When Kip Winger altered the chorus to “Seventeen” and sang “She’s only 47” on December 10 in New York, the intent of the joke was clear – the hit came out nearly 30 years ago, meaning the barely legal subject of the popular song would be exactly that age now. Yet despite the extensive passage of time, Winger and his namesake band are anything but stale.
The band played with the ferocity of a group that’s desperately trying to get signed as opposed to one that burst onto the glam metal scene back in the late 80s with their self-titled platinum debut. The majority of the set, unsurprisingly, came from that release, which thrilled those in attendance, who, in addition to the aforementioned “Seventeen,” were also treated to fan favorites “Madalaine,” “Hungry,” “Time to Surrender,” and the popular power ballad “Headed for a Heartbreak.”
No concert of its type would be complete without the requisite solos and Winger supplied them, and then some. Touring guitarist Donnie Wayne Smith, filling in for John Roth, quietly provided a more blues-inspired performance than is generally associated with the band, while long-time drummer Rod Morgenstein steadily pounded the skins with melodic abandon.
But if there was a standout member on this night, it was guitar virtuoso Reb Beach, who riled the crowd up into an absolute frenzy with his lightning-quick selection of intricate riffs while exuding a charisma not palpable in most artists.
Though it’s been over three years since Winger released an album of original material, the underrated Better Days Comin’, they ambitiously opened the evening with the anthemic “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine,” one of two tracks performed off the album. Following it up with “Easy Come Easy Go” from the band’s sophomore album, In the Heart of the Young, created a brilliant one-two punch that set the tone for what was to come.
Arguably Winger’s greatest love song—and they have several—is the grandiose “Miles Away,” and when it was time to slow things down a bit and have fans break out their lighters (or more accurately, their phones), Kip effortlessly switched gears, losing his trademark bass, moving to stage right, and taking over keyboard duties.
“Ain’t Talkin Bout Love,” the Van Halen classic and a frequent part of the group’s repertoire, capped off the evening in typically raucous fashion, with an extended jam session, as well as a Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp moment for a lucky audience member chosen to partake in the encore as guest bassist.
While often lumped in with Los Angeles-based bands of the glam metal scene, Winger actually cut their teeth in New York City. This was their first time playing the aesthetically-pleasing Space At Westbury Theater, a one-time movie house that evolved into one of Long Island’s trendiest and sought-after venues by current and established musicians. And hopefully it won’t be the last.
- Midnight Driver of a Love Machine
- Easy Come Easy Go
- Loosen Up
- Pull Me Under
- Time to Surrender
- Rat Race
- Miles Away
- Headed for a Heartbreak
- Can’t Get Enuff
- Down Incognito
- Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love
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