REVIEW BY MARK LACEY & VICTORIA LLEWELYN, PICS BY ADRIAN HEXTALL (C) MINDHEX MEDIA
It’s a chilly December Tuesday, with the UK immersed in a cold spell, and what better tonic to warm your core than this trio of hard rockers. The Dead Daisies rolled into the UK just a few days before and are playing their first London show in a year. With all three bands releasing new studio albums this year, we should be in for a treat.
Graham Bonnet Band
First up on tonight’s bill are the Graham Bonnet Band, featuring the extraordinary talents of returning guitarist, Conrado Pesinato, and the drumming expertise of Marco Mendoza’s stickman, Kyle Hughes. Graham’s tenures in Rainbow, The Michael Schenker Group, and Alcatrazz have provided him a permanent place in rock music history. In particular his vocals on Rainbow’s ‘Since you’ve been gone’ will go down as perhaps his finest moment, and its performance tonight brings spine tingling moments of nostalgia for the crowd. Graham is also a successful solo artist in his own right, releasing latest recording ‘Day out in nowhere’ earlier this year. However, there is no room in Graham’s seven song set for his solo material, and instead he leans heavily on his work with MSG, and Rainbow, with four songs coming from Rainbow’s seminal 1979 album ‘Down to Earth’, including ‘Eyes of the world’, ‘All night long’ and ‘Lost in Hollywood’. The passage of time has undoubtedly reduced Graham’s vocal range but as a master showman, he sets the tone perfectly and leaves the stage with the crowd vitalised and in admiration.
Judging by the array of t-shirts in the crowd, there are a lot of FM fans here for tonight’s support performance. 2022 has provided a fresh pinnacle for the band, with the release of their latest album ‘Thirteen’ in March, and a successful headline tour which has spanned the length and breadth of the UK, and unsurprisingly the anticipation at the O2 Forum is palpable.
Due to scheduling issues, sadly FM are only afforded time for six songs this evening. The result ensures that just one song, ‘Turn this car around’, features from the new album, with the remainder of the set dominated by tracks from their first two albums. ‘Tough it out’, ‘Bad luck’ and ‘I belong to the night’ are welcomed like long lost friends, with the audience singing along to every word. It’s almost hard to fathom how the latter of these tracks can now be 36 years’ old. Thankfully the set also features two more recent recordings in ‘Killed by love’ from ‘Atomic Generation’, and the title track from ‘Synchronized’ with both reminding us all of FM’s continued quality song writing. There are many in tonight’s crowd who cite FM as playing the best set today. Either way, FM will have made some more friends, further cemented their adoration with their existing fans, and ensured that their status as the UK’s greatest AOR band remains undisputed.
After being thoroughly warmed up by Graham Bonnet and FM everyone seems keen for the main event, to see what the Dead Daisies have brought us this time. This UK tour brings to an end a year of almost back-to-back live performances for this hardworking band, having toured the USA in the autumn, and most of Europe throughout last summer. After a few weeks break to work on new music and get some much-needed R&R, they are back ready to do what they do best – loud, riff and groove driven old school rock and roll.
The Dead Daisies
The current line-up features founder member David Lowy on rhythm guitar, Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) on lead, Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath) on bass and vocals, and sees the return of Brian Tichy on drums for his third duration with the band. Always known for having killer line ups, the Dead Daisies are not considered a supergroup for nothing, each band member brings their own characteristic to the show, demonstrating both their individuality as highly skilled musicians and their ability to merge as a team to produce epic classic rock tunes to a tried and tested, much loved formula.
To a point, you know what you’re going to get from a Dead Daisies show, they don’t claim to be anything other than what they are, and if you’re a fan of that you will not be disappointed. There’s an easy familiarity between the audience and the band, but that’s not to say they don’t bring the magic in their performance, and they are more than capable of shaking up a crowd.
Since their inception in 2012 the Dead Daisies in their various incarnations have produced (among other projects) six studio albums, five EPs and a covers album, so there’s a wealth of material to create the perfect set list from.
