(Live Review) TOM KIEFER BAND / WINGER / JOHN CORABI - The Arcada Theatre, St. Charles (7/14/23)
By The Beard & Little Johnny
Tonight, your favorite reviewing duo, the Beard and Little Johnny, are off once again as we attend stop number 37 and bands number 188-190 on our year long The Reviews Never Stop Tour.
This evening, we got to enjoy the luxury of The Arcada Theater in Saint Charles, Illinois for 80’s & 90’s stalwarts:
Tom Kiefer (of Cinderella fame)
And John Corabi
With a 1980’s feel to the night, The Beard told Johnny to bring Aqua-net, and he asked “Why, are we going fishing afterwards?” “No, dude it was a joke. In the 1980’s woman used a lot of…you know what Little Dude? Never mind.”
Anyway, the Beard always enjoys The Arcada, with its comfortable seating, good sightlines, nice sound, and top-notch whiskey bars. Yes, I said bars. Like any club, Arcada has the standard bars with Jim, Johnny, and Jack. “No. Not you Johnny. Johnny Walker. It’s a whiskey.”
Upstairs though, they have a larger lounge bar with higher end materials like Evan Williams, Knob Creek, Angels Envy etc., and on the third floor, they have a speakeasy that really carries the top dollar stuff, (if you feel like a 35-dollar drink that is.)
Johnny is less of a fan of the Arcada as there is no place to mosh or surf, but he does occasionally enjoy a good Whitechapel Martini and Arcada can make those. The Beard does not touch them though and after three Johnny usually gets unruly, so cut off tonight is two. The Beard is happy with a Knob Creek Rye Old Fashioned.
Our seats this evening are located on the FAR left side of the balcony, so the sightline was a little odder than The Beard normally likes, but we will make it work.
First up this evening is rock and roll journeyman and, for four years, the lead singer to Motley Crue (1992-96):
Since that time, John Corabi has appeared in a half dozen different bands and projects, including The Eric Singer Project, RATT (as a writer), & The Dead Daisies. John has also engaged in a solo artist run since 2018.
When Corabi came out and the crowd cheered, he immediately said “Hang on. Hang on. You haven’t even heard me yet.” Funny stuff.
This was an acoustic set of light bluesy rock, but Corabi also had stories between songs that were interesting and amusing, his voice is professional and his guitar playing is certainly decent. He joked about his “minute and a half with Motley Crue,” as well as his job as opener or “fluffer” for both Winger and Tom Kiefer. Johnny dug his hat and glasses.
After one song, Corabi asked how many in the crowd were in their 30’s 40’s and 50’s. When the largest applause came from those of us over 50, Corabi sold himself to the Arcada audience by enthusiastically breaking into a cover of “Daydream Believer” by The Monkeys. A choice supported vocally, and quite loudly, by the fans. Johnny, of course, did not know the song.
Realistically, Carobi knew what he was there to do, and he did it. Full points for (to directly quote him), fluffing every single member of the audience. He did say afterwards he would be in the merchandise area, “signing anything except a dick, it’s a long story.” A good showman can always open and close with humor. The Beard awards 82/100.
Second up was the 80’s hair era band ...
WINGER Winger are amazingly almost fully intact (except for one new touring guitarist Howie Simeon), almost 40 years after their start.
Kip Winger still has a good enough voice and for the Beard's first time seeing them they were decent. I did feel the low end was dialed up a lot as the vibrations were strong even up on the balcony. Johnny dug Winger’s stage look, but was not taken with any of the songs except their hit “Seventeen.” The Beard enjoyed the ballad “Miles Away.”
Reb Beach can still play a solid solo and the interaction between him and band leader Kip Winger is presented in a professional manner. “Touring” vs “just playing a set.” It is always a noticeable difference.
That compliment paid; The Beard did not find Winger a “knock you off your feet band.” Some of their strongest fans refer to Winger as “Hair Metal Dream Theater.” The Beard does not see that, but in fairness, The Beard is also “not” a professional musician, so perhaps it is more noticeable to that specific demographic.
For The Beard, like their namesake, they are a Winger, (i.e., I feel you, but you didn’t hit anything vital.) One fan sitting close by remarked that “the entire set was played too fast.” Since the Beard has no frame of reference, I will quote his opinion.
Overall, decent for the hour they played.
Headliners tonight are ...
THE TOM KIEFER BAND Tom was famous as the lead vocalist and guitarist in 80’s hit maker’s Cinderella. In the mid 1990’s Kiefer suffered a paralysis of his left vocal cord, and over the last quarter century has had multiple surgeries to address this while learning a new way to sing. Often his pre-show regimen lasts longer than the actual set.
With appropriate deferential respect afforded the effort it must take with his condition to perform period, The Beard cannot say he is a fan of Mr. Kiefer’s current voice. Although, to be even-handed, the partisan crowd clearly disagreed. Tom Kiefer’s voice is NOT the 80’s 90’s sound from classic Cinderella, and that is all with which I am truly familiar.
Kiefer employs a seven-piece band to bring “his music” out in the way he wants it heard, and when the band back-up singers (wife Savannah Kiefer & Tanya Davis) there is a rounded fullness to the overall result.
“Heartbreak Station” for example came across with some good emotional resonance, but if I had to make a call, while his guitar work is still rather good, his singing doesn’t move me. Big hits like “Nobody’s Fool” were certainly as expected crowd singalongs, but I never felt they were sung well.
Once again, guitar wise the combo of Kiefer and Tony Higbee was solid, and the band was indeed professional, even re-starting their encore mega-hit “Don’t know what you got till it’s gone” after the first minute because of an excessive feedback problem which caused an exasperated Kiefer to wave off the band and address the sound people to fix it. As Kiefer stated, “These people paid good money to be here. We owe them.”
Kiefer also discussed his multiple surgeries and that sometimes it’s a good show and sometimes it isn’t, but he always gives whatever he has. Noted, acknowledged, and respected, but with appropriate deference to his loyal and sincere fan base, this was one set the Beard could have lived without.
This wraps up another one from The Beard and Little Johnny. Next week we have three more events as The Reviews Never Stop Tour rolls onward.
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Until next time