Dave's Diary
This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily
(except after nights of excess)



Sunday 20th July
It felt strange to wake up under canvas; I hadn’t camped at a festival for many, many years but as I had struggled to find accommodation at Steelhouse the offer of a pod in the six-man tent of my friends Jeff Gilbert and Phillipa Douglas was too generous to turn down, especially as they do things properly… with a cooked brekkie to start the day!

Dave Ling Online

I arrived on site after a high speed mobile piss-up that involved wine pouches, frozen tequila drinkies and Prosecco, plus cider in a local B&B-cum-pub where my fellow travellers Richard Thompson, Belinda Bullick and Tyrina Gallagher were staying. I wasn’t reviewing the show anyway but the second band, SKARLETT RIOT, were already onstage and their brand of punky rock ‘n’ roll sounded okay from across the main arena to the camp site as I dumped off my gear… save for those dodgy Yank accents – you’re from Scunthorpe… what’s that all about?
It felt bloody fabulous to be back at Steelhouse, which really is one of the friendliest festivals I’ve ever attended. Three quid a pint, a reasonably priced selection of food, quick stage turnarounds, footie in the backstage area (the Banana Man was back!) and none of those frustrating stage clashes experiences that we ensure elsewhere. And, unlike last year (which was plagued by torrential rain), the weather was mostly fantastic. The view from the top a Welsh mountain wasn’t bad, either…

Dave Ling Online

Though I’d enjoyed the band’s debut album this was my first sighting of local lads BUFFALO SUMMER, who played an entertaining set of blues-based hard rock that climaxed, fittingly, with their best tune, ‘Down To The River’. Having caught the end of TAX THE HEAT with Kansas a few days earlier, I took the opportunity to locate the toilets and have a dump. ’Nuff said. GRAVELTONES are a band I can take or leave; a couple of great tunes, plenty of filler. And as news that Electric Boys weren’t going to make it from Sweden in time to play as billed, Graveltones elongated their own set to compensate. ’Twas okay; more time in the beer tent. They sounded okay from there… And well played THE AMORETTES, billed as Sunday’s openers, who agreed to perform a day earlier – effectively swapping with Electric Boys, who it was announced, would play the next day.
SEBASTIAN BACH wasn’t universally well received, the former Skid Row frontman is a past master at getting people’s backs up, but I really enjoyed his special guest slot, which mixed Skid Row standards such as ‘Slave To The Grind’, ‘Big Guns’, ‘Piece Of Me’, ‘18 And Life’, ‘In A Darkened Room’, ‘I Remember You’ and, of course, ‘Youth Gone Wild’ with solo material, including ‘Temptation’, Harmony’ and ‘All My Friends Are Dead’. During the set Bach spotted me in the crowd at the Steelhouse Festival and commented on my Skid Row 1st album garment: “Is that you out there, Dave Ling? You’ve had that shirt for thirty fucking years… Have you changed it in that time? I can smell you from here, dude!” Two days later he'd have had a point... During Seb’s set a dad carried his tiny daughter on his shoulders to the front of the stage and taught her to throw the horns. After multiple attempts she finally got it right and was rewarded by huge cheers from the crowd. A great moment, I almost blubbed.
As darkness fell BLACK STAR RIDERS brought day #1 to a triumphant close. Resisting the temptation to preview material from their forthcoming second album (which is to be produced by Joe Elliott) the band once again offered a 50-50 split of BSR originals and Lizzy (and associated) tunes. My old mate Ricky Warwick is really coming into his own as a frontman and whilst I recognise that there are some people that will never warm to the group, believing them to be a Lizzy rip-off (hello Belinda!), those views are in the minority – certainly given the rousing response they commanded at Steelhouse. Here’s the set-list: ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, ‘Are You Ready’, ‘Bloodshot’, ‘Bad Reputation’, ‘Before The War’, ‘Jailbreak’, ‘Hoodoo Voodoo’, ‘Suicide’, Kingdom Of The Lost’, ‘Hey Judas’, ‘Southbound’, ‘Kissin’ The Ground’, ‘Valley Of The Stones’, ‘Emerald’, ‘Bound For Glory’, ‘Cowboy Song’ and ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’, followed by Damon Johnson’s Guitar Solo, ‘Whiskey In The Jar and ‘Rosalie’.

