The Winery Dogs Islington Academy 05-09-13

First up was Atlanta 5 piece The SixxiS who had been asked to do the full European tour with The Winery Dogs.

A heady mix of influences with huge riffs, soft passages ,time changes a plenty, lots of stop start endings, a singer with a huge voice, 2 guitarists happy to riff and solo and a powerhouse drummer.

They say on their site they are influenced by Rush, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and System Of A Down and I could see a bit of all of them.

Singer Vladdy Iskhakov had a huge range and it would be great to see them on a full stage as with 5 of them in a small space not a lot of chance to move.

With that it gave us a chance to listen to the songs and with great music like "Long Ago", "She Only", "Believe" and closer "Snake In The Grass" the crowd reception grew after every song and they left to huge applause.

Great warm up.

Not that the sold out crowd needed warming up for The Winery Dogs.

With 2013's standout cd behind them and with shows already played in Brazil and the US,
since the release of their debut cd in Japan in May the buzz for this latest supergroup has grown and with it's recent release in the US hitting number 27 on the Billboard 200 chart expectation was high.

But with the band consisting of bass legend Billy Sheehan (Mr Big, Talas and Dave Lee Roth amongst others), drumming god Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Transatlantic, Adrenaline Mob, Flying Colors, Avenged Sevenfold) and guitarist extraodinaire Richie Kotzen (Poison,Mr Big) we were never going to be disappointed.

As they came on to a roar that nearly took the roof off and for 100 minutes we were taken to places and musicianship few can match.

Here is what they played:

We Are One
One More Time
Time Machine
Six Feet Deeper
Mike Portnoy drum solo
The Other Side
Billy Sheehan bass solo
You Saved Me
Not Hopeless
Stand (Poison cover) Richie Kotzen solo acoustic
You Can't Save Me (Richie Kotzen song)
Shine (Mr Big song)
I'm No Angel
The Dying 

Encores of 
Fooled Around And Fell In Love (Elvin Bishop cover)

The band slammed into the cd's opening cut "Elevate" like a bulldozer. Bluesy hard rock with so much fire.Loads of bass and drum patterns and a huge chorus and excellent guitar solo.

Like Mr Big, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad put in a blender songs that demand to be heard and should be played loud with the roof down if you can!!

We had all of the debut cd, the excellent Japanese bonus track "Criminal", a Kotzen acoustic Poison song "Stand" (that was sang to the rafters by the crowd) before the band played a Kotzen solo song and then Mr Big's "Shine" from the Actual Size cd co-written by Richie Zito.

You would have expected solo's aplenty but in fact not.At times you needed 3 pairs of eyes to watch all that was going on.The band concentrated on the songs with only a short Portnoy solo and a slightly longer bass solo from Sheehan that again shows what a master of the instrument he is. Seeing him at such close quarters was a joy.He is a one off and the way he plays and so quick is like nothing I've ever seen before.

Portnoy was the cheerleader and appears to be enjoying life again. When I interviewed him last year he said Adrenaline Mob was the future but since the buzz with his latest band this is now his focus. Great to see him and Sheehan adding fills and extra beats to great joy from both of them.Like Sheehan a legend and such a great player with huge energy and expertise.

I've never seen Richie Kotzen before and only know him as someone who played in Poison and Mr Big as a replacement and who had a solo career.He stars on the cd with a soulful voice with a hint of Chris Cornell and exquisite Hendrix style guitar playing. Live he was for me the star of the show and considering who he was playing with that is an incredible thing to say.

He has a quiet stage presence but sings from the heart and when he lights up those strings he makes it sing too.As the gig wore on he seemed to loosen up a bit and enjoy the on stage chemistry with both Sheehan and Portnoy.During his solo acoustic spot on "Stand" he seemed stunned that the crowd were so loud with him.

Highlights all of it! They mix it up with the slower pace of "Damaged", have rock radio appeal with "The Other Side", the anthemic "We Are One" and the power ballad "I'm No Angel" .

Every song has musicality as expected and some wonderful backing vocals that bring Van Halen's Michael Anthony to mind.

Finishing with the lounge band "Regret" that also finishes the cd before a swift return for an encore cover of "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" .

Last song "Desire" hits hard with its huge hard rock chorus and is a great way too end the show with all the band showing us their chops.

They promise to be back soon and we can only hope that this band give us more music and live shows as there aren't many bands on the planet who are this good.


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