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.
Monday 30th May
In the lead-up to the band's reunion show which takes place later this year I've been doing some phone interviews with the guys from Spider, the eight-legged boogie machine from Merseyside. Those that know me well will be aware that I used to help out this group with their Gypsy Fanwagon newsletter, as well as following them up and down the country. I'm sitting here in my office surrounded by vinyl records, Fanwagon issues and old interview clippings, with the records blaring out at top volume. Going back over such great times has made me feel quite nostalgic. Here's a brilliant pic of me jamming with them onstage at the Marquee Club on Xmas Eve 1984. The 'guitar' was made out of hardboard and it was provided by the band. The Manowar T-shirt and studded leather wristband were from my own wardrobe, naturally.
By the way, big congrats to AFC Wimbledon on the latest promotion - what amazing, moving scenes this afternoon at Wembley. And a hearty fuck you to Pete Winkelman, the man who sold the original Wombles down the river. Next season, when the two sides - AFC and PW's newly relegated Franchise scum - come face to face, things will be very interesting indeed.
Sunday 29th May
To anyone I might have spoken to last night, I apologise. Prior to the evening's Islington Academy 2 show by Vega I met up with my friend Caroline 'Funky' Gibbons for some oriental nosebag. Foolishly, I selected sake to wash things down. Yikes... this decision set the tone for what was to follow. One cider led to another, and the gig was so good I felt positively euphoric. The UK-based melodic hard rockers played an absolute blinder... adding songs they were forced to miss out on their support slot with Magnum in a 90-minute display that I could only describe as scintillating. I'm pretty sure that singer Nick Workman dived into the audience in its latter stages, later thanking the crowd for giving the group the night of their lives. The band held a post-show soirée at a nearby public house which was great fun. I think I must have slightly overindulged as I crashed out in my favourite living room chair upon getting back to Catford in the early hours of the morning. With a lot of work to get through today this is gonna be a bit of a trial, but I've no regrets whatsoever.
Saturday 28th May
It felt rather odd to watch last night's European Championship warm-up friendly between the Three Lions and the Socceroos at the Stadium Of Shite, the latter captained of course by Crystal Palace midfield dynamo Mile Jedinak. It's a strange feeling when you like and respect one of the opponents far more than any of the twats that are playing for England! The Aussies performed well, despite conceding in the first minute and later going even further behind. I came close to cheering when Dier put through his own goal with 15 mins to go. The result of 2-1 flattered England, I must say. I'm not overly confident about the Euros, not at all.
Alas, there's no CPFC Beer Festival for yours truly today – the first time I've missed it in several years. I've way too much work lined up and funds are running low. However, I shall deffo be at Vega's headline date at Islington Academy 2.
Friday 27th May
Errm, okay, it's time to 'fess up. I'm a bit of a latecomer on this one. Last night I went to see London band Haken play at a sold-out Garage in promotion of their just-issued fourth album, 'Affinity'. A truly incredible reaction was drawn from a crowd comprised of short-haired metal and rock fans and older, more hirsute proggers, standing shoulder to shoulder for almost two hours of great music. For obvious reasons the newer tracks ('Affinity', 'Initiate', '1985', 'Earthrise', 'The Architect' and 'The Endless Knot') were the ones I enjoyed best, but the set housed immense amounts of variety and invention. Okay, the vocals of Ross Jennings were a bit of an acquired taste (I found 'em somewhat bland at times, being truthful) but Haken's four album catalogue deserves further investigation.
Many thanks to Prog magazine's Russell Fairbrother for bringing along my post from the TeamRock office to the Haken gig. I'm starting the day with the Definitive Edition CD/Blu-ray of 'Fragile' by Yes, complete with Steven Wilson remix. Just like the rest of the band's albums, I've never owned it on CD before. Ulp!
Thursday 26th May
"There's loud. There's very, very loud. There's loudest. There's explosive, fucking ear-shattering loud. And then there's Motörhead. I'm at my desk transcribing my recent interview with ex-GN'R/Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum, recalling the time in 2009 that he filled in for Mikkey Dee on a month of the band's gigs. Sorum reckons the band used to play with such volume: "When I hit the drums I practically got thrown off the fucking stool." Haha, brilliant!
