THE DEAD DAISIES ‘BURN IT DOWN’ IN TORONTO
Date: August 24, 2018
Venue: The Phoenix Concert Hall
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Reviewer: Tyson Briden
Lately, it has been very quiet on the concert front for me. The summer has been very busy with my son’s baseball, my daughter’s soccer and of course many other things that surround my everyday life. When it was announced way back in the spring that The Dead Daisies would yet again be gracing a stage in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area, I made sure that I would be there. Last summer when the band was here, I was on my way to Nashville, Tennessee. The funny thing is that The Daisies would be in Nashville the following week and the day after I had flown back to Toronto! Just before that show, I received a text from current Great White singer Mitch Malloy asking if I would still be in Nashville on Sunday of that week to take in that very Daisies show with him. Of course, I had to turn down Malloy’s invitation.
So let’s fast forward to this past Friday. Hookers & Blow and The Dead Daisies at the Phoenix Concert Hall. My adventure started out as most do on the 401 highway heading west. As soon as I got on the 401, it became apparent to me as to why I don’t go into Toronto much these days. The Friday night traffic going towards the city was horrendous. I trudged on, hoping for the best. Of course, the traffic would open up once I got to the town of Pickering. I was well on my way. As I was driving, I decided to make a quick call to a good friend, former Slik Toxik guitarist Kevin Gale. I wanted to find out from him one last time if he was still not interested in attending the show. At that time, Gale was busy working on material for his latest project that may or may not coincide with the book he is writing with yours truly. It became obvious that Gale was in for the evening. We chatted a bit, on speaker I may add, and then said our goodbyes.
It was just after six, the doors would open at seven. You may ask yourself why I would be there so early? Well… the reason was that the first hundred people at the event would get a wristband to enjoy a Meet & Greet with The Dead Daisies after the show. Normally, this is not a practice I care to take in, but there was one primary reason why I chose this Meet & Greet — Doug Aldrich! Yes, that’s right. Doug Aldrich has and still is one of the reasons I play guitar. Since the early ’90s, I have followed Aldrich’s career very closely. Now you may ask yourself, “What about John Corabi?”
The truth about that is that I have had the honor of meeting Mr. Corabi on many occasions over the years. My first real meeting with Corabi was when he was the guitarist in Ratt. My friends and I ended up chatting with Corabi for an hour before the show. Corabi was even nice enough to tell security when the doors to the venue were being closed to the public that we were with him. My next meeting with Corabi would be at a BBQ at a friend’s house in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Corabi had been scheduled to play an acoustic set that night at a bar close by called Le Skratch. So before the show, Corabi, Russ Dwarf, my buddies and myself would break bread with someone we had grown up idolizing. It was very surreal. I recall my wife, at the time, commenting, “This is weird. What is going on here?” Anyways, I have run into Corabi at various times since, but I am not sure if he would remember me. Possibly if I mentioned it, but let’s just remember for a second how many people Corabi would run into on a daily basis.
So getting back to our story at hand… At exactly 7 pm, the doors to the venue would open. I would make my way to Will Call where I would pick up the ticket that had been left for me via Sleaze Roxx editor Olivier courtesy of Hannah at Chipster PR (thank you!). I then made my way to the merch booth with my red and black wristband wrapped tightly around my wrist. I was quick to find that The Dead Daisies were selling vinyl copies of the latest album Burn It Down and the great live album Live & Louder. I made a purchase of Burn It Down on both vinyl and CD. Of course, to my surprise when I would arrive home and open the vinyl the next day, I would find the CD enclosed within. Regardless, it’s not the first time I’ve owned multiple copies of the same album. It’s kind of a sick addiction. Now, it would seem funny that I did not have a copy of the band’s new album, but I do. Just before the release of the album, I had called my Mom and asked if she would order it for me since she had an Amazon Prime account. A day later, I received a call from her telling me that there was a limited edition picture disc edition that she felt I should order. That’s right, a 69 year old lady who truly understands the importance of adding something special to your collection. I think just from reading these comments, you can understand the support I have received over the years from both my parents. They have really molded me into the person I am today. For that, I am eternally grateful. Their love and support has really taught me always to pursue my passions no matter what. So with the thought of not wanting to really play the picture disc, I felt that for the low, low price of forty five dollars, I could own the vinyl and the CD. Done deal.
Crisis Control Club:
Just as I left the merch booth, the first band would begin. I quickly bought a beer and made my way to the front of the stage. It was interesting to see a two piece band gracing the stage. What were they called again? Oh yes, Crisis Control Club. Did I enjoy them? Hell yeah! They had an early ’80s new wave sort of sound. It was different and I really enjoyed what they had to offer. Of course, they programmed a lot of the parts on the singer/guitarist’s keyboard, which to me takes away some of that live feel, but they really didn’t make that show. The drummer was very intense. He hit those skins as if he had three other members gracing the stage with him.
