This journal of the comings'n'goings and musings'n'enthusings of Dave Ling will be updated daily - except after days of stress and nights of excess.
Thursday 9th March
How great to see Mike Tramp back at the Black Heart in Camden. The hard working former White Lion/Freak Of Nature singer has built things up over last six years from solo unplugged performances to the current electric band scenario. His three-piece group - including Soren Andersen, also Glenn Hughes' current guitarist - suits him exceptionally well, and if Tramp now focusses a little less on his past than previously, the Dane has every justification - the last three solo releases have all been superb. The show took place on the day that a latest set, 'Maybe Tomorrow', went to Number #2 in his national chart (also topping the vinyl listings), and in 2017 Tramp is in a very good place indeed. "Lord, all I ask is one thing - give me twenty more years," he pleaded from the stage. "I don't want to be any younger or older, I'm happy the way I am." Perhaps inevitably many of the glory-era tunes were re-worked. Again... I had no problem with that, particularly enjoying the revision of the 'Pride' album classic 'Lady Of The Valley'. Tramp's inner contentment, and the pleasure of a smiling crowd, were all too obvious. "Being with friends and playing music is what it's all about. It's not worth earning a billion dollars if you don't enjoy the people you're with," he admitted. "It took me almost thirty years to learn that."
Blimey, I've just played the first three tracks of the new Vain album, 'Rolling With The Punches' (out on the 24th of this month)... wow. I'm blown away. I'm not kidding when I say it's on a par with 'No Respect', their immortal debut from 1989.
Tuesday 7th March
It's mid-evening as I type and I'm back at Ling Towers after a few local pints of scrumpy with my PR pal Nick White who had some hot-off-the-press Heep re-issue goodies for me - CDs of 'Look At Yourself', 'Demons Ands Wizards' and 'The Magician's Birthday', plus the new 180gm edition of 'Live 1973' on double-gatefold speckled vinyl. Better still, I picked up a Chinese on the way home, and with both Linglets out it's time to settle down for Walking Dead, Talking Dead and Billions. #peaceandquiet #nocooking #vinyl
Monday 6th March
Oooh, very nice indeed. The Status Quo vinyl singles box volume one has just thudded onto the mat. 13 seven-inch 45s from 'Paper Plane' to 'Living On An Island' with original B-sides and sleeves reproducing the period graphics – plus my sleeve notes. Thanks a lot, postie.
Sunday 5th March
How nice to catch up with one of my bestest mates in the whole world, Harj Kallah, at a venue beneath a pizzeria in the West End of London over some nosebag, pinot and jazz-rock from the Alex Skolnick Trio. Skolnick is best known as a guitarist of Testament, also a former member of power-metal gods Savatage and, until a few years back, a touring player with the progressive rock-meets-Broadway behemoth known as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but the AST provides a radically different outlet for his extraordinary talent.
This evening we heard versions of Aerosmith's 'Dream On', 'Revelation (Mother Earth)' by Ozzy Osbourne, ' an Al Di Meola-ized rendition of 'Breaking The Law' and the 'Made In Japan' version of Purple's 'Lazy' amid a raft of self-penned tunes. It was great fun... someday all gigs will be like this!
Saturday 4th March
My Friday evening was spent in the company of my gig buddy Robert Corich watching Procol Harum's 50th anniversary gig at the Royal Festival Hall. I'm a little ashamed that I've only see this legendary band once before; back in March 2003 they played the Broadway Theatre (formerly the Town Hall) here in Catford. It was a stunning gig. The band had a little soiree in the bar afterwards and I got my copy of their then-current disc 'The Well's On Fire' signed by Gary Brooker, hit the kebab shop and was home in a matter of minutes - lovely!
