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 10th September
What a brilliant photograph of myself and 'Rhino' Edwards' taken in the bar following last night's 'Aquostick 2' gig… one too many bad reviews of the non-Frantic Four line-up, I guess. When Edwards saw me lurking, he made a beeline across the room. His opening line was, and I quote: "What the fuck are you doing here?!" It was too late to run away!
Although pretty short, the set wasn't anywhere near as bad as I'd feared. We got 60 minutes, including two repeated tracks at encore time – pretty steep when admission cost £45. My pal Nige Glazier and I were up in the balcony stage-right, and the sound was decent. When somebody downstairs roared out: "Where's Rick?!" Rossi made a point of ignoring the comment and, yeah, it did feel strange watching the band without their faithful rhythm guitarist, especially when salt was rubbed into the wound as Andrew Bown took over lead vocals for a rather horrendous version of 'Whatever You Want'.
I sat with fingers in ears throughout the ever-ghastly 'B***ing B**dges', though mostly the show was okay. Ish. And I say that through gritted teeth. Here's the set-list: 'Pictures Of Matchstick Men', 'Paper Plane', 'Caroline', 'What You're Proposing', 'Claudie', 'That's A Fact', 'Hold You Back', 'Rollin' Home', 'Down Down', 'Whatever You Want' and 'Rockin' All Over The World', followed by 'B***ing B**dges', 'That's A Fact' and 'Hold You Back'.
Friday 9th September
When you're invited to an album launch party by an email that promises: "No Bullshit, no ballads… PLENTY OF BOOZE!", then you know exactly what to expect. That's why I'm currently nursing a hangover of King Kong proportions. Though the band themselves were unable to be present, Spinefarm Records really pushed out the boat to celebrate 'Breakin' Outta Hell', the newie from Aussie headcases Airbourne with a free bar and a custom-made T-shirt that will never be repeated. Incredibly, I made it home without my shirt despite visiting the Crobar for a couple of nightcaps (and you can take that statement however you like). How on earth I managed this feat, I've really no idea.
I said that I'd never go to see Status Quo again without Rick. Okay... so I guess that I lied. Guest tix were offered and I had nothing planned tonight I'm off to the Union Chapel in Islington for an unplugged warm-up for the weekend's show in Hyde Park. This is gonna be quite strange. At least I get to catch up with my old gig-going buddy Nige Glazier, who is using the other ticket.
Thursday 8th September
Damian Wilson's one-man gigs are always pretty special, but last night's intimate show on board a barge in Battersea was incredible: two and a half hours of music and stories fleshed out by a full band (albeit drummer-less) in promotion of 'Built For Fighting', the Threshold/Headspace singer's fifth solo release.
As ever Wilson was reluctant to remain on the stage, turning the microphone across to friends and members of the band including local lad Doogie White, the current singer of Michael Schenker's band, who stepped up to join in the fun towards the show's riotous conclusion. At times Wilson's voice was quite literally jaw-dropping, the songs from 'Build For Fighting' purpose-built for its fruity, emotive delivery. Check out the record's single, 'Thrill Me', by clicking here.
I've just done my first phone interview with Damon Johnson of Black Star Riders/Thin Lizzy fame. What a top fella. I've been a fan since the days of his band Brother Cane. This is such a great song!
Wednesday 7th September
I'm not the happiest of budgies right now. For the first time in several months I'd planned to visit my local blues venue, the Beaverwood in Chislehurst, for a show from Devon Allman and his band. As the fly crows… sorry, as the crow flies… the place is only a few miles away from Chateau Ling, but I don't drive and the only realistic public transport route is by bus. It's just one direct journey, but it takes almost an hour. So there I was, stood outside Catford Town Hall awaiting its arrival. A 15-minute wait soon became a half-hour. I began to shuffle around nervously. Waiting my arrival at the other end, Andy Beare sent a text; 'Are you on the bus yet?' My reply would have made a Navvy blush with shame. Soon it was a painfully fruitless three-quarters-of-an hour. I texted Andy, 'If it's not here in 15 mins, I'm not waiting any longer than an hour – I'll f**k off back home'. And that's exactly what happened. Cue a night in front of the telly and much annoyance. So sorry, Devon… I guess I'll see you next time.
