||THE WINERY DOGS/Inglorious
O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London
31st January 2016
Liz Medhurst: Photos by Anthony May
“All of the bands we love and were inspired by came from the UK, which is why we love playing here” declared Mike Portnoy during tonight's stunning performance, and it was clear that this London audience was equally delighted to host The Winery Dogs.
The band released their second album 'Hot Streak' in October 2015 cementing their status as pretty hot stuff. Even though the members put out material with other bands and solo, this second album and tour firmly gives them band status in my eyes, not project.
I hadn't seen the trio since 2014's Sonisphere and I was seriously impressed then – even more so tonight as I witnessed a masterclass in everything that is good about a rock gig.
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But first up were Inglorious, the young British/Swedish rockers who are poised to take the rock world by storm with the release of their self-titled debut album later this month.
Inglorious burst on to the stage with album opener 'Until I Die' and in forty five minutes presented a pretty much faultless set of hard rock future classics. There were a couple of well chosen covers (Rainbow's 'I Surrender' and Toto's 'Girl Goodbye') but their brilliantly executed original songs were better, generating a real sense of excitement.
Nathan James - Inglorious
This extremely well-received support slot was headline-quality and promises that the album launch UK headline tour starting on 21st February is going to be unmissable. In the meantime have a read of the album review here and watch our exclusive video interview here.
So after being more than sufficiently warmed up, The Winery Dogs showed they meant business from the start, opening with the heavy, hook-laden 'Oblivion'.
After 'Captain Love' I did wonder if 'Hot Streak' was going to be played in full but the next track was 'We Are One' from the debut album, and overall it was a balanced set from their material.
And what material it is. It's certainly Prog influenced, but thankfully with no overblown, extended farting about, merely its presence made known in the textures, the changes in tempo and style and the overall technical mastery.
There's also traces of blues and funk but make no mistake – this is a rock band and they know how to put on a show with perfect pace and movement.
Each member of the trio had a chance to shine individually. For the solo slots first Richie Kotzen treated us to an acoustic version of 'Fire', then later on Mike Portnoy's drum solo was kept mercifully short. I say this as someone who loathes drum solos, absolutely no reflection on Portnoy who is truly outstanding and one of my all-time favourites. It just shows that there's no need to overegg things.
Billy Sheehan's bass slot had that otherworldly jaw-dropping quality where you aren't sure exactly what you are seeing and hearing even though you are prepared for this sort of wizardry. I truly had no idea how he did pieces of this, maybe it really was magic.
Virtuosity is apparent not just in the solos, but throughout as the compatibility and affinity between the trio is magnetic. They fit together so well – something that can't be automatically assumed. It's like sandwich fillings - just because you have three amazing ingredients it doesn't follow that they will be delicious together. Chicken, banana and mango chutney is fabulous. Prawn, olive and mustard is rank.
Fortunately there were no issues whatsoever with how anything was put together tonight. It's clear that The Winery Dogs' sound has evolved into intelligent mature rock that isn't the least bit up itself or boring but blasts with scorching energy.
There was layer upon layer of style whether in the melodic with dark undertow vibe of 'I'm No Angel', the funky groove of 'Ghost Town', the frantic guitar work of the aforementioned 'Oblivion' – in fact pick any song you like, they were all great.
Mike Portnoy in his role as frontman, added to the atmosphere by being warm, engaging and exuding the sort of energy that comes from doing what you are born to do and excelling at it. This left Kotzen to dazzle with his guitar, keyboard and vocal skills, clearly one of the greats of our time.
Portnoy, Kotzen and Sheehan kept the emotions high for the encores starting with a heartfelt tribute to Bowie and a rendition of one of my favourite tracks 'Moonage Daydream'.
Tonight was memorable for all the right reasons. From the choice of support act to the closing notes of 'Desire' not a single foot was put wrong. Come back to the UK soon Winery Dogs, you are always welcome here.
We Are One
Fire (Richie Kotzen acoustic solo)
Think it Over
Mike Portnoy Drum Solo
The Other Side
Billy Sheehan Bass Solo
I'm No Angel