Wednesday 25th May
Oh bollocks, Odin please say it isn't so?! It seems that Manowar are to retire after a farewell tour. The dates have yet to be announced, ditto its timeframe, but the Kings Of Metal are promising: "Those who join this tour will be left with an eternal memory; having witnessed the band that has dedicated their blood, hearts, souls and every moment of their career to True Heavy Metal."
Tuesday 24th May
I'm just home from Dolby Studios in central London's Soho Square and a press reception for Dr Brian May's new OWL VR Smartphone Kit, a Virtual Reality and 3-D stereo image viewer. Brian gave us all a practical demonstration of the product by handing out iPhones and his OWL device to show a newly animated clip of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'... I was very impressed (sadly, we had to return the phones). A quick one on one interview made the event even more enjoyable still. He really is such a nice geezer.
For those that are interested, the OWL Smartphone Kit is available from mid-June for £25, direct from this location.
Monday 23rd May
Last night's epic show from Pavlov's Dog helped to cheer me up after the disappointment of the previous 24 hours. David Surkamp turns 64 years old today but he still has the voice, even if he does the Larry The Lamb bleating thing a little less than before. The Missouri-based proggers professed to be celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut, 'Pampered Menial', though it came out in 1975. At two hours and 10 minutes long this was a pretty lengthy gig, and squeezing seven players onto the Underworld stage was also a tight fit. Once again there was a rather sparse crowd, but the reaction to the music was pretty stellar and the absentees missed out on something rather special.
Sunday 22nd May
It's all the fault of Tinie Tampax. Oh, and some other bloke wearing black who was always going to do his best to be the game's focal point. But I will find out where he lives, and he will suffer. Yes... in a spooky echo of the 1990 final, Crystal Palace came within mere minutes of lifting the FA Cup thanks to a thunderbolt from local hero and substitute Jason Puncheon against 10-man ManUre.
The lead didn't last long and ManUre got a second in extra time, breaking the heats of all those wearing red and blue. The result was unbelievably harsh on the valiant Eagles, who were frustrated by official Mark Twattenburg and his ignorance of the 'advantage' rule... or more to the point, an unwillingness to bring it into play. Twattenburg, who makes a habit of giving ludicrous decisions in games against CPFC, was seen cuddling up Fergiesbum in the tunnel before the kick off... so that's nice and impartial, isn't it then?
Post-match, back at the Hole In The Wall, a watering hole set in the viaducts beneath Waterloo Station, emotions were raw amid our weary gang. It had been another case of so near but yet so far. We felt robbed, something that the flurries of texts, emails and phone calls from fans of other clubs seemed to confirm as being the truth. Save for the incredible display of colour, noise and support put on in the South London-occupied end of the Stadium – in stark contrast to those pitiful ManUre followers who only stirred from their slumber when the team's goals were scored – the only possible consolation was a toast to the club's most successful campaign since the days of Sir Steve Coppell. Roll on next season, and Twattenburg had better bring a bulletproof vest should he be foolish enough to return to officiate again at Selhurst. I am, and remain, a very proud supporter of Crystal Palace FC.
Ah well, life goes on. Maybe we'll make a Cup Final again in another 26 years... if I'm still here. By then Eddie will be taking me to the game, and not the other way around. Meanwhile, I just did a great l'il Skype interview with David and Greg from the wonderful Big Big Train. And tonight I'm off to the Underworld for Pavlov's Dog. Onwards and upwards...
Saturday 21st May
The day is here at last! I was outside the gym at 7.59am, waiting for the doors to open for a pre-FA Cup Final workout - who'da thought?! I dread to consider today's calorie count. Now for a nice hot shower and a cuppa (with a generous helping of cherry brandy in it, obviously!) before heading off to Wemberley, Wemberley! COYP!
Er... hang on a minute. Why are we leaving Ling Towers at 10.15am for a 5.30 KO? Isn't that a tad excessive?!
Friday 20th May
Shit. I awoke at 4.43am having dreamt of Cabaye scoring the winner in the Cup Final. Can't get back to sleep – time for some TV, pots of tea and toast till Ling Towers arises from its slumber, so glad I don't smoke. If I'm this excited now, what kind of state will I be in tomorrow?
