Tonight I headed out to The Picturedrome in Holmfirth as The Dead Daisies brought their Summer Tour 2018 to Yorkshire. The Dead Daisies aren’t actually a group, as such, but a collective of musicians assembled, only five years ago, by David Lowy and Jon Stevens. The Antipodean Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller? As collections go they have brought some valuable items into this one, with the line-up on this tour (John Corabi, Doug Aldrich, Marco Mendoza, Deen Castronovo and Lowy himself), all possessing excellent credentials, having served time in some of the greatest rock bands out there Journey, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Dio and Mötley Crüe to name but a handful! Read more about The Dead Daisies history on their website here.
I’ve never had a problem parking at The Co-op in Holmfirth for a gig before but tonight it was packed with cars queuing to get in! Luckily on second drive round I spotted a space at the side of the road and zoomed into it before anyone else could beat me to it! A sign of things to come? Well, yes people were queuing out of the entrance to The Picturedrome and right back to Huddersfield (Road) to get into the ‘sold out’ show. Luckily I got in with just seconds to spare and found a space near the front, at the side of the stage, where I could lean on a cool pillar to make notes!
Opening for The Dead Daisies tonight were a female powerhouse from Scotland, The Amorettes. Hannah McKay was first on stage taking the drum stool as Slade’s ‘We’ll Bring The House Down‘ blared out as bassist, her sister, Heather and singer/songwriter/guitarist Gill Montgomery hit the stage running. With a shout of ‘Put your hands up’ and a drum beat start tonight’s proceedings began with Born to Break, the title track of their latest studio album. That certainly broke the crowd in with a powerful kick in the balls.
A clash of drumsticks led into ‘Let the Neighbours Call the Cops’ and Gillian asked ‘Are you ready to sing with us? It’s easy, let the neighbours call the cops, go’ and with Hannah holding the drum beat the audience, in the already busy venue, sang along as the neighbours dialled 999! (Not really the nearest neighbours at that time of night are the packed pubs, so I think we were Ok on that score!) The song ended with a ‘Huh’ from Gill followed by a ‘Thank you so much. How are we doing Holmfirth? Can we get a hell yeah?’ of course they could before Gillian thanked everyone for showing up early.
Come ‘n’ Get It and White Russian Roulette two smouldering songs, with powerful riffs, from their previous album White Hot Heat followed. Gill grabbed a towel and announced ‘Crap it’s hot!’ then told us they were going to play their brand new single, which has been played on Radio 2, Whatever Gets You Through the Night, a song with a nod to the 12 Gold Bars (of Status Quo). David Lowy was watching from the side of stage; a good endorsement when the headliner takes the time to come and watch the support band.
Next it was time to break free, lyrics from the hard hitting Bull By The Horns which had Gill and Heather at the front of the stage crouched down, then heads shaking. Gill asked if anyone had got the album Born to Break as they wanted to share the first single, which we might have heard on Planet Rock or seen on Scuzz. The song being Everything I Learned I Learned from Rock n Roll, with an AC/DC vibe, which was a popular one with the crowd. People were singing along and clapping to the beat.
Only one way to end their set after that, and the time had come, as Gill told us they had one more, then they would be at the back if people wanted to go and say Hi. After a ‘Thank you to the Dead Daisies’ Hannah got the drum beat going and Gill said ‘An old one but a good one.’ before asking ‘Is everybody hot? Do you like it heavy? This song is called….’ she cupped her ear, and the audience shouted back Hot and Heavy! Another rocking singalong number. When Gill sang ‘Give me what I need. Hot and heavy’ the audience yelled back ‘Hot and heavy.’ After that Gill thanked everyone for showing up early and checking them out. Her closing words ‘Good to be back. Hope you have a great night. We’re the Amorettes.’ It certainly was an appropriate last song as it was hot and they were heavy! Leaving the audience nicely warmed up for the main men!
Gill Montgomery – Guitar/Vocals
Hannah McKay – Drums/Backing Vocals
Heather McKay – Bass/Backing Vocals
The Dead Daisies
Hormones must have been flying around that stage tonight. As the Oestrogen levels went down the Testosterone levels were about to soar! As the dulcet tones of Angry Anderson’s Rose Tattoo blared out ‘(I’m a) Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw‘ Doug Aldrich appeared, raising his guitar in salute, closely followed by the rest of the band. Last, but by no means least, came frontman John Corabi. With the twin guitar attack, of Doug and David; Marco spinning round; Deen pounding the skins and John wielding the microphone stand like a weapon The Dead Daisies had well and truly arisen from that floral grave! As if to confirm this they followed Resurrected with Rise Up.
Great show men from the off covering the stage well, posing, pouting, posturing and jumping in unison without missing a beat. John encouraged the audience to clap along, in time to the music, before announcing ‘Holmfirth, It’s great to be back in England’ and asking ‘Are you guys ready to sing with The Dead Daisies? Are you ready to get crazy and scream? Let me hear you shout, make some noise!’ and Make Some Noise we did although it was, literally, the title of the next song, with a pummelling beat and had me thinking We Will Rock You by Queen meets Warrant’s Cherry Pie. Doug was at the front of stage playing to a young boy in the audience. I noticed a few younger fans in the audience that night.
