photos by Allen Ross Thomas
One of the bands opening up for Winger was The Athens Band, comprised of young men under the age of 18. After playing Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades,” Kip Winger came onstage to tell the audience “These Fuckers Rock!” It didn’t seem like anyone recognized him, and he left the stage to allow The Athens Band to finish its set. Maybe the crowd didn’t expect Kip Winger until Winger’s set or perhaps the crowd didn’t realize who he was because he wasn’t dressed in an outfit one might stereotypically expect a band of Winger’s genre would be wearing.
A little later in The Athens Band’s set, Mack Mullins from the tribute band Blizzard Of Ozzy came out to perform a cover of “Crazy Train.” It was remarkable how close his vocals sounded to Ozzy’s. At one point, he picked up guitarist Beau “Monkey” Anderson and did the classic pose from The Randy Rhoads Tribute album during the solo.
The Athens Band closed its show with a stellar performance of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper.” At the end of the set, “Monkey” Anderson threw his guitar down and smashed it with a sledge hammer, leaving nothing but splinters on the stage.
While Winger was setting up, videos from bands like Def Leppard and Great White were playing on the big screen, which brought back fond memories from my childhood.
When Winger took the stage I was pleased to hear that Kip Winger’s voice sounded like it was coming right off the first record. It seemed like each song had a jam section allowing the band to highlight some of its wizardry. Before the end of the night, John Roth, Rod Morgenstein and Reb Beach all took unaccompanied solos. Also, the three-part vocal harmonies of Kip Winger, Reb Beach and John Roth impressed–something that’s seems rarely seen these days. The crowd was also excited to help sing the songs and add their voice to the show.
Before “Hungry” started, Kip Winger said that he needed to replace some beers that belonged to someone in the front row. Apparently, he had knocked them down during the previous song. Before Winger played “Rainbow in the Rose,” Kip Winger handed the fan two fresh beers. I am sure that sweet gesture is something that fan will never forget.
Find out more online at http://www.wingertheband.com/