Heading to Soho, I met with friends, Gavin and John at the Cro Bar next to the Borderline Club for pre-gig drinks before chatting with Steve, Eli and Rhonda and later catching up with Fiona.
As Gavin, John and I are members of a Private Dan Reed site, and as I had a personal message from Dan to pass on to Kip later that night, the conversation was, as you’d expect, very much centered on Kip, Fiona and Dan.
With the Club having a strict finishing curfew for bands, and the gig having quite an early start, we made our way down to the underground Club and arrived just before Fiona was due on stage at dead on 7:45pm
Kip and Fiona go way back and have a fantastic friendship with many musical connections. Very briefly for example: Kip worked with producer Beau Hill, who produced and co-wrote for Winger, Beau also produced for Fiona at Atlantic. Previously Fiona had been working with Reb Beach, which ultimately lead to Kip meeting Reb , and going on to record demos with Reb (which later showed up as classic Winger tracks we know today).
Kip and Reb we also involved in the Hearts Of Fire Movie soundtrack, with many other big named artists, Clapton, Dylan etc and which featured some amazing songs and stunning vocal performances from Fiona and the entire production was overseen and produced by Beau Hill.
Kip also did some producing and playing on Fiona’s Heart Like A Gun LP in 89′, culminating in the raunchy duet between himself and Fiona – Everything You Do, (You’re Sexing Me) from that LP. So as you can see there is a lot of history there, with multiple paths crossing over through the 80′s, and today their friendship remains as solid as ever.
Fiona ended a great little set with the first track from her first album, Hang Your Heart On Me. 15 minutes later, Kip walked onto the stage at exactly 8:45pm and greeted the crowd with his fist clenched, announcing, “My favorite gig of the year baby!”
Kip was accompanied by a fantastic percussionist, Ben Hans who, with one drum, played a brilliant full set alongside Kip and for a couple of songs, later asked to be joined on stage by his friend, Tim West on Keyboards.
As tradition at the Borderline holds, Kip looked over the mike and searched out the one guy he know is always there – right at the front – Samir…
Eyes fixed on him, Kip pointed right at him where he stood in about the second to third row and said, “What’s the matter Samir? Couldn’t make it to the front?” Then, laughing, sang the line to him “Time to Surrender”, to which Samir replied, “Yeaaaaaah”…
Kip was all smiles and seemed happy knowing Samir was in the house, and with that, the party was officially underway.
Kip opened the evening with Cross, from Songs from the Ocean Floor, which is a very powerful song and a very personal song to Kip. It has a real Egyptian feel and sound and was greatly influenced by the period after the tragic events in his life in 1996.
Kip really does love this particular show and always looks forward to playing this venue, he said as much with genuine sincerity. I’ve been at many shows where the audiences are told that they are “the best”, “the best ever”, and that “I love you” and “I love this place” only to hear the same lines said time and time again at virtually every show after that.
With this being the only show Kip does in the UK on his solo tour, you feel when he says this, that he really means it, and I am sure this sincerity was felt by everyone there.
Taking us into “Easy Come Easy Go”, once again he had the crowd instantly in his hands, which quickly turned into a sing-along with many funny moments, which continued throughout the show.
Kip loves to have fun, and reaching into his pocket he pulled out his iPhone and said “Let’s give Alice Cooper a call”. “Nahhh , that mother -f***er changes his number every week!”
He decided to phone Reb instead. Everyone waited with bated breath as he speed dialed Reb, then held the phone close to the mike as it rang. After a few rings, Kip said, “He’s probably playing somewhere”. Just then the answer phone kicked in and we heard, “Hey – it’s Reb, can’t get to the phone right now, but if you leave a message”… Kip threw his head back laughing, and with the audience laughing too, he left his message – “Hey, it’s Kip, – I’m in London, call me back mother f***er”.
Not wanting to disappoint, he rang another number only to get another answer machine… the crowd was thoroughly enjoying this little impromptu break in the set, but after a few attempts, and another missed call, he put his phone in his back pocket, and said, “If my phone goes off – I’ll be getting some ass buzz!”
