Night Ranger in concert at the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den (Uncasville, CT) – 8/17/10

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

Encore:
Sister Christian
(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!

New Year’s Eve Playlist

Here we are on the eve of 2009 and for some reason I’m getting more of a sense of “the end” rather than “the beginning”. For me, I usually can’t wait for New Year’s. It’s a time to start over, to right wrongs and set things in order. It’s a time of promise and of hope because we all think that the new year will be better then the last. I’ve been very lucky, every year of my life has gotten better. Some years are harder than others but they are all filled with much more good than bad.

Today is a day that I’ve been looking back instead of forward. I’ve remembered old friends and thought of really good times and even some rough ones too. Helping me out in all of this is my CD collection (Hey, I just couldn’t stay serious the whole time, it all comes down to music in the end!). Instead of listening to the upcoming Saxon or Kreator I decided to sit in front of the stereo and spin some albums that I haven’t pulled out in a long time.

Lana Lane – Ballad Collection Special Edition (2000): I’m a big fan of Lana Lane, she’s probably the best female vocalist out there that no one really knows. This collection is a 2 CD set that encompasses both individual albums (BALLAD COLLECTION I & II) in one nice package. Both individual albums are out of print Japanese releases so this reissue is very cool. The ballads fit my mood: slow and relaxing.

Extreme – s/t (1989): Extreme’s first album was one of the great “parking lot” albums of the late ’80s. ‘Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today’ and ‘Kid Ego’ were big time radio hits on local radio at the time but all the girls in my circle of friends loved the album’s ballad ‘Watching, Waiting’. Good memories of good friends. I was 16 in ’89, we would all park at the Color Tile in the Stop & Shop plaza (we all worked at Stop & Shop) and the cops never kicked us out. We drank a little but it was mostly loud music and hanging out until we found a particular place to party. My favorite off this album is ‘Wind Me Up’.

Damn Yankees – s/t (1990): This album was one of the soundtracks to my senior year in high school and my first year of college. What a solid record, they just had a winning formula with the Tommy Shaw/Jack Blades harmonies. ‘Coming Of Age’ was a big Rock tune but it was the two ballads (‘High Enough’ & ‘Come Again’) that sent the album to mega-status. My best memory was waiting in line in the rain at the Providence Civic Center with a wristband to buy tickets to the Bad Company/Damn Yankees show. We spent four hours in line and the only thing I remember most is the group of Deadheads that were literally camped out because there was a rumor that Grateful Dead tickets were going onsale at some point. We played this album everywhere but this was a car record and still is for me today!

KISS – Psycho Circus (1998): Of all the albums by my favorite band, this one is extremely significant because it’s the album and tour where I got my oldest daughter’s middle name from. No it’s not Gene, Paul, Peter or Ace! PSYCHO CIRCUS was getting a ton of airplay at the time and the tour was opening in Boston (after the Halloween show in L.A.) with 2 shows. I waited in line at a department store that had Ticketmaster around 5am, I was second in line! What I remember most is around 8am a couple came with their 3 yr. old daughter to stand in line. All this little girl did was dance around and talk to all of us KISS freaks…..her name was Jade and that’s my daughter’s middle name.

Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry (1984): I’ve been listening to this album a lot over the last year because my 10 yr. old daughter has taken to this album with such dedication. She reminds me of me at age 10! Actually, my daughter has been raiding my CD cases for all things Twisted Sister and I finally had to load her brand new iPod Nano with all the band’s albums. STAY HUNGRY was one of those album that everyone had back in ’84 and there really isn’t a bad song on the album…..I just can’t listen to ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ anymore. Best song on the album for me is ‘The Price’, my daughter and I duet that one to my wife’s delight. My daughter wants you all to know her favorites are ‘Burn In Hell’ and ‘I Wanna Rock’.

Aersomith – Done With Mirrors (1985): This tour was my first concert. Aerosmith and Ted Nugent at the Providence Civic Center (March 18, 1986). I remember my friend’s older brother buying the tickets because it was the band’s big reunion and we couldn’t miss it. (Just an aside — DONE WITH MIRRORS was the band’s official reunion album, it wasn’t the next album PERMANENT VACATION.) I didn’t have the new record yet and my Mom got it for me on cassette for Valentine’s Day, a full month before the show. I played the hell out of that album: in the car, on my stereo, Walkman, boombox…..I think that was the only album I played for a solid month so I could learn all the tunes. I wrote down the setlist during the show so I wouldn’t forget and I tucked that into the cassette insert. When I replaced the tape with a CD years ago, I moved the paper to the CD booklet. I had forgotten all about that and I found it when I took out the booklet today. I’ve played the CD tons of times over the years but I never bothered with the booklet! They played 5 songs off the new album and I knew every word! To this day, DONE WITH MIRRORS is my favorite Aerosmith record. Here’s that setlist:

1. Back In The Saddle
2. Same Old Song And Dance
3. Bone To Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy)
4. Big Ten Inch Record
5. My Fist Your Face
6. Last Child
7. She’s On Fire
8. The Hop
9. Walkin’The Dog
10. Red House
11. Lightning Strikes
12. Shela
13. Walk This Way
14. Let The Music Do The Talking
15. Sweet Emotion
16. Toys In The Attic
17. Dream On
18. Train Kept A Rollin’