Wow... Michael Schenker has said very strong stuff about his brother Rudolf, branding his elder sibling a "con artist' who "steals everything that I have done". According to Michael, his sister Barbara, keyboardist of the band Viva, went so far as to send him an email complaining: "Our brother is a greedy wanker". The fist-fight at the Rock And Blues Custom Show back in 2007, the one so vociferously denied at the time, now doesn't seem quite so far-fetched, does it? Good work to the writer concerned, Mitch Lafon.
File under life highlights: I've just conducted a phone interview with super-cool former Angel guitarist Punky Meadows. As a kid in my bedroom, grooving out to the 'Sinful' album, one of the finest pop-pomp-rock records ever made, that's something I thought could never happen. The word 'thrilled' doesn't begin to cover it.
Thursday 19th May
Awoke early and couldn't get back to sleep, so am just getting around to watching the latest documentary by Louis Theroux. What a truly great question to ask on of the show's subjects: "So, did you support Arsenal before the brain injury?" I wonder whether he meant it the way that it sounds… hehehe.
Oh for God's sake, I just learned that some unspeakable pleb by the ridiculous name of Tinie Tempah is to 'sing' (and I use the term loosely) the FA Cup Final anthem, 'Abide With Me' at the big game on Saturday. Was Steve Overland booked doing something else??!! .
Wednesday 18th May
I'm in my office, sifting through a batch of melodic/AOR releases for my latest Classic Rock review allocation and facing the usual problem: Way too much good music – especially when there are a mere seven slots available. This month's candidates include Punky Meadows, Vega, First Signal, Phantom 5, Ted Poley, Rob Moratti, Culver Kingz (Michael Thompson), PJ Farley, Sunstrike, Sunstorm, Featherstone, etc… That's an embarrassment of riches in anyone's books, right? Classic Rock Presents AOR, you are much missed.
Awesome news… Angel Witch are to open for King Diamond at the Forum in Kentish Town on June 21.
Tuesday 17th May
I'm still basking in the result of yesterday's Championship Play-Off Semi Final. The Unmentionable Team From The South Coast threw it away AGAIN, drawing their home tie in the second leg. 1-1 meant 1-3 on aggregate. Shiteon had finished 15 points ahead of the Owls in the Championship table, missing out on automatic promotion on goal difference. This was their third Championship play-off semi-final defeat for in four years; including a run begun by a certain team called Crystal Palace in 2013. Oh, my aching sides. I wouldn't usually open a third bottle of wine on a Monday night, but... well played Sheffield Weds. Please, please, please beat Flatnose Bruce's Hull in the final at Wembley later this month and we will give you a guard of honour in the pub at Selhurst next year.
Monday 16th May
I'd wondered whether Danny Vaughn and Dan Reed could equal or surpass their previous Snake Oil & Harmony show at the Underworld, which really was among the best concerts I saw during 2015. There was no need for concern. There's such a chemistry between the pair, and with Craig MacDonald contributing additional vocal and guitar parts, well... it's a cliché but it's true: I could've listened to them all night.
The show's informal atmosphere was priceless. When Vaughn asked his counterpart: "What's the worst thing that you were ever given by a fan?", the response was almost casual: "Crabs". "Yeah, I knew her too," Vaughn chuckled.
Those covers of Queen's '39' and 'Sometimes It Snows In April' by Prince were show-stoppers, and Vaughn expressed genuine astonishment when Reed pulled 'I'm Lonely Please Stay' from the Network's 'Slam' album out of the bag. What an honour that Dan R dedicated a superb mid-set version of 'Space Oddity' to yours truly; not entirely sure what he was trying to say there - am I space cadet, or just a bit of an oddity?! - but it made me smile all the same. Snake Oil & Harmony runs until Sunday; go on, treat yourself to something a bit special.