It was safe to say that the night was off to a good start. The next band (Phear), I did not see. I ran into some old friends from high school and we made our way to the smoking area. I did hear some of the guitar player soundchecking and quickly made the decision that they just may be a little hardcore metal for me. The guitar sound was that really modulated, heavy metal thing, so I passed. Sorry guys! From what I heard afterwards, they did a great job.
Now let’s get to the third band… CounterWait. Hmm… I ponder you this, “When somebody makes a bad first impression, it is very hard to change your mind in terms of that person, right?” For those that have read my review of the Faster Pussycat show from last July, you will understand what I am trying to say. Not for one second, did I not say I did not enjoy the band’s music. It was more of a personality conflict on the part of myself and a certain band member. As the band took the stage, I quickly noticed that there was an element missing from the band’s line-up. They were now a three piece. As they began, it became quite evident that the band I had seen a year ago was much different today. Gone were the great two part harmonies that had a very cool Alice In Chains vibe. The guitar parts although intricate, just didn’t have the same feeling as before. As not to come across in the wrong manner, I will just leave it at that.
Hookers & Blow:
In my eyes, this is where the show truly begins. Nothing against the previous three bands and I understand the importance of promoting local talent, but this is what I had truly come for. Dizzy Reed and co. came out in true rock star fashion. The opening track, “Pretty Tied Up” from Guns N’ Roses‘ 1991 release Use Your Illusion II started things off in true fashion. As the band went into the next track “Dust N’ Bones” from Use Your Illusion I, I was truly impressed. You see, I have not heard that song live since Guns N’ Roses played the CNE Grandstand in 1991 with opener Skid Row. This was before Izzy Stradlin had left the band. At that time, the two Illusion albums had not been released, but Guns were performing those songs regardless. I recall that song vividly on that night. I recall thinking that the band was really expanding themselves musically. As much as I love Appetite For Destruction, I thought the true complexity of those two Illusion albums was a step in the right direction. It is really too bad the band would self-implode a few years later and we would never hear another new original song recorded by that line-up.
As Hookers & Blow went into the next song, the crowd started to work itself into a frenzy. Black Star Riders bassist Robbie Crane who is obviously playing with Hookers & Blow on this tour, quickly broke into the infamous bass line to “It’s So Easy.” It was pure magic. How were Dizzy Reed’s vocals you may ask? It wasn’t Axl Rose, but he really did a great job. It was very believable. Reed did not try and emulate everything that Rose would do. When there was a high part, that only Axl could sing, he just sang it in a lower register, but the key points were all there. What can I say about Quiet Riot guitarist Alex Grossi on this night? If I closed my eyes, I’d swear it was Slash playing all those licks. Having seen Grossi with Quiet Riot a few times, I knew I would not be disappointed. He is truly a gifted guitarist who is always smiling and interacting with the crowd.
With three Guns N’ Roses tunes under their belt, Reed quickly proclaimed that he had an album for sale at the merch booth. The song “This Don’t Look Like Vegas” would be the next offering from that very album. This song was by no means out of place. Then out of nowhere, the band would break into the classic David Bowie track “Ziggy Stardust.” That was unexpected and I truly enjoyed it. The band would then go into two big Guns N’ Roses hits, playing “Don’t Cry” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” back to back. The short set would close out with yet another track from Reed’s catalog — “Rock N’ Roll Ain’t Easy” — which really fit the set perfectly. It had an old ’70s vibe to it with a mixture of Bowie and Guns N’ Roses. All and all, a fantastic warm up to The Dead Daisies. The question being this as the set drew to a close, would we see Reed again on this evening? Possibly he would get up and play with his former band The Dead Daisies? That remained to be seen…
Hookers & Blow’s setlist:
01. Pretty Tied Up
02. Dust N’ Bones
03. It’s So Easy
04. This Don’t Look Like Vegas
05. Ziggy Stardust
06. Don’t Cry
07. Sweet Child O’ Mine
08. Rock n’ Roll Ain’t Easy
The Dead Daisies:
The stage was almost ready. Gone was the Hookers & Blow backdrop replaced by a Dead Daisies backdrop. The lights were dim as the various roadies prepared everything on stage for our main event. From bringing three Coronas to stage left and placing them on top of Marco Mendoza’s bass cabinet, to filling the major amounts of customized picks on the mike stands, the stage was set for an evening of kick ass rock n’ roll. Aerosmith’s classic “Sweet Emotion” came over the stage speakers. My buddy Foggy quickly commented, “That’s what the band came out to last year at Lee’s Palace.” So we knew, oh yes we knew, our heroes would be taking the stage very soon. Then another song would come on, Rose Tattoo’s classic “Rock N’ Roll Outlaw.” “Hey Foggy, I thought you said they were coming on?” Oh, the anticipation was building. Then the song was faded out half way through. Let the ride begin! This is where my Sleaze Roxx colleague and friend, Olivier, would arrive on seen. We quickly said our hellos and became enthralled within the show. The Dead Daisies broke in with “Resurrected” from the new Burn It Down album followed by “Rise Up” from the same album. I was mesmerized by the true intensity guitarist Doug Aldrich was exuding. Here was what I had come to see. One of my favorite vocalists with one of my favorite guitarists! I was truly in heaven. This was the line-up of a band I had always hoped for — a supergroup in itself. Come to think of it, when I spoke to Corabi years back at the Ratt show, we spoke of Aldrich and how Corabi would love to play with him.
