Dokken, Wacken, Open-Air, 2018

It took me about 90 seconds of Don Dokken "singing" to mutter to myself--"I can't listen to this. I simply cannot listen to this." Ultimately, I sat through about five songs.

I understood that Don had damaged his voice, and evidently it's true. I couldn't hear him, and when I could, it was preposterous. He sounded like Sinatra or some kind of lounge singer. Not only couldn't he hit any of his famous highs--he could barely seem even to sing in a mid-register. He's almost a baritone or something. I also got the impression that George Lynch is playing the songs in a lower key to accommodate Don's vocal weakness. It seems that most of the time he can't sing above a whisper.

I've barely begun writing this review, and I already finding it developing as much an obituary on the loss of skill and talent of a performer, as a review of a concert.

Don's mic was too low throughout the portion of the show that I watched, you could barely hear him much of the time. And, not sure if this was his habit prior to losing his voice, but he wasn't really singing the vocal lines properly, anyway--an unwise practice of many vocalists including Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, and Robert Plant, that I absolutely hate. It comprises one of the biggest mistakes bands make in live performance.

Warning:  as a vocalist, not only is this not the Don Dokken you knew from the 1980's, the guy can barely belt anything out, at all. I wonder, honestly, if he might have a heart condition or something that makes any kind of exertion, including singing, difficult, if not just about impossible. The guy didn't really look well.

They began the set with Kiss of Death, with unintended irony, I suppose, as this is evidently what's become of Don's voice.

Second tune was The Hunter, a touch better. Should have opened with it, or Into the Fire, which was a bit more tolerable. Breakin' the Chains came later, but had to switch it off; too painful to listen to Don not singing the song. Also, Don needs to lose weight. You can't be a fat metal or hard rock singer--it just doesn't fly. Also, strictly speaking musically, I can't help but wonder if he'd be better able to belt out the tunes were he thinner. I also recommend that he lose the ridiculous Panama hat and glasses. Not helping his public, nor likely private, image.

The band, itself, sounded good, and George Lynch is still absolutely amazing.

Watch if you must, or simply find an older Dokken concert on YouTube, or, listen to the fine Dokken recorded releases from the 1980s.

I wish Don and the boys my best, but I can't help but wonder if there isn't something that could be done to restore Don's vocal skill, at least somewhat. Always the optimist, I bet there is.


ARCADIA, Hands of Time

Worthy Dream Theatre soundalike.


A fine release--soulful, heavy, and just a bit bluesy. Tony Martin, vocalist extraordinaire. This record reminds me vaguely of Robin Trower's Bridge of Sighs, which is nothing but a compliment!

Great songwriting, some of Tony Iommi's best riffs, lots of textured vocals. Go listen to this record right now!

Release date, 1990.