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Kevin Sawatzky
JOYNER (BMW Specialist)

80’s Metal/Hair Bands

 
In 2016, former DIO guitarist Vivian Campbell was quoted as saying that DIO DISCIPLES, a band made up of former members of DIO, along with a rotating lineup of singers, including former Judas Priest frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens, have “zero credibility” as a Ronnie James Dio tribute project despite the fact that the band is fully supported by Ronnie’s widow/manager, Wendy.
 
Campbell had his own DIO tribute in LAST IN LINE, that band featured original DIO drummer Vinny Appice and bassist Jimmy Bain, who passed away in January 2016, alongside singer Andrew Freeman. Since then Campbell continues to play with Def Leppard and Appice, who called the formation of DIO DISCIPLES “disgusting” in 2011, performed with them just two years later, saying “it’s not disgusting anymore.’ The problem was they did it a couple of months after Ronnie passed, and then I thought it was awful; it wasn’t the right time. Now they can do whatever they want; it’s cool.”
 

I had a chance to see DIO DISCIPLES recently in Portland (March 22, 2018 at Dante’s). Following two opening bands, they took the stage around 10:45pm and opened with “Holy Diver.”
 

Guitarist Craig Goldy played great but was pretty sedentary on his side of the stage, and much of the night had a scowl on his face LOL. Although he did come out just minutes after the show ended and autographed my friend’s shirt that features various guitar player autographs. Goldy also did the selfies with fans and was “a cool dude”… just didn’t come across on stage.
 

Tim “Ripper” Owens on vocals was spot on, sounded great and was totally respectful of the material. He seemed grateful to the crowd for being there. He really shined on “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”, “Stand Up and Shout” and “The Last In Line”.
 

They did a mini Rainbow set mid show with a song that “Ripper” said Glenn Hughes sung at Ronnie’s funeral, “Catch the Rainbow”, then “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Man on the Silver Mountain”, which was played much closer to the original in tempo and guitar tone than when the DIO band with Vivian Campbell played it back in the day, which was more aggressive. Former Yngwie Malmsteen bassist Bjorn Englen and former AC/DC and DIO drummer Simon Wright were a good rhythm section. Former DIO and Heaven & Hell keyboardist Scott Warren also played with DIO Disciples on this night.
 


In short, great performances but waaaaay too much material to do just an hour, no matter if it’s a school night on a Thursday. They played for an hour and five minutes, that’s including an encore which was “Rainbow In the Dark” – Click Here for full setlist. I guess I get it if you charge $20 that you don’t feel you need to play long. Would DIO himself have handled it this way? My hunch if you look at the last couple of solo club tours he did, the answer would be no. He probably played a full set, no matter what the ticket price. Ahhhhh, rock and roll economics for 2018 🙁
 
NOTES: The full show started a bit before 9pm. Splintered Thorne went first and was really good… some Saxon like vocals with metal growling every so often and some melodic choruses too. They have two CDs out and with a struggling local metal scene in Portland, they’re worth a listen. The second band, Separation of Sanity, were more metal with tempo changes and Pantera like vocals and solos.
 
Photos courtesy of Mike Koreski.
 

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Remember Y & T? I asked a few of my friends who like or appreciated 80’s rock and metal and I was floored how many had never heard of them, especially when you consider many of the biggest acts to come out of the 80’s became popular by opening for Y & T, including Metallica and Mötley Crüe.
 
Well, it’s their loss. I remember it all and so do the many bands and performers you have heard of that say Y & T was a major influence on them, such as Lars Ulrich of Metallica, who stated in the 2009 film “Anvil!: The Story of Anvil” that he chose to become a musician after watching Yesterday & Today (Y & T) perform at a club in L.A. in 1980, saying: “That was the turning point for me wanting to play music…You could tell that they loved what they were doing.” And judging by their performance at the intimate Aladdin Theatre (capacity -620) in Portland, Oregon on Friday, March 16, 2018, they still do.
 
Y & T Portland Oregon 3-16-18
 
The band has gone through many lineup changes since the early 70’s, with the lone mainstay from their classic lineup being lead guitarist and singer Dave Meniketti. Sadly former Y & T rhythm guitarist Joey Alves died last year, original drummer Leonard Haze passed away in 2016 and bassist Phil Kennemore died in 2011. I thought about this as Y & T performed “Lonely Side of Town” from the Mean Streak album… “It’s a cold, cold city when you’re out there on your own.”
 
Y & T Portland Oregon 3-16-18
 
Backing up Meniketti in Y & T today is rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist John Nymann, bassist Aaron Leigh and drummer Mike Vanderhule. These guys made me think of the Netflex documentary ‘Hired Gun’… they are consummate side players who kill it show after show.
 
Y & T Portland Oregon 3-16-18
Y & T Portland Oregon 3-16-18
 
When you are the sole remaining member of a classic band, most of the attention will come your way and Meniketti didn’t disappoint. At age 64, experience matters and his underrated guitar solos rival the greats who have received most of the accolades from that period of music.
 
Y & T Portland Oregon 3-16-18
 
The setlist for Portland included opening with “Black Tiger” and METAL SHOP staples “Mean Streak,” “Lipstick & Leather,” and “Contagious.” Checking Setlist.fm, Y & T has mixed it up on this tour, taking requests from the audience that has left some favorite songs out, including “Don’t Stop Runnin'” which they had played only once this year before this show. The bummer was “Midnight In Tokyo” was left out for us.
 
Y & T Portland Oregon 3-16-18
 
My cohorts and me left the Y & T show impressed and a bit perplexed this band didn’t receive more widespread acclaim back in the day. It was a great performance by seasoned musicians and left us wanting more.
 
Y & T returns to their hometown San Francisco, California to play the historic Fillmore on March 24th, then a short break before returning to the road for dates in California and Nevada through the end of April.
 
Photos courtesy of Mike Koreski.

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