The same day I received Def Leppard’s Hysteria 30th Anniversary Box Set, I also received this gem, The Winery Dogs ‘Dog Years: Live in Santiago & Beyond 2013-2016’. The Special Edition set includes the Live concert filmed in Santiago, Chile on both Blue-Ray and DVD as well as the concert on 2 CDs. Lastly, you get a bonus EP of Dog Years. I will go through each for you, but I won’t go song-by-song as there are 30 songs in total and I can’t write that much and you would get bored with me repeating how great each song is…mostly.
To avoid typing out all the songs, I will get lazy and show you the back cover of the CD with the song listings.
First off, who are The Winery Dogs? If you have to ask, then you are definitely missing out. On lead vocals, lead guitar and keyboards is the one and only Richie Kotzen. Richie is mostly known for his solo work, but has been in bands briefly such as Poison and Mr. Big where is relationship with another artist started.
That artist would be the bass player, Billy Sheehan. Billy Sheehan is one of the best bass players in the business and a long standing member of Mr. Big. He has also been in Talas, the David Lee Roth Band and the soon to be band Sons of Apollo. The drummer of The Winery Dogs is none other than Mike Portnoy who is also going to be in the new band Sons of Apollo with Billy. Mike was the drummer for the band Dream Theater and too many other projects to mention.
With these three guys on the same stage, you are in for a real treat. The concert footage is on DVD and Blue-Ray. I chose to watch it on Blue-Ray so I could get the best sound and picture and I got that for sure. The concert was filmed in Santiago, Chile back in 2016 and was 1 1/2 hours of pure live bliss. From the opening song, “Oblivion”, you immediately are drawn to the musicianship of these three guys. I am not sure where to begin.
Richie Kotzen is such an amazing guitar player and why he isn’t higher on the list of great guitar players, I do not know. Throughout the show he has some fantastic guitar solos and he plays with such ease. I mean this man makes guitar playing look easy. The sound he creates is stellar and he does it all without using a pick. His fingers move lightening fast and I sat there in awe of his playing.
Not to be outdone, Billy Sheehan plays a bass like it was a lead guitar which explains why with only 3 band members, they are able to produce songs that have so much musically going on. Billy doesn’t make it look as easy as Richie because Billy puts so much emotion and movement into his playing I don’t know how he is still standing by the end of the night. His 4 minute bass solo was amazing and shows his expertise and why I think he is the second lead guitarist of the band.
And Mike on the drums is also effortless. The comfort and knowledge of his drum set, he just flies through the drums and adding so much to the songs, but not really over doing it either. He also is having a blast. He is constantly throwing his drum sticks up and catching them, bouncing them off the stage into the audience, putting them on his cymbals and banging the cymbal causing it fly in the air and catch it. He is standing, he is sitting, he is everywhere. Especially during his drum solo where he is running around the stage hitting everything possible with his drum sticks.
Richie, however, does not have a listed solo in the track listing. He did get to perform the song “Fire” by himself with only an acoustic guitar. Then during the song “The Other Side”, he goes into a blistering solo that is awe inspiring before Billy’s solo kicks in. There was one time during the last song, “Desire”, where he puts the guitar up and behind his head and he rips out a solo. Just a magician on the guitar.
If I had one complaint about the album it would be with the song “Think It Over”. The song came on right after Richie did the song “Fire” which was a slow ballad. “Think it Over” is another slow song and it just seemed to slow down the vibe of the show. Other than that, I really have no complaints about the concert. At 17 tracks, you definitely get your money’s worth and you actually get a show that is worth listening to and watching again and again. I have already listened to it several times on CD in the car to and from work where I can crank it up even louder.
I know I didn’t talk about the songs much because for me it is about the guys behind the songs. They are the magic that makes these songs great and the songs you get in the show are all spectacular. You get 7 songs from their debut album ‘The Winery Dogs’ and 8 songs from “Hot Streak” plus the two listed solos. Their material is so good, they didn’t need to add any covers. Also, on the video you get all the music videos the band has ever done. They have 8 videos in all and it is definitely a nice addition to the set.
The box set also comes with a Bonus EP called Dog Years. It contains 5 tracks which includes there originals, “Criminal”, “The Game” and “Solid Ground”. There are also two covers including Gary Wright’s “Love Is Alive” and David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”. The song “Criminal” and “The Game” are both amazing and typical Winery Dog songs and it is hard to believe they were not included on one of their albums. The guitar solo in “Criminal” is worth it alone. “Solid Ground” is a very different song. Several changes throughout and really doesn’t feel like a Winery Dog song which makes sense it wasn’t included on an album. However, it does have it’s charm. The two covers, are decent enough, but this band is really about their own material and not covers. I could skip them, but I won’t because they are still good…not as good as the originals.
I think you can tell that I really like this set. It is now one of my prized live concerts in my collection. This is definitely worth the money (okay I paid $7 with a coupon and gift card so it is way worth the money) and if you haven’t tried out the band then you definitely need to give it a listen. You will rush out and grab their two studio albums. The band is now on a hiatus to pursue other projects, but the door is still open for future endeavors. This will hold me over for awhile until the return…I hope they do.