Winger @ B.B. King Blues Club (2/20/2008)

Logo - Winger

Artist: Winger
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Sonic Bliss
Date: 2/20/2008
Label: Shrapnel Records

In the heyday of the big eighties Kip Winger always managed to have some catchy material and the singing bassist was a staple on the MTV network with songs like “Headed For A Heartbreak”, “Miles Away”, Madalaine” and of course his blockbuster number “17”. I liked the music he did back then but was never more than the casual fan so when a show was announced at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, I was determined to get myself down there to bring the Hard Rock community the inside scoop. The show would be an early one and I didn’t even make note of the opening act Sonic Bliss because for this particular show it would be all about listening for the hits that I fondly remembered and enjoying some of the bands latest album “Winger IV” as well. The venue had set up their usual tables are various sections but the floor was open so the Winger fans could convene and get really close to the stage. The typical photo pit barrier was not set up tonight and instead a small cordoned off section allowed those who needed to take photos do their thing for a couple of numbers while the rest of the audience rocked and rolled. Winger would open up with a heavy intro from the album “Pull” in “Blind Revolution Mad”, and you could tell by the reaction on the audience in attendance faces that they were quite eager to be there. While “Pull” is considered a strong album from the band it is also the one that performed the least in the market so it was interesting to find one of its tunes kicking off the set. Joining Kip in the band would be original members Reb Beach on guitar, Rod Morgenstein on drums and newcomer John Roth who worked on the bands latest album with them on second guitar. The playing was tight this evening and I expected this right away from players such as Beach and Morgenstein most specifically. I don’t say this with a slight to Kip or John in any sense of the imagination but Morgenstein is a machine on the drums and proved his technical ability with The Dixie Dregs night after night and as far as Beach was concerned, a lot of his Winger downtime had been spent in a rebuilt Whitesnake who toured regularly and one does not lose their chops very easily given this circumstance.

Kip looked and sounded really good and you could tell that he was enjoying the way his music was going over this evening. As I glanced around the crowd when I was right in the mix of them I could see and hear that everyone in my immediate vicinity was well aware of every line that Kip was delivering. I admit that I didn’t keep up with the Hard Rock Pop fare that they originally delivered with their first release and only decided to check in on them once again as they released the rather Progressive Rock styling of “IV”. I admit that I was surprised that even with the new album to promote and support that the larger amount of material in their set would come from “In The Heart Of The Young”. Six tunes would come from this 1990 platinum album and in a sense I should not have been surprised at that since the release would also come off as the highest chart positioned recording from the band. It had reached #15 while the bands debut only got as far as #21 while “Pull” wouldn’t even come close to these numbers. Kip regularly spoke to the crowd and was smiling pretty much for the whole show and even sat down on some keyboards much to the delight of the fans. With the band only supporting a total of four studio albums we would get solos from John, Reb and Rod and while each of these was rather fun to experience I would have liked to hear from than three songs from the new album instead. “IV” as a release finds Kip showcasing himself as a mature and socially conscious performer during songs like “Generica” and “Right Up Ahead”. Of course for me tonight was primarily about enjoying the hits that I knew from way back when and right after a killer drum solo by Morgenstein we would all get that as Kip and Company delivered the ever powerful “Headed For A Heartbreak”. “Can’t Get Enuff”’ had the audience singing but not as much as “Seventeen” would and given the audience age Kip tossed in the little quip of “She’s only 35” during one of the songs final choruses. There were many who almost fell over laughing when he did that and I felt it was a hilarious touch based on the songs premise. A large portion of the ladies in the audience were dying for “Miles Away” which was delivered deftly but it was “Madalaine” that was the show stopper for the night and had everyone in the front and singing. If you were sitting down it was not during this number that’s for sure and while the venue was not super packed in terms of the turnout it was a solid show of support for a musician that really gave us his all tonight.

Set List:
1. Blind Revolution Mad
2. Loosen Up
3. Easy Come, Easy Go
4. Your Great Escape
5. Down Incognito
6. John Roth Guitar Solo
7. Rainbow In The Rose
8. Generica
9. Junkyard Dog
10. Right Up Ahead
11. Reb Beach Guitar Solo
12. You Are The Saint, I Am The Sinner
13. Rod Morgenstein Drum Solo
14. Headed For A Heartbreak
15. Can’t Get Enuff
16. Seventeen
17. Who’s The One – encore
18. Miles Away – encore
19. Madalaine – encore

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