The Dead Daisies + FM + Graham Bonnet Band
Tuesday 6th December 2022
O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London
The Northern Line is packed. It's less than three weeks to Christmas and the lady next to me is holding a box with 'Edward's Secret Santa' written on it. As I reread the adverts for male impotence treatment for the umpteenth time, I wonder what tacky surprise Edward is in for. Maybe it's a tasty treat, or a wacky waste of money. Or maybe it's a ticket to see three legends of Rock performing at London's O2 Forum in Kentish Town. Well if it is, I hope Edward opens his gift pronto, as the doors open in 30 minutes.
First up in our triumvirate of tried and tested talent is Graham Bonnet opening with 'Rainbows Eyes of the World'. Sporting a casual shirt and tie combo, and his obligatory shades, you could be mistaken for thinking he has popped in to pick up a prescription, possibly prompted by certain tube adverts. Until he opens his mouth and blasts the appreciative audience with a voice that would shame a drill sergeant. He hasn't lost any of the power or vigour and as he launches into 'All Night Long' he shows he can still scream as loud as ever. It doesn't harm that his backing band are tight and know the set note perfectly. Although backing vocals sound slightly off, especially during 'Night Games'.
Mr. B. is not overly active during his set although is animated and interacts well with the audience. It helps that the set is full of Classic Rock songs. Struggling to use stage monitors in place of his usual in ear variety, the occasional note gets missed but, as he says, he has been in the business for 50 fucking years so it's to be expected. With the odd Michael Schenker collaboration to break it up, the short set is a celebration of his Rainbow catalogue, including 'Since You Been Gone' (sung with one hand in his pocket - begs the question what has gone…) and 'Lost in Hollywood'. As the set progresses, GB's voice can't quite match his enthusiasm, but he is still enthusiastic about singing the songs we want to hear. But hey, he is 74, and can still belt out a song better than many half his age. Just goes to show, old rockers don't die - they just go on tour.
Next up in tonights triangle of tasty treats is FM the five piece celebrating 38 years in the business. Tonight's relative newcomers are still fronted by founding member Steve Overland, who's distinctive voice is synonymous with the FM sound. And on keyboards, in journeyman Jem Davis, who seems to play with every touring band at the moment. With two guitars plus bass, keys and drums, it’s a full rocking sound of what is classic radio friendly Rock.
Opening with 'Synchronised', the short set is very polished. 'Bad Luck' and 'Killed By Love' follow, although not as anthemic as Graham Bonnets set, it's hard not to be swept along with those devoted FM fans in the singalongs. It helps that the singalongs are of the single word variety. 'Tough It Out' opens with Jems keys to the fore but soon settles into some fine chugging guitars. Jim Kirkpatrick gets a chance to show his slick soloing skills, tasteful enough for prime time radio but rocking enough to be noteworthy. 'I Belong To The Night and closing track, 'Turn This Car Around', from their latest album, 'Thirteen', this bakers dozen prove to be good luck judging by this stonking closing number. Good to see the band are still writing excellent Rock songs.
And finally to tonight's headliners. They must be good because they had not one but two tracks to take to the stage with - 'Gimme Shelter' and Aerosmith's 'Sweet Emotion'. Both blown away by the opening riffs of 'Long Way To Go'. What a rocking number. Doug Aldrich looking every inch the Rock God, sporting a Les Paul and Dave Lowy, wielding a white SG, knock the socks off the rapturous audience. It's a rocking wall of sound. Aldrich's bare chested gyrations attract the photographers like, well, like photographers around an Aldrich. And fronting them both is bass legend Glenn Hughes. Hughes is another septuagenarian who has been in the business for 49 years. But he looks and sounds like he did years ago. The voice is strong and the eye still twinkles under the same flowing locks that were de rigour back in the seventies.
If anyone has read my previous diatribe of drivel about previous Dead Daisy gigs, you will know that I favour early material, but 2022 track 'Rise Up' is a treat for me. Another vehicle for Hughes' high pitched ear splitting scream. The velvet suited warbler is at his happiest busting eardrums and is truly a master of his craft, defying, with extraordinary power, what a man of his 'experience' should be able to summon. Ever young is an oft quoted phrase but here it is well earned and well deserved.
