The Dead Daisies + Massive Wagons
Monday 19th November
O2 Academy Islington, London
Virtually five years ago to the day that we first saw this 'Supergroup' headline their very first UK show at The Underworld, Camden, The Dead Daisies played the second of their sold out London shows at Islington's O2 Academy last Monday. Their line up might have changed significantly since their formation in 2012, but the quality of the music hasn't, looking and sounding like they have been playing top quality guitar Rock forever. Currently in the middle of their "Welcome To Daisyland" tour, the guys opened the doors early to the first 50 in-line with the band playing an intimate, private “Daisyland” acoustic set after which the band mingled, said hi and signed albums, posters etc. A nice touch given the exorbitant charges in today’s music world for a meet and greet!
Unfortunately we missed their acoustic set (long story), but our spy on the ground told us that the guys did over an hour of really great numbers with bass guitarist Marco Mendoza, drummer Deen Castronovo and rhythm guitarist David Lowy all taking turns on the mic to sing Daisies favourites like 'Lock N' Load' plus covers of Rod Stewart's 'Maggie May', George Thorogood & The Destroyers' 'Get a Haircut', 'Stay With Me' by The Faces, 'Hard Luck Woman' by Kiss and Led Zeppelin's 'Ramble On'. So gutted we missed this.
The good news, however, was that we were lucky enough to interview drummer and all round nice guy Deen Castronovo after their acoustic set and before Massive Wagons storming support band set. Not only did we get a feel of happenings back stage but Deen also discussed from his 'dungeon', touring, their latest album, his favourite drummer, cruising, the weather, the muppets, British musical influences, Journey, radio airplay, the management and being a "Rock star". Check out our audio interview including a classic guitar snippet from lead guitarist Doug Aldrich!
In fact the birth of Lancaster born Massive Wagons goes back even further than the Dead Daisies. Formed in 2009, and influenced by the resurging popularity of Hard Rock acts of the time, primarily Airbourne and Black Stone Cherry and their affinity for Classic Rock acts such as UFO, Rainbow and Slade - the band have been on our radar for a long long time and a bit like The Dead Daisies acoustic set we also managed to miss them when we were at Camden Rocks this June. You wouldn't have been mistaken for thinking Status Quo, as the five piece burst onto the stage with 'Back To Stack', their head banging standalone single released last year in tribute to the late Rick Parfitt - vocalist Baz Mills duly rockin' his mic back and forth with such force that his trademark bowler fell off to reveal that he actually has (long) hair! There was no let up from Baz as he screamed "somebody tell me" down the lens of one of the assembled paparazzi during the Stones twang of 'Billy Balloon Head', another from their new album 'Full Nelson', although, not to be outdone, guitarist Adam Thistlethwaite let fly with V guitar. Mills then thanked those gathered for coming out to the gig on the Monday night graveyard shift, as they launched into the appropriately titled 'Black Witch' - the only number in the set taken from their very first album ' Fight The System', with not only another pumping head banging riff, but also great harmonies as well, with no let up from Baz, encouraging the Academy faithful to "make some fuckin' noise!"
The response of a mighty "yeeeaaaahhh" from the audience to Mills question as to who had seen the Wagons before, was not a total surprise, as Adam's Slash like solo on their single 'Ratio' from their 2016 album 'Welcome To The World' continued to raise the bar, whilst, on the other hand, Baz's gymnastics with his mic stand proceeded to make our eyes water. Many hands were in the air as Mills asked who'd bought the new album - cue the single 'Hate Me' with Adam making the most of his "massive wankers" peddles, whilst on the following number 'Last On The List', another request from Mills to "make some noise" was made all the more difficult as his battered mic stand appeared to have given up the ghost! Baz was not wrong when he said that they were warming us up for The Dead Daisies, before another original, and single, from their 'Welcome To The World' album 'Tokyo', further showcased the spine of the band, namely Adam's bro Alex smacking the life out of his Jalepeno kit, the Jaws t-shirt wearing Stevie Hall getting his teeth into his rhythm guitar and the no-nonsense looking Adam 'Bowz' Bouskill keeping a cool bass line. Although one wondered as Mills attempted to do a Full Nelson on Alex as he wrestled him to the ground, whether it would be a big mistake to try that on his bass guitarist. Understandably Baz thought better of it, and jumped off the stage' proceeding to hug the line of those gathered down the front. The band then threw their setlists into the crowd - perhaps a clue that this was going to be their last song! We were right as Mills intro of "Fee Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an English Rock 'n' Roll band" saw them round of a giant performance with another track from 'Welcome To The World', the audience clapping along as Baz ended the evening lying on his back with his middle finger in the air. Indeed a massive opening to the evening with The Dead Daisies still to come. The Rock 'n' Roll wagons still roll on with three more dates on their 'Full Nelson' UK tour before Christmas. Do not miss them!
