Sometimes common sense is overturned. That happened on this night. When three ones come together, they can be four, five or even six.
The Winery Dogs, a powerhouse trio finished their “202III” World Tour at Line Cube Shibuya in Tokyo on Friday night. The band was formed in USA in 2012, and they have returned with a bang after a seven-year hiatus, presenting their latest album, III. The show was completely sold out and the house was packed to the third floor, exuded simplicity, with only the band’s logo as a backdrop. No frills were needed; the three virtuosic musicians promised a luxurious experience with their music alone. The Winery Dogs, often referred to as the power trio, unleashed an unparalleled display of musicianship. Comprising Richie Kotzen‘s soulful vocals and electrifying guitar, Billy Sheehan‘s legendary bass, and Mike Portnoy‘s dynamic drumming, the trio set the stage ablaze with their fusion of rock, blues, prog, and more.
The show kicked off with the explosive “Gaslight” and “Xanadu” from the latest album III, seamlessly transitioning into “Captain Love” and “Hot Streak” off the second album Hot Streak (2015). The audience, captivated by the band’s incredible chemistry, was treated to a sonic journey that defied conventional expectations. Richie Kotzen’s husky and rich voice, complemented by his masterful guitar work, left the audience in awe. From his fingerpicking finesse to soulful vocal delivery, Kotzen’s stage presence elevated the concert experience. The camaraderie between the three musicians was palpable, showcasing a relaxed yet skilled performance.
Their setlist strictly consisted of the group’s three albums, despite the fact that each member has his own great projects. This made me feel that they were concentrating on this band. The improvisational moments highlighted the trio’s pure magic, proving not only technical prowess but also a good balance and spontaneity. Needless to say, Mike’s drumming was indeed superb, with a great sense of style. Especially I loved the part where the various cymbals came in, and all were very dynamic and comfortable at the same time. The power and groove were amazing and cool as ever. I was glued to his drumming for a long time.
My favorite part of the night was Billy’s jaw-dropping bass solo, which was full of innovative skills and ideas. I have never seen such an amazing bass solo. I had no idea that a single bass instrument could create so many various and beautiful tones. This bass show alone might be worth the price of coming to see this concert.
Closing the main set with the furious track “Oblivion” from Hot Streak, which is my favorite, the band returned for an encore. Richie sat at the keyboard and played the sweet ballad “Regret” off their self-titled debut album The Winery Dogs (2013), brought emotional depth, and the powerful tune “Elevate” inspired the audience to sing along. As the final notes resonated, The Winery Dogs bid adieu to their “202III” World Tour. After the toss of a towel by Mike and the last group photo with the audience on their back, I was deeply grateful for this opportunity once again. Experiencing this extraordinary live performance was a privilege.
Best, excellent, or prime cut – regardless of the label, The Winery Dogs shattered preconceptions and reshaped musical norms. As the final chord reverberated, it was evident that witnessing these three musicians brought together didn’t get any better.
If I ever see this band again, it will take three times. No, four times. One more time for each member. And I want to see the whole band again. As the echoes of 95 shows across the globe fade away, the longing for another glimpse of this extraordinary trio lingers.
Mike Portnoy – Drums/Backing Vocals
Billy Sheehan – Bass/ Backing Vocals
Richie Kotzen – Guitars/Keyboards/Lead Vocals
3. Captain Love
4. Hot Streak
6. Mad World
9. Drum Solo
10. The Other Side
11. Bass Solo
12. The Red Wine
13. I’m No Angel
Follow The Winery Dogs Online:
Aki is a published and award-winning concert photographer based in Tokyo, Japan. Her musical preferences are deeply rooted in the 70s. However, she also loves to see and capture new bands. You can find her work in magazines, newspapers, online and galleries.