Review by Woody
I was unaware who tonight’s support act was and it wasn’t until after their performance I managed to discover who they were. I’m sort of glad this is how it worked out, as I was really impressed and thoroughly enjoyed Voodoo Six but I hadn’t given the band much thought in the past as the way they were described and marketed made me think they wouldn’t be my sort of rock. I always love it when an unknown or new band wins you over in a live setting! They had a fair few loyal and vocal supporters here tonight, which the band as a whole fed off.
The Slade Rooms doesn’t have a very large stage and with Mike Portnoy’s small drum kit (which he said it was!) dominating most of it, it didn’t leave much room for this energetic bunch to truly get in the swing of their physical performance. Lead singer Luke Purdie did apologise as he balanced on the ledge of the stage about his lack of movement, although I think the music did the talking for them tonight and for those who weren’t already fans – which it was obvious a large chunk were – they were quickly converted.
There are more modern classic rock bands knocking around at the moment than any other genre, and it feels to me and the vast majority of them are piss poor. So I can tend to be very dismissive of many new acts finding them one dimensional and uninspiring. Voodoo Six on the other hand impressed me from their opening song to the set closer, their brand of robust and muscular guitar riff driven rock n roll hit all the right marks with me but it was their strong sense of melody that shone through and made them more distinct and enjoyable for me. They are definitely an act I’ll be keeping an eye on in the future.
Fresh from appearing at this year’s Sonisphere Festival, Winery Dogs play two special UK club shows; the first here in Wolverhampton before hitting London the following evening. This exclusivity helped sell out tonight’s show out at The Slade Rooms, and it was great to see a hot and sweaty packed room for the Dogs. Given the intimacy of The Slade Rooms because of its lay out and small stage a full house can create a fantastic buzz and that’s exactly what we got this evening. Portnoy even pointing out he’s never played a gig where he is so close to the front row and it was a good job he’d brought his small kit with him!
This super group power trio already have a loyal fan base due to each individuals other bands and projects, but the Winery Dogs as a collective very much have their own identity and the crowd tonight are treated to virtually every track from their debut album. The set list was well paced and managed to keep us all wrapped up in their music – even though they drifted frequently into solos and indulgent ad-libs it never affected the pace and atmosphere of the show. Normally I greet drum and bass solos with big yawns and a strong feeling to pop to the bogs, but tonight’s crowd absolutely soaked up all the musical indulgences the band gave them and loved it.
Portnoy may be the drummer but he probably had the strongest stage presence here, he and his drum kit was centre stage as he literally beat the shit out of it and even during one of his solos wandered the stage and crowd hitting anything he could which was greeted by cheers and smiles from the crowd. Bass player Sheehan has such a distinctive bass sound it’s hard not to think of his time with Mr Big whenever you hear him play. The rhythm section tonight is loud and brash and the crowd soak it up with fervour.
Vocalist and guitarist Richie Kotzen is the heart and soul of the music though and his quiet and subtle stage presence oozes passion and emotion. Sadly his vocals were a little low in the mix tonight so we didn’t hear him as well as I would have liked, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment as the atmosphere and energy the band created was electric. But when Kotzen’s vocals were more audible his vocals really stirred you especially on the ballads and slower paced songs. This was probably most evident when he did his solo piece ‘High’.
My personal highlight probably came when Sheehan’s bass solo morphed into the bass riff to ‘You Saved Me’ and that song as a whole was a really magic moment and following it up with my favourite Dogs tune ‘Not Hopeless’ made it really memorable. I think kick starting with the hook laden ‘Elevate’ really captured the crowd. Songs like ‘I’m No Angel’, ‘We Are One’ and ‘Desire’ really seemed to grab the audiences applause, but to be fair, every song was greeted with appreciation. They finished with a cover of the rambunctious Talas track ‘Shy Boy’ which saw Portnoy and Sheehan going nuts!
A fabulous evening and I’m sure those who’d travelled a long way for tonight’s show were not disappointed in the slightest! Here’s hoping the Dogs are here for good and hit us up with even more live shows in the future!