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Date: 02/04/08
Venue: BB King Blues Club, NYC
Reviewed By: Rich Catino


Blind Revolution Mad
Loosen Up
Easy Come Easy Go
Down Incognito
Rainbow in the Rose
Junkyard Dog
Right Up Ahead
You are the Saint, I am the Sinner
Headed for a Heartbreak
Can’t Get Enough
Who’s the One (Kip-12-string/John Roth-bass)
Miles Away

Let’s just get this out of the way early. We all know Winger had three pop metal hits in the 80’s….juvenile rocker “Seventeen” (it is what it is), and the ballads “Headed for a Heartbreak” and “Miles Away”, both which are just great songs. Plus other solid MTV hits and crowd favorites like ‘Easy Come Easy Go” and “Madalaine”.

Ok now that that’s out of the way time to get to the expensive meat and potatoes of the show. Winger are more than just a commercial hard rock band from the 80’s. As musicians, Kip Winger (vocals, bass, and keyboards), Reb Beech (lead guitar), John Roth (rhythm/lead guitar guitar), and drummer Rod Morgenstein are all accomplished players and their talent supersedes what many know them as which is just MTV “Hair Metal” hit makers with rockers and ballads about chicks.

Records like their third release “Pull” and their latest “IV” with its military theme (even Rod had the albums artwork on the bass drum), show both musically and lyrically that they are much more than superficial songwriters.

Songs like opener “Blind Revolution Mad” and the dark almost doomy “Right Up Ahead” from “IV” (which is about the American soldiers in Iraq) showcase the band playing hard edge riff driven rock. A more progressive and jamming side of the band can be found in tracks like “You Are the Saint I Am the Sinner” which sees both Reb and John switching off on guitar solos and just killing the audience with six string mayhem. Rod on the drums as well is no slouch here also getting to show his chops sweating behind the kit.

Other hard and heavy numbers like personal favs “Junkyard Dog” and “Can’t Get Enough” feature more headbangers carried by metal guitar riffs and Kip’s bottom heavy bass lines. There are even times during several songs where the band will just focus on a particular part and jam for an extra few bars without vocals.

Kip is also a great guitar player as he takes center stage with a twelve string acoustic for “Who’s the one” from 1993’s excellent and underappreciated “Pull”. And speaking of playing…..Reb Beech’s talents are worth the price of admission alone. The guy really doesn’t even need to do a solo because every song allows him to do so. Every little squeal, scream, harmonic, dive bomb, all the tapping he does on record he produces live right down to his tone and pitch. Applause applause all around. I have seen him with Dokken and Whitensake as well and I think this guys guitar just might be a part of his body because that’s how effort and flawless his playing is.

I have to tell a short story quick. A funny moment happened and one that usually does for these 80’s Hard Rock/Metal shows.

You always get those four or five guys in the crowd who obviously were into the band back in the day for five minutes and only knew them for the couple hit singles. You know those people, the posers. Obviously these guys didn’t follow the bands career after say 92 because ignorance told them if its not on the radio then I shouldn’t be listening to it, didn’t realize there was more to the band’s music than just the MTV videos, and by their behavior probably don’t get out of the house much to see live music. So the time comes for the hit single, tonight’s being “Seventeen”, and these tools (dorks, clowns, you pick the adjective) start jumping around on each other doing the high five thing and headbanging with their say pushing forty year old short hair cuts. Like these were the guys who obviously bought into the whole grunge, alternative, rap rock trends during the 90’s no doubt and look where those fads are now, dead. They just looked silly in the crowd. A high school moment.

This is my third time seeing Winger since they reformed in 2002/03 and they delivered once again. Do yourself a favor check em out live as well as the records “Pull” and “IV”. They have more to offer than just those hits from the 80’s.

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