Live Review: The Winery Dogs - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton
16th June 2023
Support: Jared James Nichols
Words & Photos: Damian John
The Winery Dogs having formed in 2012 and fresh off the back of their third studio release appropriately named 'III', have made the journey to KK's Steel Mill Wolverhampton for a night of solid hard rock. In case you hadn't heard, The Winery Dogs are a supergroup featuring Billy Sheehan on bass, percussion handled by Mike Portnoy leaving lead vocals and guitar duties comfortably in the hands of Richie Kotzen. With a CV as strong as theirs, having been in bands such as Poison, Mr Big and Dream Theater we know we've got a great night ahead of us.
Jared James Nichols has the honour of being the only support act of the evening, the American blues-rock guitarist powers through a combo of bangers starting with ‘Easy Come, Easy Go, ‘Down The Drain; into ‘Hardwired’. How’s that for an introduction! There was no shortage of blues driven guitar solos with Jared’s gold Les Paul held high into the air with nothing but admiration from a packed out KK’s Steel Mill. Excitement hit its fever pitch with their final song; a medley of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Mississippi Queen’, you can always guarantee a Sabbath cover will always go down well in the Midlands. Jared and his cohorts never fail to put on an amazing heartfelt show exploding with energy but all good things must come to an end as we make way for our headliners of the evening; The Winery Dogs.
The stage seems awfully close tonight as the audience have been moved forward so that The Winery Dogs can be as close to their audience as possible. Emerging from the shadows Richie Kotzen walks on stage and simply radiates cool, followed by the wildman Mike Portnoy and bass virtuoso Billy Sheenhan they kick off into ‘Gaslight’ promptly followed by ‘Xanadu’ and ‘Captain Love’. Mike stands up from the kit shouting to the audience, getting the energy flowing as Billy shreds making it all look so easy. Air cannons fire during ‘Captain Love’ keeping our eyes locked to the stage bouncing between the three icons.
The Winery Dogs deliver all of their classics ending their set with wholehearted ‘I’m No Angel’ and more frantic ‘Oblivion’ with its technical passages highlighting the insane level of musical ability this trio possesses. That being said, we’re still missing two fan favourites; The Winery Dogs make their way back onstage for the encore and their final two songs, both tracks from their 2013 self-titled album. ‘Regret’ is a welcome change of pace to ‘Oblivion’ with its restrained verse and chorus allowing the songwriting to really come through, Richie Kotzen seated at his keyboard allowing his soulful voice to drift throughout the venue.
Closing with possibly their most well known song, Richie’s guitar sounds massive as the first riff of ‘Elevate’ rings out backed by Billy’s monstrous bass and the intense pounding of Mike’s drums. It’s mind blowing how Richie manages to play so well while still being able to sing so perfectly but just like that their set comes to an end leaving many smiling faces. The Winery Dogs truly blew the roof off KK’s Steel Mill but what do you expect from such legends, they nailed it.