“Why the hell do I do this to myself every year?” I think as I haul myself up the motorway from a sun-drenched Donington. There’s always a gig in Glasgow on the Monday and/or Tuesday after Download and inevitably I find myself there, even if I’ve seen them play a stunted set the day before in a field with tens of thousands of people.
However, it’s because I bloody love live music. This year sees The Dead Daisies take in Edinburgh on the Monday after their return to Download. With an energetic live band in a sweatbox of a venue, it’s one set to be a good night.
Openers The Amorettes kick things off and having only seen them the once at last year’s Bring Back Rock Radio night, I knew what I was getting. For that is the definition of the band, if you’ve seen them once; you’re sorted. Their poppy punk-tinged rock is a good fit for the night and gets the crowd going. However, it feels saccharine, it’s a sound and image done a million times before and even newer bands are still trying to emulate it. If anything, it’s a band symptomatic of a classic rock crowd never satisfied: complain all the good bands are dying out, questioning who will replace the titans and dislike the new breed so flock to something which offers nothing new.
The Dead Daisies hit the ground running and prove that their recent anti-climactic live album is just a misstep and they actually can deliver in a live setting. Firing through the set, they hit the marks you’d expect with most of Make Some Noise getting attention like “Long Way to Go” and “Mainline” alongside a handful of covers. While it is great to hear some of classic rock’s best songs from a great band, it becomes a little stale when they lean too heavily into it. I’d much rather go watch a full-blown covers act than expect to hear some great original songs by a modern classic rock titan only for them to be shelved for the band to have a vanity exercise by playing songs by their favourite bands.
As ever, they’re tight, even if Doug Aldrich replacing Richard Fortus is like ordering a steak in a restaurant and being presented with a Big Mac. John Corabi is at ease, leading the band as if there from day one, even if his predecessor is the one responsible for putting them on the map with their debut (and best album). Sound familiar? Alongside that, there’s a Dizzy Reed-shaped hole as he helps out an up and coming band by the name of Guns N’ Roses. Meanwhile, it’s bassist Marco Mendoza who steals the show with his energy and his fat and heavy bass lines.
David Lowy – the band’s only remaining original member – packs a solid punch with his hard-hitting rhythm guitar licks. Understated, he lumbers across the stage and adds depth not many others could muster.
It may be a by the numbers show for The Dead Daisies and not quite the pinnacle they hit at the Cathouse but they’re a reliable band who always manage to deliver and subsequently get the people out of their houses for the night. One of those bands people will turn out every time because they’re a safe bet and people can put their cash into a band who will actually entertain them.
Photos by Gary Cooper.