At The O2 Academy 2, Newcastle, U.K., March 30, 2010

Being added to the bill right at the last minute meant that Furyon were just starting their final song as many ambled into the hall which was a shame as they certainly sounded promising and may well be worth checking out further.

Main support act Airrace have recently reformed after more years than they’d care to mention off the scene. They return without their most famous son, one Jason Bonham who is firmly ensconced in the studio with Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa, so he was not part of this tour.

Certainly their ear friendly brand of upbeat Pomp Rock went down a storm with Winger’s crowd although Keith Murrel’s golden vocals were at times drowned somewhat in the mix. Airrace played the highlights from their Shaft Of Light opus, a much sought after item amongst collectors (Ed. Note: available by request on MER’s radio stream!), with the Bluesy “Better Believe It” and the mid tempo stomp of “Don’t Wanna Lose Ya” particularly impressing however it was the final cut, the moody “Brief Encounter” which really shined. This was a welcome return for Airrace and with new song “One Step Ahead” being aired, there is a new sense of passion in the band and the future looks promising.

WingerWinger have always been something of a misunderstood band. Derided by critics for being a load of MTV fluff, all hair and teeth and being ridiculed by perhaps the worst cartoon show in history did nothing for their street cred.

For those of us in the know however saw a very, very different band. For a start, the musicianship was a cut above the average ’80’s act with Kip Winger cutting his teeth with Alice Cooper and drummer Rod Morgenstein starring with legendary muso’s Dixie Dregs with guitarist Reb Beech going on to feature in Coverdale’s latest incarnation of Whitesnake. These guys are no fools musically.

With their latest release Karma, Winger have succeeded in combining their melody and accessibility of their early albums with the muscle of the greatly underrated Pull album to create one of the best releases of 2009 and if you haven’t heard this yet, you really must check it out.

To reinforce the strength of their new album Winger kicked off with the frantic “Pull Me Under” with a killer riff any Metal band would be proud to own before heading, without pausing for breath, into the imposing “Blind Revolution Mad”, the infectious AOR-tastic “Easy Come Easy Go” and the pumping “Stone Cold Killer”, also from Karma.

Ballads are kept to a minimum although the classy “Rainbow in the Rose”, which featured a rousing climax with Morgenstein really showing his stuff behind the drums and big hit “Miles Away” do receive an airing with Kip Winger, whose vocals were outstanding throughout, behind his keyboard with his place on bass taken by Furyon’s Chris Green.

WingerWinger’s classic Rock credentials were further enhanced by the hard hitting “Deal With The Devil”, the opening romp from Karma and the heads down Rocker “Your Great Escape” from their comeback Winger IV album.

Winger also pulled out the crowd pleasers with dance floor filler “Can’t Get Enough”, “Seventeen”, the groove heavy “You Are The Saint I Am The Sinner” and “Madeleine” keeping the hits quota flying.

WingerThe Academy 2 may well be one of the smallest stages that Winger have played on, yet this did not stop the band giving an arena standard performance and while the strong sense of musicianship was evident throughout it didn’t stop some light hearted humour seeping through such as the Hillbilly jam just after “Incognito” in tribute to guitarist John Roth’s Tennessee roots.

Ending the show with an impromptu gallop through The Beatles “Helter Skelter” complete with guest singer “James from Newcastle” who was dragged out of the crowd by Kip Winger was absolutely hilarious and the band were clearly having as much fun on stage as those in the audience and ensured that the departing fans left with smiles on their faces.

Shorn of any studio gloss and free from the shackles of industry constraints, Winger showed what a credible Rock band they are as they delivered a fine collection of melodic Hard Rock masterpieces delivered with flair and consummate musicianship. Anyone still doubting their credibility would be well advised to check them out on stage or grab a listen to their highly recommended latest release, Karma.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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