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Winger @ JB's Dudley (26/3/10)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 14:20 by Paul Woodward
People were still drifting in slowly as opening band Furyon took to the stage, so there wasn’t an overly large crowd to greet them.  I’m probably the worst person in the world to try and do a review on this band, as musically they aren’t really my kind of thing.  I have kept an eye on the band’s progress over the past few years as the band includes cult AOR heroes Matt Mitchell (Vocals) & Chris Green (Guitars) so I have heard quite a lot of the band's songs, but they just don’t hit my musical taste buds. So I can’t say I was overly looking forward to seeing the guys perform, but given the talent within the band I felt I’d be missing out not seeing these guys perform one last time especially with the band now also featuring melodic rock-friendly Pat Heath on rhythm guitars (Danny Vaughn Band, Passion Street).

Seeing Furyon do their songs live didn’t really change my opinion of their music, it's just too heavy for me. The one thing that does stand out is the wealth of talent on stage, and regardless of my opinion it is obvious that these guys are really bloody good at what they do. I really do expect shortly after they release their debut album “Gravitas”, which they recorded in America, that the band will be all over mainstream rock radio and TV. Given the right push and promotion this band should be huge. Hopefully the next time the band is in the Midlands one of our more Metal-headed reviewers will catch the band and let us know what they think!

Matt Mitchell & Chris Green were in an absolutely fantastic English AOR band called Pride, and if you’re an AOR fan 2001’s "Far from the Edge" album is an essential buy!  If you can track that down and the band’s follow up in 2003 "Signs of Purity", you’ll be treating yourself to some of the finest AOR this country has produced over the past decade. I remember seeing Pride opening for Firehouse way back when and being totally blown away by them, I had to really fight the urge to shout a request out for “Saviour Of A Broken Heart” which I’m sure would have gone down a storm with this melodic rock crowd! I also discovered some of Matt’s solo stuff, which is singer-songwriter type stuff, but highly melodic - if you check his myspace page out you’ll hear what talent and amazing vocals this dude has.

If you like your Metal, I urge you to check out the Furyon.  Good luck for the future guys, and thanks for Pride and the memories, and when you’re rich and famous and you fancy doin’ an AOR side project just for the hell of it, we’ll still be here!

JBs started to fill up nicely just before Airrace were due on stage, and a lot of the crowd poured towards the front, including myself.  I’d seen Airrace perform over at the River Rooms in Stourbridge last summer and was totally taken aback by a band that had just reformed. So I was really looking forward to the opportunity to see the band again, and judging by those around me I wasn’t the only one.

The band gave a more confident performance tonight - yeah they still enjoyed themselves, but they performed with an air of knowing they were hitting the right spots with the audience. The sound was great for the band, and they sounded huge! The band live are a far heavier beast than on record and it makes for a great live energy, Laurie Mansworth on Lead Guitar particularly letting rip and giving another great performance. Keith Murrell’s vocals were again on top form and he gave a far more confident performance and really took command of the stage and the audience’s attention.

The band went down immensely well, I’ve seen good support bands get good reactions, but these guys had the crowd in the palm of their hands! The band got the crowd singing along as loud as if they were the headliners and given the fantastic performance tonight the band deserve all the praise they are getting from all over the place at the moment! Hopefully there will be a new album from these guys soon and some more live dates cause if you like your AOR these guys are un-missable!

The band made full use of their short slot and tried to fit in as much as possible including two new songs “Better Believe It” & “One Step Ahead”. I think they chose a wise set list and running order, as it grabbed the crowd from the get go and didn’t let go and even left the crowd asking for an encore!  Opening with “Caught In The Game” and leading straight into “Open Your Eyes” without pause, the band showed that it was all about the ROCK tonight - no interruptions!  They also magnificently delivered “Not Really Me”, “Promise To Call” , “First One Over The Line” & my highlight of the evening “Didn’t Wanna Lose Ya”!  They decided to end the set with the epic “Brief Encounter”, which the JBs faithful just lapped up.  A fantastic finale to the set!

To say I’ve been looking forward to tonight’s gig would be a massive understatement; I’ve been like a kid counting down to Christmas for the mighty Winger to enter the Black Country and rock the hell out of JBs!  If you're into your Melodic Rock, Winger are one of those legendary names from back in the day who you’d sell your granny to see live. I never thought I would get an opportunity to see Winger, even as the band took to the stage I still couldn’t quite believe it! So a massive thanks to whoever organised this tour and to the band for getting over here.

