to reactivate his solo career . Now *that's* something I'd pay to see.
One of the best things about my job is that I never know what's around the corner. For instance, the Jesus & Mary Chain are a band so far off my radar they might as well reside on Uranus. And yet last night I ended up chatting with Jim Reid, their once hard-as-nails frontman, about a series of upcoming dates. I'd prepared a few Qs of my own and some others were sent via a better informed source from the office (hi, Dave Everley). We were getting along fine till I asked one of the 'suggested' questions, namely did the Scotsman - whose violent relationship with sibling William was a thing of legend - mellow out in the late 1980s, or just pretend to? Cue: a frosty silence, and then, emphatically, and sounding offended: "We've never mellowed out. The Mary Chain don't do mellow."
Thank Gawd there were several miles of phone line between us!
© 2014 - www.daveling.co.uk - All Rights Reserved
Web design by Frau Fledermaus Sitebuilding, FFS!