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.
Sunday 12th April
The Stadium of Shite became the Stadium of Emptiness as Palace delivered a blitzkrieg second half display. This piccie was taken with five mins to go, but the ground emptied as soon as Bolasie scored his third and the team's fourth. Just imagine how many beers Palace fans were bought afterwards during a night on the Toon! As you can see, it all got a bit silly!
Saturday 11th April
Here's a piccie for fellow fans of the Tygers Of Pan Tang, haha.
Yeah, the Eagles landed last night in the North East for a soiree of grog-fuelled destruction. The Northbound train journey was washed down with cider. Whilst we waited for Mark Cousins, the third member of our team to fly in from the West Country, my pal Kev Denman and I checked into the hotel and filled our bellies with Persian grub – very tasty and competitively priced. From there we took root in a local bar till closing time. Given the sheer volume of ale imbibed during the daytime I was ready for my bed by midnight, though today, of course, is a whole other matter. COYP!
Friday 10th April
A long weekend on the ale lies ahead. It's my last blow-out before the 'big changes' in June. Leaving King's Cross at lunchtime and returning to Ling Towers some time on Sunday. Nothing less than carnage is expected. CPFC on tour!
Thursday 9th April
Okay, I'm rather thrilled. The Tom Robinson Band are to reunite in November. Their debut album 'Power In The Darkness' was – in a word – brilliant. 'TRB Two' (produced by Todd Rundgren) also had its moments. Missed 'em in their heyday but I did see a revised line-up at the Marquee Club in the late 1980s and that was superb. My understanding that that Danny Kustow, responsible for that fiery rock 'n' roll guitar work, will be an absentee this time around, but try keeping me away. Just three shows announced so far (Holmfirth, Manchester & Gateshead) – there had better be a London gig!!!
And here's a brilliant story: Kurt Cobain's 22-year-old daughter Frances Bean is pictured wearing an Iron Maiden shirt in this interview, during which she insists she is not a fan of Nirvana. Well, that's one thing we've got in common. Haha!
Wednesday 8th April
Aw bollox. I've just learned that Farage is a fan of Crystal Palace FC. That is a seriously depressing development. Methinks I might even have to find myself another team to support.
Tuesday 7th April
People looked at me as mad when I stated pre-kick off that we could take at least a point from Man City on the latter's indifferent current form. And look how things turned out: Crystal Palace 2, Citeh 1 - yet another triumphant televised game under the floodlights at Selhurst, the eyes of the sporting nation upon us as yet more title hopes crumble and turn to dust. Let's not forget that one member of the visitors' squad cost more than Palace's entire starting eleven. And still the cry rang out: "Can we play you every week?!" The eagles must be almost mathematically safe from relegation now, surely? Fuck, I am *loving* this season!!!
Monday 6th April
I've seen some really great acoustic gigs in my lifetime. And then there was Joe Lynn Turner at the Borderline. Ho hum. And before we get into the reasons why it left me so stone cold… it wasn't about the former Rainbow/Rainbow/Deep Purple frontman's voice… okay? The poor fella commented several times that he'd caught a cold up in Edinburgh – it happens, you live with it. No, this was more to do with a perplexing, ill-fitting and poorly conceived set-list. We got some JLT-era Rainbow (which, to be fair, was rather great), some Dio-era Rainbow (wha?!), some non-JLT-era Purple ('Hush'? 'Smoke On the f**king Water'?!), a little from the Hughes-Turner project, *three* friggin Beatles songs (!), a Van Morrison track and, to end it all, a Doors cover. Along the way there were one or two good anecdotes (for instance, we learned that 'Stone Cold' was inspired by Roger Glover's divorce), but to me, while the likes of Kip Winger and Carl Dixon exert so much more effort within the same format, JLT simply didn't give enough of himself. Despite that previous statement, he was gloriously indiscreet about "multi-million dollar deals with Live Nation", Blackmore's mother-in-law, and the alleged Rainbow reunion [see Classic Rock's web story here].
Here's the full set-list: 'Stone Cold', 'Street Of Dreams', 'Catch The Rainbow', 'Mystery Of The Heart', 'Blackbird', 'I Saw Her Standing There', 'I've Just Seen A Face', 'Moondance', 'King Of Dreams', 'Hush', 'Love Conquers All', 'Smoke On The Water' and 'Roadhouse Blues'. Lame or what?
It's not really the place to re-quote him in such a public forum, but talking via my own Facebook page Live Nation's Andy Copping would later poke fun at JLT's claim that a Rainbow reunion is imminent, suggesting that so far as he knew Turner's "crazy manager" hadn't even spoken to The Man In Black and daring to suggest that Dave Grohl had been proposed for the role of drummer (!)... without checking first to find out whether the Foo Fighters were on the road. I have no words to describe such a farcical situation.
Sunday 5th April
On no – there's been yet another classic rock casualty. Bob Burns, the co-founding drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd and an inductee to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2006, has died in a car crash at the age of 64. For the story go here.