And talking of gigs, it's a case of two steps forward, one step back. Arnie enjoyed the Reading Festival and said that he'd definitely go again. Tonight, however, he's got a ticket to see the Libertines at the O2 Arena... *facepalms*...
At least things are going well at Selhurst Park, with former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini having a medical. Should that deal get over the line, blimey! What a transfer window it's been! I mean, look at the list of upgrades:
Gayle out, Benteke in
Bolasie out, Townsend in
Chamakh out, Remi in
McCarthy out, Mandanda in...
That's amazing! And the whole thing has been underwritten by a mere £9m in outlay!
Sunday 4th September
'Kin 'ell! Last night Glenn Hughes invited his formed Hughes/Thrall band-mate up onstage at a gig in Las Vegas, and they performed two songs from that classic debut album of theirs ('Muscle And Blood' and 'First Step Of Love'). You've no idea how much I wish I'd been there to have seen that, though thankfully there is at least some excellent quality YouTube footage of the occasion. Their pair have attempted without success to craft a follow-up to their cult favourite debut. Last night's events suggest that with a little luck such a dream could actually come to pass.
After the shame of the Iceland debacle I had vowed never to watch another England international game. But here I am tuned in at the start of the Fat Sam era, feet up and drink in hand for the game in Slovakia. It's bound to end in tears. [Edit: The first half display was as poor as the internet haters are suggesting, almost as bad as the team that underperformed at the Euros but things improved after the break and a blushes-saving, last-gasp winner from Adam Lallana was probably just about deserved].
Saturday 3rd September
There's no game today for the Palace - it's an international weekend; England play Slovenia in a World Cup qualifier tomorrow - but Ed and I are enjoying Soccer Saturday and the growing gloom of host Jeff Stelling as his beloved Hartlepool United concede goal after goal at lowly Stevenage. You can tell that the show's lovely roving reporter Bianca Westwood is enjoying passing on the news flashes to her boss! We want seven!
Friday 2nd September
No, I wasn't at yesterday's Prog Awards, but my day did just start with a breakast-time phoner with Steve Hackett! So put that in your pipe and smoke it!
In fact, my Thursday night was spent at Club Noir, a bit of a posh gaff in central London, at the 'end of summer' party of my old workmate Phil Alexander (we suspect it was actually a secret 50th birthday) and his equally ageless other half Tania. My photo shows myself with Phucking Phil (centre) and Steve McTaggart, previously RAW's ad manager, now guiding the careers of DragonForce and Cradle Of Filth – well, someone has to. Phil was probably the best editor I have worked under… no jokes pls. Those days spent at RAW magazine (in its heyday, prior to that regrettable Britpop nadir) were among the best of my life: I learned my trade, met, interviewed, drank with (and sometimes insulted) my heroes, travelled the world and had no sense of responsibility whatsoever. Among the other revellers were Xavier Russell in his Tankard T-shirt, Ross Halfin and filthy Kaz, Paul Elliott, Peter Makowski, Andy Copping, Tony Linkin, Wag, Mark Blake, Dave Henderson (the editor of RAW who we all fucking hated when he arrived for being a non-rock fan but ended up growing to like; how amusing that the regrettable mullet has now transposed onto the front of his face, albeit in grey), Jason 'Ladies' Hair' Arnopp and, though I didn't see them over in the VIP area, Roy Harper and Jools Holland. Best moment of the night, and a bit of a 'did that really happen?' moment: Jimmy Page waving across the room to me as he left (McT says that said friendly gesture was aimed towards him, I say: that's bollox).
Thursday 1st September
It's September already, huh? Here are the latest updates at the Playlist and YouTube pages.
