Last In Line stole the show at Hard Rock Hell X and the band has been back out on the road this month with co-headliners and saviours of British classic rock Inglorious. HRH Mag’s Simon Rushworth checked their progress…
Long after Last In Line had fired out the final, passionate notes of We Rock to close the first night of Hard Rock Hell X, their supreme set was being talked about as the gig of the weekend.
Three weeks later and the Dio revivalists were still going strong – reworking a raft of Ronnie James classics and introducing some striking new songs to boot. Authenticity isn’t a problem for a quintet boasting two original members of Dio but longevity could be: Last In Line’s decision to release brand new album Heavy Crown earlier this year might just be enough to give this reborn supergroup a fighting chance of future success.
But what makes these classic rock throwbacks such a compelling proposition live?
The ace in their pack isn’t Def Leppard six-stringer Vivian Campbell. And it’s not even the ageless Vinny Appice – fast approaching his 60th birthday but in no mood to slow down.
Remarkably Last In Line’s potential weakness is the band’s undeniable strength. Andrew Freeman is no Dio but he does a damn good impression and his was the standout performance that underpinned an exceptionally slick set.
Carrying the weight of history, expectation and sentimentality on his shoulders, the assured singer treads a fine line between respect and self-confidence. Never seeking to hog the limelight (indeed Freeman appeared faintly embarrassed when Appice heaped platitudes on the talented frontman towards the end of the show) he simply focused on hitting every note and enjoying every minute. On both counts it was mission accomplished.
Stirring renditions of Dio standards Don’t Talk To Strangers, Holy Diver and Rainbow In The Dark confirmed Freeman’s credentials and kept the crowd onside. Sure Campbell – a veteran of the globe’s glossy enormodomes in his high profile day job – took various trips centre stage to roll off a series of pin sharp solos. And Appice’s relentless attack must have struck fear into the wrestlers fighting for glory in the Academy’s sold-out main room.
But it was Freeman who emerged as the real show-stopper – at least within his own band.
Earlier it was the imperious Nathan James who set a seemingly impossible standard with a vocal tour de force. That the Advent Calendar of rock revealed Inglorious on December 1 was reward enough for a packed house but the fact that the self-assured Anglo-Swedes ensured Christmas came early was an added bonus.
Fusing famous covers with choice cuts from their phenomenal debut album, this was a classic rock set to savour. Until I Die, Breakaway and Holy Water will surely stand the test of time but James is adamant album number two – released next spring – will comfortably eclipse one of the most memorable debuts of the last decade.
Guitarists Andreas Eriksson and Wil Taylor boast the moves and the grooves to complement their singer’s understated cool and it’s little wonder uber-producer Kevin Shirley (responsible for mixing the band’s second record) described Inglorious as the best British rock band since Led Zeppelin. From Last In Line to first in line? Watch this space.
Last In Line played Hard Rock Hell X on November 10 2016.