Last in Line

Amager Bio, Copenhagen - 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

If you haven’t heard about Last In Line, don’t worry. We hadn’t either until Testament rolled into town, and brought them along as a support band.
Or, actually we had heard about them, we just didn’t know it. You probably have too, maybe also without even knowing it. You see, Last In Line consist of the original musicians who played together with Ronnie James Dio back in the day, the band then just known as Dio. This is not to be confused with Dio Disciples, which consists of the last musicians to play with Dio, in the band Dio.
Now that that’s all cleared up, let’s move on to the review.

“Good evening, how are we today?!”
- Andrew Freeman (vocals)


It was with a mix of anticipation and trepidation that I awaited the coming concert. While I was glad to see that all those great old tunes weren’t going to pass away together with Dio himself, I have seen and heard too many bad examples of bands trying to replace iconic vocalists, and very few good examples. So let’s just rip that band-aid off right now. The vocalist, who’s ungrateful job it was to replace Dio, the father of heavy metal singing, was the young (well, certainly young compared to the rest of the band members) American vocalist and guitarist Andrew Freeman. He’s previously worked with The Offspring as a live guitarist, and vocalist for Lynch Mob, none of which have reached my radar before this night. And let’s just get this off the bat at once – he did an amazing job! Freeman managed to channel that same timeless quality that Dio had, without losing himself or sounding like a hack imitator, i.e. everything that I feared might happen.

So, with the vocalist well in place, what about the rest of the band then?
Well, as implied above, the original line-up of Last In Line was this star congregation was as follows: Vincent ‘Vinnie’ Appice (drums), Vivian Campbell (guitar), James Stewart ‘Jimmy’ Bain (bass), and Claude Schnell (keyboards).
I say original line-up, because a few changes have been made since their inception. Schnell was fired back in 2015, and Bain tragically succumbed to lung-cancer after finishing the band’s first and so far only album, Heavy Crown. During the concert, the band dedicated a song from the album, Starmaker, to his memory.
So, for the show, the line-up was slightly different, as you can imagine. On bass, we now saw Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy Osbourne, ex-Billy Idol, etc.), and on keyboards we saw Erik Norlander (most famous for his eponymous project, has also done session work for Lana Lane and Ayreon etc.). Both men are, as far as I can figure it, hired live personnel. Both played perfectly, but Norlander seemed more like a studio musician who didn’t necessarily know how to deliver at a liveshow. Soussan on the other hand, was as much a performer as he was a musician, and fit well in with the other big names of the band.

And the band was performing, believe you me. They were performing as though they were the headliners of the night. Freeman easily took the role of the frontman, giving a strong vocal performance which only hindrance was that I was standing front row and centre, the worst place you can be for a good sonic experience. Enough came through though to make it an overall good experience. Apart from his vocals, Freeman also took on speaking between songs, not too much so as not to steal away from their limited stage time, but enough to have it feel like a proper show. He was also using the stage to its full extent, reaching out to the entire audience as he did so. Soussan had the honour of introducing Starmaker though, in a way fitting that the new bassist dedicates a song to the old bassist.
The show itself opened with Norlander playing a bit of theme music, seemingly fitting to an Arabian Nights theme, after which the band broke into Stand Up And Shout, a good call to arms if ever there was one.
They then continued on, delivering more Dio classics, as well as a few songs from their own album. Not surprisingly, it was the Dio era songs that tugged the most at the audience, but the new songs lay stylistically close enough to be a pleasing ride as well. Especially the opening track of the album, Devil In Me, held quite a bit of hit value.
The only real surprise in the setlist, was that although they did play their namesake song, The Last In Line, it was hidden away in the middle of the set. I would have believed that a more prominent place, such as opener or closer, would have fitted the song better.

Not many people had entered Amager Bio as it was time for Last In Line’s show, but the place quickly filled up as soon as they started playing, and with all the sing along parts and general good atmosphere, this was a highly accomplished show. Had it only been a bit longer, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Last In Line delivered all the money’s worth right here, and that Testament would only be the icing on the cake. As it stood, we had witnessed one amazing show, and had one more in sight – what could be better than that?

Setlist:

Stand Up And Shout (Dio cover)
Straight Through The Heart (Dio cover)
Devil In Me
Holy Diver (Dio cover)
Martyr
The Last In Line (Dio cover)
Starmaker
Rainbow In The Dark (Dio cover)
We Rock (Dio cover)

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