Dave Ling Online

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Saturday 19th July
Up early for the trip to the Steelhouse festival in Wales. Classic Rock is on deadline (again), and yesterday was especially busy. So it was strange to get an eleventh hour call asking whether I could interview Joe Perry in the evening, principally to get the Aerosmith guitarist to pay tribute to Johnny Winter, who died two days ago. (Perry was interviewed along with his hero Winter for the July issue of Classic Rock onboard the latter’s tour bus in Los Angeles). Myself, I saw Johnny onstage just the once, at London's Astoria Theatre in 2007, and in all truthfulness it wasn’t a very pleasurable experience but, my… what a great artist.
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Friday 18th July
Given that the headliners were onstage for a meagre 88 minutes the ‘evening with…’ part was a bit of an exaggeration, but the London date of Kansas’ 40th anniversary tour offered much to enjoy. Nine years had elapsed since the US pomp rockers last played in the UK, and much had been made of lead singer/keysman’s Steve Walsh’s decision to jump ship upon the tour’s completion. Frankly, this was no great shock. His voice has been something of a liability in recent years.

Dave Ling Online

Mr Beare and I were sat (sat???!!) three rows back, directly in front of Walsh, guitarist Rich Williams, and violinist/occasional guitarist David Ragsdale, who played brilliantly. The sound was great, likewise the set-list which save for two songs recorded in the 1980s (‘Hold On’ and ‘Fight Fire With Fire’) dated back to the group’s glorious heyday of 1974-1977.
The biggest (and only) disappointment was Walsh’s delivery. It’s not the guy’s fault that he’s 63 years old but he just doesn’t cut it anymore, not even close. A track like ‘Song For America’ or ‘Icarus – Borne On Wings Of Steel’ began all ornate and grandiose, a veritable symphony of sound, and then Steve moved to the mic and… phhhttttt... the firework was extinguished. I felt sorry for the guy, and his voice actually picked up towards the end of a set that lasted for less than 90 mins, but it definitely affected my enjoyment of what would otherwise have been a stellar gig. I wish him all the best for his retirement and wonder what happens next for Kansas and their vocalist-in-waiting, Ronnie Platt, briefly a member of the band Shooting Star and who can be seen singing Kansas songs on YouTube with a covers group called Arra.
The set-list ran as follows: Medley: ‘Mysteries And Mayhem’/‘Lamplight Symphony’, ‘The Wall’, ‘Point Of Know Return’, ‘Song For America’, ‘Hold On’, ‘Dust In The Wind’, ‘Cheyenne Anthem’, ‘Belexes’, ‘Icarus - Borne On Wings Of Steel’, ‘Miracles Out Of Nowhere’, ‘Down The Road’ and ‘Portrait (He Knew)’, plus an encore of ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ and the evergreen ‘Carry On Wayward Son’.
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Thursday 17th July
It was nice to get away from the desk a little early and jump on a bus to the Oval for an evening T20 blast game between my local county side, Surrey, and Somerset. Besides my eldest lad Eddie, the game was watched by a great gang of people including my fellow Eagle, Neil Pudney, who managed to snap this photograph as I availed myself of a little additional refreshment, well… it was a very hot evening, and Surrey did win!

Dave Ling Online

Dave Ling Online

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Wednesday 16th July
A great time was had last nite at the 12 Bar Club where the Dowling Poole played a rather splendid unplugged show to launch their debut album, ‘Bleak Strategies’. I’ve followed and enjoyed Willie Dowling’s career since the days of The Grip (‘The Ballad Of Vera Daydream’, anyone?) and he is such a great writer – one of the very few artists of whom you can hear a snippet of a tune and say, ‘Aaah, Willie wrote that one!’ As usual the between-song banter was every bit as entertaining as the tunes. Get Dowling on a rant and he’ll have your sides splitting. It was nice to meet Willie’s partner in crime Jon Poole, of Cardiacs fame in the Crobar afterwards, too! Just wish I could remember what the heck we spoke about!

