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Winger, April Wine rock out at Penn's Peak

  • JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Kip Winger points to the Penn's Peak crowd during Winger's performance Friday night.
    JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Kip Winger points to the Penn's Peak crowd during Winger's performance Friday night.
Published June 21. 2010 05:00PM

Staying power.

Both Winger and April Wine demonstrated they still have it by rocking out at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe Friday night.

The bands have longevity working for them, which means a lot when many of their contemporaries have long packed it in.

This has already been a good year for April Wine, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame back in March.

Winger has been around only half as long, but the quartet's fifth album, Karma, demonstrates that it is still kicking butts and taking no prisoners.

With three quarters of its original line-up intact ("newcomer" John Roth replaced Paul Taylor way back in 1993), Winger headlined the evening by focusing on its newer material, which took up most of the first half of the set. Songs like the opening "Pull Me Under". "Deal With the Devil", "Stone Cold Killer" have a harder edge than some of the band's earlier, more pop-oriented fare and show Winger means business.

Winger still clearly has the musical chops. Bassist Kip Winger, who has taken to writing classical music when not in his namesake band, has the voice to hit all the high notes. Guitarist Reb Beach displayed he can still blaze his way around the fretboard with a flashy hammer-on style solo, teaming with Roth to give Winger its signature guitar-driven sound.

It's always a pleasure to watch Rod Morgenstein, a former member of the Dixie Dregs, present his considerable skills behind the drumkit. When it was time to take his bow on the drums, Morgenstein made the most of it with one of the highlights of the set.

Winger did perform one song from its 1996 comeback album IV ("Your Great Escape") as well as two selections from its third album Pull ("Blind Revolution Mad" and "Down Incognito") before shifting to its hit-filled first two records.

"Headed For A Heartbreak", "Seventeen", "Can't Get Enough" and "Madalaine" were what put Winger on the musical map back in the late 1980's and earlier 90's, not to mention its biggest charting hit, the power ballad "Miles Away".

April Wine concentrated on the period of its greatest American commercial success, featuring its best known songs from 1978-1983, when the band was signed to Capitol Records, although it also included songs from before and after that era.

Guitarist and singer Myles Goodwyn is the lone remaining original member of April Wine and has been with the band since 1969. He continues to front the band and works with guitarist Brian Greenway, who has been on board since 1977, and bassist Breen LeBouef, to create the harmonies that the band melded with its guitar-oriented pop rock sound.

As with Winger's hits, April Wine has had a knack for writing memorable hooks. "Just Between You and Me" was a power ballad before there was a name for it, and the hard rock riffs of "All Over Town", "Roller", :Crash and Burn", "Enough is Enough" and "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" haven't lost their flavor after all these years.

Goodwyn and company had some other tricks up their sleeves, too. Greenway sang lead on "Before the Dawn", a concert favorite. A cover of Willie Nelson's "Night Life", from the band's last studio album, Roughly Speaking, was given a bluesy treatment. The rhythmic "Say Hello" offered a change of pace.

April Wine also reached back into the early days for some acoustic numbers, including "Lady Run, Lady Hide" and its first single, "Fast Train", which still retained their appeal.

April Wine might be of an older vintage, but it still offers plenty for its fans to enjoy.

Jumping into the present, Taunted By Tomorrow, a promising Palmerton-based band, opened the evening by enthralling its followers with a powerful set of originals. The band packs a heavy guitar wallop via Jonathan Heydt but still manages to infuse a taste of melody and texture into its songs to balance its no-nonsense approach.

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