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.
Thursday 14th May
My plan to see two shows in the same evening was torpedoed when, after a solid day of emails and texts, followed by calls to the Borderline, I still couldn't determine the start time for the Dana Fuchs gig. After finally getting through to the venue I was informed that Fuchs would begin at 8pm with no support – the exact same as Inglorious. Inside the Borderline, 8pm came and went… as did 8.15pm, and then 8.30pm. Finally she and her band hit the stage at about 8.45 – meaning I could've seen at least half to two-thirds of Inglorious. The word 'furious' doesn't begin to cover it.
Okay, moan over. And what a stellar performance provided by the 39-year-old Floridian, best known for her portrayal of Joplin in an off-Broadway musical called Love, Janis. Fuchs has released nothing new since her previous UK visit to promote 'Bliss Avenue' some 18 months earlier, and I was slightly wary that this show might've been a little too similar to its predecessor. Those fears were unfounded. We were treated to a super-funky version of Otis Redding's 'Ain't Nobody's Fault But Mine' that's earmarked for her next studio album, and the repertoire had something for everybody.
An imposing figure, Dana is a statuesque, Amazonian corkscrew-haired goddess. She spent a large chunk of the show on her knees, bellowing out her lungs in a rage of emotional cleansing, getting so close to the faces of those in the front row that they could smell not only her perfume but also presumably what she'd had for supper. Some did well not to flinch or break her steely gaze.
A 95-minute set swung from blues-rock to honky-tonk country-rock booty call anthems and soulful Cajun blues. She also tapped into her Bible belt roots via the gospel of 'Livin' On Sunday' which bemoans the fact that people will only be nice on one day per week, and the hip-thrusting, mane-shaking, balls-out hard rock 'Keep On Walkin'' saw Fuchs throwing her back in a fantastic Percy Plant impersonation. At the other end of spectrum, a segment of Randy Newman's religion-questioning blues-belter 'God's Song' was delivered without the aid of a microphone. What a voice, what a stage persona… what a future star! Dana Fuchs – remember the name, but be careful how you Google it!!
The set-list was: 'Almost Home', 'Bliss Avenue', 'Handful Too Many', 'Livin' On Sunday' , 'God's Song', 'Nothin' On My Mind', 'Set It On Fire' , 'So Hard To Move', 'Ain't Nobody's Fault But Mine', 'Hiding From Your Love' and a medley of 'Helter Skelter'/'Goin' Down', followed by 'Ring Of Fire' and 'Keep On Walkin''.
Wednesday 13th May
Last night I finished the final chapters of Pete Townshend's excellent autobiography, Who I Am. I really enjoyed The Who guitarist's action-packed, suffer-no-fools style of prose. Never one to waste words, Pete tells a great anecdote about being with Keith Moon, who shocks all in the room by jumping out of the window… only to land on a pile of mattresses placed below. And then, a mere paragraph later, he writes:
"In September 1978 Roger [Daltrey] called me at my studio. He was succinct. 'He's done it'." Blimey, there are many, many ways of announcing the drug-related death of a band-mate, but that really takes the biscuit, doncha think?
Today is a tale of two rather fine lead vocalists – one male, one female. First up, Nathan James & Inglorious will be shaking their thang at the Hippodrome in Leicester Square, followed by a mad dash up Charing Cross Road to the Borderline for a second sighting of wonderful Yank blues-wailer Dana Fuchs, whose Oct 2013 show at the same venue reduced me to a quivering jelly. Can't wait!
Tuesday 12th May
I've just been conducting a phone interview with Butch Walker, the US singer-songwriter and Grammy-nominated producer who's due to play a couple of UK shows in July. Given the fuss that's being made of his current Ryan Adams-produced record 'Afraid Of Ghosts' I don't think he was quite expecting me to have been so interested in his days as a hair-metal rocker with SouthGang, or indeed the late, lamented Marvellous 3. But we got along okay-ish… I suppose.
I forgot to say, thanks very much to manager Adrian Bell and the FM guys for this little beaut, handed over by Mr Overland at the after-show party on Sunday evening. It made a special night sweeter still! Two vinyl-only tracks, too!
A very happy 18th birthday goes to my eldest son and sports bud, Eddie Lemmy Selhurst Ling. Where do the years go?! I'm looking forward to his first 'official' drink on Friday. (Yeah, okay, I admit it… we have had more than a few 'dress rehearsals' for this event!)
Monday 11th May
Apart from the 2 x night buses required to get home following the after-show party, last night's FM/Romeo's Daughter gig was just about flawless (especially as the headliners put 'Frozen Heart' back into the set at my request!) It was great to see so many faces old and new in the pub for the early drinking, and also inside a respectably full Empire (c'mon, it was a Sunday night!).
