My friend Jen and I are discussing the pure and unadulterated awesomeness of the Medina Ballroom. Haven’t been there before? Go. People dance. People eat steak. People bowl. They listen to music and they have bad hair and they stare slack-jawed in that slack-jawed way so unique to townie bars. I say none of this disparagingly, of course.
The blog I’ve maintained on my website has been too much country, not enough rock and roll, so in honor of Jen’s and my wooshy feelings about the Medina, I share with you a City Pages review I wrote up about Cinderella’s April 2011 appearance at the Medina, a show that seems to have happened only yesterday, and yet I’ve added several more wrinkles to my brow and greys to my hair since then. I felt young when I attended this show. Maybe I need to make it to the Medina more often.
April 16, 2011
Medina Entertainment Center
I have zero nostalgia for this band. Not an ounce. The exposure I had to Cinderella’s era of music – hair metal I guess they call it? – was by way of my cousin Shawn. I think she drove an Olds Toronado and had a copy of Look What the Cat Dragged In on the dash. I’d never seen men in makeup before, and it terrified me. And does Aerosmith count within the genre as Cinderella brethren? Probably not, but I also have a memory of that same cousin’s friend dancing wildly in my aunt and uncle’s camper to “Love in an Elevator,” and being convinced she was possessed by the devil and about to kill me in a ritualistic heavy metal mania.
I was more of the grunge vintage, which was supposedly a revolt against the excesses of hair metal (yawn). So, knowing little about Cinderella except that some dudes in flannel probably thought their manner of dress was too fancy, their guitars too wicked awesome, I picked up their first three tapes at Cheapo a few weeks ago to catch up. Prior to this purchase, I could sing the chorus to “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” but that was about it.
Now here I was at the Medina Cinderella show Saturday night, not as someone digging back to a past of tailgating, of making out by airport runways, teasing my hair and popping tapes in my ’82 Toronado. I was there as an absolute, virgin-eared newbie, with none of that Aqua Net-fumed sentimentality to taint my opinions.
And the verdict? Uhh…these dudes rock. Holy crap. Each original member is old enough to be my father, but jesus if they aren’t still able to own their slightly-updated glam rocker look and take on rock music. Their performance was so 100% on, and singer Tom Keifer, aged 50, can still wail. His falsetto screaming looks absolutely effortless, but it can’t be good on the ol’ vocal chords (further research indicates he’s suffered vocal cord paralysis and has undergone several surgeries to remove nodules – well, duh).
I can’t hearken back to the good old days with this band, but as far as I’m concerned, and definitely as far as the sold-out Medina crowd of people who do remember the good old days and know every word are concerned, these guys still got it.
I may be 25 years late to the party, but count me in.Of their just over hour-long set, what really sold me? “Shelter Me,” a bratty bluesy number complete with dirty roadhouse piano and sax (both played expertly by the members of the band). Seriously – hair metal dude whips out a saxophone and squeaks out a blues lick in the middle of the song like it’s nothin’ doin’?
Overheard in the crowd: (Said to this critic, while exiting the photo pit) “Pleeeease just grab me a pick off the stage pleeeeeease I know there have to be some up there; I know you can do it!” (Said to this critic by a 50-something man accompanied by his 20-something son in Cinderella bandana, while standing by the merch table) “Hey, you can get us backstage, right?”
The crowd: Dudes who’ve held on to their Cinderella shirts now for a quarter of a century (!). There are few Cinderella dilettantes here. These are dyed-in-the-wool, diehard fans. This crowd still uses lighters, not cell phones.
Critic’s bias: This is THE DEVIL’S MUSIC!!!
Random Notebook Dump:Warmup music: motley crue girls girls girls and kickstart my heart, note to self: don’t be too scared when the floor starts shaking; it’s just a sold-out crowd of women who’ve put on 75 lbs since the 80s hopping in time to the music.
Second Wind/Push, Push/Somebody Save Me/The Last Mile/Night Songs/Bad Seamstress Blues – Fallin’ Apart at the Seams/Heartbreak Station/Coming Home/Shelter Me/Nobody’s Fool/Gypsy Road/Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)/Shake Me