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CINDERELLA
HAIR OF THE DOG
HELARAGE

Ventura Theater, 10/11/98

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Let's get this out in the open before we go any further: I'm not much of a CINDERELLA fan. Although I won't change the station if a Cinderella song comes on the radio, I only own one of their CDs - their greatest hits package, "Once Upon a..." It's got all of the hits and I enjoy it occasionally. But the band has never really captured my imagination.

That said, they were pretty damn good the other night at the Ventura Theater. Despite the fact they were playing to less than a full house, band leader Tom Keifer (and there can be no question that this is his band) rocked the house, playing a healthy selection of their classic hits, a few rare gems and bringing the level of audience participation - which had been virtually none up to this point - to a boil. (Click here to see photos of the band in action)

I didn't leave the theater that night in a hurry to go out and buy more Cinderella records, but I did listen to my "Once Upon A..." tape on the way home. And I might even go see the band live when they come through again.

In the middle slot that evening was HAIR OF THE DOG, a pretty good classic hard rock band who played music that fell somewhere between Ted Nugent and Cheap Trick. Although the music was dead on and the band tight and talented, they were a little too comfortable on stage. Watching Hair of the Dog reminded me of those over-expressive arena rockers of the 80s - lots of swinging hair, shiny leather pants (and vests) and exposed chests. They did a lot of posing, too, as though there were cameras everywhere. There weren't.

Opening the evening were local favorites, HELARAGE. It was a whole new world for the Helaragers because, as vocalist/guitarist Craig Stearnes told the audience, "You might notice something a little different. We wanted to rock and Robert didn't." He was referring to former vocalist/guitarist Robert Edilson, who recently left the band. So a four-piece band has become a three-piece, a la Motorhead, with Stearnes and bassist Joe Queen picking up extra duty. Unless you knew the songs by heart, you wouldn't have noticed. Stearnes and Queen are both capable vocalists and didn't miss a note, whether played originally by Edilson or themselves. Drummer Kenny Forth helped keep things moving with a powerful double bass fury. The only downfall to the Helarage set was that the mix was a little muddy that evening. But not muddy enough to sabotage a terrific Helarage set. (Click here to see pictures of Helarage that evening)


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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.