Romeo's Daughter put on a great display as special guests, resisting the temptation to plug an excellent new album, 'Spin', that's only just been made available. We got two of its excellent tracks – 'Radio' and 'Touch' – plus a winning mix of pre- and post-reunion material, completed by 'Trippin' Out', 'Attracted To The Animal', 'Bittersweet' and 'Alive', winding up with the golden oldies 'I Cry Myself To Sleep' and the Heart-covered 'Wild Child'.
It was interesting to note the amount of newbies among the crowd… not something I'd have expected for a band of such a vintage – they're obviously doing something right.
Ditto FM, whose repertoire now comprises 50 per cent post-reunion material… with no complaints! Steve Overland sang like a bird and tunes from the new album, 'Heroes & Villains' were as good as anything the band have released to date. It was great that FM reinstated the long absent 'Blood And Gasoline', though on a personal level my heart sinks each time they play another track from that same Andy Barnett era, the emotive, slow blues of 'Closer To Heaven', purely because it dates back to my long-gone courting days. It still makes me kinda sad… sorry. Regardless, it was a most wonderful show, rendered more enjoyable still by the fact that Merv Goldsworthy had kept his promise and the bar remained open… hurrah!
The set-list ran as follows: 'Digging Up The Dirt', 'I Belong To The Night', 'Wild Side', 'Closer To Heaven', 'Let Love Be The Leader', 'Shape I'm In', 'Tough Love', 'Blood And Gasoline', 'Frozen Heart', 'Life Is A Highway', 'Crosstown Train', 'Tough It Out', 'That Girl', 'Burning My Heart Down' and 'Bad Luck', with an encore of Keyboard Solo/'The Story Of My Life' and 'The Other Side Of Midnight'.
P.S. Over the evening's course I was amused to note two very differing views on my appearance: the sensibly attired fella who requested a photo together at the after-show: "I wish I still looked like you; I was in bands for 20 years and then I had to get a proper job", and the pissed up twat at Trafalgar Square who got right in my face for no reason at all and slurred: "Oi! You're not Brian May, get over yourself, you're just a c**t". Oh well, it takes all sorts!
Sunday 10th May
*Sighs deeply*. Yesterday there was another masterclass in biased Premiershit refereeing at Selhurst Park. The disgraceful decision to award a penalty to ManUre in the 19th minute could and should have ruined a potentially mouth-watering game – it was a case of ball to shoulder, you blind bastard!! – though Jason Puncheon's glorious second half free kick restored parity. But for the winning goal, the officials looked on as Falcao pushed a Palace defender into goalie Speroni. Big clubs get all of the decisions. M Oliver I hope you are proud of yourself. You'd better hope that we never meet. #wealwaysgetshitrefs
Saturday 9th May
Well, I'm home safely from my second trip behind enemy lines in just four days. The news that Uriah Heep's London show clashed with FM at Shepherd's Bush Empire could mean just one thing - ROAD TRIP!
My original intention had been to visit the South Coast via public transport, but outward-bound I received a text from my pal and fellow Heep aficionado Robert Corich, who kindly offered a lift back to Catford. This meant instead of scuttling off for a train back to East Croydon I could venture backstage... *uh-oh, danger alert*.
The Old Market was small but rather impressive – considering its geographical location, at least – and the pub directly opposite the venue served cheap, potent scrumpy cider. Oh dear!
The set-list was a pure delight. When the band had filmed their show at Koko for a live DVD 16 months earlier, just a pair of tunes from the still-to-be-released 24th studio record, 'Outsider' ('One Minute' and 'Can't Take That Away') were included. This time they added four more – 'Speed Of Sound', 'The Law', 'The Outsider' and 'Can't Take That Away'. Throwing in the rarities 'The Hanging Tree', from 1976's John Lawton-voiced 'Firefly' album, and a full-length revision of the title cut of '72's 'The Magician's Birthday' – complete with the guitar-drums battle between Mick Box and Russell Gilbrook – Heep kept all bases covered.
It was a testament to their crowd-pleasing skills that they recovered when a hardware breakdown stalled proceedings for a full 15 or 20 minutes. Box's amp had begun to emit the most appalling screeches, causing Bernie Shaw to declare a "budgerigar alert!"
As the delay dragged on the band fooled around jamming 'The Girl From Ipanema' and finally Shaw informed the crowd: "I'm blaming Dave Ling from Classic Rock magazine because I know he's here tonight, and he didn't join me for a [pre-show] Piledriver [referring to a brutal cocktail that is the singer's speciality]. Dave, you just can't mess around with history! We always have a Piledriver together… didn't you miss your train home last time we played down here?!" Box grinned: "Just a sip of one of those and you can't do joined-up talking anymore."
