Friday, June 3, 2011

Cinderella: 25th Anniversary Tour
(06.02.11 - House of Blues Sunset, L.A.)

The blues don't grow old, and they never go out of style - the same can be said for Cinderella, who celebrated their 25th Anniversary in Hollywood Thursday night.

Going back about 15 years, I inadvertently insulted a member of the band with what I thought was high praise, calling them one of my favorite acts of their era. Said band member found that to be a back-handed compliment (at best), and some good-natured (ok, maybe mean-spirited) jostling in online forums ensued. We eventually kissed and made up - so of course I made it a point to say hello after the show last night. "Great show," I told him, "don't worry, you're still my favorite band of your..."

What can I say, the more things change, the more they stay the same - Cinderella remain one of my favorite bands to graduate from the mid/late-'80s hard rock scene. In fact, they're one of the only bands "of their era" that I actually like more now than I did then, which says a lot about the lasting power of their music.

The funny thing is, I'm not alone in that sentiment - at least a half-dozen people in the balcony at the House of Blues Sunset also said Cinderella were their "favorite band of the era" (their words, not mine) and, judging from the packed floor, the feelings downstairs were mutual.

When I told Chris Cornell that Soundgarden were my favorite band from their era, he didn't get offended (he thanked me). I'd never tell Maynard Keenan that Tool is my favorite band of his era, only because I know it would lead to him debating me on what era he's from - like me, he's the type that would argue that a blue sky is red just to amuse himself. If I told Tony Bennett he was my favorite of his era, he'd probably tell me why Frank Sinatra should be...

My point? There's no shame in being the best at what you do, and Cinderella are among the best at what they do. They deliver hard rock with a simmering blues base, equal parts Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, without being copycats. And like all good artists should, they evolved.

Few would argue that style wasn't a key selling point of Cinderella's Night Songs debut, their purple hues and big hair a perfect coupling to ingratiate them to fans of the exploding arena rock scene. But for all of the album's style, it packed just as much substance - and I'm prepared to argue that it placed the band far ahead of the curve.

If Twilight were set in the late-'80s, Cinderella could, should and would be part of the soundtrack. They were unwittingly a predecessor to H.I.M. - a saturation of sound and color that bled from a gothic underbelly long before Type O Negative introduced us to "Black No. 1." Yeah, they looked glam and made "Shake Me" their mantra, but "Nobody's Fool" built cold, damp castle walls around the soul long before emo was fashionable.

For me, the real glass slipper dropped when I saw Cinderella open for Judas Priest in the summer of 1988 on the Ram It Down tour. They weren't hell bent for leather, but they were dark enough to fit the bill, winning over even the hardest metal heads at Connecticut's long-since demolished New Haven Coliseum.

Twenty-five years later, the shit we ate for breakfast still gives us cancer - and Cinderella were tight as ever at the House of Blues.

My only complaint? The 70-minute set was only 13 songs long. There wasn't a dull moment throughout, but I'd have loved to have heard more than three songs from Heartbreak Station, as well as anything from Still Climbing (if you're not familiar with it, I highly recommend digging into the vastly-underrated 1994 release, their fourth - and most recent - studio offering)... And where the hell was "Push Push"?

But that's nit-picking.

I was bristling at the back-to-back bump and grind of "Somebody Save Me" and "Night Songs," and "The More Things Change" offered the perfect bridge into "Coming Home" (Favorite. Cinderella. Song. Ever.) and "Second Wind," which strutted along to a blues breakdown and electric keys. And in the unexpected laugher of the night, a friend and self-professed "huge fan" turned to me 10 seconds into "Gypsy Road" and asked me what song it was - not because it didn't sound great, but because she couldn't remember...

They say you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone - here's hoping Cinderella are back before too long.

1. Once Around The Ride
2. Shake Me
3. Heartbreak Station
4. Somebody Save Me
5. Night Songs
6. The More Things Change
7. Coming Home
8. Second Wind
9. Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)
10. Nobody's Fool
11. Gypsy Road
12. (Intro) Long Cold Winter
13. Shelter Me

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