Tuesday 30th August
Last night I headed across London for a sneak preview of the next set of Uriah Heep re-issues. Making the most of the last knockings of summer, my old buddy Robert Corich, the man behind the current re-master campaign, played his 'reimaginings' of the 'Look At Yourself' and 'Demons And Wizards' albums to Mark Taylor and myself at a BBQ in his back garden, washed down by all manner of exotic beverages. I feared it could be a whole Heep of trouble, and that's exactly what transpired. As a Kiwi, Rob is a dab hand at this BBQ-ing malarkey and he kept the courses coming, I've absolutely no idea how Mark T managed to put so away much food without being sick.
Monday 29th August
The Classic Rock website has just posted my list of Sweet's All-Time Top Ten Classics. I had wanted to exclude the pop hits as they are already very well-known indeed, but I was overruled. I could easily have done a Top 20 of their best self-penned chewns. It's a toss-up between Sweet and Quo as to my favourite group of all time.
On a more downbeat note, I'm feeling very annoyed indeed that somehow I forgot to put tonight's London show from Queensrÿche in the desk diary. I've seen the band on every UK tour till now, I'm pretty sure, right back to the support with Dio. And of course Todd La Torre is a great addition to their line-up. I did catch 'em at the Electric Ballroom a few months back, but it's pretty galling to miss this one. Gah!
Sunday 28th August
Apart from another disappointing day out at Selhurst (Scott Dann's late, late added-time equaliser presenting Palace with a first point of the season against Bournemouth), a fantastic night of symphonic melodic prog metal with Circus Maximus was just what I needed as a bit of a pick-me-up. The Norwegians were so great - who knew? Not me, as I missed 'em taking the Firefest by storm two years ago.
The Underworld might have been be bereft of punters but Circus Maximus treated the place like it was Shea Stadium, and the audience responded in kind. This year's fourth album, 'Havoc', is inspired by "moments and experiences in life that lead to love and hate" – is that prog enough for you? – its unusual time signatures and sudden changes of tempo enhancing their progressive credentials. One thing is for sure: these guys will never again be faced with 250 people in London on a Saturday night.
Afterwards I imbibed multiple nightcaps at the once-monthly classic rock club Heavy Load club (you know what? I revise my previous slightly negative opinion of that place) followed by a stumble back to Ling Towers from the bus garage (inevitably!) as the sun rose. Though inevitable, it was a shame the kebab shop was shut... grrrrrrr.
I had asked Arnie to send me a text per day from the Reading Festival, just to put my mind at rest. True to form there was nothing till about five mins ago (it's now mid-afternoon on the final day) and then two at once: 'It's raining ATM', followed by: 'Massive hangover'. #thatsmyboy
Friday 26th August
Arnie's packing his bags for a weekend away at the Reading Festival, as requested I lent him some T-shirts to go along with the Rammstein and Clutch garments that he owns (thanks, Kirsten!). Oh, to be that young again!
On a not unrelated note, I'm loving this very young fan's verdict of the recent Bloodstock Festival. You've gotta laugh at the way the kid discovered the mighty Twisted Sister. All the same, the music's future seems pretty safe in such hands, right? His folks are doing a good job!
Thursday 25th August
Happy 65th birthday to Judas Priest's Rob Halford, AKA the metal god! This story of mine was first published in the pages of Classic Rock magazine in the summer of 2000. "I'm [going to be reincarnated] as a rat in sewer. That would be very heavy metal, wouldn't it?"... what a fabulous quote.
It's early evening as I type and I have a message to Spurs: today's bid of £15m for Wilfried Zaha is a joke. I'd hate to see our homegrown wing wizard leave, but as the exit for Bolasie proved everyone has their pricetag and if you're serious - and Zaha *really* wants to move across town to a club where he'll barely play a game - then remove the wallet and kindly stop taking the piss.
[Edit: CPFC supremo Steve Parish saying has just been on Talksport insisting: "100% won't be selling Zaha in this transfer window no matter how much is bid". That's a relief. The Spurs fans of my acquaintance didn't want Zaha, and Palace supporters would have been up in arms had their hero departed for peanuts. But we all know what this was about - $$$$$$$$. Some highly paid players arrived at Selhurst over the summer, Wilf wants - and gets (presumably) - his pay rise with a renegotiated contract, so everyone is happy... but what a dirty trick from Spurs, trying to make the most of an unsettled player and perhaps blag themselves a bit of a bargain if Palace don't have the bottle to oppose such tactics. It's no wonder everybody hates those stinking Cockerels].
