By STEVE MASCORD
THE place: somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean. The time: March, 2014. Tom Keifer steps up to the microphone with an acoustic guitar, the seas temporarily calm but the audience adrift on an ocean of spirit and spirits.
“Lately I've started telling audiences how songs got inspired and what happened,” the 53-year-old Cinderella vocalist tells the self-styled pirates aboard the Monsters Of Rock Cruise.
“And I was thinking about maybe telling you one tonight.
“You want to hear the song, or the story behind the song? I've never told this story before.”
As his band - bassist Eric Brittingham, guitarist Jeff Labar and drummer Fred Coury - listens with the rest of us. Keifer explains his yarn is “a sad story with a happy ending” and takes 1000 or so fans back to 1989, in Memphis, Tennessee.
The singer who growled “Shake Me” and “Nobody's Fool” usually has a very different speaking voice between songs – his banter with Cinderella has rarely ventured far from the “are you ready to rock' eighties frontman canon.
But this is Cinderella's only show of the year; Keifer now has a burgeoning solo career.“I think it was more like he was in that solo record mood." Brittingham later tells AOR magazine. "From what I've heard of his solo shows, it's more like a (VH1) Storytellers. He does talk a lot, sets the songs up. That's all well and fine but I'd rather go see a band that just floors you when you walk in. ,”
Keifer begins: “…. “there was this girl I had my eye on that night. We were hanging out in the lobby of the hotel and having a good time and I thought that she was pretty cool.
“So I fell into a bottle of Nightrain that night and started writing a song about it.”
Fans of the Philadelphia four-piece know what's coming next – the song he is introducing is the 1990 MTV ballad, “Heartbreak Station”, the one with the line "She took the last train/Out of my heart..."