Driving off the Garden State Parkway onto Route 9 as I headed to Starland Ballroom I validated my presence not only in the state of New Jersey but also in the town of Sayreville…aka the home of Jon Bon Jovi. However, this night I did not visit the iconic venue to see Jon, Richie, Tico and David…I drove to see Tom Keifer, Jeff LaBar, Eric Brittingham and Fred Coury for CINDERELLA’s 25th Anniversary Tour.
Starland Ballroom, the local big name venue literately off the beaten path, was filled with mainly the New Jersey/Staten Island/Brooklyn/NYC 80’s rock syndicate. An admirer of observing and reporting on the energy between both stage and floor, I knew where I was and expected that cool and collected, refrained, glam experienced and knowledgeable rocker to multiply by the thousands filling the room…and they did. However, what I did not expect was the underlying energy projected by this crowd…somewhat reserved with a hint of punk rock…and I was in my comfort zone
PHAROAH did not only bring me back to the day…they brought me back to the era…a time oblivious to seriousness, labeled with big hair, tight spandex, lots of make-up, bright and loud fashion…“Sex, Glam and Gloom”. From stage to floor I got the vibe from New Jersey’s original glam band and the crowd looked with awe like suburban deer in headlights, stretching their hands to catch red carnations thrown by bodacious babes from the stage. Playing a five song set with Karl Dekira on lead vox/guitar, Rikk Fabio on guitar, Dennis Lords on bass, Nelson Pop on drums and Scott Archer on keyboards, PHAROAH’s single “Terrorist” embedded riffs in my head not only craving more music but also with a desire to go back in time.
Post stage strike we got KNUCKLEBONE with Ronnie Caporelli on lead vox/guitar, Fred Perrotti on bass, Moose on guitar and Matt Dell on drums. Hailing from West Orange, NJ the band formally known as JERSEY GYPSY got me with their single “Push” reviving many the gypsy woman in the crowd with pure bad ass bluesy rock and roll. Currently touring and promoting the release of their CD “Last Call For Alcohol”, Knucklehead ended their set with this song .
CASHMIER is Vince Albano on lead lox/guitar, Dean Santa on guitar, Hugh Essay on bass and Keith Lopez on drums. With most of the musicians from Staten Island, NY, this local original band played the 80’s circuit and has since resurfaced strong, contributing to the vivacious culture of live rock music. With the hooks and riffs from their single “Monster”, with the banging hits to the kit with glowing drum sticks, with the Starland draw now banging their heads well into the night and covering one of my all time favorites, “Rock N Roll All Night” by KISS, continuity of this bill has served well in preparation for the night’s headliner!
As I watched Fred Coury’s drum tech set-up his kit, as the room got crowded and the air more humid, as the crowd waited in anticipation and as the movie screen rose with lights hitting the stage…the 80’s glam rock band from Pennsylvania known as CINDERELLA started their solid set with the single “Once Around The Ride” from their album “Night Songs” (raise horns up here). Familiar with Tom Keifer’s voice issues rooting back to 1991 when he was diagnosed with paresis, I waited for that first note…but rockin from head to toe, from stage to the back of the room, from the speakers through the ear plugs and with Jeff LaBar shreddingright in front of me, CINDERELLA made me forget the issue because they were just that damn good.
No matter the era, no matter the age, no matter the issue…live music is food for the soul. It is uncanny that we get to open the window once in a while to breath in yesterday contributing to life to today…and it is a gift how we still have it in our present to simply rock out…together.