"SHAKE ME…….AAAALL NIGHT!" Now that is some profound shit man. God I loved…alright LOVE these guys and I’ll try to explain why. First of all, I could actually play most of their songs on guitar way back when. Simple, yet powerful – in a nice AC/DC kind of way. Secondly, they were evolving musically at the same time and in the same direction that my musical tastes were evolving. With their 1986 debut, Night Songs, Cinderella were basically marketed as a Motley Crue meets Bon Jovi pop-metal outfit. Just look at the Night Songs album cover for Christ’s sake. Black leather, pink chiffon, and the 12-inch high, teased hairdos. Then again, that WAS the 80’s metal scene. Only two years later, with their second album, the excellent Long Cold Winter, Cinderella had drastically changed their image and sound, which now felt more like an Aerosmith tribute. By the time Heartbreak Station came out in 1990, the band was creeping into Rolling Stones territory with a mixture of raunchy, blues-based tunes that featured more acoustic and slide guitar work than on their previous two albums. This DVD picks up at that stage of their careers.
In Concert was recorded in Detroit, Michigan during Cinderella‘s 1991 Heartbreak Station tour, and catches the band at their peak, headlining a large venue and fronting a killer stage show. I was caught by surprised when this came out, since there was no hint about it from the band’s official website (they still don’t mention it?), even though they were heavily promoting their new Rocked, Wired, & Bluesed: The Greatest Video Hits DVD. I have been eagerly awaiting a live concert video from the band since they stole the show at the Moscow Music Peace Festival in 1989, which so far has only been released on its original VHS set. It is a crime that this 80s-metal masterpiece has not been released on DVD yet. We’re talking Skid Row, Ozzy, Cinderella, Scorpions, Motley Crue, and Bon Jovi all in their prime, rockin’ over 100,000 commies in Lenin Stadium, as hordes of heavily armed, red soldiers stood guard. It was awesome. Anyways, this DVD features a typically strong Cinderella performance, but is unfortunately marred by an outrageously stupid production blunder. These genius producers thought it would be just great to overdub in this laughably obvious audience track, which nearly succeeds in making the DVD unlistenable. Think of a 1970’s sitcom laugh-track. This audience track is constant throughout the video, and sounds like the same ten-second clip, of a manically cheering audience, looped over and over again. The volume or intensity never fluctuates. It was both pathetic and hilarious when Tom Keifer gets the crowd to do a little sing along and chant, and all you hear is this same stupid track, which in no way follows the crowd’s response. It was so frigging annoying that my blood pressure is rising just thinking about it as I write this.
Aside from that, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounded over processed and did not impart a good live concert ambience. The stereo mix was a little more authentic, and brings out the guitars more in the mix. The video quality looked like it was recorded straight from an old VHS tape, so it looked rather poor. The camera work was amateuristic and focused too much on each individual musician, instead of showing the whole band performing. There were several instances where the camera just aimed straight down at the stage floor, or underneath the stage. Even these obvious gaffs slipped by the editors. The only special feature included is a photo gallery with live music playing in the background. Although the production quality was disappointing, it was passable enough to let the band’s great performance shine through.
The 17-song setlist took evenly from each of the first three Cinderella albums and presented the band’s best material.. The first half of the show favored the heavier stuff from Night Songs and Heartbreak Station. About halfway into the show they performed a two song acoustic set featuring the excellent "Heartbreak Station", which saw Keifer switching between 12-string acoustic and pedal-steel guitars, followed by one of my favorite Cinderella songs, "Coming Home", which Keifer dedicated to all of the soldiers returning from Gulf War I. This was followed by a powerful, electric version of the delta-blues inspired "Bad Seamstress Blues", which led straight into "Falling Apart At The Seams", as it typically does. They closed the show with a string of hit singles beginning with their very own power-ballad "Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone)", and ending with their first hit song, "Shake Me". They would return to thank the wildly appreciative crowd with a smokin’ encore of "Shelter Me".
It’s a shame that Cinderella never quite recovered fully after Tom Keifer lost his voice during the second leg of the Heartbreak Station tour and required throat surgery. By the time he had recovered and they released the Still Climbing album in 1994, the grunge-rock movement was already in full swing (damn you Nirvana!), and most of the 80’s pop-metal bands had fell by the wayside. Still Climbing never made a dent in the charts, and the band became dormant for most of the next decade, releasing only a few live and greatest hits CDs, and undertaking only a couple of tours.
Hopefully 2005 will be a turnaround year for the band, as they get ready to headline the Rock Never Stops Tour, which also features fellow 80’s, hair-metal, powerhouses Ratt, Quiet Riot, and Firehouse. The new Greatest Video Hits DVD is stirring up some attention as well. I have always thought that Cinderella could have been at least as big as Bon Jovi, if they would have put out a few more good albums and continued to tour regularly during the last decade. Who knows, maybe it’s not too late.
The More Things Change
Sick For The Cure
Make Your Own Way
Back Home Again
Somebody Save Me
Bad Seamstress Blues/
Falling Apart At The Seams
Love’s Got Me Doing Time
Love Gone Bad
Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone)
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