Dave Ling Online

Dave Ling Online

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Tuesday 15th July
I thought that the new telephone directory had arrived but no… it’s the bumper, expanded edition #200 of Classic Rock. 200 Q&A interviews with rock musicians on the big issues of life, and I conducted a whopping 52 of them: Art (Ian Anderson, Eric Bloom), Death & Mortality (Joe Bonamassa, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, Devin Townsend, Ricky Warwick), Drugs (Steve Lukather, Mike Portnoy, Dave Wyndorf), The Environment (Steve Hillage, Richie Sambora), Fame (Alice Cooper, Chris Squire, Mick Box), Fighting & Violence (Phil Mogg, Johnny Van Zant), Heroes & Villains (Scott Gorham, Steve Harley, Michael Monroe, Thijs van Leer), Inspiration (Max Cavalera, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Steve Perry), Legacy (John Mayall, George Thorogood), Marriage (Chris Robertson, Zakk Wylde), Money (Joe Elliott, Joey Tempest, Tony Wright), Partying (Francis Dunnery), Pastimes (Danny Bowes, Luke Morley), Politics (Fish, Rick Wakeman), Religion (Dave Brock, Steven Tyler), Rock & Roll (Dan Baird, Biff Byford, Ian Gillan, Hank Marvin, Ginger Wildheart), School (Tony Banks, Robert John Godfrey, Mike Rutherford), Singers (Rich Robinson, Steve Vai), Sports (Glenn Hughes), Survival & Comebacks (Eric Moore) and Technology (Keith Emerson, Todd Rundgren). The contents are very, very impressive indeed, and all for the price of a ‘regular’ issue!

Dave Ling Online

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Monday 14th July
World Cup beers with Eddie (out of shot), Cliff Evans of Tank, Mark Taylor and Steve Goldby at a German pub in Hammersmith. It all got a bit out of control (and that's just the swearbox). Eddie wouldn’t eat his sauerkraut – fussy git. But he did like his first experience of Sambucca (don’t tell his mum). Today is going to be a bit of a struggle…

Dave Ling Online

Amazingly, this self confessed technophobe is now on Skype after Dan Reed persuaded me to sign up for this afternoon’s chat and my newly appointed IT manager Arnie Ling did the difficult technical bits. I’m gonna have to re-learn my whole interview etiquette… scratching one’s bum is now strictly verboten! I hope it’ll reduce my phone bill which after issue #200 will be monumental.
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Sunday 13th July
The world ‘legend’ is over-used, of course, but ten years ago on this very day a goalie named Julian Speroni signed on the dotted line for Crystal Palace FC from Dundee for a fee of just £500,000. The rest is history. Jules has made 349 first team appearances, kept 101 clean sheets, won Player Of The Year on four occasions and played alongside 169 different teammates. On top of that he’s a lovely fella and a huge fan of rock music. I’m looking forward to saying ‘thanks’ at his testimonial.
Still in the realm of football (and with a not to Speroni’s homeland)… I believe there’s an important game this evening? Eddie and I have made plans to watch it in a German bar with a few friends.
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Saturday 12th July
Last night was spent at one of my fave London venues, the Borderline, for a show billed as An Evening With Tim Bowness and Henry Fool or, as Bowness quipped from the stage: “It’s a bit of a Frankenstein combination; you can call us Tim Bowness & Henry Fool Featuring Colin Edwin” in reference to the presence of ex-Porcupine Tree man Edwin on bass guitar.

