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.
Tuesday 27th June
I really enjoyed last night's Cheap Trick gig at a packed-out Forum – a rare UK sighting of the hugely influential, veteran Chicagoan power-poppers. In my experience this band are a little on the erratic side; there have been some blips along the way including the night in 2003 that they fell disappointingly flat at the Royal Albert Hall, but this was among the very best times I've seen them. Even at 64, Robin Zander has retained that sensational voice of his, though I still find it a little unusual that he stands motionless at the mic whilst guitarist Rick Nielsen does the yakking. In a little under two hours the band played 22 songs (plus bass solo, yawn) – just a couple from the excellent newie, 'We're All Alright!', and one its 2016 predecessor 'Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello', unless you include the cover of the Roxy Music-popularised 'The In Crowd'. I smiled a mile-wide grin at the inclusion of one of my fave off-the-beaten-track numbers, 'Baby Likes To Rock', from 1980's George Martin-produced 'All Shook Up'.
In terms of releasing albums, Cheap Trick have become increasingly prolific. In an interview in the current ish of Classic Rock, Nielsen told me that this is not due to some twilight years creative spurt but the influence of a record label – Nashville-based Big Machine – that actually cares about what they do. The end is nowhere in sight, according to the zany guitarist: "The truth is that we're just too dumb to quit."
Check out the set-list: 'Hello There', 'Long Time Coming', 'Elo Kiddies', 'Big Eyes', 'California Man', 'On Top Of The World', 'Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace', 'The House Is Rockin'', 'Baby Loves To Rock', 'Ain't That A Shame', 'The Ballad Of TV Violence (I'm Not The Only Boy)', 'You Got It Going On', 'The In Crowd', 'Magical Mystery Tour', Bass Solo, 'I'm Waiting For The Man', 'The Flame', 'When I Wake Up Tomorrow', 'I Want You To Want Me' and 'Dream Police', followed by 'Surrender', 'Auf Wiedersehen' and, of courses, 'Goodnight Now'. [Edit: 24 hours later, the band played very few of the above songs on the next night of the tour… what a refreshing change from the norm.]
What a nice piece on Mike Portnoy and his Shattered Fortress. I'm really looking forward to seeing the opening night of this tour tomorrow in London.
Monday 26th June
A warm and optimistic welcome to former Holland international and Barcelona star Frank de Boer, winner of four successive Dutch titles with Ajax and now the latest manager of Crystal Palace FC. It's the best appointment we could have wished for, I think. Please excuse me as I zoom over to the club shop to purchase some suitable footwear for the coming season.
It's always nice to have a quick catch-up with Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway, who this weekend, having taught Milliband how to growl and taken Glasto's Earache Express by storm, will venture up to Yorkshire with his mum for the Emmerdale studio tour – true, fact fans! And as a fellow follower of the show, I don't mind admitting that I am ever so slightly jealous. Hm… I wonder whether Barn will teach Charity how to stagedrive?
Sunday 25th June
I've been catching up on my telly. An unbelievable plot twist in Nashville. WTF, I did *not* see that coming. Rayna James RIP. Oh well, I suppose it makes a change from mourning real rock stars.
As the next mini-Lingfest looms I've been internet shopping for garden furniture, plus kitchen and bathroom gubbins and a new bed for Bob The Dog. The brand new double-disc, re-mastered editions of Glenn Hughes' 'Feel' and 'Addiction' are soothing the pain as the wallet takes a mighty pounding. I've always bought stuff from shops until now. I can see why web purchases are so addictive... not to mention dangerous. Hark at me, joining the 21st Century at last!
Saturday 24th June
Friday night with Rock Goddess at a hot and sweaty Borderline: Am I alone in the belief that the reunited group surpasses the versions from the 1980s and '90s? Few bands seem to enjoy playing live quite as much, that's for sure, and boy oh boy are they a water-tight unit? Frontwoman/guitarist Jody Turner has an admirably foul-mouthed stage presence that flits between 'one of the lad(esses)' and something a bit darker and more aggressive ("I wrote this one a while ago," she smiles mischievously, "God knows what it tells you about my mind – it's called 'Bite You To Death'!"). Turner has plainly been drinking from the fountain of youth, her voice remains first rate; alternately gravel-rough and pitched at a higher-register roar. Highlights? 'To Be Betrayed', 'The Love Lingers Still', 'Heavy Metal Rock 'N' Roll', 'God Be With You', 'Make My Night', 'This Is The Day' (dedicated to birthday boy Jerry Spewing, who was next door in the Crobar!), the three tracks from a new EP – 'It's More Than Rock 'N' Roll', 'Back Off' and 'We're All Metal' and an encore of 'My Angel'.
