Okay, first of all, stop laughing and put away the snark. Lost in the decade that was the 1980s is that a lot of talented musicians happened to be performing then and the way you performed in the 80s was with big hair and ripped t-shirts. But that’s just what they were told to wear and doesn’t define them any more than what we wore in the 80s defines who we are today. Granted, some of the 80s musicians’ talent may all have been in their hair but Winger’s talent has always been in his songwriting. In fact, he just finished writing an classical music piece that is being formed with a ballet. So, if we can dispense with the “Kip Winger? Really?” then let’s move on to the review of the show…
The show rocked. Kip’s voice was in great form. It was just Kip and his 12-string guitar. The show was scheduled to start at 7:30pm and Kip walked out on stage without any fanfare at 7:31pm. The venue was an odd place – a brand new club-sized hall in the same building as the movie theater at the stadium where the New England Patriots play. The size was right but it just seemed too new and clean for a rock concert. (For comparison, the last place I saw Kip Winger was with his full band at The Middle East at the lower level – a dark sludgy place much more typical of a rock concert.)
Kip does like to chat with the crowd and even though the crowd was far from capacity (maybe only 35% to 40% of capacity?), the crowd was definitely into the show. The place was set up for the crowd to sit but about a third the crowd stood for the whole show (which made the venue even weirder). I loved that when Kip said that he would take requests, he had barely finished the word “requests” when people started yelling things out and there were lots of song titles from Kip’s 3 solo records – a sign that much of the crowd was well aware that Kip was more than the song “Seventeen”. Kip himself even commented on that fact when complimenting the audience on their song knowledge. I know that performers are programmed to say that every crowd is their best ever but either Kip is a great fibber or I think he genuinely found the Boston crowd to be his kind of crowd. And that made the show all that much better.
Kip is a great storyteller too and enjoys chatting with the audience. The loogie story is a classic and he also had a new one talking about how he wrote the lyrics to Pull, the third Winger band record: an outside writer was scrapped when Kip decided he could do better and during a long road trip in a new rental car that stretched for 7000 miles back and forth across the country, he wrote all the lyrics to Pull.
The best audience interaction came during the song Miles Away – a time when he frequently brings an audience member on stage. He looked out into the audience looking for volunteers and had a couple of women raising their hands. But when he grilled them about whether they could sing, they backed down. After a little more prodding, another woman raised her hand and when he asked her if she could sing, she said no but her boyfriend would be great. The boyfriend was reluctant but Kip said it was okay for a dude to sing with him as long as the dude didn’t look in his eyes during the song. At this point, two other guys raised their hands and wanted in. And eventually Kip found a woman to sing too. So, the bit when Kip frequently has a woman join him on stage turned into one woman and 3 men. At least one of the guys was really really good. When the woman relaxed and got into it, she was good too. And you could see that Kip was having a blast handing over singing duties to them.
Kip played for about 2 hours. He added a mini-medley of requested songs or as he put it, a medley of the songs he doesn’t remember. He also goofed around playing snippets of cover songs. Here’s his set list from the night:
- Cross – Songs From The Ocean Floor
- Easy Come Easy Go – Winger II
- Who’s The One – Pull
- Steam – This Conversation Seems Like A Dream
- Headed For A Heartbreak – Winger
- Blind Revolution Mad – Pull
- Free – Songs From The Ocean Floor
- Resurrection – Songs From The Ocean Floor
- Nothing – From The Moon To The Sun
- Every Story Told – From The Moon To The Sun
- Rainbow In The Rose – Winger II
- Hungry – Winger
- Daniel – This Conversation Seems Like A Dream
- Miles Away – Winger II
- Down Incognito – Pull
- Blue Suede Shoes – Winger IV
- Madalaine – Winger
- Seventeen – Winger
- Trade My Soul For Rock N Roll (encore goof) – Eerie Von?
- Horse With No Name (encore goof) – America
- How Far Will We Go (encore) – This Conversation Seems Like A Dream
If you are at all interested in Winger, Kip Winger, or great 12-string with great vocals, check out Kip on tour if you can. If not, then at least you now know that some great musicians survived the 80s and Kip Winger is one of them!
Rating: 9 (out of 10)