Rock has many faces and comes from many places. But it’s bound together by a collective will to entertain and this exceptional bill offered a welcome glimpse into every facet of a genre that refuses to be bound by passing trends or commercial pressure.
Rarely can the Riverside have witnessed such a striking, compelling contrast. The juxtaposition of The Answer’s brains and The Dead Daisies’ brawn reflected the tone of both bands’ brilliant new records: the cerebral nature of the former’s Solas album utterly at odds with the ‘man rock’ underpinning the latter’s Make Some Noise.
And yet this was not a competition but more of a celebration. A chance to revel in the fact that the umbrella of rock embraces a range of creative souls keen to marry tradition with evolution, authenticity with audacity. On the one hand former Motley Crue frontman John Corabi cajoled the crowd into a fist-pumping frenzy on the back of a unifying cover of The Who’s Join Together and on the other The Answer’s Cormac Neeson laid himself bare with only a bouzouki for company.
The Dead Daisies hark back to the era of wild 80s excess when style trumped substance and the lyrics hardly mattered. Make Some Noise, Lock N Load and Mainline are all magnificently overblown rock and roll anthems delivered by some of the coolest characters on the planet: stick Doug Aldrich and Marco Mendoza in the same room together and it’s a recipe for testosterone-fuelled fun.
The Answer have explored their Celtic roots on Solas and Neeson admitted the band’s brave new album had given the Northern Irish quartet a new lease of life. If The Dead Daisies’ show was riotous then The Answer’s was reaffirmingly reflective – slow burners Beautiful World, In This Land and set closer Battle Cry captivating rather than crushing. During one stripped down acoustic interlude Neeson jokingly claimed the answer had created a brand new sub-genre: frugal rock. Fraggle Rock better described The Dead Daisies’ high-energy assault on the senses.
When The Answer were joined by bluesy beauty Lynne Jackaman for a frantic version of Nowhere Freeway, an often surreal night reached its spine-tingling peak. The former St Jude singer had opened up the evening with a bullish solo set in front of a full house – her powerful, passionate voice piercing the idle chatter and stopping the latecomers in their tracks. Like a latter day Sonny and Cher, Neeson and Jackaman oozed chemistry and screamed charisma. They oozed rock and roll – in all of its various guises.