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NIGHT RANGER/Airrace, Islington Academy, London
23 June 2011
At last a
chance to see one of my 'must see in my lifetime' list of US melodic
rock bands (ticked off Styx, Journey, Foreigner, Kansas and REO
Speedwagon to date with only Boston and Survivor to go!).
were last over in the UK back in 1985 supporting Foreigner. In fact like
Foreigner and Styx, Night Ranger seemed to have rediscovered their mojo
and are back to their best.
A late entry into the venue, caused by Night Ranger been delayed for
several hours by UK immigration, meant Airrace had to cut their
set short which is a damn shame as they have been absent since the 80's
Back in the
80's had a storming debut album in 'Shaft Of Light' but success never
came their way and the last time I saw vocalist Keith Murrell he was
singing backing vocals for Cliff Richard at Knebworth in 1990.
They have a
new album, 'Back To The Start' out on Frontiers next month and the songs
they played tonight off the album sound very promising indeed,
definitely with a heavier touch than of old.
Murrell are original members guitarist Laurie Mansworth and bass player
Jim Reid, with I think T'Pau's Dean Howard on guitar.
classic 'Shaft Of Light' album we got 'Promise To Call' and 'First Over
The Line'. Great choice of support band and hopefully the start of more
gigs and music from this vastly underrated band.
how Night Ranger only arrived at the venue at seven they took to
the stage by around 9.15pm and played for just under two hours. Kicking
off with 'Rock 'N' Roll Tonite' from their new album 'Somewhere In
California' was a good choice as it is a no nonsense rock anthem and it
was quickly followed by 'Touch Of Madness'.
To say the packed crowd was enthusiastic would be an understatement, as
the majority like me will have waited years to see them and they didn't
The band gel
so well together even relatively new boys in guitarist Joel Hoekstra
(who looks like a man mountain) and keyboards player Eric Levy (looking
like a younger version of original keys man Alan 'Fitz' Gerald).
one thing the US rock bands do well it is showmanship and it comes so
naturally to them. Be it Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra trading guitar
solos or Jack Blades with his grinning and bizarre hand shapes from the
Bob Catley school of strange onstage hand shapes.
Not a duff song in the whole set and they even played 'The Secret Of My
Success' from the Michael J. Fox film of the same name.
hear 'Sentimental Street' which led on from Eric Levy's keyboard solo.
This allowed drummer Kelly Keagy a chance to take to the stage, although
he was back behind his kit after the song's intro.
'Coming Of Age' got a massive reception from the crowd and it would a
dream line-up to bring that band back, perhaps to tour with Night
Ranger? Mind you it would be a long old night for Jack Blades being in
two bands every night!
moments the Japanese bonus track off the new album, 'L.A. No Name' was
given an airing featuring Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra on acoustic
guitars, although both played them like electric guitars such was the
speed of their picking. This led nicely into 'Goodbye', just to hear the
full band outro on this song made my night.
Encores were another new song, 'No Time To Lose Ya' which fitted in
perfectly with the sound of their older songs.
Next up was
their US smash hit 'Sister Christian' (which I first heard on a Gary
Davies Radio 1 show one Saturday night and have been hooked on the band
ever since) and the classic '(You Can Still) Rock In America'.
What a song
to end a show on and I really hope they come back soon. Night Ranger,
like Styx, know how to have fun live and Journey should perhaps take
note and loosen up a bit. One of the best gigs I have seen in ages and
the wait was well worth it.
Rock N Roll
Tonite/ Touch of Madness/ Sing Me Away/ Growin' Up In California/ The
Secret of My Success/ Keyboard solo/Sentimental Street/ Eddie's Comin'
Out Tonight/ L.A. No Name (instrumental)/ Goodbye/ Lay It On Me/ Coming
of Age/ Four in the Morning/ When You Close Your Eyes/ Don't Tell Me You
Love Me/ No Time To Lose Ya/ Sister Christian/ (You Can Still) Rock in
Photos by Andy
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