The Daisies then duly plugged in their guitars for an awesome two hour set, totally different to the night before. Rose Tattoo's trademark 'Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw' intro heralded the band's entrance with a searchlight behind Castronovo's drum kit peering into the darkness. With Aldrich clapping and Mendoza already standing on Deen's drum riser, they meant business as finally vocalist John Corabi joined them, as they blasted off with 'Resurrected' from their latest, critically acclaimed album 'Burn It Down' which unsurprisingly has been a recent staple on Planet Rock’s playlist. It was now time to 'Rise Up', another stormer from 'Burn It Down', with Doug carrying on Massive Wagons horseplay by rolling about on the stage as Corabi justifiably gave this stormer his devil horns salute. "London how are you?" Corabi enquired as he started to clap, challenging those assembled to "scream with us" and go one better than last night's audience on 'Make Some Noise', the title track taken from their third studio album, which they proceeded to do with its loud, punishing riff, as the buzzing in my ears testified to the fact the following morning. Still loved it though, as we did 'Song And A Prayer', another riffin' delicious track from the same 2016 album. The energy and enjoyment in the band was typified by ex-Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy member Mendoza fooling around with the paparazzi on 'Face I Love' from their 2014 EP before Aldrich's guitar intro and mass clapping saw the three guitar amigos standing at the front of the stage with another great vocal from ex-Mötley Crüe and The Scream member Corabi - think Sammy Hagar meets Johnny Depp on 'What Goes Around', another nugget from their latest album.
It was time for John to take a breather and grab his acoustic guitar as Marco took over on lead vocals on 'Lock N' Load. Co-written by and featuring Slash, David loved every second of this, given he's the only current common denominator in the band when the single was originally written five years ago. 'She Always Gets Her Way (All The Same)' - another from 'Make Some Noise' saw the perspiring Mendoza finish up in the bemused crowd, followed by their very first cover of the evening, Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Fortunate Son' which was also recently covered by Laurence Jones. Lowy and Aldrich duly teased the audience that they're accompanying clapping "could have been better" before Corabi rounded off the electric set by asking Castronovo for "Three Big One's!" Cue - and to our delight - an acoustic interlude which saw all five sitting on stalls with Corabi, Lowy and Aldrich on guitars, Mendoza on bass and Castronovo on bongos/tambourine. Kicking off with 'Something I Said' from their 2015 'Revolucion' album, Corabi kept up the relentless banter by asking how many had bought the latest album plus a very funny gag about touring and his pool boy! Cue 'Burn It Down's 'Set Me Free', before vocal duties were handed over to Castronovo on 'Maggie May'. Indeed Kiss fan and ex-Bad English and Journey member Deen had told us earlier during his interview that he Doug and David were all recovering from chest infections after their Kiss Florida Rock cruise. Well it didn't seem to show as Dene's superb vocal gave Rod a run for his money complemented by David and THAT solo by Doug on acoustic guitars. That gargling is obviously working Deen! If you just happen to be a qualified pilot who flew to the UK across the Atlantic for this tour, at the controls of his own plane, then its only fair that you should get your share of the limelight. Step forward ex-Red Phoenix and Mink member David Lowy, the talented, but shy Aussie and original member, who covered Ringo Starr's appropriately named 'It Don't Come Easy' with vocal support from John.
"You guys are still with us?" Corabi threatened. "Time to turn this shit up" as they ended their acoustic interlude with 'Evil' which took me back to The Underworld five years ago with its Zep like riff and now an Aldrich guitar solo to die for. "Deeno give me a big chord" demanded Corabi, Deeno duly obliging with pounding drums on 'Mainline' from 'Make Some Noise', which saw Doug delivering on his knees and Mendoza rockin' his bass. Corabi then asked how many in the audience had seen them before. -Time for the infamous Dead Daisies intro snippets which included, amongst others, Lowy's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheep', Mendoza's 'The Boys Are Back In Town', and Aldrich's 'Smoke On The Water. Indeed ex-Whitesnake and Dio member Doug inevitably ended up playing his guitar behind his back on 'Burn It Down's 'Leave Me Alone' followed by the 'horror' of 'Dead And Gone' - again from Burnt It Down - "let me here you say yeah yeah" shouted Corabi, a track that also featured cool backing vocals. And if the similarities between Corabi and Hagar weren't obvious, then 'Mexico' from 'Revolucion' and its tequila reference nailed it, which also saw Aldrich joining in on vocals and Mendoza placing his head on Lowy's shoulder. Aww! The in yer' face riff and subsequent clapping on 'Make Some Noise's 'Long Way To Go' paved the way for the final number of the set, The Beatles 'Helter Skelter' (did I also detect a snippet of Zep's "Nobody's Fool But Mine'?), another survivor from that Underworld gig five years ago. Not only did John want "everyone's hands in the air tonight" but Doug ended the set twiddling with his knobs - no doubt making all the ladies present extremely happy! "Give me four times" Corabi cried and Castronovo duly delivered. "Thank you and good night".
Phew! Even if The Dead Daisies weren't exhausted, it appeared that the audience were given their muted cries for "more!" Finally, Aldrich returned to the stage, opening with his talk box ('Livin' On A Prayer') vocals on The Who's 'Join Together' - the perfect singalong to round off an amazing evening. "Sing it" demanded Corabi one last time - and we did. "So much better than last night" John added although he stopped short of saying "good game, good game". Anyway, I'm sure dear old Bruce would have loved it. The bands picks were thrown into the crowd for the final time as they finished with a sensational, and I mean sensational cover of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band's 'Midnight Moses'. More like Midnight moshers by the time they had finished! We even managed to catch one of Deen's drumsticks as the Daisies left the Academy stage to rapturous applause. Wow! Before they set off to Europe, their final two dates on this 14 date UK tour are today at the Winterstorm Festival in Troon, ending with the Planet Rockstock Festival in Porthcawl next Sunday 2nd December. They've come along way since they were special guests on Black Star Riders 18 show UK tour in 2013! Just make sure you plan your next visit to Daisyland soon!