After making some noise John told us that is was good to be back in England, and added that he might as well give up his American citizenship and move here. Someone in the audience shouted ‘We love you’ or was it I, I’m not sure, it wasn’t me anyway. John immediately replied ‘We love you too’ before saying that they had landed in Def Lep Airport in Sheffield and we should all go there and fly out to a beautiful place ‘It’s called Mexico’ and yet again he had worked the song title into a sentence. Whilst we didn’t get on a flight to go there, the band did indeed take us to Mexico. With Marco throwing plectrums out, and Doug and David taking it turns to play some riffs at the front. They were certainly covering every inch of that stage!
John said ‘Let me ask you guys a question. How many of you know we did an album Burn It Down? We’re going to play a track off it. I want you guys to help me out. It’s simple, when I point to you, I want you to go yeah yeah’ the song being Dead and Gone, with a Rose Tattoo vibe. When John pointed that finger the audience did indeed sing ‘yeah, yeah’ at the end John said ‘You fucking rock’
After the mellower What Goes Around John announced that they were going to play a song by one by one of their favourite bands, Credance Clearwater Revival, and they wanted us to sing along. The song turned out to be Fortunate Son. Doug was playing to the young guy again, making the night special for a young fan. A nice touch. When David came to the front to play some riffs I noticed that he was on a different guitar, what make I can’t tell you but I know it was white!
The next song was from their 2016 album Make Some Noise. John confided that he wasn’t going into any details but it was about some of the crazy bitches he has dated. He was expressive throughout the show miming actions where appropriate, for example when he sang the lyrics ‘and can she ball’ he gave us his best thrusting action! David came to the front again and was now on a black guitar. Then it was Doug’s turn to come to the front and his guitar was black and white. No costume changes but plenty of guitar changes!
John said that we made it totally easy for them (the band) to do what they do and he was going to take us back to first record he did with the band Revolución. ‘There’s lots of crazy shit in the world, we’re sick of it. Listen to the lyrics to the next song and remember, if you want a better world it starts With You and I‘ yet again cleverly working the song title into a little anecdote. Doug started the song off using a voice box for a wah wah effect. It was left to Doug to start the next song Last Time I Saw The Sun with an impressive slide guitar intro, which had a touch of the Dick Dale. Whilst John was shaking some big yellow maracas Marco was kissing, or licking plectrums and sticking them in people’s caps and on foreheads before holding his bass guitar aloft to display some fancy finger-work skills.
After those first ten songs it was time for the older members of the band to take a ‘comfort break’. John announced ‘Holmfirth, please put your hands together for the new guy on drums, Mr Deen Castronovo’ and Deen asked ‘Are you with me?’ before we were left in his capable hands for a drum solo, which was complimented by an eye-catching light show. John returned to the stage with a ‘Let me hear it for Mr Deen Castronovo’ which resulted in a round of applause. Then it was time to take things down a notch or two with John on acoustic guitar for Something I Said. Initially it was John solo, gradually the rest of the band joined in. During the song, it seems there was an issue with John’s guitar as, he beckoned a guitar tech over and the guitar was taken backstage. John continuing to sing whilst this was going on, so unless you were paying attention you probably wouldn’t even have noticed. Before the next song Set Me Free from Burn It Down, described by John as ‘The ballad from the album’ he explained that they wrote it about touring and the cost (not financial) of being away from families. A gentle, heartfelt song which saw his guitar being returned to him in good working order.
‘Now we’ve got a little treat for you Holmfirth’ advised John ‘I want to introduce you to Deen Castronovo, he plays drums but he’s a good singer too. We’re going to do a song by a guy from right here in England’ that being Rod Stewart’s Maggie May which suited Deen’s gravelly voice well. Not only was he singing but also keeping the beat on the Tom Toms going. He looked genuinely happy to be up there singing. The song ended with a hefty round of applause and chants of Deeno, Deeno. John laughed and said ‘Shut up Deen’ before going on to ask if we were having fun, telling us that they all grew up in the states apart from David, he’s from Australia. He said the band love British music and asked if we had seen Paul McCartney Karaoke, when Paul had been worrying about how things (with The Beatles) were going, his late mother had appeared to him in a dream and said ‘Relax, take it easy. Let It Be‘ which, of course, was the next song and the last acoustic song. It was now ‘Time to turn this shit back up.’
Heaven and Hell came in the next two songs Devil out of Time with it’s Deep Purple vibe and Angel in your Eyes. John said ‘Holmfirth you guys are out of control’ adding that when they had been over here (the UK) in May their manager said all the English shows sold out. ‘I have to say that you guys never let us down. The Holmfirth gig sold out in 17 hours’ as we were all friends then, it was time to introduce us to the band, in The Dead Daisies style, Each band member got a few appropriate words and a few bars from a chosen song to accompany the introduction. First up David Lowy the ‘Thunder from Down Under’ and AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. Marco Mendoza John’s ‘brother from another mother, from South America, on bass guitar’ with Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy. Marco said we were all very kind and he loved us in England.