Sunday 15th May
A terrific time was had by all last night at the Dowling Poole's electric show at the Borderline. Willie Dowling (The Grip / The Wildhearts / HoneyCrack / Jackdaw 4) and Jon Poole (Cardiacs / Wildhearts - the third best bassist in the world according to Prog magazine). What's that all about, then, I hear you ask? Well, try mixing up a bit of rock, some weird-clever-joyous-disco-powerpop, a smidgen of music hall wit, a soupcon of progressive rock, stir in a generous helping of their wonderfully silly humour ("Jon, you be Pete Townshend, I'll be Brian May," exclaimed Dowling before unleashing a twin-guitar solo in the Queen-meets-Jellyfish of 'Vox Pops'), and the result is something fresh and rather unique. If you don't yet own their highly contagious new album, 'One Hyde Park', then please rectify this fact immediately.
This afternoon's result at S'hampton was disappointing, especially as their penalty was outside the box, but at least nobody got injured or sent off. I hope that when looking back at 2015/16 people won't say Crystal Palace threw away a chance of European football, going into freefall and finishing 15th in the league. I'd love it if they were to recall it as the year that the Eagles lifted the FA Cup.
Saturday 14th May
Gotta be brutally honest here, I'm still struggling to put my feelings into words on last night's Magnum/Vega show at the Islington Assembly Hall. The UK's own Vega delivered the goods as I knew they would, mixing up a generous helping of tracks from a rather splendid newly released album called 'Who We Are' ('Explode', 'Every Little Monster', 'We Got It All', 'White Flag' and 'Saving Grace') with selections such as 'Kiss Of Life', 'Gonna Need Some Love Tonight' and 'All Or Nothing' culled from three previous discs. Considering they were playing to an audience largely unfamiliar with what they do, the crowd reaction was great!
I take no pleasure from writing the following words – none at all. I wish that they were not necessary as Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin are two of the nicest, warmest, most down to earth people that I've met in the music business. I know how much Bob enjoys and values being the lead singer of a successful rock band; it's his life. But Catley's voice – such a unique focussing element of Magnum's music – has been in decline for some years now. Last night I found myself wondering how many tours the band might have left in them, something of a travesty as the pomp-rock maestros are making some of the best records of their career. Since reuniting at the millennium's turn they've scarcely put a foot wrong, but age catches up with everyone in the end. Instrumentally speaking the gig was as sound as it's ever been, but there's now a rasp to that oh-so familiar delivery. It's no wonder; Catley is now 68 and Magnum's touring itinerary is more demanding than most of their rivals. Was it to be trimmed a little, I wonder whether that might make a difference?
Anyway, that's my thoughts purged. I wish it hadn't been necessary to voice them, but this Diary must sometimes dwell upon the nasty things in life as well as the nice. Should you seek a gig critique that's a little more sugar-coated than mine – well, quite a lot, actually! – here's one written by Liz Medhurst, a good friend who writes for the website Metal Talk.
Onto happier matters: Eddie and I were shown around our gym by one of the staff who pointed out the purposes for each piece of equipment and explained how to use them safely. So I've added pull-ups and a few other useful workouts to my repertoire. Mark my words, I *will* have a body like Charles Atlas. That fella must be at least by at least 65 years old by now, right?
Friday 13th May
Yessssssssssssssssss! Here's a date for the diary, everyone! Kip Winger's annual unplugged show at the Borderline has been confirmed for Saturday September 17, with support from Fiona Flanagan. That's followed some 24 hours later by Mitch Malloy at the Camden Underworld. Hmmm… it sounds like a bit of a rock 'n' roll weekend to me, baby!
Attention fellow fans of 1970s-obssessed rockers Cats In Space, the promo video for a the song 'Only In Vegas' has just slammed straight into the Catford-based singles chart at the Number One slot... with a bullet! Check it out; it's an addictive little ditty!!
Here's this month's Playlist and a YouTube clip for your enjoyment.
Thursday 12th May
Happy birthday Eddie Lemmy Selhurst Ling. This evening we will have a couple of quick warm-up drinks at The Black Cat before a nice meal at our favourite local pizzeria. Oh, and maybe a wee nightcap on the way home. Where do the years go, eh?
Meanwhile, here's a little story-ette I did for the Classic Rock website on Spider's reunion gig at the Santa Pod racetrack.
Wednesday 11th May
I was lucky enough to have a ringside seat at the Royal Albert Hall last night to see Yes revisting their albums 'Drama' and 'Fragile', complete with a guest spot from Trevor Horn during 'Tempus Fugit'. Personally, I thought the band handled things really well; there was a lovely tribute to Chris Squire at the beginning - his bass lit by a spotlight to the sound of 'Onward' - and the life of former guitarist Peter Banks was also celebrated during 'Time And A Word'.