Wednesday 24th August
With the Holmesdale Fanatics occupying our usual seats for last night's League Cup tie against Blackpool we opted to sample life in the Holmesdale Road Stand's Upper Tier for a change. I'd forgotten what a great view those seats command, across Norwood and further afoot onto Croydonia. Proceedings took place in sticky, 25 degree evening heat (cue much rehydration before, during and afterwards). Having fielded a strong side against League 2 opponents the Eagles won with such comfort, at times it felt like an exhibition game. There were no banana skins in SE25 last night, matey. Back to the Albert Tavern for a few nightcaps, where we received the news that striker Loic Remy is joining on loan for the rest of the season with an option to buy. Smiles, and ales, all round.
Tuesday 23rd August
I've just posted on my Facebook page that youngest lad Arnie is off out for the day with some new young lady he's just met ("Daaaaaaad, can I have some money please?") and Eddie has just spent the weekend loved-up at a music festival. So, one question: Why doesn't that website have a clever emoji for 'feeling a bit left out'?
Monday 22nd August
I'd forgotten about this extended My Life Story piece, conducted for Metal Hammer back in 2008 with Peter Steele, the bassist and vocalist of Type O Negative who died heart of heart failure on April 14, 2010, at the age of 48. Now reprinted at the TeamRock website, it's one of my best ever interviews. What a mixed-up but truly fascinating guy. Wherever he is now, I hope that he has found peace.
Today I was thrilled to receive the new double-disc editions of the Uriah Heep albums '…Very 'Eavy …Very 'Umble' and 'Salisbury' (complete with reimaginings by my pal Robert Corich), plus the 33-track anthology 'Your Turn To Remember: 1970-1990'. Though it's plucked from a bit of a hit and miss album ('High And Mighty' from 1976), this song remains among my all-time faves by the band. What bloody great lyrics!
Sunday 21st August
Phew... I'm not experiencing too many aches or pains following yesterday's epic Thames Walk. Just as I arrived on the towpath at Hampton Wick the heavens opened, leaving me soaked to skin (all I wore was a Music For Nations sweatshirt and a pair of jeans). It bucketed down for 20 minutes or so, and I almost turned back. I'm so glad that I managed to tough it out, as once the clouds disappeared the weather was actually pretty decent. I've always been an enthusiastic walker – no, that's *not* a typo! – preferring to use a flight of stairs than a lift, or take the pedestrian route over a tube journey, and doing the trek alone I was really able to keep up a good pace; I reached Fulham FC in less than four hours of uninterrupted walking – not too shabby!
The beauty of the riverbank section through Richmond and Kew is really quite something and I thoroughly enjoyed the solitude of some 'me time'. I even managed to stay out of the pubs until just before 3pm, when I sought an alehouse equipped with Sky News at which I could follow the progress of the Spurs-Palace game. (I've no comment on the outcome – my worries about this season are growing bigger by the day).
Getting the old legs moving again was a bit of a problem and, pub break aside, having been on the path since 9.30am I got as far as Charing Cross as evening arrived and thought it best to call it a day. Big Ben and the House Of Parliament have never looked so welcome! I will do the final stretch, which includes Shakespeare's Globe, another time. It was a great, if utterly bonkers, experience. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys combining physical activity with a bit of sightseeing – it'll take you a full day to do it. And another to recover! When I got back home, I sat in the chair till bedtime and walked up the stairs to bed like an OAP. Arnie thought it hilarious!
The only downer – for a big chunk of the route there is no real Thames Path, you have to use the back streets and try to stay close to the river. I got a bit lost after Putney Bridge and found my way back at Chesea Harbour. And then the bloody path disappeared again!
All the same, I'm glad I found the time to do it before the end of the summer. Click on the snapshots below for larger photos of views along the way.
