The Dead Daisies + The Treatment + The Amorettes
Tuesday 10th April
Koko, Camden, London
Rock is dead! Rock is dead! There is no great guitar music being made any more they say. Piffle, tosh and hogwash I say to them. Music has always been a transient art and quality will always survive. It goes in cycles with popular music being guided by the masses. If it’s good, it will be created by those who love it. It’s a bit like the way we listen to music. Vinyl, changed to 8 track, to cassette to minidisc to CD to MP3 and now back again to vinyl. And so it is with the music, it changes with the times and goes in cycles. So much of our current music is based upon, or even covers of, songs of yesteryear. Reports of Rocks death is greatly exaggerated. The life blood of Rock music these days is not the vast record sales of yesteryear. With downloadable music draining the funds from artists, they turn to live touring to make a living. It’s Rock’s ‘live-support’ system if you like. So gigs like tonight’s triumvirate of talented bands is the beating heart of today’s reviving Rock scene with the attending punters the life blood. Time to get donating.
Camden’s Koko is an old theatre style venue, dating back to 1900, with a capacity of about 1400 over three levels. It’s small enough to be intimate yet holds enough to make some noise. The crowd tonight has a considerable number of gentlemen of a certain age – let’s call them ‘Koko pops'. I apologise for that terrible pun – I am a cereal offender…. But there are also many a fine lady too. Which sums up our opening act The Amorrettes. Fine ladies indeed.
Formed in 2009, they have grown as an act and supported the likes of Wasp, Airbourne and Black Star Riders as their star has risen. Entering the stage to Slade’s ‘We’ll Bring The House Down’ this trio of feminine power set out to do just that. Dressed in refreshingly understated attire for an all girl group, the Scottish three-piece let their Metallic brand of Rock do the talking rather than their image. But still managing to look amazing whilst they do so. Lead guitarist and vocalist Gill Montgomery, sporting a fine gold Vintage V100 through a Blackstar amp, produces the full front line by herself with some skill. It’s a tough ask to provide the vocals, rhythm and searing lead but she manages with great success. Would the band benefit from a second guitarist to relieve her of some of these duties? Probably, but the band have created their sound as a three piece and it’s sounding good to me. Sisters Heather McKay - bass guitar, backing vocals and Hannah McKay - drums, backing vocals - provide the rest of the huge sound that the fine sound system at Koko pumps out to a fairly packed crowd. The set is short with a great Metal Rock sound without being too flashy. You don’t have to play at a hundred miles an hour to produce good Metal. Sometimes less is more. Except when it comes to volume of course. Crank it up girls. With their most recent fourth album, 'Born to Break' just released, their catalogue of music continues to grow and with collaborations like 'Everything I Learned I Learned from Rock 'n' Roll', written by Montgomery and Ricky Warwick, it’s getting better all the time. They chose it as their closing number and a good choice too. Go check out one of their many gigs in a venue near you shortly.
The Amorettes Setlist:
Born to Break
Let the Neighbours Call the Cops
White Russian Roulette
Bull by the Horns
Everything I Learned, I Learned From Rock 'N' Roll
So what do you give an ailing Rock scene to help it recover? Well, The Treatment obviously. And it is responding well. The Cambridge five-piece have no mean pedigree of their own. They too have supported bands like Wasp and Alice Cooper and Thin Lizzy and played at festivals like Sonosphere and The Steelhouse Festival. But the band of today has changed somewhat in line-up over the years. The only original members are Dhani Mansworth on drums and the diminutive Rick "Swoggle" Newman on bass. These two stalwarts have all the energy now that they had when the band formed back in 2008 and form a fine backline for the new kids on the block. You might be thinking that you are seeing double with the front line as Tagore Grey - guitar/backing vocals and Tao Grey - guitar are yet another set of siblings gracing our stage tonight. Twin Twins. How will the Daisies emulate that. Sporting matching leather jackets, long hair and distinctive chest tattoos, these young fellas provide the Rock swagger through their SG/LP style guitars. Taking to the stage to Ozzy’s ‘Runaway Train’, it’s a classic Rock sound with a strong vein of Metal running through it. New boy frontman Tom Rampton, who has had solo success as well as fronting bands like Louder Still, fits the line-up perfectly and delivers a short set that showcases his fine vocal talents. Despite the power of the music, this is a singers band. And the band have tracks to prove it. With great songs like 'The Doctor' and 'Running In The Alley With The Dogs', this is a set that you can sing along to and fist pump with equal vigour. It even gave my mate’s jacket the horn it was so good. Finishing with their anthemic 'Shake The Mountain' they gave a good account of themselves and were a real crowd pleaser. Announcing a tour in September with support from the wonderful Tequila Mockingbird, that is a gig we will definitely be attending to see this fine bunch of fellows perform a larger headlining set. I have no doubt they will be able to carry it off.
