Last In Line @ Mexicali Live (3/24/2017)

Artist: Last In Line
Venue: Mexicali Live (Teaneck, NJ)
Opener: Gothic Knights, Tempt
Date: 3/24/2017
Label: Frontiers Records

Written By: Katie N. (copyright 2017) for
Performance Photos By: Rich Catino of Metal Asylum

Perhaps I am oblivious due to the fact that I grew up decades after the roaring energy of the 70s and 80s, but attending intimate club shows exposes and propels the crowd into an ambience unbeknownst to that of the grandeur of the festival stage. Sure, at the end of the day, it’s all about the music, but there’s just something warmer about the closeness and enthusiasm of being face to face with the music.

Mexicali Live in Teaneck, NJ embraced such an atmosphere. At first glance, I wondered how the 20X30 inch stage could provide sufficient room for Vinny Appice’s legendary drum setup along with the loud and grandiose movements of Vivian Campbell, but there was more than enough space for the guys to bring the house down. In fact, the only area that seemed cramped was the floor due to the fact that the show sold out. The first band was Lunatic Fringe and I’m always surprised and beyond ecstatic to see a younger generation embracing rock-n-roll and heavy metal. They were an eclectic bunch with an age range from braces to beards and an energy level of 11 measured on the classic 1-10 scale. Behind the energy was a very heavy and dark sound most reminiscent of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Blizzard of Ozz” album. Although the venue wasn’t full at this point, there was an impressive showing and enough people standing to merit the group a large ovation.

last in line, last in line concert photos
Last In Line by Rich Catino (2017)

Tempt: This one was an interesting addition to the night’s lineup. Although the band brought a more Bon Jovi-like vibe, they had more than enough vigor to drive the night onward. Most songs included an identifiable and melody mixed in with enough poppy synth and extravagant guitar solos to give me more of a feel of what the 80s actually sounded like. The growing crowd was more than happy with their performance.

Gothic Knights: These guys were a perfect fit for Last in Line, no doubt. The vocals emulated a Bruce Dickinson-Rob Halford hybrid and were accompanied with an ever-present double bass drum as well as hard, heavy, and forceful guitar riffs. Unfortunately, their set list was cut one short, but there was no uncertainty of whether or not the packed club was ready and pumped for their much anticipated headliner.

last in line, last in line concert photos
Last In Line by Rich Catino (2017)

Last in Line (THIS IS NOT A TRIBUTE BAND): I know my parents have taken me to DIO concerts in the past, but none that were as memorable or smile-bearing as seeing Vinny Appice, Vivian Campbell, Andrew Freeman, Phil Soussan, and Erik Norlander hit the stage in unison and hearing the iconic guitar opening to “Stand up and Shout”. After Appice’s first four beats, Soussan’s first four notes, and Freeman’s first lyric, the night was made. Subsequently, not a single person had a closed mouth, flat feet, or orderly hair throughout the entire set. There was just so much energy already flowing through the room, and the boisterous group of five only allowed their liveliness to spread from the stage to the balcony. Campbell, Freeman, and Soussan placed themselves as close to their rock enthusiasts as possible in order to take advantage of the club setup and gain the most from their interaction. Although there was no mic in front of Campbell, he sang a number of lyrics along with the crowd and was overenthusiastic when Freeman reached out to a fan, took his phone, and ‘selfie-style’ videotaped both himself and Campbell during “Rainbow in the Dark”.

last in line, last in line concert photos
Last In Line by Rich Catino (2017)

There were multiple pauses during the set, but let me be clear- there was no pause in the amount of energy gracing the room. Other than introducing the band, these pauses consisted of a Jimmy Bain remembrance and song dedication directed by Soussan, and a moment for Freeman to recognize the innovative work that both Appice and Campbell put into the original DIO lineup to produce such crowd favorites from the first three DIO albums. Appice also took a moment to introduce the band’s moniker right before the calm opening strums of “The Last in Line”.

last in line, last in line concert photos
Last In Line by Rich Catino (2017)

It’s exciting hearing live versions of songs, but there was something more familiar and zealous about hearing the note for note delivery of each song by all members- especially from Campbell’s solos and Norlander on keys- that makes the show that much more gratifying. Although each song became a sing along, there was a terrific and surprisingly astounding audience contribution during “Holy Diver”. The ‘woos’, whistles, screams, and clapping to follow paralleled the volume of the song and carried out until the last second of the traditional set. After a short moment offstage, the guys got right back in the groove and knocked out “Starmaker”, and “I am Revolution”, both hailing from their 2016 stunning success, “Heavy Crown”. The drive ended with “We Rock”. It seemed to be a no brainer for the group, as their entire show could have easily been summed up in the very same two words.

last in line, last in line concert photos
Last In Line by Katie N. (2017)

Last in Line will finish their North-Eastern tour this weekend making stops in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. I have no reservations in saying that the energy is sure to endure.

Set List:
1. Stand up and Shout
2. Straight Through the Heart
3. Devil in Me
4. Don’t Talk to Strangers
5. Evil Eyes
6. Holy Diver
7. Already Dead
8. Last in Line
9. Martyr
10. Invisible
11. Rainbow in the Dark
12. Starmaker (dedicated to Bain)
13. I am Revolution
14. We Rock

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