Saturday 20th August
It's 7am as I type. I'm up earlier than usual for a particular reason. Back in 2013 London's freebie paper the Metro ran an article about the Thames path that runs between Kingston to Greenwich being named second in a list of "the world's most exciting experiences". The route runs past Richmond and Kew, Craven Cottage, Westminster, along the South Bank and back to Island Gardens where there's a foot tunnel beneath the river that I used to mess around in as a kid. "Expect surprising contrasts", it warned of the journey (by my calculation it's 26 miles). For some inexplicable reason, I cut out the story and kept it. Today, with nothing better to do, I'm gonna give it a go. Ulp.
Friday 19th August
I'm chuffed to have set the Sky+ for the brand new series of Nashville. Series 4 Episode 1 is on next Thurs and it includes a cameo from Steven Tyler. I can't wait!
Anyway, this morning Ed headed off to the V Fest in Essex for the weekend. The look on his face when I asked him to bring me a back a Bieber T-shirt was priceless. #beyondfurious
With just two of us at the house over the next few days I decided it might be nice to have a bit of a film night with Arn in Bromley; some ciders and fab Mexican nosebag. I had quite fancied the new David Brent but he chose some horror flick called... wait for it... Lights Out. Haha, sounds familiar! Gotta be truthful: I've seen better, much better. But the kids in the row in front of us screamed aloud during one of the more scary moments, which I thought pretty hilarious! It's probably much better in 3D.
Thursday 18th August
Here are the results of a little phoner I did yesterday with Rick Allen of Def Leppard: How amazing to think that it was 30 years ago this week that the drummer made his return to the stage at Monsters Of Rock after the car accident that deprived him of a limb. It's a pretty moving story. I was in the crowd on that fateful day, and I still recall the colossal roar that Allen received from the crowd. It made me feel quite tearful, imagine its affect on the guy seated on the drum stool.
"I got quite nervous when I was asked to do this interview," Rick admitted at the end of our conversation. "But you know what? It's far enough along. I'm 53 in November. If I don't talk about it now, when am I going to talk about it?" Read it here.
Wednesday 17th August
Aw shit. Yet another hero leaves SE25 - this time it's the captain, no less. At his peak Mile Jedinak epitomized everything good about our club. At 32 years old he's now a squad player at best but, Christ... this is all becoming very worrying. Pardew and Parish had better have something pretty big up their sleeves, or on the evidence of last weekend Palace will be in big trouble this season...
Today was spent news-gathering and editing, which allowed more than usual time to sift through the tottering, swaying 'to be played' pile. Thumbs up to amazing new music from the Tygers Of Pan Tang (yes, really...), Laurence Jones, Damian Wilson, Airbourne, Beth Hart, the Hawklords, Testament and Devon Allman, plus a repeated spin of Tyketto. It's fantastic and rather varied stuff. I must say. Don't let anyone tell you that classic rock music is drying up, that's just laziness on their part.
Tuesday 16th August
I had needed cheering up today. Is it four years already since the death of my lovely mum? That seems quite impossible. I still find it tough to go past King's College Hospital. At least this little beauty, 'Reach', the new album from the American/Anglo melodic hard rockers Tyketto', is doing a fine job of restoring my smile. As you'll discover on October 14, it's as good as I had hoped.
Monday 15th August
As mooted here a few days ago it seems that Yannick Bolasie is headed to Everton in a £30million deal. I've already noted my admiration for the way that Bolasie conducts himself away from the pitch (see Diary, July 27), but I may have to reconsider such thoughts given that, according to a report in the Mirror, his deal with Palace contained an annual renegotiation clause that would make him their highest-paid forward, a clause ensuring that such status would always be retained. Sheeesh, that's a bubble well and truly pricked. Yala is a bread-head, too. How sad…
For those that follow my monthly Playlist and YouTube updates, please go here and here.
Sunday 14th August
Sleep deprivation. Gorgeous sunshine. Cautious, diplomatic optimism. Mindless, euphoric alcohol binge. The downing realisation that, Christ, I've missed this. Half time arrives. We look okay. More ale. Resumption. Loud verbal threats to yet another shit official. Heartbreak, frustration and fury at an undeserved winner. Drink to forget. Is it cocktails time yet? Gallows humour essential. Manager out!!! Yes... it can only be the start of another football season. And no, I don't want to talk about the friggin' result.
