The Dead Daisies, The Graham Bonnet Band, FM – Manchester Ritz – 4th Dec 202212th December 2022
Sometimes when tour packages are put together, they can be a hit-and-miss affair. But whoever assembled this one really knew what they were doing. Three well-matched bands, each one a seasoned veteran who know how to deliver for an audience. And deliver they all certainly did tonight.
The strength of the bill is immediately evident upon arriving at the venue and joining a huge queue trying to get in before FM takes to the stage. We eventually got in as they were finishing their first song Synchronised.
That was followed by the best ‘should’ve been a big hit but never was’ song ever, the wonderful Bad Luck. The quality of their songwriting makes you wonder how they’re not headliners of venues like this. More recent material like Killed By Love and set closer Turn This Car Around really are A-list tracks, both boasting instantly memorable singalongs. Throw in a couple of classics like Tough It Out and I Belong To The Night, and a ‘follow that’ gauntlet is most certainly placed down, even if the set is criminally short.
The challenge was happily accepted by former Rainbow/MSG vocalist Graham Bonnet. Now firmly in the veteran stage of his career, he bounds on stage with an enthusiastic energy that truly belied his years. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of his short seven-song set is drawn from his most successful period fronting Rainbow for their Down To Earth album.
Whilst the set opens and closes with Eyes Of The World and Lost In Hollywood respectively, it’s undoubtedly the pair of enormous hits All Night Long and Since You’ve Been Gone that draw the greatest responses from the audience. He’s clearly enjoying every second of the show as he puts his all into every song. The highlight of his set for me though, was his 1981 top-ten solo hit Night Games, a very underrated track, for such a big hit.
Next up were the headliners The Dead Daisies, when things moved up a notch once again. They immediately show they mean business by storming through the excellent Long Way To Go. If ever a song was written to be the set opener, it’s this one. Since the last time I caught them live, they’ve trimmed down to a four piece. The departures of vocalist John Corabi, and bassist Marco Mendoza lead to the legendary Glenn Hughes joining the band. The chemistry between them is obvious throughout and makes for a slick, hugely enjoyable show from four consummate professionals.
Whilst there may have been a temptation for the set to focus on the more recent material from the current lineup, we get a set that features tracks from across the whole lifetime of the band and beyond. Aside from a couple from the superb Make Some Noise, we get a trio of crackers from 2018’s cracking Burn It Down album, including my personal favorite, the wonderfully bluesy Rise Up.
The new album, Radiance, does feature heavily though, with five of its ten tracks making an appearance tonight. The pounding Born To Fly is the best track on the album for me, and tonight it comes alive. Twin guitarists David Lowy and Doug Aldrich are locked in as one on the riff, as it powers along. Surprisingly, for a band filled with undoubted virtuoso’s, there’s no showboating tonight, aside from Brian Tichy‘s drum solo. Much like the Radiance album, everything is concise and to the point, with songs not being unnecessarily dragged out.
However, no Dead Daisies show would be complete without a few covers. Their version of CCR‘s classic, Fortunate Son, is easily my favorite version of it that I’ve heard. Once again tonight it gets a thunderous reading, as does the encore version of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band‘s Midnight Moses. That said, when you’re doing covers, and have Glenn Hughes in the band, Deep Purple songs are bound to be on the agenda. And they certainly are, a truly epic version of Mistreated allows Glenn to demonstrate what a great vocalist he still is. Then the show closes with the classic sonic adrenaline rush of Burn, which brings the show to a breathless finish.
And with that, we all headed back out into the cold Manchester night with big smiles on our faces. It wasn’t so much a case of which band won the honors on the night.. more a night of celebration of good old-fashioned hard rock music. Three bands, three great sets and one happy audience, what more could you ask for?
Dead Daisies Setlist:
1 – Long Way To Go
2 – Unspoken
3 – Rise Up
4 – Dead And Gone
5 – Radiance
6 – Face Your Fear
7 – Bustle And Flow
8 – Fortunate Son
9 – Drum Solo
10 – Mistreated
11 – Born To Fly
12 – Burn It Down
13 – Hypnotise Yourself
14 – My Fate
15 – Shine On
16 – Midnight Moses
17 – Burn