REVIEW: THE WINERY DOGS | Phoenix Concert Theatre

winery dogs

WORDS BY: GIANCARLO CORTEZ

PHOTO BY: MICHAEL BLOOM PHOTOGRAPHY

I had the pleasure of attending the Phoenix Concert Theater on August 3rd, where The Winery Dogs completed its world tour in support of their self-titled debut album.

The chapter of Dream Theater with Mike Portnoy has been closed. This is a new beginning for Mike, after a dramatic split with the American band, he co-founded the ever busy drummer and formed multiple bands.

The first band, Adrenaline Mob, a groove metal band with Russell Allen (Symphony X), John Moyer (Disturbed) and guitarist Mike Orlando. The New York native also started a progressive oriented band with Steve Morse, Neil Morse, Dave Larue and Casey Mcpherson called Flying Colours. Lastly, he formed a power trio with Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Dave Lee Roth, Steve Vai, Talas) and Richie Kotzen (ex Mr. Big, Poison) called The Winery Dogs. Well, third time’s a charm, right?

Presented by Black Moon Entertainment, it was my first experience of The Winery Dogs live concert and proved suitably thrilling. Super groups rarely live up to the hype. There have been only a handful of big name collectives that added up to the sum of their parts. However, what makes things work is that these musicians have such  strong identities as individuals and their instrument. The band ripped through a set that is heavy on the band’s debut.

Portnoy brings the intensity audiences have come to expect of the performer. Say what you will about his personal issues, but he sure knows how to handle a crowd like the best of them. The jovial drummer  is one of a kind. He would kick a cymbal off  his riser over and over to entertain the crowd.  His drum tech had no choice but to scramble to put it back.

With only one album under their belt, die hard fans of Billy Sheehan were looking forward to hearing  Billie’s effort “Chameleon” off his first solo album “Compression”.  However the band opted for “Shy Boy”, a song Sheehan made popular with David Lee Roth (Van Halen).

Kotzen proved he’s more than a shredder. He can play fast one minute then do a complete turnaround with a piano and ballad.

I  noticed Richie is playing guitar Jeff Beck style these days  – no use of guitar picks, only fingers throughout the entire show. He sounds more in control of his tone. The power trio has been his format forever. Everytime he makes a record, it’s Richie, a drummer and a bass player.

Towards the end of the shown Mike announced that the band  will be going back into the studio in December to record their next album, which will be released in 2015.  Then he proceeded to throw his kit around! Pieces flying everywhere.Reminiscent of The Who! That was really cool…. Nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned smash up! I can see the Keith Moon influence there.

Looking forward to The Winery Dogs new album. Love them dogs!

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