Hell to pay European Tour
April 6th, 2005
Review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
Dokken is back in Europe, this time to make a few shows before they head further down in Europe. 14 shows are scheduled and the kick off show took place at The Rock, a small club in Copenhagen, which is by the way the only gig they do in Scandinavia. The band had a well earn 2 weeks off and before they played in Copenhagen they had been in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I saw them the last time when they were here in 2002 when they played in Helsingborg, Sweden, for the studio album LONG WAY HOME, read the review from the show, it?s available in metal-rules.
Last year saw the coming of their last album HELL TO PAY which is the album they are still touring for. I?ve always like Dokken but as all older bands they have had their ups and downs and during the later years it have mostly been downs except for LONG WAY HOME. They have never managed to reach to the heights were they were during the 80?s.
This was my first visit to The Rock that opened up their gates last year, The Rock is a club that focus mainly on metal and hardrock bands, therefore my expectations were really high on both the club and Dokken.
The Rock is located in the middle of Copenhagen. When I got there (after a visit to the nearest tourist information) I was confused because it didn?t look like a club from the outside. The entrance went pretty smooth because there weren?t many people in line outside. The crowd was about 200 people and The Rock has a capacity for about 650, in other words everyone was able to see the stage pretty well. The stage was shaped as a triangle with the peak towards the corner and it was high so everyone could see the band properly. On the walls they had screens where they showed the DVD ?The early years? with Iron Maiden, during the show they used the screens to show the concert on so you were able to see Dokken where ever you were in the venue (unfortunately the quality was so poor it reminded me of a bad bootleg) . I got the feeling that The Rock was a combination of an ordinary club and a concert hall because the space up to the roof was enormous.
The first band to enter the stage this evening was a local support band called Star Rats. They played pretty ordinary Glam/sleaze rock and got about one hour of playing time which was too much in my opinion and they weren't the right support act for Dokken. The crowd was pretty small when Star Rats played but more and more people entered while the support act played. When Star Rats had finished it was a pretty long wait for Dokken to go on stage but finally music turned off and also the lights and the band entered the stage.
It seemed like I wasn?t the only one that had high expectations of the band. I?ve looked both in Malm? and in Copenhagen and no one has the latest Dokken CDs, especially the last studio album which is really hard to find and it looked like Dokken was aware of that problem because he mostly played songs from the good old days. He did only classical songs and it was indeed a greatest hits show this night, and that was also what he played at Sweden Rock Festival.
They kicked off with ?Kiss of Death?. The audience followed Dokken's every move and there was a lot of spontaneous sing along during the whole show. There wasn?t any fence in front of the stage because of the small crowd so Dokken could move around anywhere he liked.
All of the guys looked really hungry and energetic on stage and it was full speed ahead during the show. Contrary to the Helsingborg gig 2002 this time they weren't cheap with playing time, they played for about 1 hour and 40 minutes with only one encore.
The bigger part of the audience seemed to be people that have followed Dokken since the 80?s. I didn't see to many younger fans there but I think The Rock has an age limit so I guess that limited the number that could get in to the show.
Personally I was really eager to see how the new guitarist Jon Levin was going to handle the songs, especially the older classics and he sure impressed me with his stunning guitar play. Jon also took advantage of all the space there was on the stage and he was in the middle with Don several times during the gig. The stage was built in a strange way, most of the stage leaned to the left and it was there the most space was. Jon fits more into the band than what John Norum did during his time with Dokken. Ever since the reunion of the original Dokken they have had problems with keeping guitarists but now it seems like the line up is steady.
Dokken used the stage properly and seemed to be in perfect shape, the only negative about him this night was his voice that sounded a little tired, he couldn?t take on the high notes but that didn?t matter so much when you heard the classics they played. Don also told us that the suffered from jet lag and it could have been because of that his voice sounded tired.
Wild Mick behind the drums is a rock hard foundation for the guys to lean on and he and Barry supports Don in every chorus. Barry is a brilliant bass player and it almost feels like playing in Dokken is too easy for him, he should play in a more technical band like Dream Theater or something like that. He did a longer bass solo to show of his skills.
This evening was mostly dedicated to the old classic songs like ?Unchain the Night?, ?Into the Fire?, ?Breaking the Chains?, ?Heaven Sent?, ?Alone Again? and ?Tooth and Nail?. Except for ?Escape? taken from the latest studio album HELL TO PAY it was only classic tunes.
Don was in a really good mood and amongst a lot of things he said that he didn?t like the music that comes from the US today, especially not Eminem and Jennifer Lopez. He thought that Eminem couldn?t sing at all and that goes for all hip hop artists and if you can?t sing then go back to the hood. Don said that he was ashamed of being an American citizen when American music is so bad. He also said that even though the crowd was much smaller than in the US it didn?t matter because as long as the audience is happy the band is happy too. Halfway into the gig Don asked if the crowd was tired and if so they could go home because the band wasn?t ready to go off stage yet and that the show tonight was going to be very long. He also told us that they have had two weeks vacation which was very good and before they played in Copenhagen they had played in New Mexico were it was real cold this time a year something that it also was in Copenhagen because he wasn?t a fan of cold weather at all. After the Copenhagen show they were going to Italy to play but Don was a bit upset because he thought that only because the pope was dead it didn?t mean that everyone should stop having fun, the life goes on and it was only to choose a new pope and move on. He was also very annoyed on the American TV and press that puts Dokken in the same category in music with bands like Winger, Ratt and Motley Cr?e, no offense to the other bands but Dokken plays well played heavy music and have toured with acts like Metallica, Van Halen and Accept something the other bands haven?t done. According to Don , Dokken is all about majestic choruses, strong melodies and heavy guitars. All of the songs were introduced with a little story by Don and he looked genuinely thankful that so many people had come to witness the show.
The line up this evening consisted of
Don Dokken ? lead vocals
Wild Mick Brown ? drums, b-vox
Barry Sparks ? bass, b-vox
Jon Levin ? guitar.
The only original members left from the old Dokken are Don and Wild Mick.
This show was clearly much better compared to the show in Helsingborg 02, the band seemed to be hungry and vital and it looked like they had great fun on stage and altogether did the guys delivered a brilliant show and I hope that it doesn?t take them too long to come back to Europe next time. All of the guys seemed more like a unit and everyone got their chance to shine on stage and not only Don as it was in Helsingborg.
I think that all in the audience can agree on that this was a splendid evening with great music delivered by one of the melodic hardrock legends.
I met all of the guys later after the show and I told Don that is was difficult and almost impossible to get a hand on HELL TO PAY and I couldn?t find it anywhere. He said that he was aware of the problems and the lack of distribution depended on a lousy label in Europe. Don also said that he was sorry that they couldn?t play further up in Scandinavia but that also depended on the poor distribution and he thought that his label sucked. The reason why they didn?t play further up in Scandinavia like Norway and Sweden were, according to Don, because of the people here and there only like black metal (that?s NOT true). He asked if I was content with the show and I told him that it was a brilliant show and I said to him that I really hope that it doesn?t take them too long to return to Scandinavia again something that Don agreed with.
Kiss of death
Unchain the night
Into the fire
Breaking the chains
Just got lucky
Heaven comes down
Too high to fly
It?s not love
Tooth and nail
In my dreams (encore)
More info on the band.
Thanks to Thomas Gronkjaer at Target & Promotion in Denmark for help with press/photo pass at the show.
Thanks to the Dokken tour manager for help at the show.
Thanks to the local security for the nice treatment.