This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling
will be updated daily - except after nights of excess.
Friday 8th August
What a great evening I had last night at the Garage, watching a band that I thought I’d never, ever see. “The last time we were here was back in 1977, when we opened up a tour with the Stranglers,” roared frontman Handsome Dick Manitoba as they took to the stage. “It’s fucking great to be back in London, I love this city. We are the Dictators from New York City, and the party starts now!”
This exclamation was apt as the band burst into the song of the same name, one of a pair to be lifted from ‘...And You!’, a 1990 album from the singer’s post-Dictators outfit Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom (the other being ‘New York, New York’). The absence of Andy Shernoff, the guitarist responsible for writing most of the proto-punk band’s best-known anthems, was regrettable, but with Ross The Boss on guitar and JP ‘Thunderbolt’ Patterson, the band’s drummer from the 1990s, joining Manitoba, who had previously informed me that rhythm guitarist Scott ‘Top Ten’ Kempner “gives the reunion his blessing”, there could be few complaints.
Instead of relying so heavily upon the ‘Bloodbrothers’ and ‘D.F.F.D.’ albums (released in 1978 and 2001 respectively) the set-list could really have done with a few more vintage songs – maybe that had something to do with Shernoff’s lawyers, I don’t know (tellingly, the suffix of ‘NYC’ is now also a part of the group’s name), but ‘The Next Big Thing’ and ‘Two Tub Man’ still sounded as vital as they did in 1975, and an encore version of the MC5’s ‘Kick Out The Jams’ kicked some serious butt. A cover of ‘Slow Death’ by the Flaming Groovies showcased some nice guitar work from the team of Ross The Boss and Daniel Rey (once a producer of the Ramones), but Manitoba was the show’s star, launching into a series of rock ‘n’ roll-themed rants and voicing loud and genuine exasperation at the barrier that separated the band and crowd (“What am I, fucking Gene Simmons?! I am a big rock star and you are puny little people, I’m so much greater than you! NO! That’s not the way Handsome Dick Manitoba works. Believe me, before the end of this show I will feel your sweat and we will be dancing together”.)
To prove this point he delivered ‘Baby Let’s Twist’ from a mob frantically trying to take selfies on their mobiles for Facebook. Clambering back onstage Handsome Dick beamed: “Now maybe my son will be impressed?!” As well he should… Dictators NYC remain a truly amazing band. Here’s the set-list: ‘The Party Starts Now’, ‘The Next Big Thing’, ‘Avenue A’, ‘The Savage Beat’, ‘Who Will Save Rock ‘N’ Roll?’, ‘Pussy And Money’, ‘I Stand Tall’, ‘Slow Death’, ‘Baby Let’s Twist’, ‘Faster And Louder’, ‘New York, New York’ and ‘Stay With Me’, with encores of ‘Two Tub Man’ and ‘Kick Out The Jams’.
Thursday 7th August
I’m working on a Buyer’s Guide to the Dream Theater albums for a future issue of Classic Rock. It’s great to hear ‘Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory’ again… my own personal fave DT record… at top volume here in the office! They’ve made such consistently wonderful music, it’s going to be very tough to break them down into differing echelons of greatness. And of course, in which ever order you make those selections it’s inevitable there will be a flurry of reader emails and letters calling you a clueless dickhead!
Wednesday 6th August
For quite some time Mr Neil Pudney and myself had been promising ourselves a night on the ale and with Mrs P away in Lanzarote, we made the most of our window. Pudders and I both enjoyed the debut album from Lifesigns, so we headed off to see them at the Borderline, starting first with a few cheeky libations at the Crobar (natch!).
We dived into the Borderline nice ‘n’ early as I wanted to take a look at Jump, a band whose albums I’ve collected since 1994’s ‘…All The King’s Men’ but had never actually seen perform live. Though the show was in an unplugged trio format John Dexter Jones was to prove a charismatic and personable frontman and the colour and excellence of songs such as ‘Down Three Times’ and the singalong ‘Free At Last’ were simply undeniable, the wonderful ‘Bethesda’ offering not-so-distant echoes of Fish-era Marillion. Pudders was compelled to buy a CD and we both agreed it would be great to see them in an ‘electric’ scenario before too long. For those who’ve never heard of Jump before, try checking out this rather splendid video for ‘Down Three Times’. I bet that my mate Paul Gillooly will love them!
