One of the things I love about live music is its constant ability to amaze me and prove me wrong. The Dead Daisies released their second album, Revolucion, amongst a smorgasbord of great albums in June. And it stuck out like a sore thumb because it wasn’t as good as those other albums. It wasn’t even as good as their surprise debut album but that was a fantastic album.
A week later, they opened second stage at Download on the Sunday. Every song was from the new album and into the bargain, the performance wasn’t great. Needless to say, I was a touch wary tonight.
The Wild Lies were first up, hammering through a handful of their songs not long after the doors opened. They were out to impress and it showed in their performance. Despite playing to a relatively quiet venue as people were still shuffling in and trying to get some alcohol into their bodies, they didn’t let that deter them. Kicking things off with a song reminiscent of Alter Bridge’s AB III work, it was a strong start. And then the wheels came off to become a bland, generic rock band who I’ve seen countless times before. Watching both guitars, I couldn’t decide who was attempting lead guitar; both looked to be handling rhythm duties at the same time.
A quick changeover and it was time for Colour of Noise. Having interviewed guitarist Bruce John Dickinson and vocalist Matt Mitchell earlier in the day, I was admittedly looking forward to this more than the headliners. Featuring massive stadium rock riffs, there’s a polish and chemistry which belies the fact 2015 is their first year together. Mitchell’s voice is rich and bluesy, much like David Coverdale’s in its heyday. With a band like Colour of Noise, it’s great to see musicians play to a room and have as much fun as their audience. Supporting a band like The Dead Daisies is the perfect crowd for them to grab some new fans and by the time they finished their set, it was clear they had claimed a few new followers.
How do you get a Glasgow crowd on-side? Ensure your opening song is not only one of your best but also said song is an interpretation of “Midnight Moses” by one of Glasgow’s favourite sons, Alex Harvey. Taken straight from Revolucion, The Dead Daisies led the crowded Cathouse through a harder, grittier version with more than enough room for the audience to sing along with. Much of the set was comprised of the new album but for good measure, there was a few covers like Aerosmith’s “Sick as a Dog”, Free’s “All Right Now” and from the Face I Love EP, “Helter Skelter” by The Beatles.
Having had various people pass through their ranks, it seems in recent times the band have possibly solidified a permanent line-up. With David Lowy, guitarist Richard Fortus and, technically an original member Guns N’ Roses if you’re being really pedantic, Dizzy Reed on keyboards, it’s rounded out by frontman John Corabi, Marco Mendoza on bass and Brian Tichy on drums. And that’s where this performance over-writes their opening slot at Download. There was chemistry and passion which was absent that morning. There was excitement from the band, many of them having played in Glasgow with other bands (tonight being their first time together) and this was the first time the band had toured the UK in a headlining capacity.
However, the exclusion of tracks from the self-titled debut with the exception of “Lock ‘N’ Load” (Fortus playing Slash’s guitar parts, just like he does in another band) was all we really got from the Jon Stevens era. That self-titled debut had some fantastic songs on it but we were given three out of four tracks from the afore-mentioned Face I Love EP. I’m not too bothered about having never seen the band in that incarnation but I would have liked to have heard songs like “Washington”, “It’s Gonna Take Time” and “Bible Row”. Having heard John Corabi’s voice in fine form, he could have easily handled those songs. Admittedly, the covers they did were great and Corabi is one of the few vocalists who can get away with singing Paul Rodgers’ vocals but they were all songs any self-respecting rock fan knows inside out. But at the same time, I must admit, they did enjoy covering those songs so I can’t entirely condemn them for it.
The highlight of the night had to be in the form of Dizzy Reed, his work on Use Your Illusion I and II is terrific, along with his work elsewhere. Subtle and deft, he doesn’t have to make sure he’s in the entire song, choosing quality over quantity. Meanwhile you had Fortus hammering the strings of his guitar, it was a wonder they didn’t break as David Lowy was more laidback with his matte black Gibson SG, keeping up a steady pace the entire night. Full of energy from the minute he took to the stage, Marco Mendoza kept the crowd engaged, switching between picking his bass strings and using his fingers and whilst there’s merits to both, there was more skill shown using only his fingers. Rounding out the all-star cast, Brian Tichy delivered a drum solo to actually keep the audience’s attention, not overstaying its welcome, his kit littered with cymbals.
With the encore of “Face I Love” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son”, The Dead Daisies had finished for another night. While I would have liked some more earlier material, I can’t fault their actual performance. Clearly giving everything they had, professional and well-polished, they were revelling in playing a small club show in their own right rather than opening for some massive names like they have been in recent years. I was proven wrong and from one of the biggest let-downs at Download, by half a dozen songs into their set, they had already made their mark and it’s one of the best gigs of the year. And the sheer fact a band can do that is why I love music.