The Dead Daisies + The Quireboys + Grand Slam
Wednesday 10th November 2021
Shepherd's Bush Empire. London
Don't forget your Covid pass. The friendly reminder that thankfully I heeded. Those who didn't, weren't allowed access to one of London's most iconic music venues, The Shepherds Bush Empire. How times have changed. There was a time when you were refused entry if you failed to prove your age. That hasn't happened to me for a long time... Now its failure to produce digital proof of inoculation. The way things were. The way things are now. Which nicely sums up the two main acts tonight. Unfortunately, I was unable to enjoy the short set by Grand Slam, who I had seen previously at Ramblin' Man Fair, thanks to the delights of London's travel infrastructure.
The London Quireboys, as they were originally known, have been playing the same brand of Blues Rock and Roll since the early eighties, with a virtually unchanged line up. Guitarists Paul Guerin and Guy Griffin both wield beautiful Vintage Guitars - Guy often using a T-type when not sporting a Les Paul, and a particularly gorgeous blue T Type for the slide drenched 'There She Goes Again'. Paul a natural burst Les Paul that naturally makes me want to burst... Keyboardist Keith Weir is another of the long time band members who sits unassumingly at the back, keeping the rhythm section in check whilst the iconic frontman Spike runs the show. I should say makes the show because, no matter how sublime and skilled the rest are, it's Spike who is the Quireboys. The head-scarfed Geordie, resplendent in his usual gypsy attire, and always with a drink in his hand, swaggers, staggers, sings and slurs his way into our hearts with all the bonhomie you come to expect from a child of England's party town.
He may be partial to the occasional drink, but Spike is the consummate professional, always delivering a full on awesome singing talent, infused with passion and charm, in a warming manner which has remained unchanged in 37 plus years. And two years absence has only made his heart grow stronger. When not delivering classic after classic like 'Whipping Boy', 'There She Goes Again' and 'Hey You', he is bantering with the audience. Remembering the days at Gossips of nearby Dean Street, where every week there was a night of 80's style Glam Rock - Decadence it was called. And just for an hour, we are taken back there as the packed Shepherd's Bush crowd, now sporting slightly less hair and spandex, bask in the joy of proper Rock and Roll. Even the sultry 'I Don't Love You Anymore' raises a happy cheer after a heartfelt and heavy singalong. And the mood is lifter with a YeeHa! as the upbeat 'Sweet Mary Ann' whups us back into shape. And closing legend of a song '7'O'Clock' reminds us that it's time for a party - so we do. "Cheers" says Spike raising his glass. Cheers is what he gets - rapturous ones. I have said it before, and I will say it again, when it comes to the Quireboys, this IS Rock and Roll.
Man on the Loose
Long Time Comin'
There She Goes Again
I Don't Love You Anymore
Sweet Mary Ann
Now when it comes to change, tonight's headline act The Dead Daisies are the masters. Formed in 2013 by Australian guitarist Dave Lowy, the band has been a constant revolving door of quality musicians. I fell in love with the band back in 2016 when I saw them in Camden with The Answer. At that time they were a 5-piece fronted by John Corabi and with Michael Mendoza on bass. Corabi sang vocals on what for me is still my favourite Motley Crue album. It was with that line-up that the excellent 'Make Some Noise' and 'Burn It Down' albums were released. The current line-up includes the ever present Lowy, plus guitar legend Doug Aldrich. And joining the band this year is the now legendary Tommy Clufetos, a notably unsmiling drummer, who could be the poster child for the Spinal Tap school of muppet style drummers. Clufetos is no muppet though, having battered skins for Ozzy Osbourne, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and, most notably for me, Black Sabbath on their final tour.
But the most notable 'new boy' - a most inappropriate label - is ex-Deep Purple vocalist and bassist, Glenn Hughes. The now septuagenarian singer, still the current frontman from Blues supergroup Black Country Communion, was born in Staffordshire, but has been living in LA for the last 15 years. And Hughes has obviously soaked up the LA scene as he stands center stage, clad in a red crushed velvet jacket and matching jeans, white Converse, flowing locks and standard issue LA suntan and white teeth. The experienced singer beams a warming smile, never straying from his face, that is endearing to all.