Dave Ling Online

Bowness was promoting an excellent solo album called ‘Abandoned Dancehall Dreams’, mixing its best selections such as the sultry set-opener ‘The Warm Up Man Forever’, ‘Smiler At 50’, ‘Dancing For You’ and ‘Songs Of Distant Summers’, with songs by the newly revived Henry Fool (‘Judy On The Brink’, the as-yet unreleased ‘Almost The End Of Everything’ and a first encore of ‘Poppy Q’. The night also featured material by the singer’s other group No-Man (‘Time Travel In Texas’, ‘Housewives Hooked On Heroin’ and ‘Mixtaped’). Topped off by the breathy, emotive vocals of the show’s focal point and embellished by saxophonist/flautist Myke Clifford, the music was consistently understated. Cool, soothing ambient prog really doesn’t get much better. My only problem was the show’s modest 70-minute duration. Oh well, not to worry… I was back in the Crobar in time for some additional nightcaps!
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Friday 11th July
Yesterday’s interview with Walter Trout was the guitarist’s first since the liver replacement operation that saved his life. Walter and I go back to the days of his solo debut, ‘Life In The Jungle’, released in 1990, and despite him being in hospital it was an easy-going and stress-free conversation. The 63-year-old is recovering well, even making gags about his surname (a good sign considering his live album from 1992 was called ‘No More Fish Jokes’). Discussing the fact that fans and industry colleagues raised $245,000 towards his healthcare bills, the poor fella broke down when I asked whether he knew how loved he was… obviously not. Check out the story at the Classic Rock website.
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Thursday 10th July
Last night I was among the crowd at the second of Extreme’s ‘Pornograffiti’ album-themed London shows. By all accounts the previous night’s crowd was far bigger, but size isn’t everything and singer Gary Cherone praised us for our noisiness and enthusiasm. Filling the entire set proper, I thought the ‘Pornografitti’ segment was great, except for the godawful lounge jazz song, ‘When I First Kissed You’, which I’m told is on the record… that’ll tell you how often I’ve played Side Two of my original vinyl edition! However, a sprawling 45-minute encore – yes, really! – was at least twice as long as necessary, especially as they failed to play ‘Kid Ego’. Instead we got: ‘Warheads’, ‘Rest in Peace’, ‘Am I Ever Gonna Change’, ‘Play With Me’, ‘Midnight Express’ and ‘Cupid’s Dead’. Nuno Bettencourt experienced some guitar hardware problems during ‘Warheads’ which held things up for several minutes and served to take the show a few minutes past curfew – that must have cost Extreme a quid or two – but when his solo in the same song came along, boy was it worth the wait!
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Wednesday 9th July
Well, that was an interesting gig… who the heck needs a sauna when the Winery Dogs (aka Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen) play at the Underworld in Camden??!! Mike Portnoy’s drum kit is sometimes bigger than the venue’s stage! All three band members turned in a first-class display, sweat was running down the walls. Kotzen’s reputation as a guitar whizz-kid is well deserved but his soul-drenched singing is every bit as good. Portnoy, who from time to time improvised by using a spotlight above his head as an addition percussive tool, was quite right when he roared: “The Winery Dogs at the Underworld! This is one we’ll all remember for a long time, and you were there! I know you had a choice of American rock bands [Extreme were across town at the Forum], so we’re glad that you chose this one!”
Obviously, being out at a gig I missed last nite’s World Cup Semi Final action between Brazil and Germany as it went down but I’ve just watched the Beeb’s replay over brekkie. 1-7… who saw that coming??! Loved it when the commentator said: “Germany are going to declare in a minute.” It was indeed just like watching Brazil… that’s Alan Brazil, now 55 and 21 stone. Hehehe, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving bunch of diving, fouling, conceited, egomaniacs!
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Tuesday 8th July
Owwwwch! Almost tore the nail off my left pinkie finger in what can only be termed a bizarre gardening accident (true!) Oh well, given what happened to poor ol’ John ‘Stumpy’ Pepys the damage could’ve been much, much worse...
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Monday 7th July
Received a finished copy of the Download Festival programme – it looks wonderful. ’Twas a pleasure to have been involved again this year, despite not being able to make the event in person.
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Sunday 6th July
I’m back from Iron Maiden’s excellent gig at the Sonisphere Festival. There are no prizes for guessing the source of the day’s dumbest quote. “So this is Knebworth Park, where Led Zeppelin played their last ever gig,” cried Sebastian Bach excitedly. “Was it right here, in this exact tent?” Er... no, Seb. That’s wrong on so many levels.
Sadly, for reasons that I won’t go into, my partner in grime Mr Beare and I arrived on site too late to see many of the bands that played. Black Spiders performed well in a tent, eliciting a strong audience reaction, but former Skid Row man Bach’s 45-minute display was plagued by sound and equipment issues, the latter of which caused him to leave the stage without playing ‘Youth Gone Wild’. Boo, hiss!