Saturday 4th April
Well, against the odds that turned out to be a night of convivial, easy-going imbibing. Really enjoyed myself but resisted the temptation to stay out ridiculously late. With no Palace game to attend – we play against Man City on Monday evening – my weekend will comprise some work, domestic chores, maybe some tidying up of my accounts and plenty of laying prostrate in my armchair in front of various forms of sport.
Just back from the local Tesco, my own personal Easter Egg in hand. Well, no other fecker was gonna buy me one – and I was getting a bit tired of scavenging from the boys! Yum-yum!
Friday 3rd April
Many happy returns to my pal Paul Newcomb – the jammy ol' sod gets to celebrate a birthday on a Good Friday and thus has no need to be working. Some drinkies have been lined up in his (dis-)honour in the West End… this could all get rather silly.
Thursday 2nd April
What an arse I can be. A finished copy of Randy Bachman's 'Heavy Blues' CD has been sitting in my to 'play pile' for more than a month. I've just spun it three times in succession! LOVE IT! Check out this link. I'm also having my ears syringed by this little beaut – the newie from Raven. *Real* heavy metaaaaaaaaaaal!!!
Wednesday 1st April
Last night was spent at the Underworld in Camden for the London Stop on the Snake Oil & Harmony tour, featuring Danny Vaughn and Dan Reed. Instead of separate co-headline sets the pair played together for the unplugged show's duration of more than two hours, taking turns to take the lead and hold back where required. I'd conducted an interview with DV to talk up the tour in Classic Rock, and when I asked: "We've heard of The Two Ronnies but never the two Dannys", he replied: "We're not nearly as funny as The Two Ronnies, but I'm sure the shows will be a lot of fun." How right he was!
Vaughn and Reed offered a lovely mesh of voices and personalities, and their warming, lively mix of often self-mocking anecdotes, impersonations of cartoon characters, jokes and catalogue requests resulted in lots and lots of laughs onstage and off. Dan R's tale of living in a monastery, trying to explain the origin of the Queen song 'We Will Rock You' to one of its inquisitive residents was both hilarious and in its own way rather moving. There's talk of the pair writing new material together later in the year, and this tour was masterstroke. Let's have more like it please!!
The set-list ran as follows: 'Baby Now I' (Dan Reed Network), 'Is That All There Is?' (Vaughn, the band), 'What Dreams May Come' (DR solo), 'Restless Blood' (DV solo), 'On Your Side' (DR solo), 'Soldiers And Sailors On Riverside' (Vaughn band), 'Rainbow Child' (DRN), 'Black And Blue' (Waysted)', 'She's Not You' (DR solo), 'Standing Alone' (Tyketto)', 'My Home Town' (Bruce Springsteen cover), 'Heaven Tonight' (Waysted)', 'Avalanche' (DR solo), 'Think Of Me In The Fall' (DV solo), 'Sacred Ground' (DR solo), 'Paradise Ain't Home' (Vaughn band), 'Get To You' (DRN) and 'Forever Young' (Tyketto) with encores of 'Holy Diver' (Dio) and 'Long Way To Go' (DRN).
The only bad thing: I dashed straight home with my kebab to watch the highlights of England's friendly in Italy and some asswipe had wiped them from the Sky+. Aaaaaaaarg! It wasn't until this morning that I actually got to see the goals – one apiece. You've no idea how annoyed I was.
Tuesday 31st March
Am in 'recovery / rehydration mode' after caning the free bar at last night's launch party and Q&A session for Steve Hackett's new album, 'Wolflight', amid the rather posh surroundings of Cecil Sharp House in North London. My friend Kevin McDempster was down from Liverpool and served as a willing drinking partner. It was a rather splendid evening, and what I heard of the album really piqued my interest.
It took a while but I've *finally* finished Strange Way To Live, the autobiography of Carl Dixon from Coney Hatch (see also an earlier reference on February 27). The book's grisly conclusion, which relates a stunning physical and mental rehabilitation following a horrifying car crash, is particularly inspiring. Dixon lost an eye in the collision, fell into a coma and was a hair's breath away from dying, but it's impossible not to be affected by his determination to rise above the pain barrier and overcome a series of professional and personal hurdles, including being 'let go' by The Guess Who as a consequence of his injuries. You don't really need to be a Coney fan to enjoy Strange Way To Live. It will warm the cockles of all those that enjoy tales of the human spirit's resilience. Order it here.
Still talking of books, the lovely Jill Meniketti, wife of Y&T frontman Dave and manager of the San Franciscan face-melters, is picking up good notices for her debut novel, Welcome To Groove House. Hmmm… I must request a review copy.
And lookee here… Jill has interviewed my very own webmistress Kate Moore. Kate, who spends 23 and a half hours a day on the internet and has a wine cooler in every room of her house, is among the hardest working – and also the hardest drinking – people that I know, not to mention one of the most likable. Have a look in your coffee break.
Monday 30th March
Phew… it's all go. Alan Lancaster requested a couple of tweaks to the Quo sleeve – despite the time difference between London and Australia we completed them for the delivery slot. I'm *really* pleased with the end results.
