LUZERNE, Pa. – Anyone that assumed Tom Keifer is simply living on his past successes would’ve been proved gravely wrong if they turned up at Brews Brothers West Sunday night, where the Cinderella singer performed a set that was rooted in classic rock but nonetheless teemed with vitality.
Touring in support of his first-ever solo album “The Way Life Goes,” Keifer and his band hit the stage a little after 10:30 p.m. and launched into “Sick For The Cure” from Cinderella’s “Heartbreak Station” album. Keifer played high-energy slide guitar, and his trademark vocals were powerful immediately recognizable. After noodling around on a little blues guitar lick, Keifer asked the crowd, “Are you read to get loud out there?” He led his band into “Ain’t That A Bitch,” a track from the new album steeped in the down-and-dirty blues-rock of old-school Aerosmith. Next up was another “The Way Life Goes” tune, the poppy “In A Different Light.”
Having grabbed the audience’s attention, Keifer then transitioned into a VH1 “Storytellers”-inspired segment, sitting down, switching to an acoustic guitar and telling some stories. The small club was the perfect atmosphere for such an endeavor. Keifer took the crowd back to 1981 and his mother’s front porch, where he was trying to write his first song. He teased some guitar lines from Cinderella hits “Nobody’s Fool” and “Gypsy Road” before kicking off a blues version of “Shake Me.” The ’80s rock staple by Cinderella held up well to the transformed arrangement and offered a window into the classic blues element of Cinderella that was often obscured by the gloss of the era.
Keifer’s wife Savannah joined him on vocals for two more new songs, “Ask Me Yesterday” and “The Flower Song,” before he offered a version of the Cinderella song “One For Rock and Roll,” which wrapped up the acoustic mini-set.
The dynamic concert continued with a smoldering, gritty “Solid Ground,” taken from the new record. Keifer’s introductory scream was goose-bump-inducing, and the new song held its own in a setlist peppered with hits that have been burned into the showgoers’ consciousnesses for decades. The Rolling Stones-y “Cold Day In Hell,” with Keifer on harmonica, was another stomping standout among the new tracks.
The charismatic Keifer slowed things down again, sharing a story about working on Cinderella’s “Night Songs” album in 1985 before slipping into a stripped-down version of “Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone).” Partway through the song, Keifer switched from acoustic to electric guitar, blasted a note-perfect solo and let out monstrous vocals to bring the set to a climax.
After “Coming Home,” from Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter,” and an extended “Shelter Me,” from “Heartbreak Station,” Keifer and company left the stage briefly before a pair of high-octane encores: the Joe Cocker version of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” and a powerful performance of “Gypsy Road.”
Following the entertaining, intense and intimate show, Keifer, who has battled vocal cord problems for some time, took a moment to thank the audience. “It’s you people that kept this music alive for 30 years,” he said. “You made my dreams come true.” And while it mind sound crazy, judging from Sunday’s show, he might be just getting started.