Cinderella + support: Santa Cruz - Nosturi, Helsinki 17 June 2011
There they were, sitting in front of the venue like mushrooms with backcombed hairdos. The sight of the young Cinderella fans was a bit surreal - none of them were even born when the band was plastering their walls with platinum records, but now they were making sure that they'd get the frontrow places. The young'uns must've studied the old videos and magazines carefully, since some of them were sporting really authentic looking 80'ies clothes, not to mention the warpaint and the hair.
The young (and a couple of not-so-young) glamsters were the most visual and striking part of the crowd, but I guess the majority of it was people around my age, revisiting their youth in way. Cinderella may have not been a huge band in Finland, but they obviously made an impact of some kind as Nosturi was nearly sold out. Not too bad for a Tuesday gig. This was their first gig in Finland, even though Keifer did say that it was "great to be back". Well, Cleveland, Poland, Finland... who can keep count, when your job is to travel around the world?
Finnish up'n coming glam rockers SANTA CRUZ were the support act, and a worthy one too. The guys had the sound, the moves and the style of the Hair Metal Era down. The band played an entertaining set, not as if they were a support act but more like stadium act. A bit overblown at times, but good fun nevertheless. Vocalist Archie is a star in the making, a bit like a combination of young Jon Bon Jovi's boyish good looks and Sebastian Bach's attitude. I predict that he'll be on the cover of SUOSIKKI (a Finnish teen music mag) within a year. The rest of the guys were good performers as well.
What might prevent Santa Cruz from taking over the world just yet is their songs. Their material is okay, hard rock written "by the book", but the fact is that they need a few songs that stand out on their own, not because they sound amazingly like Crashdiet, Mötley Crue or Skid Row. They've got the foundation for success, now they have to add something extra on top of it. A handful of hooks and a dose of melody would be my suggestions.
CINDERELLA have tasted the major success, but since the early nineties, the band's fortunes have waned a bit. They're still a sought-after live band, but their recorded material has been mostly reissues and new live releases or compilations. They did release the album "Still Climbing" in 1994, but it didn't do much for the band. Since then there's been some false starts and vocalist Tom Keifer has has some serious vocal issues, which have required medical procedures. For a while it seemed like the Cinderella story was over, but Keifer and the band soldiered on and dealt with the problems. In Helsinki they were on their 25th Anniversary Tour, playing nothing but the classic stuff, songs from the first three albums.
Cindy's shape as a live act has been questionable, some of the YouTube clips from last year's gigs sounded dreadful, their SwedenRock gig got bad reviews and frankly, their "Live At Mohegan" CD showcased a band going thru the motions. Fortunately the reports from earlier shows of this Anniversary tour had been positive, so I was hoping that we'd see a re-energized band.
"Once Around The Ride" kicked off the set, and I was thinking "oh no"... Keifer's vocals didn't sound too good. He shierked through the song with a very high-pitched voice, as if he was trying to avoid the raspy tones. "Shake Me" sounded a bit more comfortable, with Jeff LaBar providing those familiar riffs and Keifer concentrating on singing. A little surprising that they played such a big hit so early in the setlist.
After two high-energy tracks it was time for the first of the evening's ballads. Keifer's voice had warmed up, and "Heartbreak Station" sounded quite excellent. Drummer Fred Coury stepped up to the front and added his backing vocals to the first verse and chorus of the song.
"Somebody Save Me" and "Night Songs" lead us back to 1986 again, and everyone jumped happily to the time machine. Especially the no-frills rocking of "Save Me" sounded very good. "The More Things Change (The More They Stay The Same)" could have been the theme song of this retro-rocking evening - fashions and trends come and go, but a good hard rock song doesn't really age. Or something, let's not go all philosophical.
The band rumbled through the laid-back "Coming Home" and the full-throttle rocking of "Second Wind" which were kinda okay, but nothing earthshattering. The main set reached it climax with the three major hits played back to back - first the two superb ballads, "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone) and "Nobody's Fool", then the sing-along anthem "Gypsy Road". Couldn't have asked for much more, but then band did return for a couple of encore tracks. As they had played all the big hits already, the long-winding, bluesy "Long Cold Winter" and the mellow rockin' of "Shelter Me" didn't get the kind of hyper-enthusiastic reaction normally reserved for encores. I guess the crowd would have liked something a bit more uptempo, maybe "Push Push" or "Nothin' For Nothin'" from "Night Songs" would've driven them to a frenzy. At least they would've worked better for me.
As fun as it was to see the band finally, I did notice that there wasn't much chemistry or interaction between the band members, each one of the doing their own thing and rarely looking at each other. The strangely pale Keifer wasn't exactly looking like the picture of health and his contact with the crowd was rather limited. I don't know, maybe he's always been "Let The Music Do The Talkin'"-kinda guy... The appreciative crowd did get a few smiles out of him. There was a keyboard player Gary Corbett in the band's live line-up, and what's more, a roadie played some additional guitars every now and then.
All in all, this wasn't the greatest gig I've ever seen, but it met my expectations. A short set but the "essentials" were played, so no complaints from me. I would've bought a T-shirt if there would have been one available.
Once Around the Ride
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