Tom Kiefer celebrated his 57th birthday taking the stage with his band in the NW Twin Cities suburb of Medina, MN. Included on the bill were fellow 80’s stalwart Autograph. Featuring guitarist Steve Lynch and bassist Randy Rand from the band’s heyday, they are rounded out by drummer Marc Wieland and Simon Daniels, who I’ve seen front the band twice now. He’s a good singer but not much a front man. I know fans can sometimes get impatient when a band, surviving on their past, tries to insert new material into their set, but Autograph almost benefits from not having a wealth of recognizable material from their career’s primes. Not to take anything away from a band that has one their era’s Monster hits in“Turn Up The Radio”, but I’m not sure the near sell out crowd could differentiate the old from the new
Tom Kiefer turned the page on Cinderella with the release of his 2013 record The Way Life Goes. That’s not to say he has turned his back on the music of Cinderella. By my count, there was only one notable track (“Falling Apart At The Seams”) missing for my taste. He opened the show with the title track from the largely forgotten Cinderella record Still Climbing. And if that didn’t get the fists pumping, tearing right into “Somebody Save Me” did.
Throughout the night, Tom would only step away from the Cinderella catalog a few times to play the songs “The Way Life Goes”, “Solid Ground” and “It’s Not Enough” from his solo record. He seemed almost surprisingly aware of his audience’s preferences. Surprising because Tom has done a masterful job crafting a band around him in the vein of the Rolling Stones circa Exile On Main Street. While it is great to see an artist continue to grow, that can often mean said artist turning a blind eye to their past in live shows. Tom has worked hard the 5-6 years (probably longer) to re-establish his past, while also opening a path forward that will allow him to continue to grow as he sees fit. His band, that never disappoints, is diverse and big enough (8 people on stage) to allow him to present his material without stripping it down.
People who haven’t seen Tom or Cinderella in some time will ask me how his voice sounded. I’ve said it before and I will say it now – he sounds fucking great. And he seems rejuvenated. One of the biggest compliments I can pay an artist decades into their career is it looks like they are having fun. And Tom looks like he’s having the time of his life. It can be taxing getting fired up to play in Minnesota in late January. And who wants to work on their birthday right? I suppose strapping on a guitar isn’t exactly work. But they did bring out a cake as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him. And he blew all the candles out. I think. The band then tore into the encore. Playing what has become a staple of their show, the cover of the Beatles track (a’la Joe Cocker) “Find A Little Help With My Friends” and closing the night with “Gypsy Road”.
I have no idea if we will ever get a Cinderella reunion tour, but I am sure we don’t need one. Nothing against the other guys in the band, but you won’t hear those songs performed better than this. Tom and his band are dialed in, plus he has the energy of a younger version of himself. They have dates running through the end of summer with surely more to be added. Treat yourself and take in a show.