80’s Trifecta

One of the best things about living in a city like Los Angeles is that most touring bands will play a show here when they’re on the road.  In the last three weeks, I was lucky enough to see three of my favorites play live, each for the first time, so I’m going to give you a snapshot of those concerts right here.  Pile into the DeLorean, buckle up, and let’s head back to the 80’s! 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26 – TOM KEIFER (CINDERELLA)

I’ve been a serious fan of the band Cinderella for the last 15 years and during that time, they have released a few live albums but no new studio album.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when frontman Tom Keifer released his first solo album last year.  I’d missed a club date he played around that time so when I saw he was playing the The World Famous Whisky A Go Go at the end of October, I snagged a ticket right away.

I’m not always in the mood to sit through opening bands I’ve never heard of (especially at a standing room show that will last a few hours) but I’m incredibly happy I was at The Whisky when the show began.  The first opener was the stellar Madysin Hatter, whose music is a strong mix of 70’s and 80’s-influenced rock, so you should check her out if the bands in this blog appeal to you (we also had a nice chat after the show).

When Tom Keifer took the stage, he led off with the titled track from Cinderella’s debut Night Songs and from then on, it was an hour and half of joy.  Like his solo album The Way Life Goes, the show was a mix of rockers and ballads, including an acoustic middle section which included a duet with his wife Savannah on “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).”  Tom admitted to having burned his voice after the previous night’s gig, but all of us in the audience were happy to sing in his play all night.  If you have some vitriol for hair metal, give this acoustic version of “Don’t Know What You Got” a listen and see how truly talented these guys are.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1 – RICHARD MARX

Before I knew it, it was November 1 and I still hadn’t bought tickets to see Richard Marx.  Thankfully, the El Rey Theater show wasn’t sold out so I figured it was worth taking a chance at picking one up at the box office.  My sister came along, being both a child raised on 80’s radio and…well, my sister.  We made our way to the front third of the general admission audience and out came the mighty Richard Marx to kick off an evening of seductive melody.  A brilliant show for these first time attendees.

It must be said that Richard Marx is the white Marvin Gaye.  I would love to have a census find out how many babies were conceived to his songs over the last 26 years.  Every single one of his ballads is an absolute panty-dropper.  As if those weren’t enough to make the scores of women in the audience swoon, it seems Richard also hasn’t aged at all since his mid-20’s.  The man is almost two decades older than me and he’s in better shape than I am!  Couple that with his ability to write the hell out of tune and you have an alpha male.  It might be easy to get mad at the guy like that if he weren’t so humble and hilarious.  His Twitter feed is one of the most entertaining things on the internet, especially during his inebriated Q&A’s.  In fact, I’ll make it easy for you: click here, click follow, you’re welcome.

By the way, the man’s voice has held up as well as his looks have.  Here’s one of his latest music videos to prove it.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14 – WINGER

Winger is a band that gets a disproportionate amount of crap.  Yes, I like Beavis & Butt-head just as much as the next guy but Winger was buried very quickly by both the neighbor Stewart (from wearing a mock band T-shirt) and Metallica (the irony of Lars throwing darts at the band’s photo in the video for “Nothing Else Matters,” a not-so-thinly-veiled power ballad).

Since reforming a few years ago, the band has taken their brand of rock in a more progressive direction but they can still write a riff and sing a hook with the best of them.  In fact, Reb Beach is one of the most entertaining guitarists to watch, second only to Steve Vai.  This man is an incredible riff machine (think “Seventeen”) and his talent is splattered all over the bands two most recent releases (Karma and Better Days Comin’, respectively).  Put Reb in a band with the pipes of Kip Winger and the mind-bending drumming of Rod Morgenstein and you have a band with off-the-charts talent.

Once again, Madysin Hatter opened the show and was even better the second time.  Once Winger took that stage, they immediately owned the club and bashed through their well known hits as well as a bunch of newer stuff.  Since the band had such a blast and had already played their hits, they broke out a cover of “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” for the encore, where Kip picked a lad named Chris (no, not me) from the audience to play bass while he sang.  A hell of a show, and I definitely didn’t “get enuff.”

Like Cinderella, if you have a less-than-favorable opinion of Winger, check out an acoustic version of their classic track “Miles Away”

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