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Last In Line / Sweet Savage Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     January 14, 2014    
 
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Last In Line / Sweet Savage - Cathouse, Glasgow (UK) - 9th August 2013

It is no secret that guitarist Vivian Campbell and the late great Ronnie James Dio never quite saw eye to eye following the departure of the now Def Leppard guitarist from the Dio ranks way back in 1986. Therefore many long term fans of the unparalleled singer saw this four date club tour revisiting the 'Holy Diver', 'The Last In Line' and 'Sacred Heart' albums as the ex-Dio man's final insult. In fairness to VC, the eagerness of his ex-band-mates Vinny Appice (drums), Jimmy Bain (bass) and Claude Schnell (keyboards) to join him on stage to celebrate their time together, tells another story. That said, the guitarist's assertions that the Dio estate endorsed Dio Disciples "are nothing short of a bar-band" (they feature other Dio band alumni Scott Warren, Simon Wright and Craig Goldy alongside the likes of Oni Logan (Lynch Mob) and Tim "Ripper" Owens (Judas Priest)), certainly hasn't doused the flames of controversy...

In a nice touch of reconnecting with his history, Campbell's first band Sweet Savage opened tonight's show, with the outfit fronted by bassist/singer Ray Haller ripping through a captivating set consisting of fiery tracks from their most recent 'Regeneration' album; 'Powder Monkey' and 'Warbird' being most memorable. That was followed by the "made famous by Metallica" 'Killing Time', before closing with a ballsy rendition of the classic 'Whiskey In The Jar'. New friends made, merchandise sold, crowd thoroughly warmed up, job done.

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On a personal level the opportunity to witness musicians of the calibre to have been associated with Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Leppard and of course Dio, in a hall about four times the size of my living room, was simply too good to pass up  no matter the politics. In short it turned out to be an inspired decision. Key to the unmitigated success  a success the ever-shockingly poor PA in the Cathouse couldn't even scupper  was the clever choice of singer to front Last In Line, Andy Freeman (also ex-Lynch Mob) giving a performance where his unbridled enthusiasm and delight at singing these songs immediately endeared him to a healthy, if not sold out audience (disproving any theories of this being a money making cash-in). Wisely, the stocky vocalist in no way attempted to ape one of the most recognisable and loved voices Metal has ever heard, instead staying true to the original melody lines, while adding a smidge of his own personality. Campbell himself appeared with (due to his recently publicised chemotherapy treatment after being diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma) a completely bare bonce, but his ear to ear grin and supreme guitar pyrotechnics marked him out as being in top form, while the energy from Appice behind the kit was a joy to witness. Add to that the ever bent double bass-master Bain and keyboard-maestro Schnell and his unfeasibly tall bouffant not looking a hair out of place since he parted with Dio in '89, and Last In Line gave these songs a fresh lease of life. Classics such as 'Stand Up And Shout', 'King Of Rock And Roll', 'Don't Talk To Strangers', 'Holy Diver', 'We Rock', which was dedicated to Ronnie himself, 'Rainbow In The Dark' and of course, 'The Last In Line', blurring past in amazing style, leaving the crowd sweating, breathless and euphoric.

If this proves to be a one off, four date tour, those who attended witnessed something really rather special that will be never forgotten. Messer's Campbell, Appice, Bain, Schnell (and Freeman) returned, saw and conquered.

Steven Reid

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