Funniest moment of the evening: When Jody grabbed her radio mic and left bassist Tracey Lamb and tub-thumping sister Julie on the stage to demand some audience participation, only to vanish in the tunnel of backstage corridors ("Sorry to have taken so long, in true Spinal Tap style I got fucking lost!"). Pointing said mic in the direction of yours truly wasn't perhaps the wisest of choices, I'm hardly noted for my baritone but hey... it's all rock 'n' roll, isn't it? Haha.
Here's the set-list: 'Satisfied Then Crucified', 'Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right', 'Back Off', 'Take Your Love Away', 'To Be Betrayed', 'You've Got Fire', 'Back To You', 'This Time', 'Heartache', 'It's More Than Rock 'N' Roll', 'Flying To See You', 'The Love Lingers Still', 'Make My Night', 'This Is The Day', 'God Be With You', 'Heavy Metal Rock 'N' Roll', 'We're All Metal' and 'My Angel' (one-song encore).
Thursday 22nd June
I'd been looking forward to a quiet solo night in for a while. Late gym, tasty nosebag and catch up on some telly. Really enjoying the new series of Fargo... slightly surreal, which isn't usually my thing, but the storylines and the acting are great. Kat And Alfie are up next, then it's time to dive into Sky 1's Riviera.
Wednesday 21st June
Now let me see, what shall we do on the second hottest night of the year? I know… let's go to an indoor club concert! What a great idea. 'Cept that actually it was a masterstroke. Dan Baird & Homemade Sin at the Beaverwood. No set-list, just the former Georgia Satellites frontman/guitarist calling out the numbers he felt like playing. At one point Baird ambled up to the kit and mimicked a drum roll to instigate what was coming next; Mauro Magellan knew it was gonna be 'Love Gone Wrong' – they have worked together as Satellites and beyond since time immemorial, after all.
Resplendent in a super-cool Malcolm Young T-shirt, Baird left the lion's share of solos to Warner E Hodges of Jason & The Scorchers fame, but what a pair they make, sharing gags, smiles, geetar licks and displaying a musical telepathy that suggested joined DNA. The look on Hodges' face was quizzical when after just half an hour Baird affirmed that it was time for the Satellites classic 'Keep Your Hands To Yourself'. As if the place wasn't sizzlin' enough already.
Two songs from the end they did 'The Wanderer' and boy did I miss the thought of Ricky P strolling on from the wings to join in with a well-timed blast of: "Well, I roll from town to town...". The great man is still missed, especially on incendiary nights of rock 'n' roll such as this.
As the two-hour set closed with 'Railroad Steel' my memory banks roared into overdrive; being pissed out of my brain as the Satellites played at the Town And Country Club in '88, a lovely Scottish lassie insisting upon plaiting my hair with hers so that I couldn't go home (not that I was arguing). Those great, irresponsible, never-to-be-repeated days came flooding back. What a superb gig from a truly wonderful band.
Monday 19th June
Blimey it's hot! Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun to the gym. I may well regret doing this!
I'm very grateful for a nice package from the lovely Derek Oliver at Rock Candy Records that arrived over the weekend. I'm ashamed to admit that I have never owned these on CD till now. Each is a bona fide classic.
Sunday 18th June
I crawled in from Stone Free Festival the O2 Arena just as the sun came up. Feeling like shit, but what a hoot! The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown was my first band of the day. Goodness, he was superb. "Some say that this is one of the songs that started heavy metal," Arthur said of 'The Devil's Grip', now an unbelievable 50 years old!!
There were multiple costume changes and zany presentation quirks, but I'm guessing the O2's health and safety people forbade him to wear the burning headdress during 'Fire', and it was rude of them to make him truncate that song when his set overran by a few mins. A week away from turning 75, Brown truly is one of this country's last great eccentrics.