With hangover subsiding I've spent a big chunk of today interviewing various members of Tilt - a fine band who've made a very interesting debut album called 'Hinterland' (note: this Tilt are not to be confused with the obscure London metal heads who made a fine album called 'Ride The Tiger' in 1987). The video for its single features Tara Nowy, daughter of Fish, re-enacting her mum's role in the promo for 'Kayleigh' (apparently Tara wore the same coat!). They're well worth a look and a listen - check out the clip here and give 'Hinterland' a go… it's one of those albums that reels you in the more you hear it.
Meanwhile, I'm also playing this song for obvious reasons. Get well soon to former UFO/Waysted bass-man Pete Way, who is recovering from a heart attack.
Saturday 13th August
The sun was a-rising as I arrived back Chez Ling from a day out at the Bloodstock Festival. What an extremely fine farewell show Twisted Sister. I'm very glad that I made the pilgrimage to Derbyshire and back but not looking forward to the alarm going off in a couple of hours... I've gotta be in the pub at midday for Palace-WBA!
My pal Robert Corich and I left London in plenty of time to see Venom… or so we thought. Rob was very keen to check them out, more so even than the headliners. However, as we zoomed up a sun-drenched M6, the music blared so loudly and we chattered in such a high spirited way that we missed the sat-nav telling us to turn off the motorway. After a swift U-turn Rob really put his foot down but by the time we'd located Catton Park, claimed our backstage passes and gained entry to the arena Cronos and company were already in the latter stages of their set… there was maybe 15 minutes remaining. We did get to see them play 'Black Metal', which made Mr Corich's day, but boy oh boy were we pissed off.
After a quick pint in the guest area we watched a little of Behemoth's set and wandered around the stalls; Rob in search of food, myself in the mood to buy one of those cool Viking horns that my friend Hugh Gilmour was using as a drinking vessel (in the end common sense prevailed). It felt good to sink another pint in Lemmy's Bar, but within seconds of Nergal and company growling their last we headed to the front to gain the best possible view of Twisted Sister.
The show began later than scheduled but the band played for quite a lot longer than advertised, kicking off with the double-whammy of 'What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You)' and 'The Kids Are Back' instead of 'Stay Hungry' as per some of their tour's earlier shows. Dee Snider had the fans in the palm of his hand from the beginning, expressing his joy to be at "the only true metal festival in the UK – not that bullshit Download Festival", and ramming home the legitimacy of the group's swansong; "This is no Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne or Judas Priest farewell tour… don't tell us you are retiring and then come back two years later."
I, for one, will miss Twisted Sister whose performance at Bloodstock reminded us that they really were among the finest live acts on the planet. To their enormous credit, each band member came forward to thank the British audience for saving their asses back in the 1980s. It was a nice touch, though I'm not completely sure why Jay Jay French felt the need to aim a mini-potshot at the press, declaring that the band had formed "30 years ago, when the rock magazines still really meant something." That seemed a bit mean spirited to me, as TS have never been known for declining interview requests, in their heyday or during the present era.
Though the band were onstage for an hour and 45 minutes, it felt as though the show was over before it began. Here's what they played: 'What You Don't Know', 'The Kids Are Back', 'Burn In Hell', 'Destroyer', 'Like A Knife In The Back', 'You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll', 'The Fire Still Burns', 'I Am (I'm Me)', 'I Wanna Rock', 'The Price', 'I Believe In Rock 'N' Roll', 'Under The Blade', 'We're Not Gonna Take It' and 'It's Only Rock 'N' Roll', followed by 'Come Out And Play', 'Shoot 'Em Down' and 'SMF'.
The only downside of TS' extended set was that a large chunk of Diamond Head's day-closing display would be missed. Fair play to Mr Tatler and company, the tent was very full indeed and those present witnessed a razor-edged display that announced their new line-up, fronted by Danish born Rasmus Bom Andersen, in the most emphatic manner possible. I've a feeling that good times are ahead for a band that has never received favourable treatment from Lady Luck. Fingers crossed.