'Radiance' is one of a number of new tracks from the Daisies latest eponymous 2022 album, and is a slow rocking power track that allows Aldrich to get his Wah on. 'Face Your Fear', another 2022 offering, starts with a staccato guitar kill switch, before settling into another steady rhythmic Rock classic that is rife with Aldrich's tricks. 'Bustle And Flow' takes us way back to 2020 (it's a long way for those of us with fading memories) and then rejuvenates the memory with one of a number of covers that have graced the Daisies albums over the years. Creedence Clearwater Revival never played 'Fortunate Son' with such force - the Daisies pump plenty of decibel into the ode to draft dodgers, although nobody needs a drum solo. Always a good opportunity to visit the bar/loo/on line tax returns. Drummer Brian Tichy shines brightly enough during the set without the need for a clichéd clatter of the canisters. Still, it gives the rest a chance for a fifteen minute break. And I'm sure I saw Mr. H. filing his SA100.
This is followed by another cover - Hughes' own 'Mistreated'. Aldrich takes centre stage for the opening bars but relinquishes it pretty smartish to the man who created so many Deep Purple anthems. Hughes, unsurprisingly, is in his element, piercing the eardrums of every member of the audience with his trademark scream, whilst they joyfully sing along with him. You can't blame Hughes for taking whatever opportunity he can get to sing such iconic songs from our past, especially as he is so damn good at it. He sounds as good now as he did in 1973 when the song was first aired.
And now back to the new material and a track that is currently getting a lot of radio air time - 'Born To Fly'. And rightly so because it's a great Rock song. An ode to founding member Lowy's love of flying, it's already flying up the charts. Follow that up with one of my favourite older tracks, 'Burn It Down', and you know that today's Rock music is still strong and going places. Hughes doesn't have the same impact as original singer John Corabi, but the song is still notable.
New track 'Hypnotise Yourself' is a slower more thoughtful number and is another track from 'Radiance' released as a single. A simple four chord Rock track, it is basic and beautiful. 2021's 'My Fate' slows things down even further with some seriously heavy chugging from Lowy's white flyng V interspersed with Aldrich's high pitched squealing guitar. And closing the main set is another new track, 'Shine On'. It's a real kick in the balls track to be finishing up with. You know this one will be in the setlist for many years to come. It and they are warmly applauded with a standing ovation (from those needing to sit) as they leave the stage for the obligatory two minutes of darkened foot stomping and hand clapping from the audience demanding a return of their idols (and to ensure that the set list reaches the 10.30 curfew).
The Daisies duly return and, after some thank yous to all concerned, they launch into their classic rendition of 'Midnight Moses'. Such a great song with one of those instantly recognisable, and incredibly catchy, riffs. And then to close, it's probably the most well known Hughes song - Deep Purple's 'Burn'. It is truly majestic and gives Hughes the vehicle to display his considerable range of talents and whip the already frenzied crowd into full ecstacy. Rock doesn't get much better.
As I head out into the cold December night, I reflect on another night of Classic Rock music. With nearly 140 years of experience between them, tonight's Rock heroes continue to spread the word that is fine Rock music played loud and live, just the way it should be. No fly by night, flash in the pan acts this lot. The same adverts on the tube ride home remind me that, after a night of rocking, I'm having trouble staying upright. There is plenty of stiffness, it's just in my back. And I'm reminded that I didn't see any sign of Edward, so I guess he got the wacky waste of money instead. Unlucky Eddie, we got the tasty treats.
The Dead Daisies Setlist:
Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones cover)
Long Way to Go
Dead and Gone
Face Your Fear(Tony Iommi feat. Glenn Hughes cover)
Bustle and Flow
Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
Mistreated (Deep Purple cover)
Born to Fly
Burn It Down
Midnight Moses (The Sensational Alex Harvey Band cover)
Burn (Deep Purple cover)