Words & Photos: David McEneaney
Being born in 1980 and having parents who were very into music, I didn’t realise how lucky I was until I was much older. There seemed to always be some form of record playing in the background, subliminally soundtracking my young life and seeping into my sub-conscious while I drew pictures or played with lego, waiting for my dinner. When thinking back I especially remember paying particular attention to the likes of Rory Gallagher, Black Sabbath, T-Rex, Led Zepplin etc., but never even thought to think about why until I was much older.
This was probably why, as I got older and slowly more self aware, I was continuously drawn to bands I saw on TV like Guns N Roses and Metallica, then later pretty much anything that came out of Seattle.
What I think really intrigued me and kept me going back for more (apart from the obvious loud riffs, pounding drums and louder than everything vocals) , was the whole idea of ’The Rock Star’.
Back then there was no social media where you could follow your favourite singers every move and see that they spent a lot of time curating their ‘opinions’ to help them gain ‘engagement and likezzzzz’, or play their music video/live performance on demand whenever you want.
All you had was whatever you could read in magazines, see in any interviews you were lucky enough to catch on TV, and most importantly the word of mouth that made the likes of throwing a television out of a window or biting the head off a bat so well known and talked about they would eventually become clichés.
It was all about the mystique. The legend. The posters on your wall. The live performances you had managed to record over the VHS tape you ‘borrowed’ from your dad. You didn’t even register that these guys probably sat around their mansions doing nothing all day, waiting for the next tour or recording session. They only existed in your mind and in conversations with your friends.
Over the past few years I have definitely been missing these larger than life characters in music as sadly, and a lot of the time through their own doing, they have been disappearing and no-one seems to want to pick up where they left off. Why put the time into learning how to sing or play an instrument when you can auto tune yourself into your 15 seconds of fame instead I suppose.
As I pulled up outside the Limelight last Sunday night, I couldn’t help but get excited when I realised there was a tour bus parked right outside that was so big it actually blocked the entire venue from sight. One of those buses I used to see on tour videos for bands, or you would hear stories about that made you want to start a band with your friends in the first place.
The closer I got to the entrance, the louder the music was, and the bigger the smile on my face was getting.
I hadn’t heard this kind of racket in a long time.
While I navigated myself through the absolutely jam packed venue I began to notice a pattern. Everyone seemed to be wearing leather jackets as weathered as Keith Richards’ face on top of old school band t-shirts, with beards and dark eye makeup everywhere you looked. I kept thinking the old cliche was true, you only really miss something when it’s gone, but I also felt like I had come home after a long time away.
As soon as The Dead Daisies walked onto the stage and the first song began, I literally felt like I was about to be blown back into the crowd like Marty McFly when he plugged into Doc’s amplifier. This was it. This was what I was missing. Rock and Roll.
Brian Tichy’s drums were pounding, Doug Aldrich and David Lowy’s riffs and solos were loud and fast, like they were swapping them between themselves telepathically, and Glenn Hughes’ bass was grooving, holding it all together. I hadn’t heard music played this loud or this well in a long long time…but then he sang, and that was it. I couldn’t help it. I must’ve looked like a maniac amongst all of the other photographers, but I couldn’t help it. I had the biggest smile on my face and it just kept getting bigger as the sound relentlessly hit me in the chest, passing through my ribcage and back to my heart where, cheesy as it sounds, this type of music has always lived.
The guys were also true professionals and worked the stage effortlessly, like they’d been doing it all their lives. If you look at their CVs, you’ll see that they have. Never once did they let up, and as soon as they saw a lens pointed at them they immediately went into rock star mode, giving you the type of photos you grew up with on your walls, tearing out of any and every magazine you could find. It was up to you to catch it or not, because one riff later they were gone again, off to the next. At this point I was shooting on instinct, trying to follow everyone round the stage at once and hunting for the ultimate shot.
The stage in the Limelight probably isn’t as big as some of the stages these guys have played on…or even rehearsed on…but that didn’t seem to matter to them. You could tell all they cared about was the music and the fans who came to hear it, and at that moment, thats all that existed for everyone in the room. The way it should be. As I walked out of the pit I checked my watch, which seemed to have been screaming at me through the entire shoot. Normally it tells me that the sound level was 80-90 Db, and this was a ‘Loud Environment’, but this time it had reached 120…which means that they had clearly turned everything up past even 11 until it hit true apocalyptic levels.
Which I’m guessing is at least 12.
I haven’t had that much fun shooting a band in a long time, and hung around for the entire set. A setlist that seemed to never end and a crowd and band that never wanted it to, me included.
While leaving the venue I saw the tour bus again and couldn’t help but smile. What a band. What a gig. As my ears rang, they were joined by another cliché…. they really don’t make ’em like they used to. After that show, I really wish they did.
Long Way to Go
Dead and Gone
Face Your Fear
Bustle & Flow
Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
Mistreated (Deep Purple)
Born to Fly
Burn it Down
Midnight Moses (Sensational Alex Harvey Band)
Burn ( Deep Purple)