Friday 12th August
Off shortly to Catton Park in Derbyshire to say goodbye to Twisted Sister, one of my all-time favourite bands. It's gonna be emotional. Report to follow, once I've dried my eyes!
Thursday 11th August
I'm getting very excited about seeing Twisted Sister appearance at the Bloodstock Festival – yikes, it's tomorrow! Anticipation levels were stoked by last night's Q&A session at the London premiere of the We Are Twisted F**king Sister movie, at the Prince Charles Theatre in Leicester Square. I was in the crowd and stood up to ask a couple of questions. Read the report here.
How about this for a classic before and after shot: Dave and Dee Snider at the Reading Festival 1982. And Dave and Dee Snider, London 2016.
Wednesday 10th August
"Haw, haw, haw!" There's nothing like a phone interview with Billy F Gibbons to start the day. Yesterday's chat with the ZZ Top guitarist caused me to laughing so loudly out here in my office at the end of the garden that Eddie says he could hear me inside the house! Read it here.
Tuesday 9th August
It's hard to believe that that my old friend Paul Samson died on this day 14 years ago. Read my tribute at the TeamRock website here.
The summer's transfer window remains open and Crystal Palace have agreed a fee of £25m agreed Everton for Yannick Bolasie. As you'll have gleaned from my Diary post of July 27, I'll be very sad to see such a cult hero depart Selhurst Park, but his heart didn't seem to be in it for the final six months of 2015/16, he didn't score enough goals and you just can't turn down that sort of money for a player who only turns it on when he feels like it.
Monday 8th August
After what feels like years of discussing the subject, Rickey Medlocke is finally back with his new line-up of Blackfoot... a young, rebooted permutation of the group in which he is not an active member, though the Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist has co-written the songs on a new album and appears in a video for their new single, its title cut, 'Southern Native'. At the moment I'm struggling to decide whether or not I like it. It's good but not great. I still miss the glory days of 'Strikes' and 'Tomcattin''.
On a happier noter, how pleasing to learn that, barring a date of two, Praying Mantis will be the special guests on the autumn's UK jaunt from Y&T. Roll on Islington Academy on October 28 - a Friday night! That'll be a bit of a goodie!
Sunday 7th August
What an enjoyable afternoon at Selhurst; only a friendly, of course, but… Crystal Palace 3 Valencia 1 – can we play you every week, Senor? There was nothing special from the Spaniards; tippy-tap football with no end product, they then got a bit bolshy and physical and then almost stopped trying when it didn't go their way. Andros Townsend... what a wonderful signing for the Eagles! The guy is class with a capital 'C'. Check out my cool pic Mile Jedinak's penalty for the third goal.
Naturally, the game was bookended with pre- and post-match sessions with Eddie, Richard Thompson and Belinda Bullick in the Albert Tavern. As we nattered about this that and the other, I recalled a conversation from a few days ago about the Olympics that I'd had with Eddie. I'd told him that I'm boycotting the games this time around in response to the disgusting politics of spending millions on the games when a huge chunk of Brazil remains riven with poverty. He had nodded, considered the statement for a moment and then asked: "Okay... but we can still watch the beach volleyball again, right?" We all thought that comment was pretty hilarious!
Saturday 6th August
Mr Postie, sir, today you are especially welcome. I shall be getting to grips with these bad boys – promo CDs of the newies from Marillion and Mitch Malloy – following this afternoon's pre-season friendly between Palace and Valencia at Selhurst.
My Friday evening was spent in Greenwich with the Linglets: a couple of pints as a warm-up – for all three of us! – a fantastic noodle meal, Finding Dory at the Picturehouse (almost dozed off in those comfy seats!) and back to the pub for more cider. A bloody great evening!!!
