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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

The Winery Dogs

Live in Houston, Texas, March 2023

Review by Greg Olma

The Winery Dogs are back, and I couldn’t be more excited.  It has been almost eight years since I saw them on stage, and I was lucky to catch them on this your for their latest release III.  This was also my first time seeing them in Texas, as the previous times were in the Chicagoland area.  I was curious to see if the crowd reaction would be just as welcoming as in Illinois, and moving just proved to me that rock and metal fans are universal.  The Winery Dogs were greeted with a hero’s welcome and we lapped up (see what I did there) every note from start to finish. 

The band started the performance with a couple of new tunes, namely “Gaslight” and first hit “Xanadu."  Right off the bat, you could hear the chemistry between the three musicians up on stage.  The interplay between them and seeing them enjoying themselves only makes the material that much more enjoyable.  They continued with “Captain Love” and “Hot Streak” off of the Hot Streak record.  I realize that now that they have three discs worth of material, they will have to omit some songs, but I was surprised that they only played a few off this album with only the two already mentioned and “Oblivion” later in the set.  Either way, they did pick the best tracks off that album (which happen to be the first three) and they played them perfectly.  The majority of the set was culled from their debut and seemed to get a slightly elevated response from the packed house.  Songs like “Desire," “Time Machine” and “Damaged” all sounded fresh even though they were a decade old and, while the studio versions are great, these tunes were made for the stage, and they performed them with additional nuances added to make them special. 

Greg Olma
Greg Olma
Greg Olma

All three members are masters at their respective instruments but only Billy Sheehan was given a solo spot after performing “The Other Side." One thing that was special about that night was that it was Sheehan’s birthday so after his solo, his bandmates, Mike Portnoy and Richie Kotzen, brought out a cake and the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him.  It is hard to believe that he is seventy years old by watching his performance as he was out there strutting and playing like someone half his age.  After the brief deviation from the set list, Sheehan switched his bass for a new translucent red model that helped usher in “The Red Wine." It was the perfect look for this new tune that is a standout on III.  They ended the set with “I’m No Angel” and the previously mentioned “Oblivion."  There was no way that the crowd was going to let The Winery Dogs leave before giving us a couple of more songs, and the band graciously obliged by delving back to the start and playing the first and last tracks off the debut.  “Regret” showcased Kotzen’s piano playing skills along with his incredible soulful vocals.  Until I saw The Winery Dogs, I had no idea that he was this great of a singer.  They concluded the show with a rockin’ version of “Elevate.” and after the last note faded, the smiles on their faces proved they were having as good a time as we all were.  I can not stress highly enough that The Winery Dogs is a band that you have to see on stage, and if you miss them, then you are missing one of the best live acts out there.  My only hope is that they don’t take another hiatus and make us all wait another eight years for a record and tour. 

Greg Olma
Greg Olma
Greg Olma
This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 3 More information and purchase links can be found at:
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