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NIGHT RANGER In Chicago, IL With Photos!

By Duane Vickers, Houston Contributor
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 @ 11:44 AM


Live Album And DVD Recording @ House Of Blues

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Live Photos By Todd Petersen

If you’ve followed the career of NIGHT RANGER spanning back thirty-four years from the release of 1982’s Dawn Patrol, then you know what the standard for a great live band is. Live performances are just that and anything can happen, right or wrong, good or bad and the show goes on. And with any touring band the hiccups or “technical difficulties” are worked out and the band plays on. But when you tell the world that you’re recording a live album and DVD and that you’re going to stream it live on the internet, you had better bring you’re "A" game. Then again, this is NIGHT RANGER, and as a live band that's all they ever bring.

So when it was announced that the band would be recording what really amounts to their first “plugged in” live album in the United States (2012’s 24 Strings And A Drummer being acoustic), NIGHT RANGER fans from all over made the trip to Chicago to see the band lay down a two hour set full of hits, rarely played classics and a couple of yet to be released new tracks at the House of Blues.

Serving as EMCEE was legendary Chicago D.J. Mancow Muller from 97.9 The Loop, there to celebrate his 1 year anniversary of his Mancow In The Morning show. Muller made the announcement that besides the fact that the band was recording a live album, that the show was also being streamed live on Yahoo. Muller also took this time to drop the names of a few celebrities that were in the audience, mainly former JOURNEY frontman Steve Perry.

Finally as 9:00 rolled around it was time for the band to hit the stage to face the sold out crowd and all of the fans streaming the show on Yahoo. This was the first time I’ve heard every band member’s name announced as they came out, it’s not typical and really sounded great. The signature opener for NIGHT RANGER has become “Touch Of Madness” off of Midnight Madness with guitarists Brad Gillis and Keri Kelli standing on risers at the back and center stage and frontman and bassist Jack Blades leading the charge. This song always sets the tone and when Gillis puts his finishing “whammy bar madness” touches to it, you know you’re in for a rock show.

Going back an album off of their debut Dawn Patrol was “Sing Me Away”, with drummer Kelly Keagy laying down the vocals. Always announced as one of the very few singing drummers, Keagy is ageless and delivered a spot on performance.

Next up was the hit “Four In The Morning” from Seven Wishes. Blades took command of the stage for this one. Finally pausing the set to let the crowd know that they had been in town a few days enjoying the weather right up until today. “Man when we walked outside it was like the Wizard Of Oz” Blades referenced to the windy Chicago weather. Blades then told the crowd “We’re a California band, we all grew up in California”, which segued into their next song “Growing Up In California” off of 2011’s Somewhere In California.

Blades then laughingly told the audience “Ya know, when we announced that we were going to be recording a live album, there were all the rumors in the air that we’d be playing some songs we haven’t played in a while and some songs that we’d forgotten how to play”. With Gillis playing the intro to “Rumors In The Air” from Midnight Madness, the band broke into the song.

For the next song Blades reminisced about all of the movies that NIGHT RANGER songs have appeared in by naming several. Then he shared the story of how Michael J. Fox called them to have NIGHT RANGER write a song for his new movie Secret Of My Success. And with keyboardist Eric Levy laying down the opening sequence the band went into “Secret Of My Success” off of the movie soundtrack and 1987’s Big Life. Next, Kelly Keagy gave us his heart and soul with a moving performance of the hit “Sentimental Street” from Seven Wishes.

One of my favorite guitar solos is on the title track to Seven Wishes and it’s a rarely played song so when the band broke into it to the appreciation of the audience all eyes were on guitarist Keri Kelli for that solo and when the album is released it’ll show that he nailed it.

Blades then got the crowd involved for the title track to 2014’s High Road, followed by “Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight” from Dawn Patrol featuring flawless dueling guitar solos by Gillis and Kelli and their hit single “Goodbye” off of Seven Wishes.

The time had come in the set to share with the audience what the band has been doing, so with that Blades announced “We’ve been recording a new album, and I know you can’t sing along, I just hope we can play it”. Blades announced the song as “Day & Night”, however the setlist showed it as “Night & Day” so I guess we’ll have to wait until the album comes out to see which way they go. This was a heavy song that featured Keagy on vocals and went over great with the crowd.

The band closed out their set with Blades telling the crowd “This is not a new song” breaking into their hit “When You Close Your Eyes” from Midnight Madness and “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” from Dawn Patrol.

After a short break backstage, the band returned for their encore and mega hit “Sister Christian”, proving once again that everyone knows that song. It’ll be something to hear when the live album drops if you can hear the band or the crowd singing. Then it was time to give the diehards in the crowd a throwback from Dawn Patrol with “Penny”. It’s a song I have always wanted to hear played but never had and judging from the response of the audience, it was very much appreciated. Closing out the encore was their signature anthem “You Can Still Rock in America” from Midnight Madness featuring Gillis and Kelli sporting the “Stars and Stripes” guitars.

And so for the audience streaming on Yahoo the band took their bow and the live feed was cut. However for those of us who made the trip, the band took another short break and came back out for a second encore. Giving us another sample of the future the band played another new and yet to be released track, “Running Out Of Time”, which if I had to guess may very well be the first single released off of the new album, it’s got that classic NIGHT RANGER vibe and will again prove that these guys are song writing geniuses. Finally, to finish off the night the boys went deep again with the song that gave the band their name, “Night Ranger” off of Dawn Patrol.

In a live show where things can sometimes go wrong, this night with it all out there for the world to see and hear everything went right for NIGHT RANGER, from the sold out crowd to the live audience streaming around the world, the guys delivered a stellar performance with a set full of classics and a taste of the what’s to come. Many bands don’t want to do live albums anymore because they’re a hassle and they don’t sell. NIGHT RANGER always has been and will always be a live band so when you see a NIGHT RANGER show, you for sure get the hits but you also get the in your face dual guitar attack of Brad Gillis and now Keri Kelli, Jack Blades pouring it all out there from one side of the stage to the other, Kelly Keagy pounding the skins while delivering heart felt vocals and Eric Levy bringing it all together with brilliant keys. That is NIGHT RANGER in a nutshell and translating it from the studio to the stage is what they do as well as anyone. The fans wanted a live album and NIGHT RANGER delivered in a big way by touching on nearly every corner of their brilliant career and by leaving no doubt that they are far from finished. The fans wanted new NIGHT RANGER music and it's coming. Never a band to sit around and stop creating and thirty-four years into it, NIGHT RANGER might just go on forever.

Setlist:

  • "Touch Of Madness"
  • "Sing Me Away"
  • "4 In The Morning"
  • "Growing Up In California"
  • "Rumors In The Air"
  • "Secret Of My Success"
  • "Sentimental Street"
  • "7 Wishes"
  • "High Road"
  • "Eddies Comin’ Out Tonight"
  • "Goodbye"
  • "Day & Night" (New Song)
  • "When You Close Your Eyes"
  • "Don’t Tell Me You Love Me"
Encore 1:
  • "Sister Christian"
  • "Penny"
  • "You Can Still Rock In America"
Encore 2:
  • "Running Out Of Time" (New Song)
  • "Night Ranger"
Check out some more photos from the show!
Live Photos By Todd Petersen


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