Headliners Lifesigns were also a bit special. Okay, there was no Nick Beggs, who’d played bass on the album, but Mr Jon Poole from Cardiacs was a superb replacement. It was nice to see mainman John Young, supplier of keys and vocals for a list of bands as long as your arm in his element, especially when he said: “All my life I’ve been fortunate to work for lots of great artists in enormodomes around the world but my dream was always to play a gig where the crowd knew the words to my songs” – aw, bless. If pastoral neo-prog with high quality musicianship is your thing, this is a band you should already be on first name terms with. Most of the ‘Lifesigns’ album was played, including ‘Lighthouse’, ‘Fridge Full Of Stars’, ‘At The End Of The World’, plus the encore of ‘Carousel’, and the set also introduced a couple of tracks lined up for its successor, one of which was might have been called ‘Voice In My Head’ ( you want more details? C’mon, it was a boys night out, I can’t be sure). ’Twas a superb evening tho’!
Tuesday 5th August
Over the past several months we’ve started something called Monday Night Supper Club; a sit-down meal that attempts to draw its participants away from the vortex of the Crobar for an evening of (comparatively) sedate culture ‘n’ conversation. Gotta say, French cuisine has never really appealed to me – in fact, it’s hard to think of anything Gallic that doesn’t nauseate me, but the boeuf bourguignon at Brasserie Zédel in Leicester Square was delicious. And of course we ended up back in the Crobar again afterwards! Here’s a shot of myself, Aaron Aedy from Paradise Lost and my pal Tyrina Gallagher indulging in one last cheeky nightcap!
Monday 4th August
Oh dear. It’s that awful, Pete Townshend-esque ‘lock the office door moment’ when you’re writing a review of the new American Hi-Fi record and have to visit Miley Cyrus’ website to find out whether Stacey Jones is still her drummer and ‘musical director... oh, the shame! The album concerned, ‘Blood & Lemonade’, is rather nifty. Wish I’d have known that A H-F played the 100 Club a few months ago, as I’d have gone. Here’s their new video, filmed at that same London show.
Sunday 3rd August
This time next week I shall be recovering from a monumental, FM-inspired hangover, as the band celebrate their 30th anniversary at the Cambridge Rock Festival. Sadly, I cannot make it across on Friday night but with a Sat/Sun bill that also features Wishbone Ash, Mostly Autumn, Jørn Lande, Roadhouse (featuring my old mucker Danny Gwilym), Mr So & So, Laurence Jones and Pearl Handled Revolver, I really can’t wait for what’ll probably be one of my last blow-outs of 2014 (Firefest excepted, obviously!)
Saturday 2nd August
Football is back, football is back, ’allo, ’allo! Eddie and I are just home from a day out at Griffin Park where Palace played Brentford in a sun-soaked pre-season friendly. Tickets in the away end were sold old – Goddamn those Premier League gloryhunters! – but thanks to my friend Chris Gers, who is actually a Hartlepool fan, but took up supporting his local team to prevent his kids from following ManUre, Chelski or some such, we had tickets among the Bees fans. Lucky that I am a master of tact and diplomacy, eh? *Ahem*. I’d forgotten how difficult it can be to stand among the opposing supporters, especially when their team raced into a deserved 2-0 lead. Glenn Murray and Marouane Chamakh pulled things back to 2-2 but new Bees signing Moses Odubajo scoring a wonder-goal winner, the result seemed pretty fair. I don’t place a great deal of importance in these games, they’re really for fitness and integration of the new faces but CPFC’s side was a very strong one, and the performance wasn’t great. At all. Oh well…
My condolences to anyone that knew Jess Jaworski, who played keyboards for the pre-Status Quo bands The Scorpions and The Spectres, who has died after a two-year battle with cancer. Yeah, another one… *sighs*…
Friday 1st August
Last night was spent at Kettners in Soho, with a gang of fellow loonies, celebrating the 50th birthday of the lovely Annick Barbaria, the godmother of my two kids and one of the most splendid people I know. Happy birthday Unique One! Here’s to many more!
Look out for the usual updates at the Playlist and YouTube pages…