Tuesday night I finally had the opportunity to see one of my favorite bands for the first time…..after 27 years, I finally got to see Night Ranger in concert! I have been a Night Ranger fan since the band’s debut album, DAWN PATROL, was released in 1982 and I caught the first video for ‘Don’t Tell Me You Love Me’. Once the band released their second album, MIDNIGHT MADNESS (1983), I was hooked! I grew up with FM radio and MTV and the three singles from that album were everywhere: ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America’, ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ and ‘Sister Christian’. Add in albums like 7 Wishes (1985) and BIG LIFE (1987) and Night Ranger rocked me through the ’80s…..but I never saw them in concert. Times change and when the ’90s came, I lost touch of Night Ranger until I got back into fanzines, and got connected to the Internet in the Fall of 1998, that’s when I became tuned into their new albums NEVERLAND (1997) and SEVEN (1998) but I still missed opportunities to see the band live. As it turns out, Night Ranger visits Mohegan Sun every year and I have never gone! If it wasn’t for my friend giving me the heads up, and a well timed week’s vacation, I might have missed out again!
Night Ranger setlist:
This Boy Needs To Rock (w/part of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’)
Sing Me Away
You’re Gonna Hear From Me
Rumours In The Air
Coming Of Age (Damn Yankees cover)
Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
The Secret Of My Success
(A quick jam of partial songs from each member’s first concert)
The Doors – ‘Roadhouse Blues’ (Kelly Keagy)
Led Zeppelin – ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ (Brad Gillis)
Iron Maiden – ‘The Trooper’ (Joel Hoekstra)
Van Halen – ‘Jump’ (Christian Cullen)
Jimi Hendrix – ‘Purple Haze’ (Jack Blades)
Sentimental Street (w/keyboard solo intro)
Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight
High Enough (Damn Yankess cover)
Four In The Morning
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
(You Can Still) Rock In America
This was another free show at the Wolf Den in the middle of the Mohegan Sun Casino, that meant standing in line for few hours if we wanted to actually get inside because capacity is 400. The Wolf Den is more of a lounge than an arena with it’s tables and bar but many people do get up at the front of the stage on the floor. My friend and I got a late start to the casino but we had plenty of time for a great dinner and we got in line with about an hour until showtime. One thing I knew from the Ace Frehley concert in March was, if the Wolf Den was full, people would be standing outside the arena in the open views from the slot machines. We were in line about 15 minutes when I saw an usher start to talk to people at the front…..turns out the Den was full and we were all on standby! That was my cue to take up residence on the outside railing of the arena with full view of the stage. If it wasn’t for the waist high log barrier, we would have been about 10-12 rows back, stage right corner!
The show was great! Night Ranger played a set full of hit singles like ‘Sing Me Away’, ‘Four In The Morning’. ‘Sentimental Street’ and ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ and they threw in a deep track from 7 WISHES, ‘This Boy Needs To Rock’, and a song from their last album HOLE IN THE SUN (1998), ‘You’re Gonna Hear From Me’. All the Night Ranger songs got a ton of applause, it’s amazing to remember just how many hits and radio singles these guys got back in the day, but the two songs that got a HUGE round of cheers were the two Damn Yankees songs: ‘Coming Of Age’ & ‘High Enough’. Going into the show I hadn’t checked the setlist online so I had no idea they played some Damn Yankees. I’m not surprised they pulled those two out, they were big hits for Jack Blades in the early ’90s and they fit perfectly in the Night Ranger set. The band was tight, played great and looked to be having a great time on stage.
The band included a few surprises by doing a few partial covers and a full performance of Ozzy’s ‘Crazy Train’. Opening song ‘This Boy Needs To Rock’ had a quick partial performance of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ and introduced their cover of ‘Crazy Train’ by reminding everyone that Brad Gillis replaced the late Randy Rhoads on tour and played on the live album SPEAK OF THE DEVIL (1982)…..hearing Gillis’ version of ‘Crazy Train’ was flawless and the band did a solid job. Midway through the set, the band started talking about their first concerts and they went to each member and played a partial cover from each band. This took a few minutes, and I would have preferred another Night Ranger song, but the band were enjoying themselves and the crowd gave good applause for the quick pieces of ‘Roadhouse Blues’, ‘Rock ‘n’Roll’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Jump’ and ‘Purple Haze’. Normally I would go on about my dislike of covers but Night Ranger only put in partial performances, and the ‘Crazy Train’ cover was really good, so I didn’t mind like I usually do. The encore was perfect…..the band’s biggest hit, ‘Sister Christian’, and their anthem, ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America’…..a great way to end the show!
You couldn’t ask for more, the band played all their hits (although ‘Goodbye’ was missing!) and their more popular album tracks. I thought it was great to include the two Damn Yankees hits and I was psyched to hear a song from the band’s most recent album. I would have easily traded ‘Crazy Train’ and the mid-set covers jam for ‘Goodbye’ or a couple of songs from either NEVERLAND (1997) or SEVEN (1998) but they weren’t as intrusive live as they would be on a new studio album. Fifteen songs and a covers jam packed into a solid 90 minute performance with a good crowd, can’t beat that! All in all, a great concert…..and it was FREE! Too bad I had to wait 27 years to finally see Night Ranger live…..that won’t happen again!