Marco Mendoza takes a break from The Dead Daisies to pursue a mini solo venture. After several UK dates, the next stop is London.
Marco Mendoza has earned his dues as a rock and roll bass player over the years. He’s played with major acts such as Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent and Whitesnake. Hammering out tunes along side John Sykes, Scott Gorham, and Bill Ward to name a few. The ex Black Star Ryders’ bassist, brings his solo touring line up the The Camden Underworld. Fellow accomplished musicians Fabio Cerrone and Pino Liberti complete the line up with young Welsh guitarist Jack Davies.
On stage are local boys Red Hawk Rising, who have the pleasure of accompanying Marco on this tour for several dates. Consisting of Derin Adebiyi (guitar/vocals), Rich Wearz (guitar, backing vocals), Steve Parsons (bass/backing vocals) and Tim Churchman (drums). With influences ranging from guitar gods such as Gary Moore and Brian May, to classic bands such as Van Halen and Queen, I’m expecting there to be some groovy, rockin’ tracks. They play classic rock with a modern twist mixed in with some rock ‘n’ roll sleaze including ‘You Are A Woman, I Am A Machine’ and the heavy, Sabbath meets soul tune ‘Working’.
Main man, Derin Adebiyi announces that they are going to cover a song by a the great song writer Ed Sheeran. “A track he wrote back in the ’60s, ‘Proud Mary’”. For a few seconds I must admit, I wasn’t looking forward to it, but as soon as I heard him say ‘Proud Mary’ I immediately perk up. The original version is from the ’60s, by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Red Hawk Rising do an absolutely amazing job; Adebiyi has a set of lungs on him, delivering soulful and powerful vocals. This is followed by ‘A Whole Lotta Rosie’, and they nail that sweet signature AC/DC sound.
In between the two acts, Marco takes some time to mingle with fans near the merchandise tables, posing for pictures and chatting away friendly to those who want to engage with him. As he heads off to get stage ready, I order myself a Newcastle Brown Ale from the bar for a hefty £5.20. A respectable crowd has built up for the headlining act. It’s a mixture of old-time rockers and a few younger faces. Some might think that it’s quite a modest gathering for someone who’s been touring the world and playing to audiences much bigger than this. Never the less, those who have turned up, are all in good spirits.
The band open with feel good tune ‘Let The Sun Shine’ from 2010s Casa Mendoza and there is no doubt that we are in for a superb show. The Underworld’s dark, dank space is brightened with melody and expressive vocals good enough to fill stadiums. Mendoza sings with such ease, hitting high notes that the rest of us can only dream of reaching before diving straight into that deep groove of Ted Nugent’s ‘Hey Baby’. Marco Mendoza is clearly a versatile musician who is complemented perfectly by lead guitarist Fabio Cerrone.
He seems fully at home on stage, sending good vibes to everyone watching. They are playing tunes to suit the mood without the aid of a driven set list. Despite this the songs flow into each other, covering soul, funk and old-fashioned rock, adding in tracks from solo album Live for Tomorrow (‘Letting Go’, ‘Look Out For The Boys’). To add the mix, we get a cover of Billie Holiday’s ‘God Bless the Child’ with Marco nailing the vocals with passion as he does with the fantastic slow number ‘Still In Me’.
Half way through the set the sound cuts out but it doesn’t seem to phase Mendoza as he continues by clapping and scatting. If it weren’t for the struggle happening behind him, you could of assumed it was part of the set.
He comes across as a natural when it comes to building the crowd up for a good sing along, as I witness next as the deep bass intro to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground’ kicks off. A total classic for those who love soul and funk infused rock. The guitars then make a smooth transition to the iconic dual guitar harmony intro of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Chinatown’. Nobody can match original singer and bassist Phil Lynott, but I have to say that Marco’s easily adaptable vocal pitch reaches that deep soothing tone that Phil’s does. Again, as smooth as anything, the song ends with some crowd participation followed by a funky bass line, finalised with a fast paced, hyped up blowout.
*London date supported also by Circa Never
Photography By Mandy Morello