Friday 5th August
Arnie, my youngest lad, who has never really expressed much of an interest in music till now, has just broken the news that he wants to attend this year's Reading Festival with a gang of his mates. He wants to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and can he possibly borrow a few of my 'rock' T-shirts? Haha. Who am I to refuse? It's a rite of passage, after all. Besides remortgaging the house for a weekend ticket, I'd better start saving up for the bail money. Meanwhile, here's a great pic of myself taken in my own third year at Reading, 1982. (Thanks to Robert Ellis).
P.S. I wish the tickets still cost £15.50, as they did that year!
Thursday 4th August
Gotta admit, I attended last night's debut gig at the 100 Club by new-look Atomic Rooster and their special guests SNAFU with the absolute minimum of expectations. However, what went down was immensely pleasurable. And boy oh boy, how good it felt to be one of the youngest in the audience… for a change!
It's incredible to think that SNAFU's Bobby Harrison is now 77 years old. Despite performing seated he still sang superbly, in between clouting the living daylights out a cowbell. The current line-up also has a killer young slide guitarist in the vein of Micky Moody, and those funky, blues-laden songs... wow!
With organist Vincent Crane having taken his own life decades ago and John Du Cann dead since 2011, the reunited headliners had just two former members from the very early 1970s - frontman Pete French and guitarist Steve Bolton - in their midst, but against the odds they turned in an admirable display, full of confidence, assurance, skill and even some necessary dry wit.
Oh how we laughed when introducing the penultimate song, 'Breakthrough', French observed, "Vincent lived in a dark place..." only for Bolton to interrupt: "Yeah, Walthamstow!" Both acts were great... I really hope that they do further shows.
Here's the Rooster set-list: 'Sleeping For Years', 'Tomorrow Night', 'Blacksnake', 'A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps The Pulse Rate Go Down', 'Save Me', 'Decision/Indecision', 'Devil's Answer' ("I haven't sung that one in 45 years," marvelled French afterwards!), 'VUG', 'Death Walks Behind You', 'Head In The Sky', 'Nobody Else', 'Nobody Else', 'Break The Ice', 'The Price' and 'Breakthrough', with an encore revision of 'Tomorrow Night'.
Wednesday 3rd August
I've been writing another Top Ten chart for the Classic Rock website. These lists are all down to individual interpretation, of course, which is why I rarely bother to read the comments that follow, but this one on Molly Hatchet was a lot of fun to write. The South is rising again... Yee-haw!
Monday 1st August
I was so hung over from my BÖC experience that I almost ended up giving a miss to last night's gig by the UK's leading pop-proggers Frost*. To have done so would have been very foolish indeed. The Academy 2 was so rammed that it was a bit of struggle to actually see the band members up on a rather cramped stage, but they sounded bloody magnificent. Naturally, the focus was on 'Falling Satellites', their first studio album in eight years. Just about all of it was aired, including the six-song 'Sunlight Suite', a concept piece about the cycle of life that took on new meaning during the album's recording when keyboard player Jem Godfrey's father passed on. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Godfrey welled up during its concluding part, 'Last Day', apologising: "sorry, I was thinking about my dad", but mostly the show was presented in the band's usual high spirited manner, with plenty of larking around between the songs, notably a long-running and much-milked gag that the concert was their Christmas AGM (in July!). Introducing each band member twice to compensate for having failed to do in Bristol 24 hours earlier also raised many a titter! "I haven't lived in London for 15 so I thought I'd walk to Islington. The sun was out and it was lovely – I began to realise that I'd missed this place," Godfrey told the crowd before 'Wonderland'. "And then I saw two guys in skinny jeans with bloody great Brian Blessed beards, and I thought… No, you're all right."
How refreshing to see a band enjoy themselves so much on stage but, wisecracking aside, the musicianship was first-rate throughout – and what a collection of truly superb songs. The set-list ran as follows: 'First Day', 'Numbers', 'Hyperventilate', 'Wonderland', 'Signs' and 'Sunlight Suite' ('Heartstrings', 'Closer To The Sun', 'The Raging Against The Dying Of The Light Blues In 7/8', 'Nice Day for It', 'Hypoventilate' and 'Last Day', plus a two-song encore; 'Black Light Machine' and 'The Other Me'.
Yeah, this was an absolute blinder of a gig.