Dave Ling Online

This was the final show of a three-year tour for the Maiden England? show, with a slightly readjusted repertoire that featured a returning ‘Revelations’… fantastic stuff. Bruce Dickinson, who had led an ariel dogfight above Knebworth, was in typically ebullient form, telling us it was “the last concert in England... for a while” and further teasing the crowd with a buoyant yet vague rap about the special things on the way “in years to come.” The set-list ran as follows: ‘Moonchild’, ‘Can I Play With Madness’, ‘The Prisoner’, ‘Two Minutes To Midnight’, ‘Revelations’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘The Number Of The Beast’, ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, ‘Run To The Hills’, ‘Wasted Years’, ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’, ‘Fear Of The Dark’ and ‘Iron Maiden’, followed by ‘Aces High’ (complete with Churchill speed intro), ‘The Evil Of Man U (Goes On And On)’ and ‘Sanctuary’.
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Saturday 5th July
What a lovely day out in Hyde Park. Superb company – many too many names to mention! – plenty of booze, sweltering heat and some great music. Taking discreet swigs from a bottle of dark rum concealed in my bag, Mr Beare and I crept as close to the front as possible before Motörhead’s arrival. What followed was highly emotional. It was wonderful to see Lemmy back on a stage but he was looking and sounding frail – very frail. The band had been allocated 45 minutes, but when Mikkey Dee took a solo during ‘Dr Rock’, just five songs in, it was an obvious ploy to give Lemmy a rest. They made it through ‘Going To Brazil’ (dedicated by Phil Campbell to the English football team – it was short stay!), ‘Killed By Death’ (which featured a guest appearance Whitfield Crane… er, why?), ‘Ace Of Spades’ and ‘Overkill’ and it was time to say goodbye… perhaps literally. Once it was done, Mr Beare and I both wiped away a tear or two. It pains me to say it, but I really don’t think they’ll be back.
Truthfully, in the wake of the upset caused by Motörhead I didn’t feel like paying much attention to the rest of the bill. Cider time had arrived! Faith No More were way better than I’d expected, including ‘From Out Of Nowhere’ and ‘Epic’ in a blistering opening to their set, while Soundgarden played their ‘Superunknown’ album in its entirety.
I stayed to watch a few numbers by Black Sabbath. Why leave early? Well, it was becoming harder and harder to get a beer, I’d seen them at the O2 Arena just a few months earlier and as dusk approached, the lure of the Crobar was pretty hard to ignore. With no further activity in their diaries, and with Tony Iommi battling his own health problems, it’s being speculated that Black Sabbath, too, may have roared their last. Given the unexpected quality of the comeback disc ‘13’ and their own inestimable contribution to the genre, this would be a significant loss. To quote Soundgarden, ‘…Back Days’, indeed.
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Friday 4th July
Thanks for all of the birthday wishes, folks. This parrot is another year closer to dropping off its perch, but the little pressie of a vinyl edition of ‘Outsider’ from Maria and the Heep office was most welcome.

