I’m a photographer. My toolbox includes not only years of experience and practice but also my camera and my eyes. Without any one of these things I would basically be screwed.
A vocalist’s toolbox includes his voice. Imagine you’re a singer in a very successful rock band after dedicating many years of practice and discipline to make it big. Now imagine you get paralysis of the vocal chords and can’t use that tool anymore and can’t sing. Devastating.
This is what happened to Cinderella lead singer Tom Keifer in 1991. I’m sure his world was shattered. He didn’t give up though. After several surgeries, he found himself a vocal coach, and had to go through a very strict regime of practice and training to get his voice back.
In 2008, Cinderella was ready to tour again but Tom had more problems with his vocal chords. Once again he persevered and it paid off. In 2013, he released a highly successful solo album, The Way Life Goes and subsequent tours have followed.
Fast forward to Sept. 10, 2016, Saturday night at the Club Regent concert venue. Two lovely ladies are dancing on the stage to Queen’s We Will Rock You. They are the back up singers for Tom’s band.
After the Queen song is done, Tom Keifer and his band does exactly what Queen were singing about in the intro song. Mr. Keifer is in fine form and sounding great. They start off the show with Once Around The Ride.
Lots of the fans are wearing Guns ’n’ Roses and Motley Crue shirts. Cinderella fits right in with that genre of rock: hard rock, metal, glam metal (an evolution of glam rock).
Cinderella also incorporated a bluesy sound into their style as indicated by the third song of the evening for the ballad Heartbreak Station. Tom played a bit of pedal steel guitar for this one. Heartbreak Station is the title track for Cinderella’s 1990 release.
The Flower Song from Tom’s 2013 solo album The Way Life Goes was next. More proof the man can write a great song. The crowd was loving it. The band was tight with a nice airy keyboard sound courtesy of ex-Winger keyboard player Paul Taylor.
The band switched back into high gear with Save Me and Shake Me. Heavy guitar riffs from Tony Higbee with solid drum and bass interplay provided by Paul Simmons and Billy Mercer.
Tom got the lighting person to turn on the house lights so he could make a video on his phone of the cheering fans. There’s something to be said about metal fans. They are extremely dedicated to the genre. They really know how to show their appreciation and make the bands feel good at the live shows.
The charismatic singer invited his wife Savannah on stage to sing the song they co-wrote together Ask Me Yesterday. With both of them seated centre stage, Tom played acoustic guitar as they sang together. Then Tom switched to piano for another duet with his wife for the 1988 hit Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone). Tom got up and rocked out on the guitar for the last part of the song.
The wooden piano (which was actually just a shell of a piano with an electric keyboard inside) was then wheeled off and Savannah was joined on the right side of the stage by another backup singer, Kendra Chantelle, where they played tambourines and sang along.
They played all the classics the fans wanted to hear. One of the roadies even helped out on guitar for one of the tunes.
Night Songs, title track from Cinderella’s 1986 debut, was played to the fans delight.
After about 70 minutes the band left the stage. Their 20 minute encore kicked off with the Rolling Stones It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It). The fans here didn’t just like it, they seem to love it…Only rock ’n’ roll? Indeed.
Next up was another tip of the hat to some early rockers The Beatles, although done more in the style of Joe Cocker’s version as they played With A Little Help From My Friends. A bit of a theme during the concert as Tom’s fans and friends helped out singing along all evening.
I must admit that I peeked at the set list on stage so the next song was a surprise as it wasn’t listed. The band did a blazing version of Prince’s Purple Rain.
Most bands save the best for the last and these guys finished off a great evening with the huge hit Gypsy Road. Like a lot of the songs throughout the night, this one had the audience singing along. They knew all the words.
Tom never sounded better and his band was very tight.
On my way to my car I noticed a crowd of people waiting by the band’s bus by the stage door. My friend and I wandered over there and chatted with the many fans who brought albums with hopes of meeting Tom and his band.
There was a lot of excitement and merriment back there. One fellow was there who threw his 2013 concert shirt on stage. He was hoping to get it back.
Bass player Billy Mercer and keyboard player Paul Taylor talked to the fans and said there was a good chance that Tom would come out. He eventually did come out and signed everyone’s albums, CD’s and ticket stubs. He even took the time to pose for photos with the adoring fans.
I talked a bit with Paul who told me what Tom goes through every night to be able to deliver such a fine performance. He warms up for an hour and a half before each show with vocal exercises. At the end of each show he also does some winding down. He sticks to this routine even when not on tour to keep his vocal chords in shape.
It’s interesting that the band on stage are never quite sure how it sounds out in the audience as they have monitors on stage that they hear. They do a sound check before the show. The sound is quite different when the room fills up with people who absorb a lot of the sound so adjustments need to be made.
Club Regent is a great live venue and the sound was quite amazing.
Oh, and by the way, the guy who threw his concert shirt on stage got it back. The bass player gave it back to him only after he promised not to do that again. He said he learned his lesson.
Once Around The Ride
It’s Not Enough*
The Flower Song*
A Different Light*
Ask Me Yesterday*
Don’t Know What You Got
(Til It’s Gone)
It’s Only Rock’n’Roll
(Rolling Sones cover)
With A Little Help From My Friends
* from 2013 solo release The Way Life Goes
All photos by Doug Kretchmer