Marco Mendoza & Crooked Dice
The Vine Bar, Workington 28 October 2012
Having never been to Workington we were pleasantly surprised to find a really thriving, friendly, not too pricey music bar. At first when you enter the actual pub it can be deceptive, then you go around a short corridor and you are in a decent sized venue. The place was pretty full by the time support band Crooked Dice, a British Heavy Metal covers band took to the stage, opening with Judas Priest classics 'Hellion' and 'Electric Eye', and then what for me was totally outstanding, were two Whitesnake songs 'Still of The Night' and 'Cryin' in the Rain'.
Now lead singer Cameron Wade got the songs spot on, he really has a fantastic voice and range, as he also demonstrated when he sung Iron Maiden's 'Hallowed be thy Name'. We got some real classics tonight, with a bow to a more recent song, The Black Spiders 'Kiss Tried To Kill Me'. Black Sabbath's 'Never Say Die' and Ozzy Osborne’s 'Crazy Train', from the 'Blizzard of Oz', were in there as well and the whole band showed their skills, which were quite amazing to be honest.
'“Phantom of the Opera' and 'Acacia Avenue' from Iron Maiden's earlier days were given an airing and it was great to see Crooked Dice play these as I don’t think many tribute bands would have the balls to do it, but these Cumbrian's did and pulled it off and it was quite outstanding. Final two tracks we had Judas Priests 'Living after Midnight' and they finished their set with Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs'. Totally brilliant. Now I am not a fan of tribute bands, but these guys were totally absorbing and spell blindingly brilliant. A band I would definitely see again, as they really pressed the pedal to the metal.
Hopefully they will be writing their own stuff soon, as everyone in the band were so competent and professional. Crooked Dice are better than a covers band. I wondered if Marco Mendoza was listening and what he thought, surely he could not fail to be impressed. By the time Marco Mendoza and his band took to the stage the place was filled up nicely. Now being within touching distance of such a guitar god was a very special feeling, to see and hear his solo work was an absolute privilege. Marco, together with Soren Andersen (Glenn Hughes / Jason Bonham / Joe Bonamassa) and Mark Cross (Ian Gillan / Tank / Firewind).gave an excellent performance. As soon as the band opened their set with 'Let The Sunshine' and 'Hey Baby', you knew this was going to be something phenomenal. Marco Mendoza’s vocals are immense and you could not be anything but overawed as this band of metal gods rocked this Workington joint.
You could see they too were loving every minute and despite a seven hour drive from Ipswich, the band overcame any tiredness and had everyone in awe as they played 'Still in Me', 'Look Out For Da Boys' and then played Thin Lizzy classic 'Jailbreak', and Soren Andersons vocals on this song were truly out of this world, as good a version as I have heard. At times Marco and Soren left the small stage mingling with the crowd, while still letting out some meaty riffs. Marco very cheekily nicked a girls lollipop out of her mouth too, much to our amusement and to her astonishment.
'I Want You' continued this night of unashamed rock god worship and we got an awesome drum solo from Mark Cross during 'Higher Ground'. Just to be here, witnessing this performance gave me goose bumps, to see how much these guys were enjoying themselves by going back to basics, was just something that will live with me and everyone that attended tonight.
Final song was 'In My Face' and it finished off a top notch night. Marco and the band then hung back to mingle with the crowd, sign autographs and have their pictures taken. If you missed them this time they will be back next year, so make sure you get along to one of their shows. Also make sure you check out the Vine Bar in Workington, they have had some big bands playing there and will be hosting The Quireboys, Uli Jon Roth, amongst others soon. Get yourselves along for a great night in a friendly atmosphere, I know we will be making the two hundred mile round trip again!.
Review by: Alison Bear