So moving forward, I could potentially give a play by play of every song, but I think I don’t need to. There is quite a large amount of material to cover, so we’ll just speak of some highlights. The track listing will appear beneath. With that said, the show was a great mixture of the band’s three albums that Corabi has sung on. Aldrich was of course was showing all his versality as a player. He would go back and forth on the stage. There would be those points where he would be stationary behind the microphone due to the fact that his mouth would be positioned on his talk box. This form has become very prominent in the band’s music as of late. I love the talk box as a great form for adding texture to a song. I myself have become somewhat of a master of this device over the years as it was a focal point in the Bon Jovi tribute band I once played in. Then of course we can’t help but mention Aldrich’s amazing slide guitar talents. As you’re reading you may think to yourself, “Wow, this guy really has a man crush on Aldrich!” It’s not really a man crush, but more of an affinity for a player that does everything perfectly. So many of the things that Aldrich does as a player, I do myself, but I will be the first to admit that he is far better than I am!
There are only two guitar players on this planet that have changed my life — Brother Cane guitarist/singer Damon Johnson and of course Doug Aldrich. There were other moments that I was not fixated on Aldrich. I found bass player Marco Mendoza to be very animated. There was one point in the show that Olivier and myself were standing there and who was beside us, but Mendoza. He left the stage to come say hello to his audience. Now, of course rhythm guitarist and Dead Daisies founder, Dave Lowy, was just as animated. Between Mendoza, Aldrich and Lowy, there must have been 200 picks flicked into the audience. That could be an exaggeration on my part, but I doubt it. As the show progressed, Corabi would proclaim, “Toronto, it’s good to be back! It’s good to be back when it’s not fucking snowing!”
It was from there that each band member would be introduced. Each member would play a portion of a rock anthem to coincide with their introduction. For Marco Mendoza, the band would play Thin Lizzy‘s “The Boys Are Back In Town” with the group then stopping to have the audience sing the main chorus. Drummer Deen Castronovo’s song would be introduced to the band playing KISS‘ “Rock N’ Roll All Nite.” Aldrich would then be introduced to the point where he would do some of the finest shredding you’re going to hear on any stage in the world. Suddenly as the shredding was over, Aldrich would break into the classic riff of Deep Purple‘s “Smoke On The Water.” It was a thing of beauty. Being that Dave Lowy is a native of Australia, AC/DC would be the obvious choice with the band doing justice to the classic “Highway To Hell.” What would it be for John Corabi? Of course the heaviest riff to be heard all night as The Daisies broke into Black Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell.” How amazing is it to hear an audience chanting back the main vocal melody? Priceless.
As we had reached more than halfway through the show, there was still more material that I was anticipating. The band did not disappoint. They would end the show with the classic “Helter Skelter” by The Beatles. That’s right, not the Mötley Crüe version, but The Beatles‘ version. Suddenly, the lights went down. A keyboard was seen being moved to the front of the stage. Was Dizzy Reed making a guest appearance with his former band? Indeed, he was. The band broke into The Sensation Alex Harvey Band’s “Midnight Moses” from The Daisies‘ Revolucion album, which was indeed a real treat. As the song came to a close, I asked myself if they would do one more. Sure enough, I see Aldrich leaning towards Reed as if to be showing him the chords to the next song. Then that infectious drum beat began. The band was breaking into Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.” That infamous Ian Gillan scream was heard with Corabi emulating it perfectly. I am not sure I have ever heard Corabi do a Purple song, but let me tell you, he nailed it perfectly. The man is a true vocalist. As the song went on, I would see Aldrich turning to Reed to cue him on the parts. Reed did a fantastic job of recreating a song that I think he just wasn’t that familiar with playing. Just like that it was all over.