After pressing 'send' it was straight into a melodic rock column for Classic Rock. I was blown away by 'F4UR', the long awaited newie from Tommy Denander's guest-voiced project Radioactive. It was a no-brainer as the lead review, though the competition was fierce, notably from Serpentine's 'Circle Of Knives', a solo record from ex-Shy/TNT singer Tony Mills ('Over My Dead Body'), the 415th album from Frédéric Slama's AOR ('Return To LA') and 'Tunnel Vision' by O'Regan. The power-that-be also allowed me to write a few extra words on 'Risk Everything', Jim Peterik's newie (featuring the impressive Marc Scherer from Arc Of Ages on vocals) for the regular reviews section… it's a stunning record! Of course it is – Sir Jim wrote it!
Sunday 29th March
Here's a photo of a fairly civilised Sunday nosebag gathering that features three male generations of the Ling clan.
All very enjoyable while it lasted, and now… back to work. Save for taking the liberty of a lunch break, for the second consecutive day I was at my desk from 7am till 8pm. But hey… I achieved nine of the ten items on my checklist… so no complaints, all in all.
Saturday 28th March
Plenty to do, so up at 6am like it's a weekday. Here's my checklist:
1) Clear away empties and general debris after last night's England game (oh dear, E and A both like Hooch!)
2) Finishing touches to the notes for 'Hello!' and 'Quo'. Mr Rossi was unavailable for a new interview, but luckily I catalogue everything I've done and have dug out this in-depth conversation from 2001.
3) Listen to new songs by ex-White Sister/Tattoo Rodeo man Dennis Churchill Dries and write him a biography for the new solo album...
4) Complete those interview questions supplied by the Iron Maiden Fan Club magazine
5) Update this web diary which is now hopelessly behind
6) Visit the Post Office with the lads for our new passport photos
7) The weekly shop / booze run
9) Get in a park run of decent length (or better still, two of 'em…)
10) Sunday lunch with Dad and the boys
Lucky there's no Palace game this weekend, eh?
Friday 27th March
This afternoon Steve Hillage was kind enough to give me a little of his time to talk about former Gong band-mate Daevid Allen, supplying a couple of good anecdotes. It was a lovely conversation, truth told.
In the evening Eddie and I sat down over a few bevvies to watch England's latest European Championship qualifying game against Lithuania – a fairly perfunctory 4-0 win that saw that man Harry Kane find the next after less than 80 seconds. Talk about having the golden touch. You couldn't make it up.
Thursday 26th March
Okay, it's official: The weather is starting to get better. Robinson Crusoe the chicken (named because she is the last survivor of a whole family of chickies) is laying eggs once again. Dippy soldiers for lunch, I think!
Well, it's 5pm and I type and that's the David Coverdale interview over. The Jeremy Paxman mode can now be switched off. I think I held my own in what turned out a rather lively debate over the merits (or otherwise) of Whitesnake's newie 'The Purple Album'. Unless you've been living under a stone you'll know that said disc offers what Coverdale calls "Snake-d up" versions of 13 tracks from his days as DP's frontman. I left him in no doubt of my opinion over its ghastly YouTube track, a re-make of 'Stormbringer', and there were some raised voices… I wonder whether DC will ever talk to me again?
Wednesday 25th March
Gruuuh… I didn't see that one coming. Ventured out to Camden to see Gun, wasn't even intending to drink, and stumbled back home on a night bus at 4am. They say the best piss-ups are the spontaneous ones, it was certainly a lot of fun – but on a school night? What was I thinking?!?
How was the gig, you ask? Well, the Glaswegians delivered the best show that I've seen them do in the four years since bassist Dante Gizzi took over on vocals from Toby Jepson. It helped that they've made a really good album, of course. Housing some rather splendid pop-rock, 'Frantic' is their second Dante-voiced set, including the contagious 'Let It Shine', the Cheap Trick-ish 'Hold Your Head Up' and 'Frantic' itself. I was kinda surprised that the vintage tracks 'Don't Say It's Over' and 'Better Days' surfaced within the first three songs… had the band blown their load too soon? Not at all… what followed was a well-paced, hugely agreeable mix of the old and new. Hand on heart, the only time I found myself missing the soothing tones of original frontman Mark Rankine was during the second album's 'Higher Ground', and of course it made a difference that the band had drawn a decent-sized crowd that made rather a lot of noise. The set-list ran as follows: 'Let It Shine', 'Don't Say It's Over', 'Better Days', 'One Wrong Turn', 'Something To Believe In', 'Money (Everybody Loves Her)', 'Hold Your Head Up', 'Welcome To The Real World', 'Higher Ground', 'Frantic', 'Takin' On The World', 'Inside Out', 'Word Up' and 'Steal Your Fire', followed by encores of 'Labour Of Life' and 'Shame On You'.
Tuesday 24th March
Now *that*s why I love cricket. In a tense, thrilling battle, New Zealand smashed six off the penultimate ball to edge past South Africa and into the final of the Cricket World Cup. Sod the Aussies, you're looking at the favourites there.
As I type I'm about Off to Camden to see these fine Scottish gentlemen this evening. The first draft of my Beth Hart story for Classic Rock is completed… that might even call for a wee pint o'Buckfast wine!