The Treatment Setlist:
Let It Begin
I Bleed Rock+Roll
Running With The Dogs
Get the Party On
Shake the Mountain
So to The Dead Daisies, a band I would describe as my favourite current group. Formed in 2013 they have been a revolving door of artists famed for playing in many a well-known band. And that door revolves on purpose. Whilst retaining founding member David Lowy on guitar, the Daisies have collected a wealth of talent and influences to produce 21st Century Rock that wouldn’t be out of place in the 80’s. Coming with that wealth of experience is a huge nod to classic tracks from years gone by. The Daisies are no strangers to covers and, whilst their set includes much of their own fine material, there is a wealth of familiar hits to please the crowd from their younger days.
Entering the stage to Rose Tattoo’s 'Rock N Roll Outlaw', the five-piece blast the crowd with the opening track 'Resurrection' from their new album 'Burn It Down', released just days before the start of this tour. It’s proper balls out Rock and a great opening track to both album and live set. Axeman Doug Aldrich sports a twin neck Gibson SG (there’s the twins I was looking for earlier - well done DD) through a Marshall JCM800. How much more Rock can you get. Lowy’s accompanying Gibson Flying V through a Friedman amp provides a full bodied rock sound that will wake the dead. Marco Mendoza, a giant of a bassist in every sense, quite rightly takes stage front instead of hiding at the back as many a shrinking violet (daisy?) is prone to doing. As an accomplished vocalist, he assists Corabi throughout the set. And behind all is the ‘new weed’ Deen Castronova, taking up the baton - or sticks in this case – as the pounding beat that keeps this bunch of Bellis together. Front Man John Corabi has been there and done that with the best, including fronting for Motley Crue for a while, and is the consummate professional, at ease with his world and phased by nothing. Just as well as following the opening track there was a short stage malfunction. Treating that like just another day in the office, Corabi entertained the crowd by ‘waxing’ about a romantic liaison the day before with Kate Beckinsale in Madame Tussaud’s well known London tourist attraction. Apparently she has some interesting qualities which will need to be verified. Kate, if you could give me a call to confirm I would be grateful. John says he forgot to take your number.
Power restored, the set proceeds with a great mix of old and new tracks, with the new album getting some rightful love. It is an excellent album and one that has not been off of my gramophone since it was released. Castronovo’s new blood seems to have infused the band with even more enthusiasm and fun which shines through both on the album but especially live. These guys are having a ball. Aldrich performs with a collection of guitars, including Les Pauls and a Telecaster style guitar, showing all the showy skills expected of a man of his calibre, although always in keeping with the song. After 'What Goes Around' he has a moment of jamming fun which included a few bars of Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love'. These guys just love their music – and that of others – and delight in playing classics whenever they can to a hugely appreciative audience. Anyone not getting down to the Zep classic must be surely dead from the hair down. Assuming they have any left. That’s not to say that their own material isn’t well received. It is. Track after track is pumped out with aplomb, including what are now classics like 'Mexico' and 'Last Time I Saw The Sun', broken only by the obligatory drum solo from Castronovo which he kept thankfully brief. Nothing against his drumming skills but drum solo’s are for the purist. I’m more purile than purist.
Also from their new album is their cover of The Rolling Stone’s 'Bitch'. What a great song to cover and again a nod to British bands who have influenced The Daisies. Their version is excellent and I am sure Keef would be delighted. After the excellent 'With You And I', Corabi takes the time to introduce the band members who all had their few minutes alone in the spotlight. Again, they chose to play a few bars of classic tracks which went down a storm. Marco recalled his Thin Lizzy days with a snippet of 'The Boys Are Back In Town' whilst Aldrich had the cajones to give us 'Smoke On The Water'. Lowy had a few bars of 'Highway To Hell' whilst Castronovo thumped the Simmons out of 'I Want To Rock And Roll All Night'. Finishing the introduction, Corabi showed that Dio’s 'Heaven And Hell' is a song that few other than Dio could carry off. Corabi did so with style. Finishing the set with 'Midnight Moses' from the underappreciated 'Revolucion' album, the band disappeared from the stage for a nanosecond before reappearing for the obligatory encore.
The Encore opened with their epic track 'Judgement Day', a proper heavy Rocking power song and ended with yet another nod to their British Rock heroes, 'Helter Skelter', which they covered on their 2014 EP 'Face I Love'. And it included a few bars of Zep’s 'Nobody’s Fault But Mine' too. Scrumptious. It was a tour de force of everything that is great about Rock music. Great musicians, great songs, expertly played and enjoyed by all. Here is proof that there is still great Rock music being made and performed, alongside great Rock from years gone by. Yes, music has become a different commodity these days, more likely to end up on a PS4 game soundtrack or an advert than being played live. But that’s how the world works. I bet when Dvorak wrote his 'New World' Symphony he didn’t expect it to be used to advertise Hovis. Accept music for what it is and love the music that you love. Rock music is still very much alive. Rock music isn’t dead, it’s just pushing up The Daisies.
The Dead Daisies Setlist:
Make Some Noise
Song And A Prayer
Dead And Gone
What Goes Around
Last Time I Saw The Sun
Burn It Down
All The Same
Bitch (Rolling Stones cover)
With You And I
Long Way To Go
Devil Out Of Time