Mike Portnoy announces to the crowd that The Winery Dogs don’t often play outside of the main cities of London/Manchester, so the Bristol fans wasted no opportunity to sign up for something special and – although not a sell out – it was relatively jammed tonight.
Opening up tonight and every night on this European jaunt is Inglorious. With their debut album not even released for a couple of weeks, grabbing a slot like this is a major coup for the band and one they are going to take full advantage of.
With the now unmistakable riff of first single ‘Until I Die’, (a mainstay on rock radio the last couple of months) and with powerhouse frontman Nathan James screaming “Bristol … make some noise!” the band explode into action. Nathan sometimes just a mass of headbanging blonde hair appears effortless in delivering vocals that could seriously strip paint off the walls of the Academy. ‘Breakaway’ swiftly follows before a welcome surprise cover of Rainbow’s ‘I Surrender’.
With a 50 minute set, Inglorious get a chance to play a fair bulk of their debut album, ‘High Flying Gypsy’, with a nod to the opening of Zeppelins’ Kashmir going down a storm. The songs certainly do belong in the live arena, almost taking on another dimension with the thunder being laid down by the rhythm section of Colin Parkinson and Phil Beaver.
The guitar pairing of Billy Taylor with Swede Andreas Erikson blend well together, none more so than during ‘Warning’, a ferocious track that speeds along at a blistering pace. ‘Girl Goodbye’, the Toto song, emphasises that Nathan isn’t the only singer in the band and all five members lay on an impressive backing vocal display almost putting the original to shame.
Inglorious are being touted as the future of British Rock, a huge label to bestow on a band, however, having seen them live twice, and hearing the album, I can safely say they are one of the more exciting prospects we have had in years and Bristol certainly agreed.
With a mix of Mr Big and Dream Theater T shirts around the venue, The Winery Dogs are also a muso’s band, even Geoff Downes (Asia) was in attendance.
The ‘Double Down’ tour is in support of the second album and they open an electrifying set with ‘Oblivion’ followed by ‘Captain Love’, firing on all cylinders from the off, a kaleidescope of light and colour from an otherwise bare stage.
Winery Dogs don’t need gimmicks, it is all about the music. With Richie Kotzen, they have a double barrelled shotgun of a frontman with his unique vocal range and, as a friend mentioned to me, he could probably sing most genres of music successfully.
Just as impressive and what I remember him for mainly back in the day, is his prowess with a guitar, reeling off fiery licks and blistering solos, and with no pick may I add.
With the energy levels in the venue building through every song, it was a welcome time for Richie to slow things down with his solo spot, just him on his acoustic guitar, melting into the mellow ‘Fire’, the crowd cheering or singing along throughout, and taking to the small keyboard during the next song ‘Think It Over’ with both songs giving him a chance to showcase the wonderfully soulful voice he possesses.
Richie in the past was a vastly underated singer and guitarist when with the likes of Poison however, with The Winery Dogs he has the perfect vehicle to display his full range.
By the time ‘Hot Streak’ and ‘How Long’ have been aired most people in the crowd are either playing their air guitar along to Kotzen or Sheehan or standing open mouthed. With musicians of this calibre, obviously you are going to get their respective solos, and a few years ago I would have run to the bar at the sound of a bass solo. With Billy Sheehan you show respect and for nearly ten minutes Billy coaxed some other-wordly sounds and had everyone in the palm of his hand for the duration.
Not to be outdone Mike Portnoy took his drum solo to another place, literally, jumping down off the riser during ‘The Other Side’ to play the bass drum with his sticks and from there to the front of the stage, anything in the way became part of his solo; the stage floor, the riser, the mike stand, the crowd barrier, even Billy’s bass itself, and while it was quite short and sweet, it was never less than entertaining,
Mike is definitely the most visual member on stage, twirling sticks and gesturing to individuals in the crowd and encouraging them to feel a part of what is going down on stage.
Wrapping up their main set with ‘I’m No Angel’ and ‘Elevate’ and returning for an extended encore of ‘Regret’ and the monster ‘Desire’, was another magical moment that had the band and the crowd coming together as a whole to belt out the chorus and redifining the true meaning of the word supergroup.
Review and photos by Darren Griffiths
Oblivion / Captain Love / We Are One / Hot Streak / How Long / Time Machine / Empire / Fire / Think It Over / Drum Solo / The Other Side / Bass Solo / Ghost Town / I’m No Angel / Elevate Encores: Regret/Desire .
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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