Monday 23rd March
Number one in a list of links you thought you'd never share: Click here to listen to Thunder in session for Terry Wogan (!) The lads do a nice version of 'Love The One You're With' - it's well worth a listen!
Here's some brilliant news for fellow fans of Steven Wilson. After a night of triumph at Troxy (see March 18), the main man and his band return to the Royal Albert Hall for two nights in late September. Each of the sets will be different, and features "some very special guests." Wow. That's one - or maybe two - not to miss!
Sunday 22nd March
Eldest lad Eddie and I were up early to join a convoy of coaches – 17 of the buggers! – that headed North from Selhurst Park to the Potteries for Palace's away game at Stoke City. For reasons I won't go into here, this was our first awayday of the current season and we were both excited. The tickets had made a big deal of 'no alcohol!' so imagine my joy when we pulled in at the services and discovered that Marks & Sparks sold booze. Ed had to restrain me from buying a bottle of Prosecco so instead we went for a four-pack of delicious pear cider. A couple of pints inside the stadium and we were buzzing.
The home side took the lead in fortuitous circumstances and as the first half ran down I trudged away for a wee-wee. So there was I, old fella in hand when Eddie ran into the loo shouting, 'Dad, dad… Palace penalty!' Aaaarg! No sooner had Glenn Murray tucked it away then Wilf Zaha struck for 2-1. And despite pressure from the home side – Speroni made a couple of first-class saves – that's how it stayed. This photo taken with our good friends the Pudneys at the final whistle shows a mix of disbelief, joy and mental exhaustion.
Saturday 21st March
My Friday evening was spent at the Shepherd's Bush Empire for the first of two capital appearances from Europe and Black Star Riders. Both bands have new albums out at the moment, and due to popular request these shows in London began earlier than elsewhere on the tour, allowing the sets of the co-headliners to be extended.
I'll be completely honest and say that I prefer BSR's 'The Killer Instinct' to 'War Of Kings' by Europe. In fairness I haven't heard the latter in its entirety but to these ears it sounded much too ploddy and one-paced. My buddy Andy Beare assures me that it's a grower but it took him five… yes five!... spins to fully appreciate. And Joey and company's insistence upon featuring five of the album's selections – only one of which ('Days Of Rock 'N' Roll') really grabbed me – left the door open for BSR to come screaming on through and claim victory in the head-to-head. After a while, Tempest's exclamations of, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" also started to become irritating. BSR also included a wealth of new material, it's just that theirs was better. Once again, I could've done without hearing 'Whiskey In The Jar' - a song that nobody up on the stage (including Scott Gorham) has a genuine connection with, though you couldn't argue with the reaction it drew from the crowd. I was also left a little bemused by Ricky Warwick's mid-set proclamation that "what life really comes down to is just sex, guns and gasoline." Um… I can't say I've wasted a single moment coveting either of those last two things, but whatever turns you on, fella! Anyway, the song-lists ran as follows:
Black Star Riders: 'Bound for Glory', 'Jailbreak', 'Kingdom Of The Lost', 'Charlie I Gotta Go', 'Hoodoo Voodoo', 'Soldierstown', 'Are You Ready', 'Bloodshot', 'The Boys Are Back In Town', 'Sex, Guns & Gasoline', 'Through the Motions', 'All Hell Breaks Loose', 'Emerald', 'Finest Hour', 'Rosalie'/'Cowgirl Song', 'The Killer Instinct' and 'Whiskey in the Jar'.
Europe: 'War Of Kings', 'Hole In My Pocket', 'Last Look At Eden', 'Rock The Night', 'Ready Or Not', 'Superstitious', 'The Second Day', 'Carrie', 'Scream Of Anger', 'No Stone Unturned', 'Praise You', 'Seven Doors Hotel', 'Firebox', 'Let The Good Times Rock', 'Cherokee', 'Days Of Rock 'N' Roll' and (inevitably) 'The Final Countdown'.
Friday 20th March
It's been out for a while in newly re-mastered form but better late than never. Thanks Mr Postie! An all-time classic to act as the soundtrack for this morning's news surf! And how utterly embarrassing to admit that I've never owned 'Physical Graffiti' on CD before.
During the afternoon I did a phone interview with Mike Rutherford, primarily to discuss the latest tour from Mike + The Mechanics but we also ended up having an interesting discussion about Steve Hackett; including the guitarist's marginalisation from Genesis and the Beeb's controversial documentary. Read it here.
On my way to a gig at Shepherd's Bush I learned of another rock star death. This time it's AJ Pero, drummer of Twisted Sister. Once again, it would cast a long shadow over an otherwise enjoyable concert. It was a heart attack, aged just 55. What a waste. Rest in peace, AJ…
Thursday 19th March
I've just filed my Andy Fraser obituary for the Classic Rock website. I wouldn't claim to know the former Free bassist though we spoke on the phone a couple of times and also exchanged a few emails, and I was thrilled to have met him at a Sandi Thom show in London in 2012. His was an immense talent. The songs that he had a hand in writing – including 'All Right Now', 'Fire And Water', 'Mr Big', 'The Stealer', 'Be My Friend', 'I'm A Mover', 'Heavy Load', 'Little Bit Of Love' and 'My Brother Jake' – speak for themselves. RIP, Andy. You were one of the true greats.