Gun were up next with a blitzkrieg set to leave the ears ringing. The songs from the forthcoming album 'Favourite Pleasures' slotted in just fine and the Glaswegians signed off with 'Fight For Your Right (To Party)' by The Beastie Boys. I watched Blue Öyster Cult's 45th anniversary show from a comfy seat in the VIP bar with my pals Andy Beare and the very lovely Amanda Gentle. The first album in its entirety – niiiiiiiice! I was a bit miffed that they included 'Buck's Boogie' during the best-of segment; we could have had two actual songs in its place. Otherwise… very cool!
Moving into the main hall of the O2, attendance looked very sparse indeed though the place filled up as Sweet played. What a reaction! But I have two gripes. 1) They bottled it by including the 'Wig Wam Bam'/'Little Willy' medley. 2) Can we please drop 'Fanfare For The Common Man' (as part of 'Love Is Like Oxygen') from the show… forever?! It's tired and boring. 'Burn On The Flame', 'Sweet FA' or 'Turn It Down' would have been far more preferable. But on the whole this was a night of hard rocking triumph for Sweet!
And as for the alleged 'Rainbow'? Well, it was better than I'd feared but still a bit of a rollercoaster. Russ Ballard joined in for his song 'Since You been Gone' and I liked the way the band operated without a set-list, dropping in 'Woman From Tokyo' as they played 'The Man On Silver Mountain'. There were flashes of genius from Blackmore, especially during a delicious 'Catch The Rainbow', but Ronnie Romero really cannot sing the Joe Lynn Turner material, and at times the group's performance was desperately pedestrian, The Man In Black barely moving a foot or two away from his adopted place centre stage. Those that saw the Birmingham gig say that the O2 stood head and shoulders above it, but would I go again? Truthfully, I'm really not sure.
The set-list ran as follows: 'Spotlight Kid', 'I Surrender', 'Mistreated', 'Since You Been Gone', 'The Man On Silver Mountain'/'Woman From Tokyo', 'Soldier Of Fortune', 'All Night Long', Keyboard Solo, 'Difficult To Cure', 'Child In Time', 'Stargazer', 'Still I'm Sad' (including Drum Solo), 'Long Live Rock 'N' Roll' and 'Black Night', with encores of 'Burn', 'Catch The Rainbow' and … yawn… 'Smoke On The Water'.
There was much silliness at the after-show bash: a veritable waterfall of cider and dancing around to all manner of vintage classic rock, metaaaaaaal and hair-metal chewns. It's all a bit of a blur. Great people, great times. By the way, a large cash reward is available to Bikinny Heckinen for not posting the photos of the dancing that went on! Here's to the same time next year!!!
Saturday 17th June
How cool that Rick Parfitt has been honoured with a blue plaque in Woking's Jubilee Square as part of the BBC's Music Day 2017, one of 47 unveiled across the country (others included Lemmy, John Bonham, David Bowie, Syd Barrett, Steve Marriott, Nick Drake, John Entwistle, Sandy Denny and John Peel). Rick was very proud of the place in which he was born. Indeed, after making his TV debut on a show called Midwinter Music at the age of 11, singing Cliff Richard's 1959 chart-topper Travellin' Light, he was dubbed 'Woking's budding Tommy Steele'. The honour is much deserved.
Friday 16th June
And so we must say farewell to those pesky Black Spiders, a band I have followed and championed since seeing them appear as unknown at the 100 Club a little over yen years ago. No, the Spiders didn't have it all, but they had such a lot - great, howling, triple-guitar-encrusted hard rock chewns, a sense of humour, killer image and a brilliant intro tape for starters. I can only assume that the stage at the House Of Vans (situated in a viaduct beneath Waterloo Station) was electrified, or that someone had hung a bottle of Sambuca from lighting rig... rarely had I seen a band jump about so much - amazing posing, too.