Luckily, Adam the super roadie fixed the problem and the show rolled on. For many groups such an interruption would've spelled the kiss of death, but not for Uriah Heep, whose final run-in of 'July Morning', 'Lady in Black', 'Gypsy' and 'Easy Livin'' was nothing less than glorious.
Backstage it was Piledrivers a go-go. Box informed me that earlier dates had included the 'Abominog'-era classic 'Too Scared To Run' – aaarg, I'd love to have seen that! I lost my composure a little more upon being introduced to Terry Brown, producer of all those classic Rush albums. It turned out that though I'd missed them earlier in the evening, Brown's latest protégées were the tour's opening act. As he pressed a CD into my hand I prayed I wouldn't lose it. Struggling from the pit a few minutes ago, lo and behold… thank the Lord, the disc was still in my bag, and the band's name seemed to sum up the mood of the evening: Blurred Vision. Hahaha!
[Edit: The album, 'Organized Insanity', is rather good, mixing some nice Floyd-y moments with poppier elements in the vein of Tears For Fears… I really liked them!]
Friday 8th May
Last night was spent at the Forum in Kentish Town – another show on UFO's latest UK tour. This time we stood a bit further back but it was a much bigger venue than the previous two. A bloody superb gig and I was very happy at Phil Mogg's onstage revelation that the perennial 'Rock Bottom' may be gone on the next tour. Not before time if you ask me. They could play two, maybe three, better songs in its stead. Otherwise, it was the exact same set-list as the gig at Shiteon - see Wednesday for details. A good-sized, lively crowd and plenty of drinks before the show and afterwards… you know it makes sense!
One highlight of the show, which I must not fail to mention (lest my website should suffer an orrible fate, or even worse, disappear altogether) was meeting up yet again with the omniscient, omnipotent and omnibloodyfantastic Batttttty. It never ceases to amaze me how this gorgeous woman continues to stay so energetic, so beautiful, and so scintillating. Oh yes, and so slim. [Damn, I nearly forgot 'slim'. Happppy nowwww?]
Thursday 7th May
What a great night at the Jazz Café in Camden as King King, the fast-rising Glaswegian blues-rockers, launched their third album, 'Reaching For The Light'. Support came courtesy of the Queensland-based, Australian/Irish husband and wife duo Hat Fitz and Cara, whose clutter-free half-hour flew by in what felt like a mere fraction of that time. To compare them to the White Stripes would be lazy though the fact remains that Hat Fitz is a fine, versatile guitarist and Cara Robinson, who also plays the drums, whistles and washboard, has a wonderfully emotive voice. Whether slow, sensitive and moody ('Nobody's Fault But Mine'), dark, mean and lolloping ('Back Cat Bone') or ploughing a more direct furrow ('Power'), the duo's songs are infused with variety and character. If you haven't heard their current album, 'Do Tell', is heartily recommended by yours truly.
It's hard to quantify the excellence of King King. Can a band with three albums still be described as 'new'? Probably not. But if you've a passion for a blues-rock act with Bad Co/Whitesnake overtones then 'Reaching…' should be right at the top of your shopping list. Kilt-wearing guitarist/frontman Alan Nimmo not only projects a warm, welcoming presence but boasts an outstanding set of pipes, and his partnership with Hammond organist Bob Fridzema appears telepathic, especially during a version of 'A Long History Of Love' that reduced yours truly to a quivering jelly. Almost without exception their original tunes are first-class, and the covers of 'Jealousy' by Frankie Miller and Eric Clapton's 'Old Love' fit right in. Their fortunes look unbelievably rosy. The set-list ran as follows: 'Hurricane', 'Don't You Get The Feeling (You've Been Had)', 'Wait In Time', 'More Than I Can Take', 'A Long History Of Love', 'You Stopped The Rain', 'Take A Look', 'Take My Hand', 'Jealousy', 'Waking Up', 'Stranger To Love', 'All Your Life' and 'Old Love', with an encore of 'Let Love In'.
Following such an excellent gig returning home to Catford simply wasn't an option so, spurning the tube's cosure, last orders at the Black Heart beckoned. Mr Beare and I discovered they served pints of a lovely, smooth, still scrumpy cider. No prizes for guessing that my hangover is pretty severe.
Wednesday 6th May
Schhhhhhhh! You ain't seen me, roit?! I'm back in London following a trip behind enemy lines to that unmentionable place on the south coast for yet another UFO gig. Managed to knock off work a couple of hours early, grabbed a bottle of Blue Nun wine – purely because it had seemed like the Pete Way thing to do! – hooked up with some mates and we screamed round the M25 and down to Sussex with alarming haste. There was even time for a real sit-down meal, washed down by a few pints and we timed our arrival at the Concorde 2 to perfection - i.e. just as the final notes from Reds'Cool, the woefully average support act from Russia, rang out.