Wednesday 18th March
What a conflict of emotions. Regular readers of this page will be aware of my love for the music of Steven Wilson. On any other night of the year last night's gig at a lovely art-deco venue in the East End would have left me quaking with anticipation. However, for me at least, the news of Andy Fraser's passing hung heavily in the air – heightening the less-than-euphoric mood conjured by up SW's latest album 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' (which relays the real-life tale of Joyce Carol Vincent, a woman living in a large city who dies alone in her apartment, the copse going undiscovered for three years).
However, a Wilson gig is always an event. And from my place up in the balcony the quad-sound effects were superb. Us Londoners were also especially lucky that, for one night only, flautist and saxophonist Theo Travis was on hand to participate in several numbers during the show. Most of 'HCE' was performed, in sequential order, and although to my immense shame I wasn't familiar with its material (my copy of the album turned up on the morning the show), songs such as 'Routine' were breathtaking. I'd been left unswayed by its YouTube track, 'Perfect Life', but there's no doubt that said number works both in the context of the show and, having digested its contents, as a part of the album. I was a little surprised that SW didn't dedicate the two-hour set's final encore of 'The Raven That Refused To Sing' to Fraser, though it was played in honour of Daevid Allen ("He was mad as a box of frogs but absolutely sweet – exactly as you'd want him to be") and the star's own dad. Maybe he hadn't heard the sad news? Though it was cool to have been invited I decided to swerve the after-show bash – just wasn't in the mood – and after a smooth journey on the Dockland Light Railway was at home in Catford by just gone 11pm… let's have more gigs at Troxy please!
Here's the set-list: 'First Regret', '3 Years Older', 'Hand Cannot Erase', 'Perfect Life', 'Routine', 'Index', 'Home Invasion', 'Regret #9', 'Lazarus', 'Harmony Korine', 'Ancestral', 'Happy Returns' and 'Ascendant Here On…' followed by 'The Watchmaker', 'Sleep Together' and 'The Raven That Refused To Sing'.
Tuesday 17th March
Yesterday's in-depth face to face chat with Beth Hart made me feel like I was playing psychiatrist. She even had a bit of a blub at one particularly emotional point… and it didn't seem remotely stage-managed. I've been a fan of the Claifornian singer since a stellar gig at a (thankfully) now defunct 150-capacity basement dive called The Fly back in 2008, and I'm happy to say she's every bit as entertaining an interviewee.
Edit: There had been rumours for the entire afternoon, but I was en route to Steven Wilson's gig at Troxy when the news of Andy Fraser's death was confirmed. Wow, talk about a hammer blow.
Monday 16th March
I'm busy transcribing my interviews with RP, AL, JC and Bob Young for forthcoming expanded editions of the 'Hello!' and 'Quo' albums. There are far, far tougher jobs, it must be said.
Sunday 15th March
"As I get older, it becomes more and more important that when I do my gig, it's good. I feel like I'm running out of time to do good work. Any time I make a record or do a gig then it's part of my legacy. I want people to remember me for being good."
So states Danny Bowes of Thunder in Classic Rock magazine (Apr 2015). Well, last night's gig at Hammersmith wasn't merely good – it was fantastic. I'm so proud of the band that I first saw not too far away at the Opera On The Green in Shepherd's Bush back in July 1989 (their fourth gig since the change from Terraplane).
Elsewhere on this current three-show tour Thunder had played arenas but in London they favoured a return to the Apollo (or, if you're as old as myself, the Odeon) above a visit to the cavernous Wembley. So we got a full-sized show, complete with massive screens, dazzling lighting and pinpoint sound, in a theatre – result! I had no problem with the inclusion of a half-dozen songs from current opus 'Wonder Days' – material such as 'Black Water', 'Where The Music Plays' and 'Resurrection Day' works extremely well onstage.
A huge roar greeted Danny Bowes' dedication of the latter tune to the band's hugely popular second guitarist/keyboardist, who recently returned to the group after beating cancer of the neck – "Ladies and gentlemen... on the guitar, the survivor, Ben Matthews!" The air of triumph was pretty spectacular, and once again the crowd bellowed its approval when Bowes commented: "Well, we went away and we came back. We went away again and we came back again. And now we're back."
A fine night had only just begun. At the after-show bash I toasted the win over QPHaha with Harry James and (in hushed tones) Palace goalie Julian Speroni, a mega fan of Thunder and all-round good geezer. Top to it all, just as was wondering how to navigate across London in an advanced state of inebriation my friend Lisa Bardsley offered a lift to Catford. Back of the net!! Here's the set-list: 'Wonder Days', 'River Of Pain', 'Black Water', 'Resurrection Day', 'Broken Again', 'The Devil Made Me Do It', 'Empty City', 'Back Street Symphony', 'I'll Be Waiting', 'The Thing I Want', 'Where The Music Plays', 'Love Walked In' and 'I Love You More Than Rock 'N' Roll', with encores of 'Low Life In High Places', 'Higher Ground' and 'Dirty Love'.