The band played an hour long set of catalogue gems including 'Kiss Tried to Kill Me', 'What Good's A Rock Without A Roll?', a brilliant' St Peter' and 'Blood Of The Kings', before returning for a four-track final encore. Signing off with 'Stay Down', during which they traditionally invite the crowd to roar: "Fuck you Black Spiders!!!" frontman Pete Spiby swapped said line for: "Fuck OFF Black Spiders!" It was all rather sad. Another great band gone. I, for one, will really miss them.
"One day my father told me that he was having an affair with an extra-terrestrial. A woman from another planet. He said: 'And let me tell you, son, the physical element just the same as it is down here on earth'." It could only be an interview with the great Arthur 'God Of Hellfire' Brown, hahaha! What a brilliant guy!
[Edit: OMG! Everything grinds to a halt here at Ling Towers for the unexpected arrival of Cats In Space album 2.0. Volume up! Phone on silent! Air geetar at the ready! Wow... a little shell shocked by a first listen and the subtleties will make themselves known, but it gets a big thumbs up from me. Bloody well done chaps - it's another winner.]
Thursday 15th June
They were declared the future of rock music back in the late 1980s and almost three decades on King's X still stand alone. The record sales, the fame, the money, the prestige – they never came. Nada. And that took its toll on bassist/frontman Dug Pinnick. Thankfully, however, the Texan trio lives on and last night they paid a visit to the Islington Assembly Hall. There were no fancy lights or effects and the pipecleaner-thin Pinnick offered very little in the way of between-song waffle; their songs were what spoke volumes. At times King's X sounded like Hendrix, U2, the Beatles, Metallica and Alice In Chains… but always themselves. The cheers for 'Summerland' and 'Over My Head', delivered in succession, were deafening. At times the crowd roared the lyrics back at the band during 'Cigarettes' and 'Looking For Love', taking over completely for a finale of 'Goldilox', but mostly they were content to stand, smile, mouth the words and bask in the presence of something very special. "Oh shit, they haven't done 'Dogman'," I thought as the band left the stage. And what was the first encore? Sheer delight.
Hahaha, that was a great encounter: Knock at door. Open front door. There's a man holding a Bible. Shut the front door. Not a single word exchanged. Mr Pinnick would not approve, hahaha. But what gives these people the right to interrupt my working day with their meaningless bullshit??!!
Tuesday 13th June
Ain't it amazing how much can be achieved when one awakes at 5am and cannot get back to sleep? The lawn is mown, I sent out latest invoices to Classic Rock, Prog and Metal Hammer, reviewed a couple of albums for Hammer, had a bloody good gym session, did the shopping and during the last couple of hours prepped and conducted phone interviews with Don Dokken and Graham Bonnet (one of whom had to be drawn out like a whelk, the other could rabbit for Watership Down). Now I'm ready for the France-England friendly and quite possibly an early night! [Edit: The showdown with the Frogs was a bit disappointing, devalued by a poor penalty and red card decision that went in the favour of the Three Lions and ruined things as a game. I'm not too sure what Southgate would have learned from that, except that France are a better team than us at the moment. Merde!]
Sunday 11th June
What a way to spend a Saturday. An early gym visit, and some work, followed by pints of wine while England's batsmen clobber Australia all over the park. The convicts are going home... hurrah! Meanwhile, Lionheart's excellent set at Sweden Rock was playing via a link over the phone. Fantastic stuff.
What an exciting conclusion to the Scotland-England game. Eng took the lead and bossed things till right at the death when Joe Hart's impression of a statue allowed them to take the lead with two excellent free kicks. The Jocks celebrated wildly until England went down to the other end and equalised in injury time! Shut up and calm down, Scotland... you won't qualify now.
[Edit: Back to work, and going through my filing cabinet of press cuttings I stumbled upon this - myself in a nightclub somewhere down the King's Road at the 'after show' party of Joan Jett's Hammersmith Odeon gig in 1982. It was memorable for the fact that at one point I went to strain the greens, only to find Noddy Holder and Gary Glitter stood on either side of me (no jokes about the latter pls... both were boyhood heroes). The T-shirt is great: The *Real* Quo!!].
Saturday 10th June
As a man that makes his living through the use of words I must take time to express respect for last night's London Evening Standard. The paper referred to Theresa May as newly "enfeebled", right there in the top line of their editorial coverage and it said everything necessary. There was no need to transform her head into a turnip, nor resort to petty personal abuse or tenuous simile - 'enfeebled', an inarguable, damning statement of fact. I laughed aloud in the middle of a packed commuter train. The power of the English language, folks.
