Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Label: Frontiers Records
I probably said this before but I’ve always been more of a casual fan of what Winger does in the Hard Rock sense even though I owned their debut album when it was first released. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until the bands 2008 performance at this very venue that I finally caught them in concert. That was certainly an enjoyable show and the band was at the time supporting their newest album “IV”. The record did not seem to get the reception that was hoped and I myself viewed it as “ok at best” when compared to the musicians first and second offerings. Fortunately for all of the bands fans, Kip and company would follow up “IV” with an album entitled “Karma” and this was quite the release with a number of exciting tunes. The last time that Winger performed there was a band opening up but tonight this would not be the case. All we had was the music spinning over the PA and the eventual Winger set. To be honest, I feel that this is a little cheap for the fans with the ticket prices being what they are these days and at least a cover band of some kind would have brought some additional tunes and maybe people into the venue. After seeing so many shows in sequence with some being four to six band affairs I admit I am getting a little spoiled. Moving on.
Winger hit the stage just about 8pm to a flourish or Hard Rock chords and drumming flair but something didn’t seem right if you looked closely at the singer’s face. He appeared annoyed at the sound so he stopped and announced to the crowed how they would return in a few minutes when they got their shit in better order. I guess he didn’t like the way the techs were getting what he was putting out there. This surprised me as I’ve not witnessed this at any show at this particular venue if any when it comes down to it. After a few minutes a musical déjà-vu happened as the guys all returned with similar flourish and to my ears similar sound but it was right into “Karma’s” “Pull Me Under” that kicked off the sure to be rocking night. “Blind Revolution Mad” from the largely ignored “Pull” would follow before the band hit into the really old stuff that I found to my preference with “Easy Come, Easy Go” and of course this was where fans like me could start singing along a little more easily. “Stone Cold Killer” continued the bands presentation of the new material and this was clearly much more along my line of tastes and showed that the band kicked a lot more ass than some of the naysayers would have you believe. Let’s face it. Kip once hailed from Alice Cooper while Rod Morgenstein was already a legendary kick ass drummer from the Dixie Dregs so this was bound to be the case. Reb Beach as a lead guitarist is a monster and it’s always great to see him in action and with the talented John Roth on second guitar the band was making new fans again and again. Kip sounded great on his vocals and in my opinion has always been a solid bassist so when this is all combined with the quality level of Melodic Hard Rock there is a treat to be had by all. During the show Roth did a little country-flavored guitar picking and said he was a chicken picking guitarist. The musician hails from Tennessee and I would see him working as a solo player in a combo any day of the week. In my eyes he is the perfect compliment to the technique of Reb.
The set covered a lot of ground which was great to experience. It was not too heavy on one particular album even though there was a new one to deliver. “Karma” was presented well, but only given careful attention so not to avoid the bands popular legacy numbers. That was good for those fans that might have only been finally catching the band in concert as I myself had done a little over a year ago. It was good to see a little more of “Pull” delivered tonight and the album sounds better live than I remember it hitting me when I first heard it. I guess the dawning of the Grunge movement at that time was putting audio blinders on many of the Hard Rock bands of the 80’s – me included. A great solo on the axe came from Mr. Beach who as many know works double time as a member of Whitesnake as well these days and soon after it was time for a drum exposition by Rod who this time around performed against a taped track and thereby was a little more interesting than your conventional slam, boom, bang drum solo. I always love watching Rod play and was glad to observe many around me were in the same mindset. I cannot tell you how many of my friends view the drum solo as time to go to the bathroom or to get another round of beers back at the bar. When Kip returned he was sitting at the piano and the bands signature tune “Headed For A Heartbreak” was up next. Some fans held their cell phones up to up the ambience but as for me, I just enjoyed the power of this ballad. The downside of this particular tune is that it is one of the ones that begins to show how the main staple tunes are coming to their end and that means goodnight New York City. “Cant Get Enough” had the house rocking again and this led us to the MTV signature tune “Seventeen”. The last time I saw the band do this Kip joked and said “She’s only 35” but tonight he would leave the song in its original state. “Miles Away” seemed to be the last official song before the encore and the band stepped off stage for a moment even though everyone knew they had to return for the bands biggest number of them all.
Back they came and were prepared to give us “Madalaine” but while the night seemed to be drawing to its apparent end with this tune it was interesting to notice how the show didn’t actually seem to be over. It was then that Kip introduced and brought up from the audience singer Fiona Flanagan who back in the day was simply going by Fiona. The New Jersey singer is not as active in music nowadays but she and the Winger guys all share some history as Kip, Reb and Rod all performed on her albums “Beyond The Pale” & “Heart Like A Gun”. She and Kip also did a song as a duet on that latter album in “Everything You Do (You’re Sexing Me)” which had a video but they would not do that song and instead dish out a kick ass version of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”. She sounded good for someone not doing this out and about anymore and I am sure she had her family and friends attention as much as the rest of the crowd. It might have been better to bring her out before “Madalaine” and do the song their most famous for together as opposed to a cover, but I had no influence on the set list composition and hence my consultancy and views on this are just audience opinion. After the show the band met with some of their fans who had paid a little extra for the meet and greet stuff. You often get a signed poster from these things so if you want to spend the additional dollars they are worth looking into. All in all, another good time with the band. I would go to see them again since this makes two for two in terms of good shows and solid rocking from beginning to end. Of course next time I hope there is another act of note travelling around with them to give fans a little more “oomph”.
Even though I had just been here on Friday for the Gregg Rolie Band show, I would not be away from this venue long as tonight would be the beginning of my own three night “residency” at the famed Times Square club. You see tomorrow was going to be the Three Friends show and the day that followed would be Uriah Heep. Both bands I had never seen before in concert so needless to say I was looking forward to each of these shows. Stay tuned for those reports.
1. Pull Me Under
2. Blind Revolution Mad
3. Easy Come, Easy Go
4. Stone Cold Killer
5. Rainbow In The Rose
6. Deal With The Devil
7. Down Incognito
8. Your Great Escape
9. Reb Beach Guitar Solo
10. You Are The Saint, I Am The Sinner
11. Rod Morgenstein Drum Solo
12. Headed For A Heartbreak
13. Cant Get Enough
15. Miles Away
17. Helter Skelter
As usual here is a shot of the venue marquee as it announces to the hordes of Times Square about tonight’s Hard Rock proceedings.
Guitarist John Roth was kind enough to let us snap a couple of shots of him backstage. Here is one and part of the Frontiers Records team.
Here’s another with A.J. from Metal Sludge.
We mentioned in the article how New Jersey’s own Fiona Flanagan was in the audience and came up to sing a tune. Here are some moments with her behind the scenes after the show had finished.
I couldn’t resist prompting her to sport her Metal horns. After all, that’s what we are trying to promote with this website. The Metal that is, and not just showcasing the famous gesture. She kindly obliged.
Maybe this appearance has ignited the spark in Fiona’s mind about getting back into the music scene. If she does we will surely be there to support her.