What was supposed to be a stormy wet April night, compliments of El Niño, turned into nothing more than a few annoying drops of rain, which made the 10 minute drive to the club nearly 12, sheesh! (Some cheese with that whine?) The Coach House is South Orange County’s “must play” venue for bands and artists of all ilk that pass through the area. Since its establishment in 1980, the club has featured the likes of B.B. King and Tom Jones, Black Crowes and John 5, but this weekend (4-9-16) Tom Keifer rolled into town bringing a helluva lot more thunder than El Niño did, and a helluva crowd too!
Best known as singer/guitarist/songwriter for Cinderella, Keifer has established himself as a bona fide solo artist with the release of The Way Life Goes in 2013, which was greeted with rave reviews. Since then he has taken his show and music on the road to a growing and appreciative number of fans. With a healthy and happy balance of solo material and Cinderella classics, his shows have the fluidity you would expect from a seasoned professional. Setting the mood for each track in his 17 song set, Keifer manages to take his audience on an emotional excursion that can turn on a dime. Switching gears like a NASCAR veteran, Keifer effortlessly segues from ballads, The Flower Song and A Different Light, where he had fans swaying back and forth to Somebody Save Me and Shake Me, a couple of Cinderella’s arena favorites, where the crowd immediately responded with horns and headbanging right on cue.
And so went the evening, with Master Keifer brilliantly weaving a tapestry of music that pushed all your emotional buttons, while connecting on a real and personal level with his audience. From the guttural screams of Solid Ground to the impassioned vocals of Ask Me Yesterday, Keifer has proven one thing for sure—his vocals are better than ever—perhaps a bit more grizzled and seasoned, but better for the wear. And for a man who was told he’d never sing again he’s certainly enjoying the last laugh. Keifer’s band is certainly not to be overlooked either, their chemistry and cohesiveness is quite evident in their performance. The rhythm section, Billy Mercer (bass/vocals) and Paul Simmons (drums/vocals) both masters at their craft, tightly held down the bottom end and played an essential element in the show’s pace, while Tony Higbee (guitar/vocals) and Paul Taylor (keyboards/vocals) did a masterful job at bringing the studio recordings to life, never missing a note or a cue.
A definite highlight of the show was their Joe Cocker version of The Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends, a song tailor made for Keifer’s vocal stylings. He seems to shine most on those songs where his pain, passion and emotion are underscored. Back-up singers Savannah Keifer and Kendra Chantelle’s soaring vocals raised the roof, transforming the liquor drenched night club into what felt like a Sunday morning church service, complete with a two woman choir! The final encore of the night was a rousing rendition of Gypsy Road, an appropriate closer considering the band will be on the road for the better part of the spring and summer.
As a veteran of the music industry, it is always a pleasure to see an act that’s polished, passionate and professional and this well-oiled machine is all of the above. Whether you were a fan of Cinderella or not, I urge you to give Keifer’s solo album a spin, I’m guessing many will be pleasantly surprised.
CLICK HERE to view more pics from the show.
Once Around The Ride
It’s Not Enough
The Flower Song
A Different Light
Somebody Save Me
Ask Me Yesterday
Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)
It’s Only Rock N’ Roll
With A Little Help From My Friends
TURN DOWN YOUR VOLUME and the audio quality is pretty good!