To a certain degree at least, one knows what to expect when venturing to see an all-female called Thunderpussy. The name alone serves as titillation. How could it not? Nevertheless, I'd heard very good things about these four females from Seattle, and sure enough the entertainment that they provided was considerable. It's early days for Molly (vocals), Whitney (guitar), Leah (bass) and Ruby (drums), and a Friday night crowd of maybe 50 people tends to look mighty small inside the Underworld, but the band's mix of garage rock, psychedelia and guitar-fuelled bluster quickly heated up the room. The 'Pussy (ahem) are attractive, confident young women but the show is never lurid or overtly provocative, and with little flesh on display it's firmly based on music. Sure there's lots of hair tossing and sprawling across the stage, mostly from Molly (if Kate Bush circa 1978 ever became a pole-dancer...?), though somehow it's presented almost as a kind of performance art. No, seriously. 'Velvet Noose' and 'No Heaven', the tracks from a vinyl single they had for sale, were among the night's most catchy and memorable original songs, and Jefferson Airplane's 'Somebody To Love' fitted the band like a leather glove. An encore of 'Search And Destroy' by the Stooges, The Fab Four's 'Helter Skelter' and 'Oh Well' by Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac said as much of where they come from as where they're headed. By the end, everyone was either pogoing or moshing at the front or nodding sagely into their pint. I'm looking forward to hearing the debut album, due early next year.
Friday 9th June
Though I've interviewed the band's singer Ty Taylor on two occasions, I had yet to check out concert by Vintage Trouble. It was time to put that right and Shepherd's Bush Empire is one of my fave venues which made for a bit of a Bruce bonus. My verdict? Taylor is a brilliant frontman but considering they were once memorably likened to "James Brown singing Led Zeppelin" well,… the guitars were way too quiet, for starters. The band have shared stages with Brian May, The Who, AC/DC, the Stones, Bon Jovi, Lenny Kravitz and, er… Paloma Faith, Ed Sheeran and Joss Stone. They strike me as one of those groups that can go down well with just about any audience, they're workmanlike. I wonder whether they will find a niche of their own? They were fun to watch over a few beers and some shots but I'm not convinced that they're destined to catch on in a big way here on Planet Ling.
I got in from the gig and was feeling quite squiffy. Eddie was still up and watching the coverage of the election.
"Pour me a wine, dad."
"Er… but you don't drink wine?"
Corkscrew. I will regret this in the morning.
[Edit: There's *really* a constituency called Down North?]
Thursday 8th June
Work continues on the Earache Records book. I've just reached the part where Napalm Death played three songs ('Lowpoint', 'The Kill' and 'Dead') on FRI Friday back in February 1999. Googling the event, it's on YouTube. I was in the crowd for what was an extraordinary moment in rock music history. Even more staggering - in the pub afterwards label owner Digby Pearson got his wallet out and bought some bottles of bubbly!! How great to see it again.
My research also caused me to haul out the vinyl of Lawnmower Death's full-length debut, 'Ooh... Crikey, It's Lawnmower Deth', issued back in 1990 in the wake of a split album with Metal Duck (whose side was brilliantly titled 'Quack 'Em All'). I hadn't heard it in quite a few years, but who could possibly forget the evergreen 'Seventh Church Of The Apocalyptic Lawnmower', 'Satan's Trampoline' and, best of all, 'Got No Legs? Don't Come Crawling To Me'?
Wednesday 7th June
You've gotta hand it to the guys from Gun, they know how to throw an album playback. Yesterday's soiree at the Sanctum Hotel for 'Favourite Pleasures' (due in September) included... ulp... a whiskey tasting session. On top of some warm-up beers and a curry to celebrate the birthday of my boozing buddy Andy Beare, I'm *seriously* paying the price today. But it was well worth the pain. Here's a nice piccie of myself with frontman Dante Gizzi.