Edit: A sombre note: former Toto bass player Mike Porcaro has lost a long battle with motor neurone disease. Another talented one goes through the Pearly Gates. At least Mike gets to see his brother Jeff again, and together they can jam with Fergie.
Saturday 14th March
It’s 7am as I type this and a very busy day lies ahead. I’ve just managed a brisk circuit of the park with my furry running partner Bob, followed by a quick shower and before too long I’m off to Selhurst to start drinking by 10am in time for the lunchtime clash between Palace and QP-haha. And in the evening? Thunder and Reef at Hammersmith (Tax The Heat – what a load of arse!)… and maybe a kebab on the way home. Now that’s my kinda Saturday!
[Edit: Crystal Palace 3, QPHaha 1. The Pardew Effect continues as the Eagles haul themselves eight points clear of the drop zone. As I type, celebratory drinks are being consumed in the aptly-named Victory Club at Norwood Junction. Onto Hammersmith in a bit. I hope that Harry James wears some red and blue onstage. And should I spill any drinks then apologies are offered in advance.]
Friday 13th March
There are chorus-driven melodic hard rock bands, and then there is Night Ranger. And what a masterclass in the genre the US combo provided last night at the Islington Academy. The only negative in an otherwise superlative night was the later than advertised start. With bass player Jack Blades in full-on motormouth mode in between the songs, curfew time grew nearer and nearer. As they cruised through ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ I found myself counting down the must-hear songs that they’d yet to play – including ‘Don’t tell Me You Love’, ‘Sister Christian’ and ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America’ – and wondering how on earth they’d be able to fit them in, also cursing the fact that covers of Alice Cooper’s ‘Schools Out’ and ‘Crazy Train’ had appeared earlier in the show.
Luckily, the band continued past the evening’s cut-off point, hanging around for the two-and-a-quarter-hour mark. By the time they’d finished, NR had performed just about everything that the fans had wished for (including a couple of tracks from the first Damn Yankees album – namely ‘Coming Of Age’ and ‘High Enough’).
It was, in short, an inspirational display from a band that has set the benchmark for an entire style of music. This attached photo of the set-list doesn’t represent what was played on the night, more of a jumping-off point from which Night Ranger worked. Joyous, eh??!!
And on a far more depressing note, it’s time to say goodbye to Daevid Allen of Gong. As mentioned on this page circa the announcement of his illness, I was lucky enough to have met and interviewed him a coupla times – what a fascinating guy. He lived a heck of a life, though...
Thursday 12th March
Given the über-annoying clash between tomorrow’s London gigs from Starz and Night Ranger, there was no alternative: there had to be a road trip outta town to catch Starz's second ever-UK date. And thus my friend Robert Corich and I ended up zooming up the motorway towards Leamington Spa and the brilliantly named Zephyr Lounge. Due to its last-minute nature the gathering could be described as ‘intimate’, but the band responded with a wonderful display, bouncing back and forth from the comments of their audience. Before the show began the road manager kindly allowed me to step onto the stage and pretend that I was performing a special guest vocalist role! ’Twas a dream come true!
This time there was no Ginger Wildheart on bass (Starz now have a regular guy named George DiAna) but otherwise the line-up remained the same. Richie Ranno and Alex Kane handle the guitars with gusto and finesse, while Joe X Dubé turned in a powerhouse display behind the kit, especially when one considers that just a month earlier four stents had been inserted into the elderly gentleman’s heart.
And as ever, Michael Lee Smith was the host with the most, upping the chat levels but also hitting the notes with ease. “I feel like I already know everybody already from Facebook – and I’m in love with several of you already,” he grinned before the band kicked into a super-tight ‘Detroit Girls’. 80 minutes later Starz trudged from the stage with cheers ringing in their ears, having made this particular middle-aged man very happy indeed. “Who’d have dreamed there’d be an audience in Leamington Spa full of diamond geezers?!” quipped MLS.
Mr Corich and I hung around for a while afterwards. Ranno informed me that the band’s new album – a follow-up to 1978’s ‘Coliseum Rock’ – is now half-done, and will be out via Frontiers Records in September. We also chatted to Dubé, who still sports that brilliant curled wing commander ’tache of his. When Rob informed him: “I still remember the day that a school mate brought in a copy of Starz’s debut and said: ‘I’ve discovered a band that’s better than Kiss’,” Joe fired right back: “Oh, come on… talk about damning with faint praise – who isn’t?” Brilliant!
Wednesday 11th March
My ears are still ringing after a night of contagious pop-metal, Swedish-style, with Eclipse at the Camden Underworld. What a truly superb group!
The evening began with a support slot from Tainted Nation. The British band’s singer, Pete Newdeck, had pre-warned me that they might not be my cup of tea and though I kinda liked a couple of their songs (‘Tell You’ and ‘Fight’, for instance) that prediction rang true. Newdeck is an enthusiastic frontman, throwing himself into the role, and he’d probably take it as a compliment if I said that his delivery was a little on the barbaric side… but as for some of those falsetto parts – yikes, they were all over the place.
