22 December 2018 (gig)
24 December 2018
It's unfair that some casual music fans only remember Night Ranger for its power ballad, "Sister Christian," as the band is one of the most solid, and longest surviving, American rock bands. They reached a great deal of success during the 1980s and are so much more than just "Sister Christian" (the ode that drummer, Kelly Keagy, penned for his actual sister). In the US, the band scored 6 Top 40 hits and, worldwide, have sold over 17 million records. Night Ranger performed at The Cabot in Beverly, Massachusetts on December 22, 2018.
The band, which is celebrating its 35th Anniversary, is led by a trio of original members, Jack Blades (bass/vocals/guitar), Brad Gillis (guitar/backing vocals), Keagy (drums/vocals), and is rounded out by newer members Eric Levy (keyboards/backing vocals) and Keri Kelli (guitar/backing vocals). While they are all best known for Night Ranger, the band members have contributed to the legacies of other prominent ensembles. Keagy, Blades, and Gillis were members of the Funk outfit, Rubicon, a group formed by former Sly and the Family Stone member, Jerry Martini. Gillis also held the lead guitar slot with Ozzy Osborne during the "Speak of the Devil" era. Blades, an exceptional and underated bass player, was also a key member of the 90s supergroup Damn Yankees, with Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw (STYX) and Michael Cartellone (currently the drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd), while Kelli spent time as a guitarist with Alice Cooper.
Kicking the show off with "Somehow Someway" (from their latest release, "Don't Let Up") and 1985s "Four in the Morning, they cranked out two prime cuts from their debut disc, ("Dawn Patrol" in 1982) "Sing Me Away" and "Call My Name."
Still proud of his days in the Damn Yankees, Blades led the band through a killer cover of "Coming of Age" (later in the night, the band would also perform the Damn Yankees power-ballad "High Enough"). A very consummate frontman, Blades, at one point, polled the crowd as too who had, and had not, seen Night Ranger live before. When he saw the raised hands of those who had not seen the group, he jokingly asked what took them so long (and mustered up a great Sam Kinnison imitation as he shouted out that the band had been together for "35 years!").
In a nod to Kellis and Gillis' former bosses, the bands did mid-set covers of Coopers "Schools Out" and Osbornes "Crazy Train."
Blades spoke of how the band had recently played a couple of shows, in which they performed both of the albums, "Dawn Patrol" and "Midnight Madness," in their entirety. The revisiting of their debut disc led to them revising the song, "Night Ranger," for this tour.
A drum solo from Keagy was made exceptional when Kelli, Blades, and Gills all manned sticks and joined Keagy, and all pounded away on his drum kit, turning the solo into 4-way jam.
The set concluded with a hit-filled run of "When You Close Your Eyes," "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" (during which the group tore off a snippet of Deep Purples "Highway Star"), and the iconic "Sister Christian."
Donning Santa hats and returning for an encore of "(You Can Still) Rock in America," Night Ranger concluded the show perfectly, celebrating both the holidays and their legacy in Rock.