The dates were announced on the back of the release of the new Winger album “Karma”, which is nothing short of totally kick ass and a real return to form after the bitter disappointment of the dire 2006 album “IV”. I had expected the band to perform a lot of Karma material tonight and was surprised that they didn’t. They did keep the energy and the sound of that album though giving their older material a fresh lease of life and a slightly ballsier sound.

Crowd wise it seemed like everyone turned up at 9, because JBs was now heaving, an absolutely amazing turnout and far exceeding my own expectations! Just as the DJ said it was great to see such a huge turnout which just proves real rock is still alive and kicking! The crowd gave the band a fantastic reception and sang their hearts out all night long, a fantastic warm atmosphere which it seems JBs has a real knack for providing us rock fans! Kip and the band seemed genuinely impressed with the turnout as well, with Kip mentioning during the show it was great to see so many people come out to see the band play.

They opened with “Pull Me Under” and lead straight into “Blind Revolution Mad” which summed up just how the band would deliver their set, no bollocks just a full on balls-to-the-wall rock show. Even though Kip didn’t have much banter with the crowd, he does demand your attention and comes across very charismatically. The band just came and delivered the business! It was great to hear Kip mention guitarist John Roth was the new guitarist in Giant as well, which did get a few whoops of acknowledgement and approval, although not as many as I would have hoped for. Hopefully John will take his experience of JBs back to David Huff and hint at a must play venue should we ever be lucky enough to get the band here in the UK!

“Easy Come, Easy Go” really kicked off the crowd sing-a-long with its catchy-as-hell chorus, before kicking into newbie “Stone Cold Killer” which is absolutely fantastic live, a great energy and sure got a fair few heads banging around me, just proves Winger ain’t no nostalgia act!  Having no keyboard player meant every time Kip took to the keys, they were without a bass player, but thankfully for us Chris Green of Furyon took to the stage when needed periodically during the course of the night - and he did a mighty fine job too! So Kip introduced Chris as he took the keys for “Rainbow In The Rose” which was greeted by a huge booming chorus of excitement from the audience!

Kip introduced the next song after saying he gave guitarist Reb Beach (also of Whitesnake!) a big bag weed and a crate of beer to come up with the riff for the next song another newbie “Deal With The Devil” which indeed has killer riff from Beach! These new songs are immense live and hopefully become staples within the Winger set list, and hopefully given tonight’s fantastic turnout, they’ll be back to play these tunes again right here in the heart of the England!

I can’t say the next two songs do much for me (“Down Incognito” and “The Great Escape”), but the audience disagreed with me and gave both songs rapturous applause. We then got a guitar solo before the band broke into “You Are The Saint, I Am The Sinner” which I enjoyed immensely and went down well with those around me, great sing-a-long entertainment! We then got Rod Morgentstein’s drum solo, never my favourite part of a band’s set but I had been impressed by Rod’s tub thumping skills all night and it was great for him to get a moment in the spotlight!

I think it was around this time the band decided it was time to take the roof of as the end of the set just went stellar with the band playing a blinder and the crowd just going nuts! Chris Green joined the band onstage again as the broke into my highlight of the set “Headed For A Heartbreak”, an oldie but goodie that was obviously hitting the right notes with the JB’s choir. I love this song and it was great to get a chance to see it performed live, and the band all delivered it perfectly! Next we got “Can’t Get Enuff” & “Seventeen” which are great sing along numbers which everyone was enjoying and dancing along too. A guy squeezed next to me for these songs and if this guy wasn’t having the best night of his life I want to know what drugs he’s on and where I can get my hands on em! He was head banging and stomping his way all the way through JB’s floor to Australia and sang every word of the songs, he kept tapping me and telling me to stop writing and head bang! Hey dude if you’re reading this now you know why I was keeping track of the set list! Keep on head banging!!!!

The band left the stage only for a short time before their encore, which started with the beautiful “Miles Away” which they delivered fantastically, before kicking into last song of the night “Madeline” although prior to it there were some minor issues with Kip‘s bass so we had a little bit of a jam from the rest of the band, and this time also delivered some of Kip‘s humour to help apologise for the delay. The set seemed to go by far too fast and given the fantastic performance by the entire band I could have rocked for another hour easy and I think many in the crowd would have joined me!

Tonight’s gig I thought was gonna go one of two ways it was either gonna be total shit or totally blow me away 'cause of how worked up and excited I had gotten about it. So I was ecstatic at how well the guys performed, delivering a kick ass ROCK show all wrapped up nicely in that wonderful atmosphere you get at JBs - damn I love that venue!  Here’s hoping they’ll be back again soon.  I’m gonna end this review with Kip’s final words to the crowd before leaving the stage “You mother fuckers rocked the house!”