Concert Review: In Defense of Winger


Kip Winger does not suck
Former K-Rock Metal Show host Matt "Warlock" Wardlaw went to last night's Winger show at House of Blues. Here's his report: The year was 1991: Deep Purple was scheduled to play at the Richfield Coliseum, with Winger handling opening duties for the veteran British rockers. Unexplainably, the show was canceled at the last minute, and ticketholders could either get a refund or use their tickets to nab free admission to see Winger perform a last-minute show at the Akron Agora. Needless to say, I didn't think that was a fair trade-off for the mighty Deep Purple, and I opted for the refund instead. It took me a number of years to take Winger seriously. It was a common mistake for music fans to focus on the cheesy lyrics and completely miss that behind the name was a seriously rippin' bunch of seasoned musicians. Kip Winger had already done time as a member of Alice Cooper's band, and drummer Rob Morgenstein played with legendary fusion rockers Dixie Dregs. I always dug a few songs, and finally got hip to the full Winger catalog long after they had been dubbed even more uncool by the masses -- and by that point Winger had already called it quits. Winger landed at the House of Blues two days after the knockout punch delivered to Cleveland by the tag team of Mother Nature and Old Man Winter. The crowd was small as the opening band took the stage, and they might have wondered if they were time warping back to one of Kip Winger's sparsely attended solo dates in the late '90s. No worries, however: The room filled up decently by the time Winger plugged in. It was indeed the full package version of Winger, and they wasted no time getting down to business, opening strong with the raging "Blind Revolution Mad," which took the layered Winger harmonies into the highest registers for any doubters who might have wondered if they could still pull it off. Winger is touring in support of their recently released new album, IV, and not only is it the band's first studio release in 13 years -- it's actually a good album! The band showcased material from the album throughout the night, mixing in a few choice cuts, including the scorching album opener "Right Up Ahead," which is one of four tracks written in tribute to the soldiers serving in Iraq. Make no mistake, this was a rock show -- complete with the requisite Reb Beach guitar solo, and a drum solo Morgenstein that drew the response of "F*CK YEAH" from my friend. Rock sluts were in attendance, a little bit worse for the wear, but still showing as much cleavage as they did back in 1987, and they were rewarded with all of the Winger anthems, including "Seventeen" -- which featured updated lyrics: "She's only thirty-five!" After a short encore break, Winger predictably returned to the stage for an encore set that wasn't completely predictable, opening with the "Pull" era album track "Who's The One", and closing with a one-two punch featuring "Miles Away," which certainly embodies the term "power ballad." Winger finished the set on a strong note with "Madalaine." — Matt Wardlaw


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