Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: © Robert Cavuoto
Night Ranger – Still Rocking Strong in America
The classic rock band, Night Ranger rolled into New York City at BB King Blue’s Club to support their rocking new CD – Open Road which came out June 10th.
Back in the 80’s you couldn’t turn on the radio or watch MTV without hearing Night Ranger’s hits; “Sister Christian” and “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”. Songs that helped them go straight to the top of the charts and headline arenas by their second album. The band had a tremendous impact popular culture and provided the sound track to our youth.
Tonight the band brought back the 80’s in full forces with a set list that weigh heavily on two of their earlier albums; Dawn Patrol and Seven Wishes. Rarely heard songs like; “Penny”, “Sentimental Street”, “Four in the Morning”, and “Night Ranger” were played with an infectious sense of energy that got the crowd rocking. Jack Blades bassist/vocalist for the band even commented that the band hasn’t played most of these songs since he was 27 years old when Ronald Regan was in the White House. These songs have outlasted the hands of time and sounded just as fresh as they did 30+ years ago. They opened the show with “Touch of Madness,” off Midnight Madness and never looked back for their two hour set.
One of the funnier moments came about half way through the show when the band took a quick break to switch guitars. The band appeared quickly minus Jack, all of a sudden there was a commotion in the crowd as someone was pushing their way up to the front of the stage. To everyone’s surprise if was Jack! He jumped up on the stage laughing and said, “I went to bar” and nobody would let me back to the stage.
Mellower moments arose when Jack told the audience that “Goodbye” was written for his brother who passed away from a drug overdose. The song became even more heartfelt knowing the lyric’s true meaning with Brad Gills and Joel Hoesktra performing it on acoustic guitars.
Towards the tail end of the show band played one of my favorite songs, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” then segued in a few verses of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” then back to finishing the song out. I always wondered how Brad got that unique sound at the end of the lead on “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”, and during a recent interview he informed me that he stumbled upon it by accident. Turns out when he banged his guitar, he heard a weird vibration with his new Floyd Rose tremolo system. That vibration combined with pulling up the harmonics and wiggling the hell out of the tremolo bar helped create his trade mark guitar tone.
Brad and Joel have an incredible chemistry not only with their playing but from a friendship standpoint which was evident on stage to the fans. Their sound and dual leads were played flawlessly.
The songs were tight, fast-driven and neatly filled with all the bands trademark riffs and soul- vocals provided by Jack and drummer/vocalist Kelly Keagy. Their energy, big smiles and constant joking throughout the show make it even more enjoyable for the fans. Jack bantered throughout the night with the crowd, told stories, and share insights into the stories beyond the videos.
They did manage to squeeze in two new songs off Open Road; “High Road” and “St Bartholomew”. Turns out it was the first time they ever played “St Bartholomew” live. As Jack put it, “We snuck a few new songs in there and you might not have even noticed”. The fans may have been surprised to hear new songs but I was surprised that they didn’t play more off the new CD as its truly a great rock CD.
The night would not be complete without Kelly singing “Sister Christian” and “Sing Me Away”. He not only an incredibly talented drummer but an awesome vocalist as well. He provided the background vocals on every song to compliment Jack’s voice.
The band closed with “You Can Still Rock in America” a bona fide rock anthem with Joel and Brad coming out with red, white and blue flag guitars, setting the stage perfectly for the 4th of July weekend!