The Dead Daisies’ setlist:
02. Rise Up
03. Make Some Noise
04. Song And A Prayer
05. Dead And Gone
06. What Goes Around
07. With You And I
08. Last Time I Saw The Sun
09. Drum Solo
10. Fortunate Son
11. Devil Out Of Time
12. Band Intros
13. Leave Me Alone
16. Long Way To Go
17. Helter Skelter
18. Midnight Moses (w/ Dizzy Reed)
19. Highway Star (w/ Dizzy Reed)
Meet & Greet with The Dead Daisies:
As the show ended, Olivier and myself quickly got our bearings together. We were trying to gauge back our hearing. It’s always funny after a show because it’s almost that drunk feeling. Sure there is the adrenaline, but also that distraught feeling of quick recovery. We noticed those with the wristbands making their way around the corner of the bar. We followed. It was about half an hour before we would make our way into the actual room with the band. I had come prepared. Let’s see, what did I have in the knapsack that I carried with me all night? The Dead Daisies‘ Make Some Noise vinyl album, Revolution Saints‘ Light In The Dark which features Castronovo and Aldrich, as well as CDs from Aldrich’s colored musical past. In my possession, I had the first two Bad Moon Rising releases, Aldrich’s first solo album and the first Lion release, which dates back to the late ’80s.
Olivier and I quickly noticed the line moving very quickly. I rustled to remove my albums from the protective cardboard shipping cases I had put them in for protection over the course of the evening. Olivier asked if he could help. I quickly passed him my knapsack as I pulled a gold and black Sharpie from the front. We first came to bassist Marco Mendoza. He was engaged and really took his time to sign my album. Next up was Dave Lowy. He signed quickly as did Corabi and Castronovo. That was disappointing, having met Corabi as I said on previous occasions, you could tell that he wasn’t his usual personable self. Even looking at his signature later on, it was nothing compared to the previous albums he had signed for me. It was a very quick rendition. Finally, we reached Doug Aldrich. To be honest, my legs became weak and I could feel my hands trembling. This was not normal for me. I felt like a ten year old kid. Aldrich signed my two vinyls, then Olivier said “Tyson, do you want these signed?” “Oh yeah, Doug could you?…”
I was quickly cut off by a security person. “He’s not signing those! That’s way too much!” Aldrich looked up, he noticed what was before him, he turned and said, “No, I’ll sign those! Just put them over here!” I was pretty astounded. Aldrich grabbed one and said, “You want these signed on the front?” I said, “No here, I’ll open them!” Aldrich kept signing for others. All of a sudden, another security person came over — this really big guy who worked at the club. “What are you doing here? Move along! These guys are tired! They want to go!” “But Doug said he would sign these for me!” “Well, he’s not!” I stood there for another moment or two, suddenly Aldrich’s arm came over holding the gold Sharpie. He quickly signed and that was it. Olivier and I made our way out of the building.
Note to bands and bars, if you are going to have meet and greets, it’s possibly to your advantage to not have 100 people hurded in like cattle. Would I ever do one of these again? Probably not. Thank goodness I did not pay for this. I keep hearing other stories of bigger bands who are holding these “so called” meet and greets. It’s a situation of just taking the fans’ money. I understand with the lack of CD sales these days, meet and greets are a good avenue to generate income, but if you’re impersonal to your fan base, that generated revenue is gone for good. It leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. The only other meet and greet I have ever done was at a Stryper show. It was very inexpensive and done long before the show. The bar was closed off for all those in attendance. All four members of the band came out and actually took the time to talk with every person. It was a great experience.
I was very happy at the opportunity to have been in the presence of somehow I truly admire, but to me, I didn’t really meet Doug Aldrich. To even have a thirty second conversation with him would have been nice. “Hey Doug! My name’s Tyson. I’m a big fan. I am also a writer with the site Sleaze Roxx!” Even a picture would have been nice to add to my wall. I am not bitter. I just felt like between the bar and certain band members, this could have been a little more pleasant. I am grateful for how Doug Aldrich treated me. He was a true gentleman and he understands the importance of his fan base. This is my second such meeting with Aldrich. Years back, I was in the front row at a Whitesnake show, right in front of Aldrich. All night, I kept holding up copies of his previous work. He loved it. He threw picks at me, made eye contact, etc. He was just so appreciative of a fan. At the end of the show, he reached down, with a marker in hand and signed the front of my CD. Weeks later, I would be on the Doug Aldrich message board. I would tell my story. Unbeknownst to me, Aldrich chats on the site. He had seen my message, remembered me and commented, “Had I had been able to, I would have signed more!”
As for the security, well… I get they have a job to do, but they also need to be a little more sympathetic to the fact that the reason these people came early was to get a chance to meet those that they admire. They do not need to be felt like they are a putting somebody out or that they are all a bunch of drunk idiots trying to get close to a rock star. Let’s be honest, live music is a dying breed. Those that are still out there need to appreciate every single person, as do those that are working for the bars that hold these events. Yes, I do agree that some were there were pushy, obnoxious and drunk, but for people like Olivier and myself, we are in the business of keeping this music alive. We believe in the fan base and the musicians. A little bit more respect would have been nice.