L.A. GUN’s and Cinderella’s Tom Keifer at the Arcada Theater, St. Charles IL 11/2/2019

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LA GUNS photos by Bob Hoeksema for mk ultra magazine and TOM KEIFER photos by Eden Lake for mk ultra magazine

I took the train on a cold November afternoon to Aurora from downtown Chicago to meet up with Bob Hoeksema to take in another hard rock show featuring two of our favorites. I should note that I’ve seen LA GUNS nearly a dozen time over the past 3 years and not once was it in the city. In fact with the exception of the Rockford show which included the regions Johnny Monaco on guitar they’ve always had to be overnight trips for me. For over a decade the Chicago based promoters have ignored hard rock acts and this show again was proof that these bands have a draw. This cities promoters just don’t get it. Reggie’s is a bit of an exception as I’ve seen ANGEL there twice. But ANGEL also played the Arcada on the same week of the same tour earlier in the year. The fact that the two bands we were about to see playing together would be a rare treat indeed.

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The Charismatic Entertainment Industry Powerhouse known as Ron Onesti put together a helluva 80’s hard rock show at the Arcada Theater with the one off show of two bands criss crossing the region at the same time. The pairing of L.A. GUN’s and Cinderella’s Tom Keifer was pure genius and the combo naturally sold out. For a reviewer sold out at the Arcada is a nightmare specially when your friend and photographer is in a wheelchair. Nonetheless we enjoyed a rockin show that kicked off with one of our mutual favorite bands LA GUNS.

Onesti came onstage just before 8PM to introduce the evenings performance and brought a young pre teen rock fan, Nina Crowns, onstage to pose with and introduce LA GUNS. It was a sweet gesture and was evidence of just how down to earth the promoter is at heart.

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LA GUNS kicked off an abbreviated set (they were opening act with a set list of only 60 minutes) with Hollywood Vampires opening track “Over the Edge” complete with dual guitar so featuring Tracii Guns and Ace Von Johnson and followed it right up with “No Mercy”. Phil Lewis appeared well rested, full on pure adrenaline with top notch vocals. I’ve never seen this guy have a bad night and I’ve seen the band more than any other over the past 3 years. 

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The 11-song set didn’t make time for any of the usual jams or extended guitar solos which was a little disappointing and missing from the set were “Some Lie 4 Love” from my favorite release “Hollywood Vampires”, “Gone Honey” my favorite track from their latest release, and “One More Reason” which is one of Bobs favorites. 3 songs which have been included on the last month or so of the long tour. When the hell does this band ever have time to record material as it seems they are always on the road and show no signs of wear and tear. Phil said that this line up of Tracii (lead guitar) Johnny Martin (bass/vox), Ace Von Johnson (guitar vox) and Chicago’s homeboy Scot Coogan (drums/vox) was the best LA GUNS line up ever and I have to agree. I even took some time after the set to tell Ace what a great fit he was for the band. 
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One of the biggest reasons I keep going out of town to see LA GUNS is their namesake Tracii Guns.  I’ve always said that I’ve never seen a person look like he loves playing the guitar so much and that’s what I missed about this set, those extended solos and other guitar play as well as the theremin during “Malaria”. I guess we always have the “Live in Milan” to take a look at that masterpiece. 
The 1-hour set was powerful nonetheless. The band is always full of raw energy and I look forward to seeing this line up many more times. 
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Next up was Tom Keifer and his band. Hot on the heels of their Cleopatra Records release “Rise” which quickly jumped into the Top 40 on Amazon’s “Best Seller” list within hours of its release. On Sept 25, 2019 it was #10 on Billboards “Hard Rock Album Sales”.
#10 – Hard Rock Album Sales
#17 – Independent Albums
#19 – Internet Albums
#21 – Rock Album Sales
#41 – Top Current Albums (Sales)
#46 – Top Album Sales
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About 30 minutes after the LA GUNS set Tom Keifer and his band, #Keiferband, walked slowly out onto a darkened stage and huddled together in a group pow wow or maybe a prayer at the center of the stage and the band opened up with “Touching the Divine” and then started to play the classic Cinderella song “Night Songs” when about 60 seconds into the song Tom noticed that the PA on stage left went out. He excused himself from the stage  while the techs rectified the problem and then came back onstage and kicked off with a scream of “I need a shot of gasoline. I hittin’ one sixteen. I get so hot I see steam. Forget the day, cause were gonna scream!” and then the bass and another guitar went deaf. At this point many front men would have thrown a fucking hissy fit, but not Keifer. Showing what a class act he is he gave the techs time to do another fix. Luckily it was a weekend and there was no curfew. 
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The 16-song set which went late was sprinkled with some live renditions of many fan favorites spanning Cinderellas career which I should point out were played at a very high volume. This show was loud. Tom’s solo material didn’t slack by any means and the title track to “Rise” was a very melodic and almost spiritual number. 
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Tom Keifer and his band, #Keiferband, are Tony Higbee on guitar and vocals, Billy Mercer on bass and vocals, Jarred Pope on drums, and Kory Myers on keyboards and vocals. Savannah Keifer and Kendra Chantelle Campbell handle the background vocals. 
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For what may be their biggest chart topper “Don’t Know What You Got” (Till It’s Gone) featured an piano wheeled onto stage (for the second time) and Tom performed it with his wife Savannah and it may have received the most enthusiastic response from the sold out Arcada crowd. 
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Despite a reported 6 vocal surgeries (In the early 90s, after Cinderella’s ‘Heartbreak Station’ tour, Tom had actually blown his voice out. He paralyzed his left vocal cord and completely lost his voice due to his aggressive singing style) Tom Kefifer is able to deliver a no hold barred performance and I was overwhelmed that he still has that signature vocal style. Not bad for a guy who was told he’d never be able to sing again. 
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The 7-member troupe came back out to perform a 3-song encore and it was fitting fianale to a much needed night of good hard rock music.
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LA GUNS setlist:
laguns setlist
Over the Edge
No Mercy
Sex Action
Electric Gypsy
The Devil You Know
Kiss My Love Goodbye
I Wanna Be Your Man
Never Enough
The Ballad of Jayne
Speed
Rip and Tear
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#Keiferband setlst:

tom list
Touching the Divine
Night Songs
Coming Home
It’s Not Enough
Somebody Save Me
Rise
Nobody’s Fool
Solid Ground
Fallin’ Apart at the Seams
The Last Mile
Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)
Shake Me
Shelter Me

Encore:

Long Cold Winter
The Death of Me
Gypsy Road

 
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About Alex Zander

Alex Zander resides in Chicago, IL and is the founder and publisher of MK ULTRA Magazine, established 1995. He continues to run all operations online.

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