Saturday, 14 March 2015

Night Ranger Live at the Islington Academy

Night Ranger are one of those old time rock bands which I've always heard as a name but never been able to fully get into any time I've tried their music. That all changed recently when they released their latest album High Road. That disk had some real happy go lucky rock tunes on it that really put a smile on my face. There were still some songs that didn't excite but they finally won me over with their brand of good time melodic rock. This show was a one off pre-festival gig for the Hard Rock Hell festival that they would go on to play in a couple of days. This was kind of a warm up show for their set in Wales so there was no support listed and it allowed the band to be very creative with the set list and be looser and have more fun basically.

Although they did take to the stage about 40 minutes later than billed which left us old bastards thinking is Axl Rose playing or something but they did eventually saunter on to the stage and starp on their guitars and pick up their drumsticks and set headlong into the NR back catalogue. Not being familiar with old 'Ranger is a slight hindrance to ones enjoyment of the songs but the enthusiasm of the band cannot be faulted one iota. The singer Jack Blades was one fine wisecracking form with plenty of in between song banter both between the crowd and his band mates Gillis, Keagy and the new guitarist Kelly or Keely or something not exactly sure of his name. Anyhow the sound was excellent in the Islington Academy and every note they played was crisp and precise with lead and harmony vocals in most songs perfectly audible and played.

Of course I was most looking forward to the newer songs of which a couple were played the best being of course the super catchy title track High Road with loud sing-a-longs during the yeahh yeahhs by the sell out crowd. Actually I should mention that I've seen some packed shows in Islington but this gig was rammed to the rafters. Who would believe Night Ranger would actually be so big in 2015? They played the same venue a couple of years ago but I don't think it was nowhere near as packed as the other night. I would guess the crowd as being close to a 1000 with ease. I managed to sneak up along the side to be about 4-5 metres from the stage right and slowly got a little closer as people moved, however taking photos was a bit hard but I did manage a few videos at least. The band played with much enthusiasm as I said, with a lot of smiles on their faces. Brad Gillis is an engaging guitarist as well and knows a shred licks having been with Ozzy of course. Actually I must be honest I didn't actually even know he was in Ozzy's band for awhile, but I was informed by a friend who attended with me, that that was in the case and to expect an Ozzy cover, namely Crazy Train. That was actually one of the highlights of the night for me.

The other guitarist has also been in a few bands, one being Alice Cooper, so we got a fun little rendition of School's Out, a song I've never heard live having never seen Alice Cooper live of course. The band's own song continued to impress though the sappy ballads sung by drummer Kelly weren't really my cup of tea. I prefer straight ahead catchy melodic rock and when they played those songs I was happy. I doubt I'll ever be a huge Night Ranger fan but their live prowess can't be denied really with a wealth of experience under their belts to call upon.

I doubt I will see them live again should they come calling but at least I have seen these stalwarts of melodic rock at least once before they call it quits although it seems they are very happy to continue what they are doing and business pretty good. The set was just over two long and I left just before the ballad Sister Christian was aired as I don't like that song and there would have been a huge crush trying to get out of that place through a small set of double doors. A fine evening with the Ranger old timers all in all so thumbs to these old boys for keeping going and flying the flag for melodic rock.

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)
St. Bartholomew
Sentimental Street
Night Ranger
Crazy Train
(Ozzy Osbourne cover)
High Road
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
Sister Christian
(You Can Still) Rock in America

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