Dave Ling Online

The sun is blazing overhead and today I shall be at Hyde Park for the British Summer Time Festival. For me it’s all about seeing the one and only Godfather of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Mr Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, in a mid-afternoon slot. Who knows how many more times we may be afforded the honour. Sad but true…
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Thursday 3rd July
I really enjoyed last night’s debut London appearance from the LA-based melodic hard rock band Heaven And Earth. After some preliminary beverages at the Wetherspoons pub in the shopping complex Sweden’s Million played a fine warm-up set and as show-time arrived the cider was flowing like Niagara Falls (well, it was my birthday!).
Heaven And Earth aspire to “take up from where iconic bands like Deep Purple and Bad Company have left off” and their new album, ‘Dig’, was certainly among the finest releases of last year. Inevitably, their 95-minute set was based upon its best moments, such as the brilliant ‘No Money, No Love’ and the superb lighter-waving ballad ‘I Don’t Know What Love Is’, though they also tapped a self-titled record from 2004 that was released under the name of mainman Stuart Smith for another of the night’s best received tunes, ‘Don’t Keep Me Waiting’. (For those that might be unaware, this album featured some amazing special guests including Richie Sambora, Bobby Kimball, Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner, Howard Leese and many more, and is well worth seeking out). Inevitably the ghost of Deep Purple was never too far away, and it spoke volumes that among the covers they played was as exquisite remake of the Purps standard ‘When A Blind Man Cries’. But before doing so the band said some very kind words and invited yours truly to join them onstage, which rather took me aback! Embarrassed I shouted: “I can’t believe they made it at last… aren’t they fucking brilliant?” into the mic and scuttled back to join my pals Andy Beare, Harj Kallah, David Boyce and Darryl Jupp to partake in yet more liquid refreshment. Thanks to Dave Craig for the snap!

Dave Ling Online

Topped off by an encore of Free’s ‘Mr Big’, this was a wonderful show that deserved more than the 150-odd fans lucky enough to have witnessed it. I can’t wait to catch H&H again in a couple of weeks at the Steelhouse Festival in Wales. Meanwhile, here’s what they played in Islington: ‘Victorious’, ‘Back In Anger’, ‘No Money, No Love’, ‘House Of Blues’, ‘Man & Machine’, ‘I Don’t Know What Love Is’, ‘Heaven & Earth’, ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’, ‘Don’t Keep Me Waiting’, ‘Waiting For The End Of The World’, ‘Sexual Insanity’, ‘It’s Got To Be Love’, ‘When A Blind Man Cries’, ‘Good Times’, ‘Rock & Roll Does’ and ‘Mr Big’.
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Wednesday 2nd July
Today is my birthday and, not unreasonably, I had really hoped to take the day off. My plan was to make the most the beautiful weather and take the train down to Kingston-Upon-Thames, hiking back to central London along the Thames-side path, passing Kew Gardens, Battersea Power Station and Westminster along the way. Somewhat amazingly, this walk made second spot in the Lonely Planet’s top ten ‘city hikes’, with only the Tijuca Forest in Rio de Janeiro holding it off the top spot. Alas, I got caught up in re-writing some news pages and final mopping up of the bumper Issue #200 of Classic Rock, and before I knew what was happening lunchtime had arrived. But it’s not all bad news; this evening I shall be visiting the Islington Academy for a gig by the California-based band Heaven And Earth, whose most recent album ‘Dig’ was praised across the board by the melodic hard rock media and whose guitarist, Englishman Stuart Smith, is a fella that I’ve been in email and phone contact with for several years, despite never having met. I’m sure it’ll be a blast! For those that have yet to hear the band check out this wonderful YouTube clip.
Still referencing CR#200, After considerable thought (and I mean *very* considerable!), I’ve gone with Steven Wilson’s ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’ as the finest record to have been issued within the magazine’s lifespan (see Diary, June 26). A very tough decision!
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Tuesday 1st July
Urggggh. Suffering from way too many pints of Stargazer cider (yes, it’s called that, really…) at the launch party for the second album from Scotland’s Flood Of Red, who besides being in attendance played a short live set that was good but nothing remarkable. Barney was the first man to bring up Palace’s exploits over the Villa but luckily no blood was spilled, hehehe.
This not-so-l’il beaut made such a resounding thud upon hitting the mat, it almost went through the floor. The first ten albums by Dream Theater (barring their independently released debut ‘When Dream And Day Unite’) on CD – 12 hours of prog-metal magnificence…

Dave Ling Online

Meanwhile, the Playlist and YouTube pages have been updated.