Winger / Islington Assembly Hall: A Spectacular Celebration Of Hair Metal Magic

The Islington Assembly Hall played host to Winger on a night that can only be described as a total celebration of the thirty-five gone by. Three and a half decades of quintessential ’80s Hair Metal, never failing or falling away from their signature sound. Much to the delight of the overwhelmingly enthused audience, who were equal in the show takeaway as the band themselves. 

Winger

Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024

Words: Monty Sewell

Photography: Ryan Hildrew

Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

All the founding band members were together, Kip Winger – of course – fronting with his bass, Reb Beach on guitar, Paul Taylor on the keyboard and guitar, and Rod Morgenstein on the drums. Howie Simon joined the band on guitar, keeping the place of John Roth warm. Roth, though not a founding member, began his time in the band as a touring musician in 1992, so his credentials are sat deep within the Winger family. 

Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

The show goes straight into the hits with Stick The Knife In And Twist, followed by Seventeen and Can’t Get Enuff. Kip Winger is every bit the rockstar he has always been, with that cool swagger flicking effortlessly off his shoulders as smoothly as the basslines he plays. His voice is husk perfection, soaring over the multitude of voices singing along to every word. 

Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

We get the classic Down Incognito before the frontman halts the start of Proud Desperado from their most recent 2023 album, Seven.

“I forgot the words, guys. Can anybody help?” 

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Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

A performer, entertainer, and musician, this was-it-deliberate-or-not moment plays off on the audience as they joyfully shout out the intro lyrics to Winger as he signals the restart of the song. Intentional or not, who cares when it is nothing but pure, great showmanship? 

Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Junkyard Dog and Hungry follow before Winger takes a moment to lavish the crowds with his storytelling, congratulating Taylor on his writing skills on the huge rock ballad hit, Miles Away. Arms shoot up in the air as the hall joins in on the chorus. They really don’t make songs like this anymore. 

Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Keeping on the theme of their second album, Rainbow In The Rose delights. I glance around the venue and note the overly eager looks on everyone’s faces. It is simple adoration for the band and the music they have given us.

It is not often an original lineup return after this long to play the songs that made their fans love them so when it happens, it is never taken lightly. 

Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Beach gets the spotlight with his track, Black Magic. A cracking rendition of his guitar-led track adds depth to the performance and some serious, snarling horns-to-the-sky responses from the audience. The band were cripplingly on point as they eased into an instrumental play-off. 

Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Pull Me Under whips up a concoction of flat-out Hair Metal vamoose, and then it’s back to those Winger roots with Time To Surrender. The celebration continues with Headed For A Heartbreak, Easy Come Easy, and Madalaine. 

Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

It was a show of musical hits, a performance of nostalgia, and an utter bow down to one of the finest in the industry. Winger knows what they are about and give the people exactly what they want.

For someone who was not around when that first album came out, I can only embrace an unavoidable regret that I wasn’t. 

Thank goodness Winger were back.

Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk
Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk
Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk
Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk
Winger - Islington Assembly Hall - 7 June 2024 Photo Ryan Hildrew
Winger – Islington Assembly Hall – 7 June 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

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