Winger, Raw Silk at Gagarin 205 (2006)

Gagarin 205 (Athens, Greece)

Winger, Raw Silk
Winger's concert featured the most professional 'club' performance I've seen in a Hard_Glam_'Poser' band the […]
By Grigoris Chronis
October 19, 2006

Winger's concert featured the most professional 'club' performance I've seen in a Hard_Glam_'Poser' band the last years. This conclusion definitely is for good, with one or two 'drawbacks' marked. Plus, it also made me wonder a little bit more about all this 'reunions' stuff, the 'distance' between authenticity and professionalism plus lots of other philosophic issues. Shit, Hard & Heavy music breathes life for too many years now to take limited factors into consideration. Thank [you place your God here], in terms of music this evening was ruthless.

The first surprise hit me as soon as I entered the Gagarin 205 Club. Too many people - escalated to 600 or more gradually - did show interest for this 'retro' LA 'hard' Rock outfit, famous enough in the late 80s_early 90s worldwide with their impressive first two albums (1993's Pull was equally fantastic but too 'dark'_'mature' for such a party act; let aside the Beavis & Butthead cartoon series disparagement). In the classic 'doesn't-this-DJ-have-something-relevant-to-play-for-us-in prior-to-put-us-in-the-picture?' mood, the lights went dim almost on time for Greek 'melodic' Hard Rock veterans Raw Silk to hit the stage. There was much of anticipation for their appearance - since they do rarely play live, even after their 2005 reformation - but after 40 minutes I wished I'd never see them.

Raw Silk's setlist did mainly include songs from their 'cult' Silk Under The Skin (1990) debut album plus a set of other tunes. Featuring a new singer - announced as the band's 'original' vocalist in the late 80s - their performance was kinda depressive. This due to the fact that a) the instrumentation was mediocre (lack of rehearsing?), b) the new 'direction' - their decision, of course! - is rumored to be keen on the New/Prog Metal 'vein' (a System Of A Down cover even included!), creating suspicions on why they still use the same name, c) both the band's singer and drummer did exceed the sense of humor required for their performance, leading to a set of are-they-that-drunk? or OK, enough! comments among the spectators. Thus, mediocre performance of classics like Heroes Don't Cry, Street Girl or Irene were 'brought' in the background. It's a shame, 'cause this frontman - can't recall the name - had a remarkable hard rockin' voice (as clearly shown in the legendary Mistreated cover performed in the end of their setlist) but - on the contrary - the audience seemed so 'let-down' by the rest of their show.

All we needed now was an - at least - respectful performance from the main act. And - hell yeah! - we surely got it (in general). After a twenty-minute break, Kip Winger entered the stage and the rest of the band - Reb Beach (Whitesnake, ex-Dokken), John Roth (Black Oak Arkansas_Survivor) and Rod Morgenstein (ex-Dixie Dregs_Platypus) - followed. In a 'low profile' behavior and 'plain dress code' outlook they wasted no time and opened up with Revolution Mad. From this very first song and throughout the entire show, Winger explained the term musicianship in no words. Terrific 'individual-and-team' playing, superb chemistry, awesome multiple vocal harmonies, respect to their history and artistic consciousness were the main characteristics of their appearance. Obviously playing lots of stuff form their past discography, they also delivered some tunes from their newly 'crafted' Winger IV album, an effort more relevant to the Pull ethics in terms of songwriting and mood.

Kip's voice was in rather good shape - some cacophonies did not alter the general idea - while he also performed piano/keys (really, weren't they supposed to have a keyboardist in the new lineup?) and took over the interaction with the crowd. Reb Beach - clearly released from his 'programmed' moves in Whitesnake - was excellent, in a rather Rock mood and - as always - faultless as a guitarist. John Roth - original guitarist Paul Taylor's replacement after the In The Heart Of The Young platinum release - was also exceptional while - in my opinion - most credit should go to the monstrous performance of Rod Morgenstein; simply a giant! All these featured in a very good setlist that included equal songs from all their albums:

- Madelaine, Seventeen and Headed For A Heratbreak (from 1988's Winger)
- Can't Get Enough, Loosen Up, Miles Away, Easy Come Easy Go, You Are The Saint, I Am The Sinner and Rainbow In The Rose (from 1990's In The Heart Of The Young)
- Revolution Mad, Down Incognito, Junkyard Dog (Tears On Stone) and Who's The One (from 1993's Pull)
- Your Great Escape, Generica and Right Up Ahead (from this year's Winger IV)

To put things straight - on the other side - we must refer to the lack of a 'party' feeling from the band (especially during the 1988-1990 tunes). Rather static, they seemed too 'mature' for the requirements of their fans. In addition, the good setlist could easily be distributed in a different 'index' so as to keep it 100% 'groovy', while the crowd's response - deriving from or leading to? I dunno - was 'pale' in general.

Either way, it was common sense after 90 minutes of playing that Winger did deliver a great performance. A charismatic quartet, created by supreme musicians, showed why there are reunions and reunions. A 'dead' band does not always have to relate to the years of absence or existence. This gig explained why.

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