Next John said ‘Watch this! Hey Deeno’ and, before he could go any further, someone in the audience shouted Deeno, then he managed to finish what he was saying ‘on drums, awesome vocals, Mr Deen Castronovo‘ who got Rock and Roll All Night by Kiss, which had members of the audience singing along. ‘Last but not least’ with more audience participation and a yell of Dougie, it was the turn of ‘The man with the golden guitar. The man with the golden hair. The man with the golden fingers! Please give it up for Mr Doug Aldrich’ who gave us a few riffs and guitar poses to a backdrop of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water. He may well have been the last to be introduced by John, but that left the man himself. Marco took over the compèring duties to introduce ‘The guy with the song in his soul, the melody in his heart. Mr John Corabi’ and Heaven and Hell by Black Sabbath was his introduction song.
Song and a Prayer followed the introductions, with Doug and David at the front playing some intricate riffs together then, with Deen holding the drum beat, John said ‘I told you we love British rock and roll. This is from one of the best bands. The Rolling Stones. This is called Bitch‘ another tribute to John’s exes? I don’t know, as he didn’t say, but he was certainly giving us his best Mick Jagger moves and pouts, singing to members of the audience! Marco and David were up on the drum riser at one point. Marco and Doug were topless by this stage and this was certainly one way to keep the bitches happy! After the song John stated ‘You guys love the fucking Stones’ before asking ‘Alright Holmfirth, you still got a little juice left in your tank?’ He turned and said to Deen ‘I think they are ready Deeno’ who started off Midnight Moses a cover of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band track which had The Dead Daisies ‘Coming up roses’ the audience chanting the Hey, Hey, Heys with John; Marco spinning then jumping in unison with Doug; John and David banging their heads in time to the music and Marco throwing more plectrums out to the crowd.
Long Way To Go from their Make Some Noise album came next, with it’s driving rhythm and some intricate Van Halen-ish riffs. After lots of applause and arms in the air, from both John and the crowd, he told us that would normally be their last song but ‘You guys are out of your mind so we’re going to keep playing’ and they launched into the upbeat Leave Me Alone from the Burn It Down album, which had John and Doug guitaring together, although John’s guitar was of the air variety! They could have finished there, on a high, but John decided they should do a song by another great British band, this time a rousing cover of Highway Star by Deep Purple. The lack of keyboards being, more than, made up for by the dual guitars of David and Doug. It seemed that the set had finished on a high and John’s last words were ‘Thank you! We are The Dead Daisies. Thank you guys so much, once again you’ve been brilliant. Deeno, give me five’ and five drum beats rang out.
The audience, however, still wanted more and were cheering and clapping and got a chant of Dead Daisies going. The cheers didn’t go unheard as, after a minute or so, Doug came back on with the young guy he had been playing to from time to time during the show. Tommy looked pleased to have his moment of fame and John persuaded him to give us the finger, and joked that although his Mum would be mad his Dad was a big supporter of the band. That’s rock and roll, you need to start young! ‘Let’s keep it British’ announced John as they launched into a cover of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter which ended with a ‘Deano, give me four’ and four drum beats rang out and we got a final ‘We love you guys. Thank you goodnight!’ and this time it really was the end. No coming back for three, two and one. However the first one hundred people in the queue had been given a special wristband which gave them the opportunity to meet the band after the show and get a signed poster.
A good mix of their own songs, in a set of around two hours, interspersed with some well chosen and well executed covers. I was chatting to a few people after the show including a mother and her daughter, Katie who was attending her first gig, aged eleven, she absolutely loved it. I had managed to get a plectrum, when they were thrown out, but having been to hundreds of gigs since my first gig at fourteen, I gave it to Katie to keep as a memento. I saw wheelchair users, and people with walking sticks in the audience, as this venue is disability friendly. It was good to see people of all ages and ability being able to enjoy live music. From the smiles on people’s faces it looked like all had enjoyed the show.
You could say that a dead daisy is an expired weed. The Dead Daisies are anything but expired. Weeds they are not, flowers possibly, wild they definitely are, and long may they continue to bloom. We, in the UK, don’t have to wait long until they grace our shores again. They have just this week announced a Welcome to Daisyland UK Winter Tour 2018 (see here) with an exclusive Steelhouse-ticket-holders-only acoustic show, after they were forced to pull out of the festival due to adverse weather conditions.
However I credit the final three words to Gill Montgomery. I chatted to The Amorettes after the gig and asked how the show had been for them. Gill’s reply ‘Hot as Balls!’
John Corabi – Vocals
Doug Aldrich – Guitar
David Lowy – Guitar
Marco Mendoza – Bass Guitar
Deen Castronovo – Drums
Words by Louise Swift
Photos by Alex English