"There's nothing like coming home" he cries to the London crowd - only about 130 miles out Glenn - as the quartet launch into opener 'Unspoken'. Guitarists Doug Aldrich and David Lowy bring twin Gibson goodness through Marshall and Friedman stacks. Lowy sports a white SG or Flying V whilst Aldrich wields a Les Paul. The two axemen strike a notable contrast. Aldrich is a big muscled, blonde haired Adonis, wearing just a leather waistcoat, above his massively ripped jeans, allowing him to flex his rippled muscle. Lowy, by contrast, is a slight unassuming looking fellow, in simple jeans and t-shirt, although no less of a presence.
A note of praise here for Aldrich who, after the traditional three song limit for the compacted mass of photographers ended, fist bumped every one of them before the were ushered away by security. It's great to see these often maligned hard working music fans being given some level of recognition from those that they make look good. But it's all about frontman Glenn Hughes. It is fair to say that the Daisies have started a new chapter in their story, and tonight is very much about the new line-up.
Some of the earlier classics like 'Mexico' and 'Lock n Load' feel distinctly lacklustre, whilst newer material like 'Chosen And Justified' and 'Saving Grace' are sung with passion. It's a shame, as the early Daisies material is quality Rock. "How do you feel?" enquires Mr H. We feel great as the quality of both the songs, and the artists, imbues our souls with much missed quality live Rock music. The ever smiling frontman, bedazzling us with his pearly whites and impressive vocals, frequents the set with his ear piercing scream, most of us only achieve when standing barefoot upon a propriety brand of children's building blocks.
The Daisies are no strangers to covers - 'Fortunate Son' and 'Midnight Moses' being tonight's offering - the latter being a particular favourite of mine which Glenn allows the audience to sing in his stead. But we now also have a couple of old Deep Purple classics added to the set list including the soulful 'Mistreated' which followed a Clufetos drum solo. 12 minutes of 'Mistreated' did feel a little long, especially as it was punctuated frequently with Lego induced shrieks. "How do you feel?" Hughes asks again - still good thanks. 'Leave Me Alone', having Aldrich join vocals with Hughes, is an older song done well with nice and heavy vocals.
The crowd reacts accordingly and prompts Hughes to exclaim to the crowd "You are bloody good tonight London" and extol the importance of communication between the fans and the band. It's heartfelt and well received. As is the news of an 18 month tour due to start next year. 'Like No Other', complete with a Hughes bassline solo, is another new track that the crowd sing warmly along to. Hughes drinks it all in - he does love an appreciative audience. And at the end of 'Holy Ground', he signs off with "Peace and Love to everybody". Feeling the love Glenn.
The quartet quickly return for an excellent rendition of 'Long Way To Go', a great Rock song that never fails to get the blood pumping. And it's no surprise that the closing song is another Hughes classic - Deep Purple's 'Burn'. It's a classic for a reason and a fitting addition to the Daisies collection of covers. Aldrich does an excellent job of covering the keyboard parts, and Hughes is in his element with more ear piercing screams than a barefoot Cèilidh in a lego factory. A fine way to bring the Glenn Hughes show to a cracking conclusion.
So the old , the new, the borrowed and the Blues. We got it all tonight. King Cnut tried to hold back the waves to no avail. Change happens - it's a regular way of life these days. And we need to change with it. The Daisies are a band imbued with the spirit of change. Spike is a man imbued with spirits - no change there then. As I head back into the night, clutching my obligatory face mask for the delights of my journey home, i ponder the night. The need to take every moment and enjoy it while it happens, because you never know what will happen, underlines why live music is so important.
It's that joy of feeling alive in the now, experiencing moments that can never happen again. So get out there and enjoy your favourite bands while they are still out there performing. Although both Spike and Glenn will probably still be out there doing what they do best for another 30 plus years. "How do you feel?" Glenn asked for the umpteenth time as he left the stage. "Cheers" Spike calls as he leaves. Some things never change.
Dead Daisies setlist:
Dead and Gone
Chosen and Justified
Bustle and Flow
Lock 'n' Load
(Deep Purple cover)
Leave Me Alone
Like No Other (bassline)
Holy Ground (Shake the Memory)
Long Way to Go