As stated in my Classic Rock review of their recent album ‘Armageddonize’, “when it comes to mixing metal, pop and melodic hard rock, Eclipse are simple the kiddies”. Erik Mårtensson’s reputation as a writer par excellence is really beginning to spread, and although the fella is so pipecleaner-thin he almost becomes invisible when concealed behind the mic stand he’s also quite a showman. A couple of years ago, when I asked which artist Mårtensson would most like to write an album for the reply was David Coverdale… that was kinda evident the way he tossed his mic stand around during an encore of ‘Breaking My Heart Again’ – y’see, even the title sounds familiar!
If you don’t yet own ‘Armageddonize’ or its predecessor ‘Bleed & SCream’, now is the time to put that right. Oh, and here’s the set-list: ‘I Don’t Want To Say I’m Sorry’, ‘Stand On Your Feet’, ‘Wake Me Up’, ‘The Storm’, ‘Battlegrounds’, ‘Breakdown’, ‘Blood Enemies’, ‘Live Like I’m Dying’, ‘Wide Open’, ‘To Mend A Broken Heart’ (as covered on the new Revolution Saints album), ‘Bleed And Scream’ and ‘All Died Young’, plus that encore of ‘Breaking My Heart Again’.
Tuesday 10th March
Staying in to watch Eurovision with my kids, basking in the sheer ludicrous kitsch of it all, has a bit of a guilty pleasure here at Chateau Ling (despite the biased Eastern Bloc voting). But given the quality of this year’s entry I think there’s a strong possibility the UK might register the dreaded ‘nil points’ this year. Does anyone remember this one? Let’s bring back Heavy Pettin’ for another go, eh?
Oh dammit. Despite stating it was a course of action they wouldn’t be following, Scumwall have at last given Agent Holloway the boot. I knew that his cover was well and truly blown over their last few games but still hoped he’d be given enough time to complete the mission of getting the club relegated. Anyway, you did an A1 job Holloway. Return to base. Over and out.
Monday 9th March
Actually, today I hate cricket. *Really* bloody hate it. England have been knocked out of the World Cup after an overnight defeat to Bangladesh, and the worst aspect of it all is that it's no real surprise. The team was eliminated in the group stages for the third time in five World Cups, but it's a new low for a nation that not too long ago was rated number one at all forms of the game. My old Metal Hammer editor Robyn Doreian will be pissing herself with laughter. What price we lose to Afghanistan in the last game, too??!! Not that I will be watching. I've had enough of this drivel.
Sunday 8th March
It's not every day that you go to see an Aussie-based pomp-AOR band – step forward White Widdow – performing in London and have a song from the connoisseur's favourite, Neil Kernon-produced Aviator album, dedicated to you. Released back in 1986, 'Frontline' is an all-time cult classic for those that like their music pink and fluffy. What an honour!
The night at the Underworld began with a high-quality set from Degreed. Welcomed by a small but enthusiastic group of fans, the Swedes deserved better. Interplay between keys and a rampaging guitar hinted at White Sister only with added bite, and a cover of Steve Perry's 'Captured By The Moment' fitted them like a glove alongside the likes of 'Black Cat' and 'Kill The Darkness', the latter from a to-be-recorded third album, potentially titled 'The Scam'.
Quite aside from having a stand-in lead singer, Night By Night were plagued by amplifier issues, spending a big chunk of their set as four-piece, as farts and splutters emanated from the corner of second guitarist Tom Daniel. It mattered little, as the likes of 'Time To Escape', 'Holding Onto Holding On' and 'This Is The Moment' reminded us why the band have caught the ear of Def Leppard's Rick Savage. A set-closing version of Aerosmurf's 'Love In An Elevator' was also well suited to their general slickness and great harmonies.
If NxN suffered technical gremlins, White Widdow experienced a full-blown technical meltdown yet somehow managed to escape from the wreckage unscathed. Incredibly, they were forced to play 'Change Of Passion' without guitarist Enzo Almanzi after a string broke and there was no replacement instrument at hand. Luckily, a mix of boozy good cheer, great songs – largely from their third album, 'Crossfire' – and an irrepressible nature carried them across the finishing line. As they encored with a version of Dokken's 'Unchain The Night' I got my second name-check of the evening when Jules Millis laughed: "I hope that Dave Ling doesn't say: 'they really fuckin' butchered that one'… we're doing this 'cos we love it". Relax guys, you didn't butcher anything!
Saturday 7th March
Regrettably, my Friday evening was spent at a place called Proud Camden – what a nest of smug, wanky, self important, fashion obsessed wankers. Rest assured it's a venue that I shall never visit again. The things we will do for rock 'n' roll, in this instance a gig by Stockport hard rockers Federal Charm, who turned in a very good though ultimately truncated set for an audience that really didn't deserve their effort. Watching bearded idiots in skinny jeans attempting to dance to hard rock is always comical, but the funniest and most tragic thing about the evening was the response to FC's only cover of the night, a rather splendid re-make of Led Zeppelin's 'Nobody's Fault But Mine'. Instead of heightening the mood, most of these fops put their hands in their pockets and began chatting among themselves. Quite what that said about Federal Charm and/or the evening I couldn't begin to speculate.
