Once a bit of a revolving door, The Dead Daisies still refer to themselves as a ‘collective’, but it cannot be coincidence that their recent success has come about since the line-up began to stabilise into the hard rock ‘supergroup’ of today. Founder member David Lowy set out to bring back classic rock to audiences when he started this outfit five years ago, and the ‘sold out’ signs on every date of this UK tour suggest he’s got his wish. Of course the group he now has is a dream line-up, the sort most of us put together in our minds, but unlike most of us, the Aussie businessman/musician is in a position to make those dreams reality. Vocalist John Corabi and bassist Marco Mendoza have been in place since second album ‘Revolución’, while guitarist Doug Aldrich came on board for 2016’s ‘Make Some Noise’. That album and tour was a success, and saw them take a decidedly harder-rocking direction. The new album ‘Burn It Down’ (which only came out days before this tour commenced) continues in the same vein, and sees the arrival of drummer Deen Castronovo who has come in for Brian Tichy.
This show at the Robin 2 was only the second date of the band’s UK tour, and was one of the first to sell out. They gave an incentive for fans to get there early, as the first 100 through the door were given a wristband enabling them to get into a post-show signing session with all five members. Having got there early enough I was one of those handed the all-important wristband upon entering. It also meant I got close to the stage, the Robin 2 stage has no barrier meaning it really is an up close and personal experience!
First up were Scottish all-girl trio The Amorettes; led by singer/guitarist Gill Montgomery she and her bandmates (sisters Hannah and Heather McKay on drums and bass respectively) gave a storming set of no-nonsense hard rock, in the AC/DC tradition. Hannah’s drum kit was so close to the front of the stage we could almost play drums for her (!) and she didn’t hold back all set. The band have benefited from writing with the likes of Ricky Warwick and Luke Morley, and judging by the positive reaction of this crowd, look set to make the jump to bigger things. Their fourth album ‘Born To Break’ has also just come out and several tracks were performed from it including lead-off single ‘Everything I Learned I Learned From Rock ‘n’ Roll’.
The Dead Daisies were greeted like returning heroes once they hit the stage; opening with a hefty one-two punch of ‘Rise Up’ and ‘Resurrected’ they had the crowd going from the off. The set was fairly evenly split between tracks from the new album and previous release ‘Make Some Noise’, along with a selected few from ‘Revolucion’ including some covers. They’re now a much harder, much heavier proposition than they were when I first saw Lowy’s previous line-up in 2013, and the effect of having numerous stars, several showmen in this band means you find yourself not quite knowing where to look! You get all the shapes thrown by guitarist Doug Aldrich and bassist Marco Mendoza, picks thrown out like sweeties to the front row all through the set, and Lowy himself has taken a more prominent role than he did the last time I saw this band in 2016. Previously he preferred to let his colleagues hog the limelight, but nowadays he is also up at the front, engaging with the punters and posing alongside his bandmates. Not to be outdone, John Corabi was in splendid voice and also threw his fair share of stage poses, his easygoing charm had the crowd eating from his hand all evening.
‘New Daisy’ Deen Castronovo slotted into the band seamlessly; those who may have thought that the band might have lost some power with Tichy’s departure need not have worried, the former Journey man has all that power and then some, as well as adding his own backing vocals (he is an accomplished singer in his own right). He may be associated with melodic rock, but his playing is so hard that he could easily fit into any Metal band you care to name.
The set flew by and before we knew it was time for the band intros, these were done with each member getting to play an excerpt of (presumably) a favourite classic rock track. For instance Doug Aldrich got to play a snippet of ‘Smoke On The Water’, David Lowy ‘Highway To Hell’ (he is Australian, after all!), Marco Mendoza got ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ and Deen Castronovo got ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night’. All of these were picked up by the crowd for a singalong, as was Corabi’s own spot (a brief excerpt of ‘Heaven and Hell’). These, plus the covers they included, sat well with their own material.
As with the last time I saw this band, it came across as a bunch of old friends having fun and making sure everyone present had fun with them too. That’s what it’s all about really, and it’s easy to see why the Daisies are fast becoming one of the major draws on the rock scene. They’re planning to return to this country in late 2018 for more dates, hopefully one will be in my part of the world but regardless, it’s recommended you catch these guys while they’re still playing small-ish venues.