The Winery Dogs –The Newton Theatre – Newton, NJ – 2/27/23
Review & Photos – Rebecca Wolf
Devoted fans of The Winery Dogs know these musicians can rock…they can bring the house down. So, the heavy wet snow falling on Northwest NJ on 2/27/23 did not prevent audience members from packing The Newton Theatre to see the powerful super trio of guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big), bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, David Lee Roth, Talas) and drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). Individually, these musicians each possess incredibly dynamic musical creativity and skills. However, since coming together as a band and releasing their self-titled debut album in 2013, followed by a Billboard-charting album Hot Streak in 2015, The Winery Dogs have become a musical force to be reckoned with.
To the delight of their fans, who’d been waiting more than seven years, The Winery Dogs just released their third album, aptly titled III. This album continues to demonstrate the extraordinary musicianship of all three artists, including Kotzen’s impassioned vocals. Their remarkable talents, skills and collective power were on display at The Newton Theatre from the first notes of the show’s opening number “Gaslight” followed by “Xanadu,” both from the band’s new album. While III had just been released four weeks prior, it appeared the devotees in the crowd had been listening to it on repeat, as many were singing along, despite the incredible volume of the performance. The reverberations of the speakers close to the stage felt so loud during some moments I was surprised the theatre did not shake. However, this was apparently nothing new to these fans of The Winery Dogs.
No matter where you looked on stage there was something musically eye-catching. Usually a bass player hangs towards the back, and helps keep rhythm for the band. However, that’s not Sheehan, who performed an incredible solo that showcased not only his unbelievable mastery of the bass but the powerful possibilities of what this instrument can do. At centerstage, often framed by exploding billows of smoke, Portnoy played thunderous drumbeats and precise, rhythmic notes, while Kotzen displayed his blazing fretwork and dynamic vocal range. The hour and a half set additionally included “Mad World,” “The Red Wine, “Breakthrough” and “Stars,” from their new album, as well as a mixture of numbers from both prior albums, that had the audience fully enthralled from the very first powerfully electrifying hard rock note to the very last. If you are a lover of hard rock music, performed by extraordinarily skilled musicians, layered with the talents of a dynamic lead singer, you should check out The Winery Dogs’ newest release III, and make your way to a live performance.