Live review and photo credit: Adrian Hextall (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Night Ranger have promised something a little bit special tonight. As (essentially) a warm up to their Hard Rock Hell / HRH AOR appearance two days later, we are going to be blessed with a solitary show, no support and an extended set incorporating all the hits and more.
If all had gone to plan, the doors would have opened at the Academy around 7:30pm, a swift hour of drinking would ensue and the band would then arrive on stage at 8:45 pm, ready to kick some proverbial ‘ass’. Instead, the doors opened at a little after 7pm and an unfortunate overrun on a meet and greet session with the band meant they didn’t take to the stage until almost 9pm. A swift hour of drinking turned rapidly into 2 hours and as a result, the bar takings were significantly up thanks to a sell out show and no support act!
Timing gripes aside, by the time Night Ranger do come on, all is rapidly forgiven as what we get is well over 2 hours of melodic rock heaven. Eric Levy sits stage left (as we look at it) and drummer Kelly Keagy stage right to make way for Messrs Blades, Gillis and Kelli to fill the floor. And fill it they do, bouncing, strutting, posing and playing off against each other with trademark licks and moves delivered with a level of skill and professionalism rarely seen these days.
Damn Yankees numbers High Enough and Coming of Age are played live in recognition of Blades’ time in the band and they truly are glorious renditions of tracks I’ve never heard played live. As such 2 non Night Ranger tracks played by Night Ranger are immediate highlights of the whole night for me. Blades’ career isn’t the only one getting an airing tonight. Brad Gillis spent time playing for Ozzy Osbourne after Randy Rhodes died and Keri Kelli has worked with Alice Cooper previously. As such we also get School’s Out and Crazy Train added to the set. To hear such diverse tracks from the band, played and fitting so well into the set shows, again, how talented a group of musicians they are. Short of building a time machine back to the early ’90s, it’s also certainly the closest I’m ever going to get to see Damn Yankees.
New material also gets added to the set-list and St. Bartholomew with a solid bass line from Blades and a roaring riff from Gillis will guarantee a few new fans tonight and hopefully confirm that there is a reason to deliver new music and for the band to not rest on their laurels. Although only 3 albums have come in the last 8 years, the quality makes up for the time it take to release them and High Road does indeed fit comfortably with the older material.
Crowd interaction is a big thing for American bands and Night Ranger is no different with Blades and Gillis swapping stories and banter between themselves and getting opinions on tracks and stories from the crowd. One revelation is that the band have not played the UK for more than one night in a year since 1985. A quick check on setlist.fm after the gig appears to verify this. The Academy appears to be the only venue of choice in recent years but Blades seems very excited to be playing the extra HRH show and vows to return to the UK soon for a longer trek around these fair shores.
Don Henley’s The Boys Of Summer and favourite Don’t Tell Me You Love Me help close out the main set and the band, again looking to maximise stage time for the crowd, don’t even exit before the last 2 (as expected) songs of the night Sister Christian and (You Can Still) Rock in America are aired. The crowd sing along to every word and due to the infrequency of the visits the band make to the UK, die-hards from all over Europe are in the crowd to appreciate this very special set. A set, which according to the on-stage set list showed several more songs that should have been played but were dropped due to time constraints. See below for the details. No complaints though, Night Ranger was played and that’s something new for the UK crowd (again according to setlist fm) and I can’t finish without mentioning the Damn Yankees stuff once more as that début ranks as one of my top 10 albums of all time. Great stuff.
Jack Blades , bass guitar, lead & backing vocals
Kelly Keagy , drums, percussion, backing & lead vocals
Brad Gillis , lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Eric Levy , keyboards, piano, backing vocals
Keri Kelli , lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Touch of Madness
Growin’ Up in California
Sing Me Away
Can’t Find Me a Thrill
School’s Out – (Alice Cooper cover)
Four in the Morning
Coming of Age – (Damn Yankees cover)
Crazy Train – (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
Don’t Live Here Anymore
Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight
High Enough – (Damn Yankees cover)
The Boys of Summer – (Don Henley cover)
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
(You Can Still) Rock in America
The band’s printed setlist on stage also included the following tracks that were not performed;
Rumours in the Air, Knock Knock Never Stop, The Secret of My Success, Lay It on Me, Penny