Always a stellar outfit, the addition of Glenn Hughes replacing the departing Jon Corabi and Marco Mendoza was set to take The Dead Daisies to another level entirely, and so it’s proved, new album Holy Ground being a stone-cold classic. Whilst studio work is one thing, the big question was would this translate to the live setting?
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Photography: Steve Ritchie
Given the proven chemistry between Hughes and Doug Aldrich over many years of working together, things were never in much doubt, but just how powerful the Daisies are now is indisputable, and the current tour was an opportunity to see the band at their peak. Whilst the Daisies themselves are a huge draw, the idea of pairing them with gypsy rock ‘n’ rollers The Quireboys was a stroke of genius, giving audiences double the bang for their buck and the addition of Grand Slam to the bill for this London show made it an absolute must-see.
Kicking off early in the evening, Grand Slam opened in fine style. The Laurence Archer led combo bring their stamp to material he and former Magnum keys maestro Mark Stanway penned with the late, great Phil Lynott some three and a half decades ago and mixing in choice cuts from their Hit The Ground release two years ago.
Gone Are the Days thrusts us straight into the feel-good hard rock that has always been the signature sound of the band, the swagger and groove of Thin Lizzy inhabiting every note but brought with their own sense of flair. Archer displays exactly why Lynott recruited him for the outfit, his fretwork rippling with both muscle and feel as he brings melody and bite with real class.
Equally impressive is singer Mike Dyer, the frontman bringing an easy charm and power to the role. His vocals on the driving Military Man and the devastating Sisters Of Mercy display his ability to go from a roar to a purr and back again.
The fact that Grand Slam packed so much into their thirty-minute set showed just what an outstanding outfit they are and why the return of the band was so welcomed. Great songs, superb musicianship, and a sense of togetherness never gets old, and what was witnessed was looking forward to the future as well as paying tribute to the past. Phil would have been very proud.
One of the hardest working bands in the country, The Quireboys, are seemingly constantly on the road, the enforced hiatus from their touring activities due to the pandemic seemingly making them hungrier than ever.
Already with a large number of dates under their belts this year, the sextet was firing on all cylinders and treated the crowd to what amounted to a greatest hits set, each song a singalong cherry-picked for the occasion. At the centre of the storm as ever, Spike exudes a timeless bonhomie born from a love of the music and being on stage in front of a packed audience, the singer a whirlwind of scarves and mike stands as he cajoles, pleads, and exhorts.
Whilst the band and frontman bring their rumbunctious rock ‘n’ roll to the fore, it should never be forgotten what great songwriters they are and as well as insistently catchy numbers like opener Mislead, Man On The Loose and the mass singalong that is Hey You, you also get heartbreakers like I Don’t Love You Anymore.
Whilst ringmaster extraordinaire Spike is seemingly always the focus of attention, the guitar work of Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin is always sparkling, Griffin, in particular, bringing some particularly tasty solos off during the set. On the keys, Keith Weir is certainly no slouch either, his quicksilver fingers adding a real honkytonk feel that buoys up the party feel of the numbers while the rock-solid Mailing brothers bring their own swing to the rhythm section.
It’s a truly heady combination, and by the time that closing number 7 O’clock brings the set to its joyous climax, the assembled masses were well and truly converted to the Quireboys church of rock ‘n’ roll. Hallelujah!
Ecumenical imagery also was part of the Dead Daises’ Holy Ground set, the churchyard backdrop illuminated by lightning flashes as the lights dropped. The storm breaks with the power of opener Unspoken, the guitars of Doug Aldrich and David Lowy a sonic wave that feels like a body blow from a Mack truck, Tommy Clufetos hitting the drums harder than anyone since John Bonham and Cozy Powell, the bass of Glenn Hughes bleeding funk and, of course, that voice.
It may have been the fact they’ve been touring since June, but there’s obvious chemistry here that’s plain for all to see the moment they hit the first notes, and this line-up of the band has cohesion and drive like never before. Barring the entirely focussed and seemingly possessed Clufetos, there are smiles all around, a warmth exuding from the stage that could give you sunburn.
The staccato riff of Rise Up, underpinned by the groove of the bass, continues to move the pace along, bodies writhing on the packed floor as the only option is to dance, the heavy blues grind of Dead And Gone adding to the heat.
Born to tread the boards, Hughes moves lithely around the stage throughout, getting eye contact with everyone in the place as the equally kinetic Aldrich, bedecked in a leather waistcoat, swoops and pulls shapes as he brings ringing solo after ringing solo from his instrument. Lowy too frequently swaps sides with his Californian counterpart, cool in a t-shirt and scarf as he brandishes his Flying V, blonde mane hanging down whilst the artillery barrage of the drums plays behind them all.
The set mixes material from throughout the band’s career thus far, new monsters like Chosen And Justified standing loud and proud alongside Lock ‘n’ Load from their debut, each delivered with a conviction that feels like this line-up created every one. Listening to Hughes declare that their journey has only just begun, and there’s a lot more coming reiterates their focus, building on the solid foundations of all that’s come before. It’s a promise that is a mouth-watering prospect.
Given his storied and huge career, the genuine enthusiasm that the singer has for the outfit is even more impressive, and it’s a testament that his interpretation of songs by previous Daisies frontmen are made very much his own. Mexico and Leave Me Alone sound as fresh and vibrant as ever, the fiery fretwork of Aldrich tearing up the place as Hughes sings his heart out.
Given their past love for throwing in one or two covers into both recordings as well as the live set, Creedence’s Fortunate Son and SAHB’s Midnight Moses go down a storm as they tip the hat to past masters in fine style. Following this pairing, the drum solo by Clufetos could have been seen as an echo of a distant, more indulgent, age but was far from that, his chance in the spotlight well earned and deserved.
Again, it brought back memories of Bonzo as the sheer force that the Black Sabbath / Ozzy drummer hit his kit was so reminiscent of the Led Zeppelin skinsman that many were surprised by its sheer power. Balancing brute force, verve and showmanship, the Detroit native kept the momentum going throughout, never overtly flash but glorying in the locomotive heft of his chosen instrument.
After the blitzkrieg attack of the drums, the trio of remaining members sauntered back, Hughes declaring they were going to dip into his past to play a song that they’d been demanded to put into their set, and Aldrich started to pick the soulful notes that introduced Mistreated. As expected, this was an extended epic, all four Daisies digging deep with the frontman wringing every last scintilla of emotion from the Deep Purple classic, his soul bared for all to see.
The pounding start of My Fate put the pedal to the Metal once more, the songs mix of blues and muscular weight with an added solo that was nothing less than scorching from the fingertips of Aldrich. Saving Grace was a slinky treat, and the closing run of this, Like No Other and Holy Ground, brings home just how huge the band sounds right now, the latest material as good as anything around at the moment.
Encoring with the bruising heavy rock of Long Way To Go and a euphoric run through of Burn sealed the deal, the next chapter of The Dead Daisies book already passing into legend.
With the touring continuing well into next year, it looks like this beast will be rampaging across the planet, bringing the healing power of rock ‘n’ roll to all corners of the globe for a long time to come.