Dokken at Amos’s Southend
Through a buddy at work, I was able to get in free to the Dokken concert July 23, 2011 at Amos’s Southend. Despite my wife having a newborn and our two other kids, she allowed me to go for a nostalgic 80s guys night out. It was surprising that this buddy wanted to go as this was not his type of 80s metal (he likes the harder stuff), but I was not going to pass up seeing Dokken. Despite my misgivings about using the train (and my general hatred of it because it’s tax payer susidized), I used the train to get to Amos’s. Short 20 minute ride and I was there.
The opening band was Hair Nation from Charlotte – an 80s cover band. They started with some late 80s stuff but finally got to the mid-80s stuff. They played Poison, Skid Row, Guns & Roses ( I hated that), Quiet Riot, Ratt and Van Halen. I joked that the gutiarist was probably around 5 years old when these songs were hot, but he was the only one sporting a legitimate metal head mullet!
Dokken came on and he seemed a bit mellow. Grant it, this was not the arena he was used to back in the 80s like at Monster’s of Rock (1988) when I saw them first, but it is not the 80s anymore. He just seemed less energetic and ready to entertain than I was used to seeing him. He is no spring chicken, I know but I was a little underwhelmed with the entrance.
I had read that he had surgery someitme after the last album that would change is singing in some way – supposedly improve it. The first song was Just Got Lucky, which was a great classic Dokken song that is great to open with, but he seemed to struggle with it a little. No, I don’t expect him to hit the high notes anymore but he defiintely did not sound like I would have expected.
Things changed considerably as time went on though. The energy of the crowd was incredible. I saw 40 and 50 YO guys bouncing around like they were teenagers. What was more encouraging was their teenage children were right there with them, in some cases. I think Don felt that energy and things got better as the night went on. Don had said that this was their last stop on this 2011 tour so they were going to make it a long one. I was surprised at that, after the first song but as he improved, got into his grove and started sounding better. Sean McNabb on bass really brought in some good back up vocals, and of course Jon Levin was incredible on guitar. I do harken back to the George Lynch/Jeff Pilson days and still hanging on to hope that Don will give in and do a reunion tour but until then, this version of the band did well.
Songs they played: Just Got Lucky, Kiss of Death, Into the Fire, Alone Again, This Fire (off the new one), Hunter, It’s not Love. I am sure they played more but I left at midnight to catch my train. I wish I could have stayed longer but I had to go. I am not in my teenage years and was not going to be able to stay for the “long one” Don was planning.
The music was great overall. Once Don got into his grove, he sounded great. Knowing that it was his last night on a long tour, I can understand why he came out so mellow. He got more energetic and sounded better as the night went on. One thing I think a few people found annoying was that he talked a lot. He had a lot of stories to tell, a lot of things to say and drew out each segment between songs a little too long. I like hearing Don speak about the good old days, so I was fine about it but other (more drunk) folks just wanted to hear music. I can respect that. Besides, I wasn’t drunk. Funniest moment, I felt, was him making fun of modern bands who do not do guitar solos anymore (after a long solo by Jon Levin that was incredible). The bands said “It’s not cool anymore” and Don would say “That’s not it at all. They just don’t know how to do one anymore.” I would have to agree.
It was a great night out and I thank my wife, Stephanie, for letting me do it and my buddy Greg for getting me in. I would do it again.