If you spent a couple of hours listening to great music, singing along with hit songs and deep cuts, clapping before, during and after the songs, and laughing at jokes, then you were at the Kip Winger Live and Unplugged Show at the beautiful Guitar Sanctuary in McKinney, TX. Everyone in the dedicated audience knew Winger's background in rock and his renaissance association with other genres, but no one was ready for the concert that turned into a variety show right before their eyes.
Robby Rothschild opened the night with a short set of lyric-driven tunes that let the crowd glimpse into the life of Rothschild and what makes him passionate about music. He then stayed on stage to play percussion and keyboards when Kip came out.
The front man for the band Winger immediately put everyone at ease as he talked as if he was in their living rooms, giving a short history of some of the many diverse paths he has traveled in the music industry. Stories about playing bass for Alice Cooper, forming his own band with Reb Beach, and having Dallas' own Andy Timmons play on all his solo albums turned the audience into instant friends, then he shared about studying classical guitar, writing a symphonic piece for a ballet.
Winger's 15 song setlist didn't follow the usual pattern, which made the audience part of the show. He continued to engage the crowd and played "for" them instead of playing "at" them. Kip enticed the fans to sing the refrain on "Easy Come, Easy Go," then showed his still solid vocals on "Who's The One" and "Hungry."
Continuing his story of playing for Alice Cooper was hilarious as he described his first gig with the Shock Rocker. Kip then called Paul Walker from the stage, who unfortunately didn't answer, and then played "Miles Away," which turned into a singalong. Talking about "Blind Revolution Mad" allowed audience member CJ to knock off another bucket item as Kip brought him on stage to sing it with him. That was a thrill for everyone.
Winger then brought out one of Big D's favorite sons, the uber-talented Andy Timmons, who played along when Winger began singing snippets of "School's Out" and "I'm 18" by Cooper. Andy rocked solos on three songs and jammed along as he does so well and then received a well-earned standing ovation as he left the stage.
A couple of stories inside the next two songs, a spontaneous Cars song, which brought another quick-witted quip from Winger set up the beautiful "Madalaine." Unfortunately, the two-hour show had to end and it ended well with the beautiful "Seventeen." It finished a great night of music, stories, jokes and talking with the audience as one can do only in an intimated setting like the Guitar Sanctuary. It was a night to remember.
Kip Winger is involved in many genres of music and entertainment and his easy-going manner and familial demeanor makes you want him to succeed. It's east to root for a Renaissance man.
A special thanks to Brian Meader for helping us cover this concert. Check out the tour schedule at www.kipwinger.com for shows in your area. Also, catch up on shows at the Guitar Sanctuary at www.guitarsanctuary.com.