'Drama' and 'Fragile' really stood up well as individual pieces, and Billy Sherwood did an admirable job of replicating Squire's robust, fruity bass lines. Yeah, with stalwarts Steve Howe and Alan White at the tiller it would seem that there's still plenty of mileage in Yes as a band. Howe said from the stage that there will be a tour for a re-issue of 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' in 2017 (playing Sides One & Four of their now fabled, oft-derided conceptual double-set). Er… I may sit that one out, in all honesty, but it was really great to see Steve come out of his shell; I'd never been quite that close to the stage before and the guitarist was fascinating to watch. Those little bunny-hops, I'd never noticed those! This was also my first time with Jon Davison at the microphone and he seemed much more confident than Benoît David, though his delivery of 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart' was a little shrill.
Whatever, I'm very sure that Squire, who had made it plain that he wanted his life's work to continue after he'd gone, would be proud.
Tuesday 10th May
This is bloody great news. The amazing Blue Öyster Cult, one of the major success at last year's Ramblin' Man Fair, and one of my all-time favourite acts, are coming back in for a one-off UK date on July 29. In a bizarre coincidence I've had 'In Thee', a song from their 1979 album 'Mirrors', banging around my head for the last three or four days - it just wouldn't go away. So the announcement of this show, a 40th anniversary celebration of their album 'Agents Of Fortune', along with a cameo from Albert Bouchard, is a very nice surprise indeed!
Monday 9th May
Last night was spent at the 100 Club where Cutting Crew teamed up with Blurred Vision to form one band. Yeah, I know, it seemed an unusual idea but it worked exceptionally well.
CC are, of course, best known for their now 30-year-old hit '(I Just) Died In Your Arms'. With a debut album produced by Terry Brown of Rush fame (who was present in the crowd), Blurred Vision are a politically driven progressive, psychedelic, pop rock outfit, formed in Canada but now based in London. And yet the two acts were to prove extremely compatible. We were treated to two hours of great music, including Crew favourites 'One For The Mockingbird', 'I've Been In Love Before', 'The Scattering', the haunting newie 'Berlin In Winter' and a stirring rendition of '...Died In Your Arms'.
Having missed them on last year's tour with Heep, this was my first viewing of Blurred Vision, whose remake of the Floyd's 'Another Brick In The Wall' ('Hey Ayatollah Leave Those Kids Alone', in support of persecuted musicians in Iran) is endorsed by none other than Roger Waters, and it certainly won't be my last.
As I type there's a torrential downpour here in SE6. I texted Eddie to say, 'I hope you are not caught up in this awful storm' and he called straight away: 'It's okay, I've taken shelter in the pub'. Bloody kids...
Sunday 8th May
Needless to say, my head is pounding from a monstrous post-footie hangover and I find myself wondering if a trip to the gym will kill or cure me. Think I'll give it go once I've psyched myself up with this gatefold vinyl beaut (see what I did there?) from Southend-on-Sea band Purson. The cover is a wee bit rough when you feel ropey, and the vinyl has one of those Vertigo-style swirls, too. I had to look away whilst dropping it gently onto the turntable! But the music is wonderful.
Saturday 7th May
I've been up earlier than usual. Just completed a gentle coupla laps of the park to loosen up those aching bones after yesterday evening's extended gym workout, mist rising from the dew, birds chirruping in the tress and with Bob The Dog scampering at my feet. There are much, much worse ways to start the day. You know what? I think my exercise Mojo has returned.
[Edit: We met the usual gang in the pub in time for Shiteon's crunch winner-takes-all play-off game with Middlesbrough. With £200 million and promotion to the Premiership at stake and the teams divided by goal difference alone, a 1-1 draw was all that Boro required... needless to say, the boozer went apeshit at the final whistle. Shiteon miss out AGAIN as a 33-year exile from the top flight continues. Priceless! There was less at stake in Palace's final home game of 2015/16, opponents Stoke also safe for another season. Having come back from a goal down, for the second successive campaign CPFC completed a double over the Potters (we also knocked 'em outta the FA Cup this time around!) M**k Hu**es must loath Palace, and that's only fair and just as his name is a bit of a laughing stock in SE25. Here's my bird's eye view photo of Dwight Gayle's brilliant 25-yard free-kick which won the game].