“Hungry” was next up and at the start Kip reminded us, “If my phone buzzes, I’m stopping the f***ing song!”
“Deal with the Devil” had everyone grooving to the rhythm from the 2009 “Karma” LP.
Delighted with the response he was getting, Kip said, “God I love this gig – and I couldn’t wait to play here!”. “This is one of my favourite gigs of the tour and look I forward to it all year”.
He was to repeat this again a few times during the show with increasing enthusiasm.
Everyone knows what to expect with “Miles Away”. As usual Kip asked for someone from the audience to sing with him, and the invitation, as expected, was duly offered with the question, “Ok! Who can sing?”
With his hand up like a rocket and full of confidence, a guy wearing a faded AC/DC sweatshirt and a white, back-to-front baseball cap, looking like a rapper turned rocker, said, “I can sing!”
Seeing he was a guy, as this lad climbed up on stage, Kip cheekily asked “Is this going to be like a Bromance thing?” Once he was on the stage, Kip introduced him as Pete.
Kip quickly took him to one side for a little band practice, and happy with what he heard, then said over the mike… “Just one thing, don’t look in my eyes when we’re singing this!” While the crowd howled with laughter at the thought, Kip smiled and added, “You’re good right? No walk of shame right?”
And they both sang “Miles Away”, with Pete taking lead vocals on the chorus watched by an approving, smiling Kip, and did a sterling job, confirmed by the crowds unanimous cheering.
With Jorge Salan already in position on stage to carry the guitar solo, Kip brought out Harry and Fritz (who had been on stage earlier that night, playing guitar and bass with Fiona). He stated “We’re going to do a song that’s never been done live before, and as you will see, they learned it better than me, and as you will also see – I’m still reading the f***ing words”
“My phones buzzing! My phones buzzing! ” Kip suddenly announced, and to the smiles of the band and delight of the crowd, he pulled his phone out of his butt-buzzing back pocket and asked everyone … “How do I answer this f***ing thing?
Without his reading glasses and holding his phone at arm’s length, Kip asked, “Who was that?” and called back, only to get another answering machine message, to which he exclaimed while laughing, “What a Doofus!”
“This is from……….what the f**k is this off?”, he asked the band.
“Oh yeah, “From The Moon To The Sun” he answered himself, then took everyone to “California” from his third LP.
Kip asked Fiona back to the stage, and made a dedication to Dave Ling who Kip knows very well and who, he said, ”Sings his f***ing heart out to this song” .
Kip then rather artfully asked Dave for a good review of his show!
“This is “Under One Condition” he tells the crowd.
With an instrumental from Ocean Floor, then into the Winger classic, “Heading for a Heartbreak” followed by “Spell I’m Under”, it was a mix of Winger with solo tracks and a night of Kip’s best work.
“Madelaine”, from Wingers 1st LP, and their debut single, had everyone in full ‘80’s party mode.
The track “Seventeen” was kept close to the end, and Kip, knowing that the then seventeen year old, (whom this song was about), had aged somewhat since it was first written, cheekily sang the chorus as, “She’s only forty four” . This had people doubled over laughing and perfectly summed up a Kip Winger solo show; a great selection of tracks from both Kip’s solo work and Winger, mixed with a lot of very cheeky, playful interaction with the audience and many funny moments and off the cuff comments from one very talented guy.
But the night was not complete just yet!
Asking Fiona back to the stage for the final time, he said, “Let’s do our song” and ended the night with their duet of “Everything You Do, (You’re Sexing Me)”
Like the show, this song has also become a tradition when Fiona is in Old London Town.
Kip and Fiona had a ball and obviously have so much fun doing this song. Their smiles did more justice to their friendship than any words could have done.
Thanking the London crowd, then personally, Harry, Fritz, Ben, Fiona, Tim and Jorge, ended the evening with… “Man I really do love this place, you people are f***ing awesome!”
With such a fantastic atmosphere and numerous invites from the audience throughout the show, not just to play in, but to come and live in the U.K, this left Kip in no doubt just how much he is valued …and how much he is loved by his U.K. fans.
Words by Dixie