Their RFH gig offered a night of drama, colour, pageantry and courage. Now 71 years old, Brooker took a really bad tumble leaving the stage at the end of set #1, and for a while nobody was sure that he would be able to return – especially when the interval was extended. So when the singer/pianist came back with a bandaged head the place gave him a standing ovation. The poor fella had also injured his hand, which meant adapting the set (organist Josh Phillips covered some of his parts). What a trooper to carry on. Most rock bands tend to use classical players simply for embellishment purposes but Procol stepped back and allowed the Senbla Symphony Orchestra and English Chamber Choir to blend and percolate with their music. From those exquisite swooping seagull sounds at the start of 'A Salty Dog' to a robust, heroic outburst during 'Symphathy For The Hard Of Hearing', Geoff Whitehorn's guitar playing was exemplary.
The only part of the show that I disliked was when Brooker invited singer Sam Brown and a couple of fellow female ukulele players to participate in 'Neighbour', a quite hideous ditty from 'Novum', the band's brand new studio album, which sounded like a bad Chas & Dave B-side. However, this was one hell of a birthday party - I'm really surprised they didn't film the thing. It made me proud to be English, and that's not a phrase I use too often anymore.
Wow, I've just spotted a fact on John Coghlan's Facebook page. 'Status Quo Live', the greatest concert album ever turns 40 years old today. What a strange and unnerving thought!
Anyway, its 5.15pm as I type: Palace win... Shiteon lose... Boro lose... Hull lose...
Twatford lose... CPFC exit the dreaded bottom three, with Eagles fans singing: "Oh Tony Pulis, we're having your house." God I *hate* Tiny Penis! Beating him at last when we really needed it feels so, so sweet. Hmmm… a visit to the pub may be in order, methinks!
Friday 3rd March
Last night I sat up late for a phone interview with Joe Bonamassa (er... is 11.30pm considered late?) As we spoke, Joe had the guitar cradled in his lap and was playing away in the background whilst spilling the beans on the new Black Country Communion album... gosh, I hate my job! Thank God I got it back! We laughed about the fact that JB dolls are now available via his Facebook page. The blurb claims: "They come with a better personality, more talent and better hairline than the real thing." "That was my endorsement," he giggled. "It's true. I really don't take myself too seriously."
Oh goodness gracious me. Lionheart and Airrace have teamed forces for a few UK dates in December. "Hello, is that Matalan Catford branch? Good. I'm in urgent need of some new underwear. And lots of it!" I will deffo be in London and may also just put together a bit of a road trip... Newcastle or Wolverhampton, possibly?
Thursday 2nd March
I'm sitting back in my office chair and smiling like a loon, attempting to pick a track from Night Ranger's newie, 'Don't Let Up', for the Heavy Rotations (office jukebox) section of the next Classic Rock. There's a problem, but it's a nice one... every song is superb!
Here are this month's Playlist and YouTube updates.
Wednesday 1st March
I'm very, very sad to see the perilous state of my second team, Leyton Orient, who face a winding up order for an unpaid tax bill and could well be relegated from the football league unless they buck up their ideas. During the 1990s as a bachelor I spent eight very happy years in Leytonstone and would often attend Orient games when I couldn't make Palace's away fixtures. It's amazing and rather depressing to think that only three years ago they were beating Rotherham 2-0 in the League 1 play-off final, only to lose on pens.
A 'non-football'-type friend of Facebook has just posted that he cannot understand why fans get upset when clubs are threatened with extinction; after all, they are business like everything else. What utter bunkum! It's the supporters who pay the price for the negligence or stupidity for those charged with running things. Clearly the bloke that bought Os doesn't give a shit if they drop out of the league or go bust, but fans invest their lives in the clubs they support. It ain't their fault. Quite the opposite, in fact. Are they supposed to remain dispassionate? I'm extremely proud that when Palace were in danger of going bust I got off my arse to attend several protests, including the one at Lloyds Bank in the City that saved the situation.
Anyway, rant over... as I type this I'm prepping for a phone interview with Erik Mårtensson via a blast of the appropriately titled new Eclipse masterpiece, 'Monumentum' (out March 24th). What a fabulous band!!