Friday 6th May
That's a best-yet at the gym - a full 60 minutes on the treadmill. No doubt I will feel the pain tomorrow, but it eases the guilt of a full day on the ale at Selhurst for the final home game of the season, versus Stoke Shitty.
Thursday 5th May
There's nothing nicer than when a proud father offers sincere thanks for your magazine's treatment of his son's band. Doubly so when that dad is Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters, and his lad is John Fred, drummer of Black Stone Cherry. I enjoyed a lovely phone conversation with Young Senior, he's a bit of a chatterbox but what a lovely guy. His story about turning up to meet John Fred and the BSC with a couple of four-packs of beer, and being turned away ("You're not bringing that onto our bus!") was great.
I absolutely love this YouTube clip, the title track of 'Folklore', the new album from Big Big Train, probably my favourite group of the moment. Brilliant band, amazing song, clever promo. Love it, love it, love it!
Wednesday 4th May
Yeeeee-haw. Thanks to my good friend Kevin Denman we have obtained tickets for the FA Cup Final - Crystal Palace vs ManUre. Let's have revenge for 1990, when the Eagles were seven minutes from lifting the trophy for the first time but lost in a replay, purrrrrrr-leassse! COYP!
Tuesday 3rd May
Here's a wringing wet Bob The Dog enjoying the warmer weather in the local park. The silly sod has gone and lost the frisbee. But it looks as though the summer is finally on its way. Not before time.
This one is still a way off, but I'm looking forward to Stray's gig at the Borderline on November 18. Amazingly, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the four original members meeting as teenagers in London's Shepherd's Bush. Whichever way you slice it, that's a heck of an achievement. Guitarist/vocalist Del Bromham is the only original member of the current line-up, though Steve Gadd, Ritchie Cole and Gary Giles will all be in attendance... and, well, you can probably guess the rest. It should be a special night, and one very much deserved by Bromham, one of the nicest men in rock music. Tickets on sale now from www.reallylivemusic.com.
Monday 2nd May
Phew... that's day #2 at the gym negotiated without harm. I ran faster and for longer on the treadmill (didn't fall off it this time, either!). Farted about with some weights. You know what? Think I could get to like it. Eddie was the star, though. 101% effort. Top lad...
Six years ago today, Palace drew their last game of the season at Sheffield Wednesday. In administration at the time, defeat and relation to the third tier would have been unthinkable to a potential buyer; it really was the day that my beloved football club could have gone out of business. How far we've come since then. I'll never forget being at the game with Steve Way, the rollercoaster of emotions as Palace took the lead twice and were pegged back each time... the drama of those final mines and the elation as the final whistle blew. Wednesday were down and Palace were safe. What a tangible sense of relief during the journey home. Just as memorable - spending the night before on the lash with various members of Kiss after their gig in Sheffield and with my Classic Rock colleague Paul Elliott, who kindly let me kip on his hotel room floor. Necking back a huge bottle of wine in a park close to the ground as the kick off drew near... wow, it's hard to sum up those emotions. A truly incredible 24 hours.
Sunday 1st May
Congrats to all of my Geordie mates for yesterday's 1-0 victory at St James' Park. Palace had looked the only possible winners until one moment of quality changed an otherwise dour game. Cabaye's pen was dreadful. Shame the Mackems nicked a point at the death, too. I really wouldn't wanna be in Norwich's shoes right now. But Toon fans... don't forget that we won 5-2 on aggregate. Hehehe.
Anyway, I'm happy to say that it's a lovely, bright, warm Sunday morning here in Sarf London, and I'm hangover-free. So I'm off to the record fair in Orpington for the first time in a year, followed by a Sunday lunch with Dad and the Linglets. Niiiice.
[Edit: The lunch with Dad was going so well... until he casually remarked: "By the way, look what I found last week in a drawer - I thought you'd like to have it back again." My passport from 1979. #whoisthisgoon?]