Last in Line band members: Vinny Appice, Phil Soussant, Andrew Freeman and Vivian Campbell
November 25, 2019. It’s rare to get to see a world famous guitarist up close when that guitar player is part of a mega-successful band. While some artists enjoy the downtime between major tours, Vivian Campbell likes to keep busy. Campbell was well known for his work in the Rock bands Dio and Whitesnake before joining Def Leppard full time in 1992. With a pedigree like that you’d be hard pressed to get the opportunity to see him up close but sometimes things have a way of working out.
Def Leppard just recently wrapped up their second Las Vegas Residency and as luck would have it, Campbell was touring with his side-project; Last In Line. First formed in 2012, the band features Campbell and drummer Vinny Appice (brother of Carmine) along with bassist Phil Soussan and singer Andrew Freeman. Campbell, Appice and bassist Jimmy Bain were the original members in the band Dio with singer Ronnie James Dio, who died in 2010. Bain died suddenly in 2016 while Last In Line was on tour and Soussan was recruited to take his place. Along with Freeman, the band has released two albums; 2016’s “Heavy Crown” and this year’s “II.” With a new album released, the band scheduled a series of tour dates here in the U.S. and Europe. I was fortunate enough to get to see them as they played their last show in the U.S. before heading to Europe.
Prior to the show, the band held a meet-and-greet session. While this is not unusual, one thing I thought was unique was that the band went above and beyond the normal ritual. In addition to $99 meet and greet package, giving you the ability to meet the band and having your photo taken with them, if you were willing to pay extra ($200) you could actually play guitar with them during their sound check , picking one song of your choice. What an amazing opportunity! A few people took advantage of this and Campbell was very patient with them, especially when one of the players didn’t know all of the chords to ”Last in Line”. Campbell played the role of guitar teacher as they played through the song. Think about how cool that is. How many people can say they played guitar on stage with Vivian Campbell? Though he became an impromptu instructor, he was gracious as was the rest of the group. The band retired shortly thereafter to a side room until their set was due to begin.
The opening band played their allotted forty-five minute set and Last in Line came on shortly thereafter. Mixing in new songs with Dio favorites, they opened the set with the newer songs “Landslide”, “Stand Up and Shout” and “Straight Through the Heart.” They followed with the Dio hits “Holy Diver” and “Last in Line”. Songs played during their set included “The Man on the Silver Mountain”, “The Devil in Me”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers” as well as “Starmaker” and “Electrified”, among others. Singer Andrew Freeman did a wonderful job with the vocals for both eras while Appice and Soussan kept things together on the bottom end. The treat, however was watching Campbell. Check out the video below:
Vivian’s playing was solid, if not flashy but was a lot of fun to watch. Playing with just his Gibson Les Paul guitar, Engl amplifiers and a wah pedal, Viv’s sound was organic but crunchy. All of his solos were tasteful yet reserved but you got the impression that for all of his mostly rhythm parts in Def Leppard, he was having a good time being the sole guitarist in this band. He stretched out a little bit towards the end of “Rainbow in the Dark” but for the most part just played what was called for in the songs. Playing live wasn’t without its hiccups, though. During the finale (“We Rock”) Campbell’s guitar dropped out of the mix when the cable from his wah pedal somehow got disconnected (as shown in the video.) Vivian took it in stride and a roadie found the problem quickly and Viv carried on, all with a smile. It was an awesome show and a lot of fun. The fans had a great time and it was one of those nights where you wished the band could have played another hour, at least.
Last In Line is currently in the middle of the European leg of their tour. If you get the chance to see them go and check them out! Tour dates are listed here.
What’s your favorite Dio/Last in Line song?