I picked up a copy of the Mirror on the night bus home. That useless twat Robbie Savage has a column in the sports section and the tag-line says: 'Mr Marmite, love him hate him, you can't ignore him'. So of course I threw it in the bin. Imagine my surprise, then, to later be informed that Savage is actually a fan of Classic Rock and recently Tweeted positively about a recent story that I'd written, with the words (in text-speak, naturally): "Gr8 Quo write up by Dave Ling. Palace fan 2". Though he had the barnet in his days as a player, I truly didn't see that one coming: the universe just gets stranger and stranger. But I wouldn't mind betting that Lilly Savage prefers Quo Lite to the Frantic Four... hehehe.
Friday 6th March
Last night had something of a Scottish theme, as I started the evening with an unplugged three-song set from Gun, who were in town to set that ball rolling for a new studio album called 'Frantic'. Before a highly inebriated crowd at Bar Soho they ran through three of its selections – the title cut, 'One Wrong Turn' and 'Never Knew What I Had', followed by golden oldie 'Better days'. Former bass player Dante Gizzi is becoming more and more comfortable in his role as frontman, and I must say that the new material sounded rather splendid.
Pausing only for a deep fried Mars bar or three, I moved onto the Borderline for a first sighting of King King. Blues-rock with Bad Company and Whitesnake overtones, what's not to love (except the kilts)? Fresh from a well received tour supporting John Mayall the fast-rising quartet were making their central London debut as headliners, previewing tunes from a third album, 'Reaching For The Light', contents of which provided many of the evening's highlights, though my own favourite, the delicious 'A Long History Of Love', dates back to its award-winning predecessor 'Standing In The Shadows'.
And full marks for including a brilliant cover of Frankie Miller's 'Jealousy' during a performance that could and should go a long way towards elevating King King in the grand scheme of things. They certainly got an enthusiastic thumbs up from me. Try taking a look at this brilliant YouTube clip of 'A Long History Of Love' and maybe give then new album a listen.
Their set-list ran as follows: 'Hurricane', 'Don't You Get The Feeling (You've Been Had)', 'Wait On Time', 'More Than I Can Take', 'A Long History Of Love', 'You Stopped The Rain', 'Take My Hand', 'Jealousy', 'Waking Up', 'Stranger To Love', 'All Your Life', 'Old Love' and 'Let Love In'. (Thanks to John Bull for allowing me to use his great photograph of the show).
Thursday 5th March
Oh look... Oz-rock legends The Angels are to visit the Garage in London on June 3 as part of their 40th anniversary tour. David Gleeson of the Screaming Jets is their new singer, apparently, taking the place of the late Doc Neeson... rest assured, I'll be having a little bit of that!
Wednesday 4th March
How very disappointing that Palace lose last night to a late goal at Southampton, especially as Zaha hit the inside of a post during what was a very even game. But let's not forget that Saints were chasing the top four and the Eagles were devastated by injury and suspension. It shows how far we've come as a club in a relatively short amount of time. It also suggests that, based on that performance, the Saints flatter to deceive as Euro-worthy fodder.
By the way, Happy birthday to Chris Squire of Yes, born in London on this day in 1948. Here's one of my all-time fave photos, taken with another guy who knows his way around a bass guitar, at an Iron Maiden after-show party in 2006.
Tuesday 3rd March
Yippee, our free coach tickets for the trip to Stoke have arrived: a first awayday of this season for Eddie and I... really can't wait!
BTW, to the buffoon(s) who thought it would be a good idea for Starz and Night Ranger to play separate shows in London on the same night next week – FOAD! That is so, so frustrating.
Monday 2nd March
I'm grooving along to 'Goody 2 Shoes & The Filthy Beast', the newie from veteran US funk-rockers Mother's Finest. Sad to report there's a European tour in March and April, but no friggin' UK date...
Still on the subject of great music, I really like this song from Neonfly, one of the UK's most improved young metal acts.
Sunday 1st March
Watching the Cricket Word Cup game between Sri Lanka and England as I type, and I've a query: It's a question I've asked myself a hundred times before but 12 hours + on the ale demands a reprise: How on earth is that useless wanker Malinga allowed to bowl? Thank the Lord he seems to have eaten Meat Loaf (and his entire backing band) for breakfast! [Edit: Not that the handicap of Malinga's size would work in England's favour – we still lost the game. Grrrrr].
Anyway, what a beautiful day for a park run to ease away a nasty hangover - the longest one I've done for quite a while, in fact. The agenda reads as follows: Shower... the East Anglian derby... the rugby... a phone interview with Bob Young for the expanded Quo re-issues, and that I guess that could well be it for the day.
© 2014 - www.daveling.co.uk - All Rights Reserved
Web design by Frau Fledermaus Sitebuilding, FFS!