As Aerosmith’s ‘Sweet Emotion’ starts up there’s a ripple and a surge towards the stage, anticipation is running high, and as Lowy, Tichy and Aldrich stride out like the powerhouses they are you can feel the atmosphere dial up a notch. However, it’s the arrival of Glenn Hughes, resplendent in red paisley velvet with his winning smile that raises the excitement level considerably, and as they launch into opening track ‘Long Way To Go’ it takes no time at all for the crowd to get into Lowy’s chugging groove, and the show is ON.
A set packed with hugely popular singles follows in rapid fire, ‘Unspoken’ (the first Daisies song to feature Glenn on vocals), ‘Rise Up’ and ‘Dead And Gone’ are all effortlessly executed, packed with chunky riffs, pulsing rhythm and some insane vocals from Glenn that are not of this earth. Two songs from latest album ‘Radiance’ are next up, the darker, atmospheric groove of title track ‘Radiance’ is almost hypnotic and allows Glenn to get up to those high notes he’s been hitting for more than 40 years. ‘Face Your Fear’ is pure stadium rock and fists plunge into the air from a crowd belting out the lyrics, clearly a popular choice.
Bringing a cool 1970’s vibe ‘Bustle and Flow’ from Glenn’s first album with the band ‘Holy Ground’ comes up next, affording Doug Aldrich a mean guitar solo accompanied by many pairs of adoring eyes from the crowd. Doug’s All-American Rock Star looks take absolutely nothing away from his credibility as an outstanding guitar player and he is, of course, note perfect, whilst perpetually cool-headed David Lowy holds everything steady and drives the song onwards with his trademark downstrokes. Next, the tempo charges up for the first cover song of the set – Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Fortunate Son’. The Daisies increase the energy of this old time classic and Lowy takes the lead, demonstrating the more technical side to his playing.
Hughes, Aldrich and Lowy then take their leave of the stage, leaving a very focussed and intense looking Brian Tichy, seated as if on a throne, amongst a tangle of lights, smoke and drums. Without so much as a brief pause, he immediately draws us irresistibly down into the depths of one of the most complex and intricate extended drum solos ever to grace a stage. Although not everyone appreciates a drum solo there is many a jaw dropped when faced with this monster of a creation. Complete with drumstick gymnastics, cymbal smashes and complicated syncopation, this showpiece is truly a winner with the crowd who roar out their appreciation.
Without missing a beat, so to speak, the guys come back on and pitch straight into Deep Purple’s ‘Mistreated’, a song that everyone knows and welcomes with open arms, and clearly one that Glenn loves to sing given the energy he devotes to it. Latest single – the more bluesy sounding ‘Born To Fly’ follows, inspired by David Lowy’s love of flying. A personal favourite of mine – ‘Burn It Down’ is next up, the slowed-up potency of this powerful track being given the Glenn Hughes makeover; very different from Corabi’s of course but having no less impact.
Another track from the ‘Radiance’ album – ‘Hypnotise Yourself’ comes next, the soaring twin guitars sounding outstanding, followed by old favourite ‘My Fate’, (another from ‘Holy Ground’) and new favourite ‘Shine On’, another from the latest album, which completes the set before the band retire for a few minutes pre-encore.
Looking around the crowd from my viewpoint at the top of the steps I see hugs, high-fives and excited looking chats I imagine are going to be about how this night will finish. Heading to the barrier through smiling faces, I see the Daisies re-emerge and dive straight into an upbeat cover of Alex Harvey Band’s ‘Midnight Moses’ with much added bounce and flair. They really do have fun with this one. And to finish on the ultimate high for the fans here this evening, a cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’, all eight minutes of which are delivered with all the drama and spectacle it commands – a final winning stroke.
To summarise tonight’s performance – the band are on exceptional form. If they are jet lagged no one would know it. It was a show for the fans, and it delivered everything they could have wanted. Musically there were no great surprises but that isn’t what you come to this kind of show for, you want the familiarity of seeing what you know and love performed to perfection. And the Daisies deliver on every level. It is a very satisfied crowd that head out into the night, with warmth in their hearts and very much looking forward to the next innings.