Review by John Jeffrey, photos by Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
Rochester, NY – When the original lineup of a rock band with a storied career like Dokken reunites, considering the size of the gigantic shadow that the lineup of Don Dokken, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson & Mick Brown casts upon the hard rock world, most people would assume any “current” version of the band would be unable to carry on. It’s safe to say, one would be hard pressed to find a band which epitomizes the mid-1980s hard rock/contemporary metal scene more than Dokken. Although, to the dismay of many die hard fans, the short lived Reunion of 2016 (which is all that it intended to be) has come and gone, the 2019 lineup of Dokken (featuring originals Don Dokken and drummer Mick Brown, along with longtime guitarist Jon Levin and bassist Chris McCarvill) packed the house at Rochester’s Historic German House, which was revealed to be the last ever rock concert to be held at the venue.
After witnessing the band’s 90 minute set on Saturday night, it seemed as though Don Dokken has a rejuvenated passion for the band. Don declared that he had lost quite a bit of zest for the band, after the group’s last CD release in 2012, “Broken Bones,” didn’t have the success the band hoped for. In addition to the commercial failure of “Broken Bones,”
Don’s bleak outlook on the future of Dokken was also in part due to criticism he received from fans, after having undergone radiation treatments from a bout with stomach cancer and eventual vocal-cord surgery, which impaired his live performances. After questioning whether the band should or would make another record, Don decided to work through health issues and get himself physically and vocally, back in shape.
Between taking some time off after the “Broken Bones” CD, to regroup and reassess the band’s place in the rock marketplace, and seeing the overwhelming response to the new song which the classic Dokken lineup recorded (being the first song that version of the band recorded together in over 20 years) “It’s Just Another Day,” in 2018, it appears that there are more chapters to be written in the annals of Dokken.
Starting out with “KISS of Death,” it was clear the band was in a great form, as although Don’s vocal range is more limited now since having undergone several vocal-cord surgeries, Dokken knows which songs resonate with their fan base and how to deliver them in a way which is flattering to Don’s voice. The set was filled with the “hits,” song after song, and they even pulled out a couple of great tunes from the Reb Beach era CD, ‘Erase the Slate.’ “The Maddest Hatter” and “One” (a cover of the classic Three Dog Night tune), with “Too High To Fly” (from the 1995 reunion CD ‘Dysfunctional’) wedged in between the two, worked great, alongside the classics “Alone Again” and “It’s Not Love.”
While there will always be George Lynch stalwarts (and understandably so, the guy is George Lynch goddamnit), not enough good things can be said about current axe-grinder, Jon Levin. Levin plays all of the Lynch stuff loyal to the way it was originally written and recorded and pulled off the Reb Beach material flawlessly as well.
Opening for Dokken was “Metal” Mike Chlasciak. Best known as the guitarist for Rob Halford’s solo venture, Halford, Mike has additionally toured with Bay Area thrash metal band Testament, and toured and recorded with Sebastian Bach. Metal Mike played a great opening set of mostly Halford tunes and pulled out the track, “American Metalhead” which he originally recorded on Sebastian Bach’s 2007 CD, ‘Angel Down.’ Mike seemed to be a little bit too much “Metal” for some of the Dokken fans, but anyone who appreciates great guitar playing, can clearly see Mike Chlasciak is a highly underrated player. If they officially replace Glenn Tipton in Judas Priest, I’m voting for Metal Mike. (Read our exclusive interview with Metal Mike here. )
While it’s not 1985 anymore, Saturday night’s gig at the Historic German House proved there’s still fun to be had in 2019, when you’re “Rockin’ with Dokken.”
Kiss of Death
Don’t Close Your Eyes
Into the Fire
Breaking the Chains
Just Got Lucky
Too High to Fly
It’s Not Love
In My Dreams
Tooth and Nail
Metal Mike setlist
Into The Pit
Nailed To The Gun
Locked and Loaded
Light Comes Out Of Black
Heart of a Lion
Sad Wings Of Destiny
Rock n’ Roll Crazy Nights
Special thanks to Mark from Metalforever.com for allowing us to cover this event.