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The Borderline, London 14 September 2012
To play a
full set successfully reimagining songs mainly recorded for and by a
full band, with just your acoustic guitar for company, and hold the
audience's attention, is surely a benchmark of an artist's credibility.
With this show, Kip Winger would have provided the perfect riposte to
those who, both in real and cartoon form, ridiculed him in the early
To those of
us in the know, when they were not chasing MTV airplay, Winger were
among the more musically adventurous of their contemporaries and Kip a
brooding, complex presence who even, as he revealed here, composes
years when I have seen him with his band, he has come over as intense,
almost angry at times, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him in such
a relaxed mood and showing such a dry sense of humour.
Borderline was respectably full and it appeared a considerable number of
Winger fanatics had travelled including from overseas, which made for a
was roughly two thirds Winger material and a third of his more personal
solo material. Of the former, the likes of opener 'Easy Come Easy Go'
had the crowd singing raucously over the minimal musical backing, but it
was probably the songs from their darker third album 'Pull', a classic
that slipped under the radar as grunge swept away hair metal both good
and bad, that were more suited to this format, 'Who's the One' and
'Blind Revolution Mad' in particular.
The set list
appeared not to be rigid as more than once he responded to requests,
while he offered any fan the chance to come on and duet with him on
'Miles Away'. A pony-tailed New Yorker called JP, who could easily have
been an extra from the Sopranos, volunteered himself and was
tried and tested favourites from the first two Winger albums got an
airing, including 'Hungry', 'Can't Get Enuff', 'Madelaine' and
'Seventeen', which Kip probably regrets and wryly joked that its subject
would now be 39.
was the lesser known cuts that really hit the mark for me, in particular
'Under One Condition', the other ballad from 'In the Heart of the Young'
and just as good as 'Miles Away' yet rarely if ever played live, and a
storming 'Deal With The Devil' from the last Winger album, Karma. Others
were shouting for the anti-war themed 'Blue Suede Shoes' from the
neglected Winger IV, which ended the set.
been slated to play an hour and a quarter, he seemed to be enjoying
himself so spontaneously that by the end the set it had stretched to an
hour and 40.
news was his announcing that a new Winger album is in the can, but in
the meantime, this was both a joyous evening and a showcase of one of
rock's more singular talents.
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