The Medina Entertainment Center in Medina, Minnesota was packed to hear some hard rock classics that still have as much life today as they did when they were released decades ago. Tom Keifer, of Cinderella fame, brought his #Keifer Band and a catalog of hits while L.A. Guns featured Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns supplying their own fuel injected adrenaline the duo introduced on their debut record back in 1988.
The newly inspired L.A. Guns took the stage first. They are hot off the heels of their second album release, ‘The Devil You Know,’ since Tracii Guns returned to the fold. It was a follow-up to ‘The Missing Peace’ that dropped in 2017 which returned the band back to their classic hard rocking and unapologetic sound. Keeping up with the revolving door of members throughout the bands history is a difficult task but what matters now is Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns once again anchor the outfit and things have never sounded better. They also have found some excellent guys to fill out the roster with Ace Von Johnson (guitar), Johnny Martin (bass), and Scot Coogan (drums) to make this current version of L.A. Guns an explosive one. They struck with “Over The Edge” then into “Show No Mercy” and “Sex Action.” The band looked in great spirits and sounded energized and they took the Medina crowd through memory lane with “Kiss My Love Goodbye” which got a tremendous response. With the new album being released they managed to squeeze in the title track, with Lewis wearing a devils mask, and “Gone Honey.” A fun highlight for me was Tracii throwing in part of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary Of A Madman” during a min-solo section which then led into a few minutes of AC/DC’s “Hells Bells.” With the set winding down, it was time for the heavy hitters. “Never Enough” into “Ballad Of Jayne” were exactly what people were waiting for and they responded by singing every lyric. They snuck in “Speed” from ‘The Missing Peace” album before closing with “Rip And Tear.” It was a great set of music that was executed perfectly. This is the L.A. Guns people want to hear and see and it was pleasure watching this band operate at such a high level again.
A few months ago, Tom Keifer, gave a powerful statement without uttering a single word. In the opening moments of his new video “The Death Of Me” a television is seen flashing messages that included “Vocal Paralysis,” You’ll Never Sing Again,” “Vocal Surgery,” “Bleeding Vocal Chords,” “Lawsuit No New Record,” “Band Falls Apart At The Seams,” “Legal Battle For Solo Record Masters,” “Singer Collapses Before Show,” and “Rushed To Hospital.” Walking through the dimly lit room Keifer takes his guitar and smashes the television into complete oblivion, in essence, waving goodbye to his past. He is living proof that strength can come from adversity and the strong imagery of the video encapsulated his resolve to push past every hurdle that prevented him from moving forward as singer and as an artist. The brilliant new album ‘Rise’ was released just over a month ago and he, and the rest of the #KieferBand, have been on the road supporting it. The first track from that record, “Touching The Devine,” opened the show. That familiar hard rock, blues groove cut through the air along with that addicting raspy vocal hitting in a way that only Keifer could deliver. His guitar playing and vocal styling will always connect him back to the Cinderella catalog but he is unwilling to allow the book of his legacy too close just yet and his new material is a testament to his dedication. That’s not to say he does not celebrate his past achievements and bring alive some of the biggest songs and fan favorites from the eighties. There were plenty of Cinderella hits nestled throughout the night. Songs like “Coming Home,” “Nobody’s Fool,” “Somebody Save Me,” and “The Last Mile” kept the old guard happy. I appreciated all those songs but enjoyed hearing “Rise” and the songs off his record ‘The Way Life Goes’ that was released in 2013 with “It’s Not Enough” and “Solid Ground” making their way onto the setlist.
Enough cannot be said of group of musicians that surrounded Keifer on stage. Guitarist Tony Higbee, bassist Billy Mercer, on drums Jarred Pope, keyboardist Kory Myers and backing vocalist, percussionist, and pianist Savannah Keifer along with Kendra Chantelle who provided backing vocals and percussion. Chemistry does not create itself; it’s a product of hard work, countless hours spent together on and off stage. This unit has been together for six years now and their ability to play off each other and the precision in which they pull off the material is magnificent. They also know how to keep the show fun and engage the crowd and invite them into each song they play. We live in an era where it’s easy to pipe in tracks to make a band sound better live. It probably would be easier, and better on the budget, to play some backing tracks and not have six other musicians on tour but the #Keifer Band hits the stage without a net. What you hear, every perfect note or missed chord comes directly from the band on stage and it was refreshing to be part of it. Besides the fantastic new tune, “The Death Of Me,” the set wound down with the Cinderella mega-hits that every person there was ready to rock to. “Shake Me,” “Shelter Me,” and “Gypsy Road” all embrace a melody you can’t erase from your mind and soaring choruses that hook you every single time you hear them. It was a perfect ending to a perfect night.