Monday 5th June
My kids think it hilarious that two weeks ago I had never heard of Ariana Grande. This morning I consider myself a fan (of sorts). Well done to all for last night's televised peace concert in Manchester. Not that I watched it, mind... good gracious, no! I'm quite partial to a bit of Coldplay now and again, but the thought really isn't pleasant. The principle, however? What's not to love...
Sunday 4th June
Oh bollocks, yet another terrorist atrocity on UK soil - this time in my hometown of London. Getting lost in transcript mode for the book on Earache Records is helping me through a pretty depressing day. Tape #1 is now done 'n' dusted. Most of the dodgy herberts are on Tape #2.
Saturday 3rd June
I'm incredibly honoured to have provided the sleeve essays for Universal Records' final set of Status Quo's classic-era re-issues. The booklets of these deluxe two-disc editions contain my new interviews with Francis, Rick (among the final ones he did before we lost him), Alan and John, plus Bob Young, Andrew Bown and producer John Eden. Having my name in the credits of 'Blue For You'… that's just a boyhood dream come true.
Saying so myself, the notes are really good. Rossi admits that circa 'Just Supposin'' he considered quitting Quo to work with co-writer Bernard Frost, and 'Never Too Late' sees him ponder upon where turning up the rock again, a path favoured by Rick and Alan, might have taken the group, instead of getting poppier. "Things could have worked out very differently. We might have gone on to sell as many tickets as AC/DC - or not.
"Now I can see that maybe the other guys were right," he adds. "But I just couldn't do it – I like pop melodies, country-rock melodies. That's just me."
Friday 2nd June
No doubt about it, Marcus Malone's 'A Better Man' will figure among the finest blues releases of 2017. The Detroit-born singer/guitarist first came to my attention as a member of Marcus, whose 1976 album on United Artists is a bit of a hard rock cult classic (it was recently re-issued by Rock Candy Records), though Malone has spread his wings to sign for Motown Records and also worked with Bob Seger and the MC5 before finding a more permanent voice in the blues.
Sporting a cowboy hat and shades and backed by a supremely classy seven-piece line-up that included Alan Glen, the current harmonica player of The Yardbirds, and backing vocalist Chantelle Duncan, the big man purred exquisitely through the record's contents and a handful of catalogue gems, saving the groovy 'Stand Up (Love Of Life)' for the show's finale. From 'Too Long Gone', 'The Only One' to the album's title track there was plenty of variety and colour, but best of all for yours truly the set included three cracking hard rock tunes – 'Just Another Heartache', 'Can't Go Back' and 'Living The Blues' (those first two are from 'ABM', the last named lifted from 2014's 'Stand Or Fall'). The slow, smouldering and heartfelt 'Redline Blues Effect', played in honour of his mum who passed recently and first featured on the 2003 album 'One More Time', was another show-stopping moment.
A performance this good deserved to be seen by a much bigger crowd. To my great shame, last night was my first sighting of Malone. It certainly won't be the last. I don't bother with autographs so much these days but I'm sure a few of my hard rock connoisseur friends will appreciate why it was such a pleasure to have collected this one.
Thursday 1st June
Thanks so much for the memories, Kiss. I've been going to see the band since 1980 and they were and remain a massively important band here on Planet Ling. Their live show is arguably the greatest spectacle in rock 'n' roll, but if they are to continue - and given the size of the last night's crowd at the O2 Arena and the amazing fanaticism of the Kiss Army I have no doubt that they will – then I must step out of the group's immediate orbit. My heart went out to Paul Stanley, still one of the greatest showmen around, but whose voice is now almost completely shot to pieces. At 65 years old (whaaaat?!), the Starchild is running on empty so badly that you almost wonder what he's still doing up there. I say that not out of mean spiritedness but as an unavoidable statement of the obvious. I love the guy; I felt for him. My, how his bandmates tried to cover for him in a vocal sense, and the songs still rule – how great that they returned 'Flaming Youth' to set – but all of the pyro, fire breathing tricks, intrepid journeys above the heads of the audience, elevating platforms and confetti cannons in the world couldn't disguise this show's one glaring inadequacy. It's over and out from me. It's been a blast (sometimes literally). I'm sticking to the records from now on. To those that choose to remain – enjoy!
Meanwhile, the Playlist and YouTube have been given their usual monthly updates.