Tom Keifer returned to Vamp’d Vegas on Thursday Aug 29, full of fire and hunger. He’s a couple weeks away from releasing his new solo album, RISE, and the first single, “The Death of Me” is burning up rock radio with rave reviews. Keifer had one of the most distinctive voices of the 80’s hair metal scene - a throaty rasp that could glide effortlessly into falsetto. As the frontman and main songwriter for Cinderella, he wrote the soundtrack for a generation of rock fans - the music we drank to, the songs we fucked to and and even the choruses that echoed in our heads when we broke up with each other in the parking lot of Hammerjacks or the Rainbow or wherever the 80s found you. But then, somewhere in the 90s, he had a lot of vocal issues. And we still kept going to see him. We’ve seen some rough Cinderella shows through the years. But the big news now is that he’s had surgeries, and vocal rehab, supposedly the master of the rasp is back. His voice sounds as strong as ever on the first single - so the big question on this sold out night at Vamp’d is can he still pull it off live?
I write concert reviews, I’m critical, I’m brutally honest and I thank my readers for appreciating that. And now, as my Editor cringes, let me just say this is a completely biased review. I have been a Cinderella fan since I was going to club shows on the east coast in the 80s. I was at one of the first shows (in Salisbury Md, on the end of the Night Songs tour) where they played "Gypsy Road" for the first time, and it was fucking magical! So how was the show on this insanely hot August Vegas night? How was his voice? Here’s the truth - It was a perfect night to lose yourself in the escapism of rock n roll. Was it pitch perfect? No. Did it matter? Not at all. Besides, everybody that was jammed into this packed to the gills club was screaming every lyric at the top of their lungs.
Tom strutted onto stage like a returning king and his disciples were ready for him. The screams were deafening, and when the band kicked into “Touching The Divine” from the upcoming album, it was refreshing to hear everyone cheer wildly for this brand new track. Keifer knew he was preaching to the choir when he led the band into a fiery version of “Night Songs” with his voice soaring. When he strummed the opening cords of “Coming Home”, everyone in the room was transported back to a different time, a time when politics didn’t matter and people just went out and had fun. And for the rest of the night, we had fun. A lot of fun.
To be honest, his voice was very strong on all the new material and the band seemed to revel in the receptiveness of the crowd. He faltered a bit on "Shelter Me", "Nobody’s Fool" and "Somebody Save Me", but it didn’t matter, Vamp’d was in the palm of his hand. It was one of the few shows I’ve seen that the crowd didn’t run to the bar during the “new songs”. Usually the phrase “new song” is a term that elicits a collective groan from the crowd and sends everyone to the bar, the pisser or their phones, but the new songs from RISE were solid representations of Keifer's songwriting ability. Title track “Rise” was a little shaky, but the band played it off with a cocky smile and a shrug - “eh, it's rock n roll- it’s not meant to be perfect”. The new single was very well received by the crowd, who already seemed to know most of the lyrics. The band also seemed quite impressed that a lot of the crowd knew the tracks they played from Keifer's first solo album, 2013’s The Way Life Goes. “It’s Not Enough” still echoes that "Exile on Main St" influence that’s always been simmering on the back burner of Cinderella’s songs. And one of the standout tracks from his first solo album, “Solid Ground”, got an amazing reaction. This rambunctious barn burner of a track recalls the energy of "Heartbreak Station" era Cinderella.
By the time Keifer and his band of gypsies closed the night with a sing along version of "Gypsy Road", the crowd felt like they definitely got their money’s worth. Tom Keifer once wrote, “Every now and then we all need to let go... For some it's the doctor, For me it's rock and roll!” And tonight, we all let go and had a wild night at Vamp’d!
Check out the video for "The Death of Me" from the New Album RISE out September 13 -