DON'T CALL IT A TRIBUTE
They've been here for years
If you were to categorize or label where the Last In Line falls as a band playing DIO songs, TRIBUTE would be the Last in Line of words you would use.
With two original songwriters in the band, current projects written with current members, you call it a LEGACY band!
Get the details with Cathy in her review and interview below.
As I began researching how and why original Dio members and co-writers, Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice, and Jimmy Bain, first got together for a jam session, I began to understand a lot more about the history of these players and the pivotal roles they each played in the original Dio albums. There’s no need to rehash the past, we all know the many stories out there about the conflicts in the group, but I can say with all certainty that without these guys, Dio would not have been the historic band it was. Add to that the decision to bring Andrew Freemen in as lead vocalist, and what started out as a jam session, turned into much more, as audiences embraced this passion project, not just for the original hits, but for the new chemistry and sound that culminated with Andrew’s unique talents added to the mix. Sadly, just as Last in Line was finding this identity, Jimmy Bain passed away. But, the group forged on, adding Phil Soussan on bass, and Erik Norlander on keys, both brilliant choices.
With that being said, these guys have put the stories behind them and are moving forward with perhaps a wiser outlook that comes with time, and a desire to not only embrace and share their history and the great music they helped create, but to also create new music and a new identity that is completely unique to this band. That’s the key point; they are doing it with a lineup that far exceeded any expectations I had. In fact, I was blown away by their show.
Keep this in mind, none of these players NEED to do this. Vivian Campbell is playing plenty of arenas with Def Leppard, Andrew Freeman is heading up the wildly popular Raiding the Vault act in Vegas, as well as lending vocals to multiple other bands, Phil Soussan is a secret weapon for many different artists and also playing in the Vault, Erik Norlander is incredible on keys, a hard role to fill, which many bands are always seeking, and Vinny Appice is, well, he’s Vinny Appice, what more do you need to say???? He’s a legend on drums with his own show and projects, and one of the best in the biz. So, when these guys get on stage, they are doing this purely out of passion for the music and an artists’ drive to continue to create and evolve, which is exactly what this lineup has done.
When the band took the stage, the performance was spot on, and the energy they played with was palpable. Watching Vivian on stage, you can SEE how much fun he is having living in the moment. In Def Leppard, he is a fantastic guitar duo with Phil Collen and he contributes a great deal to the Def Leppard catalogue, but in Last in Line, he gets to explore the roots of his own music, and the freedom of playing his instrument in more creative ways that are not limited to someone else’s sound, and you can feel and HEAR the freedom and thrill he gets in that. His riffs are so good it sends chills up your spine. Meanwhile, Vinnie holds the whole thing down with his commanding drum attack which you can’t help but watch, while clearly also having a great deal of fun with the same chemistry that made these two so fantastic together in the first place. These guys make it look so easy.
But here’s what surprised me the most as I interviewed these guys and watched their show. While there’s no doubt that it’s great to see Vivian and Vinny back in the saddle doing some of their original Dio music, its the addition of the incredible on-stage presence and energy of Andrew, and the stealth contribution of Phil’s talents that really won not only me, but the entire audience over in a way I wasn’t expecting. Let’s face it, Dio fans can be tough – they have a certain expectation and a touch of cynicism. But I watched people’s attitudes change as the performance unfolded because you couldn’t deny the incredible sound, stage presence and chemistry that clearly has made Last in Line take off on its own merits. Andrew Freeman is not trying to be Ronnie James, and he doesn’t need to be – he is his own man, doing his own thing, and while he has the vocal chops to easily sing the notes of Dio, he has his own vocal flavor that is quite frankly, kickass sounding. When you factor in the obvious charisma and likeable personality that he oozes the second you meet him, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who can say something negative about what he brings to this band.
In my interview, these guys were as fun and charismatic off stage as they were when they were performing. They genuinely enjoy what they are doing, and they have a great attitude and insight about it, not to mention they’re just nice guys – very open and gracious. I didn’t get to talk to Vivian, which I understand, but I have to say I’m glad that Phil stepped in, because he turned out to be one of the most engaging and interesting subjects both in the interview and after the show.
As I left the venue at the end of the night, feeling energized and excited from such a great night of music, all I was thinking was that I am glad I was there to witness both the legendary skills of Vivian and Vinny together, but also the highly underrated talents of the rest of this band, and to meet them in person. As they continue to tour, I think more people will realize what this act is really about, and how good they are, not just singing the known hits, but their new music. Just listen to their album, Heavy Crown, with killer cuts like “Devil in Me” and and “Starmaker,” and you’ll see what I mean. The songs and material stand up to the best of em’……you can check out more at Lastinlineofficial.com…
by Cathy Rankin
May 27, 2018
When I heard Last in Line was coming, I’ll admit, like some critics, I thought this was primarily a Dio Tribute act. Not that there’s anything wrong with tribute bands, but I wasn’t expecting to hear more than the music of Dio and the hits we all loved. But, let me be very clear, after seeing them live, I can assure you, this is NOT a tribute band, and I am the first to admit I was completely mistaken!