Considering that Mr Mogg was on home turf, which usually gives him license to behave badly, this time he appeared surprisingly sober. I'm still chuckling at the dedication to Greg Harman, the proprietor of his local fish & chip shop on Madeira Drive – "very good stuff… they use fresh fat, apparently". Uncle Philip will never have to pay for a saveloy again!
The set-list was pretty much the same as I'd seen in Cambridge a couple of weeks earlier (for details go to Saturday 18th April) though the band added 'Messiah Of Love', a third selection from their current disc, 'A Conspiracy Of Stars'. The consensus seemed to be that the newly-tweaked repertoire offered great improvement, especially the Tonka-era tunes. I wouldn't argue but, as I'm prone to drone on about at great length, I still think they could go much, much further (so it's probably best not to ask unless you've got a couple of hours to spare...!)
P.S. I've still got plenty of that Blue Nun left, sadly. Might have to flush it down the loo.
Tuesday 5th May
Check out this YouTube footage of Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammer jamming with Michael Schenker at a very recent gig in California.Very cool! (except that 'Shenker' has a 'C' in his surname and there are two 'Ts' in 'Hammett' – d'oh!) Christ, was it *really* 12 months ago that we made Luis blub on one of my greatest ever nights as a footie fan??!! To that end it's well worth another look at one of the most side-splitting YouTubes that I ever saw!
Thumbing through a file of vintage press cuttings for the letter 'R' whilst researching a phone interview, I stumbled upon this review of The Rods from 1982. This was one of the hottest gigs I ever attended (along with Twisted Sister and Y&T at the same venue). You'll be unsurprised to learn that I have a cassette of it somewhere. You couldn't get away anymore with writing: "The show opened with two new numbers, whose titles I didn't even catch", could you? Hehehe... [Click on the thumbnail on the right to read the article]
Sunday 3rd May
I got up at 8am to put in four hours of work... the KO of the Chelski-Palace game is in approx 90 minutes... I now decare this bar fully open! [Edit: Any of my Facebook friends will by now know my feelings on this game, which turned on a highly debate penalty awarded to the home side. It proved to be the winning goal. In the Sky studio at half time Thierry Henry mused: "Where Hazard was very clever...", referring to the way the Chelski player threw himself to the ground after contract that was somewhere between negligible and non-existent, but had he told the truth he'd have said that he cheated – plain and simple. The favouritism displayed by referees towards the top clubs makes my blood boil].
Saturday 2nd May
Horns up! I always love a bit of power-metal, especially if it's done in a melodic way. Last night Sonata Artica and Freedom Call tore the roof off a sold-out Islington Academy.
Chris Bay, frontman of Freedom Call, was a right old character, overturning the myth that Germans have no sense of humour. "No, no, no – you sound like a bunch of pussies," he griped during a singalong section. "You're supposed to be warriors! This is a heavy metal party." And, focussing on their 2002 album, 'Eternity', that's exactly how it turned out. Headliners Sonata Artica were also doing the album-in-its-entirety thing, this time with 'Ecliptica', their debut release, re-recorded last year on its 15th birthday. Tony Kakko is such an exceptional singer that I exited the Academy wondering why on earth he hasn't been poached by a mega band. The set-list ran as follows: 'White Pearl, Black Oceans…', 'X Marks the Spot', 'Blank File', 'My Land', '8th Commandment', 'Replica', 'Kingdom For A Heart', 'FullMoon', 'Letter To Dana', 'UnOpened', 'Picturing The Past' and 'Destruction Preventer', plus an encore of 'Mary-Lou', 'The Wolves Die Young' and 'Don't Say A Word'.
Oh look… I've just spotted an interesting fact over at Status Quo's Facebook page. Today marks the 41st birthday of 'Quo', AKA The Alan And Rick Album… in my book the most underrated Quo record of them all! I must give it a spin later on. Meanwhile, I'm just back from Lewisham and a clothes shopping exhibition with Eddie. A new pair of skinny black jeans was purchased for the upcoming second leg of UFO's UK tour; an in-joke between myself and Phil Mogg. Chuffed that I can still get into a 32-inch waist!
Friday 1st May
Yet another issue of Classic Rock is heading to the presses. I'm writing up a phone interview I did at extremely short notice several days ago with Duff McKagan, principally to discuss his second book but also touching upon a few other matters. What an easy-going dude, I'd almost forgotten how amiable McKagan was during our conversation – even when I pointed out a factual error in his text. "Wow. You're good, dude." No, not really, I'm sure most British people know that the Princess of Wales wasn't Welsh. She was an English rose. "Oh no, man. I fucked up. Tom Jones was Welsh though, right?" Right… haha!
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