Hard Rocking 80’s Group Prove There’s More To Band Than Power Ballads
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
Thursday night (May 9th) before 600 plus concert goers at the Charleston Music Hall, Night Ranger proved guys in their 60’s can still rock in America. Aside from a few, the crowd was mostly made up of baby boomers looking to recapture their youth, and revisit some of the greatest songs of the 1980’s. With three original members still in tow, Night Ranger are still one of the hardest rocking bands still touring.
With little fanfare and only their signature logo lighting up the backdrop behind them, the five member unit took the stage, banging right into ‘Somehow Someway’ from their latest album ‘Don’t Let Up’ (2017). ‘4 AM’ (1985) and ‘Sing Me Away’ their second single of their debut release ‘Dawn Patrol’ proved Night Ranger was ready to rock the house down. After acknowledging the audience and giving a shout to Charleston coming out on a school night, the guys jumped right back in with ‘Coming of Age’, an ode to Jack Blades’ four year stint with supergroup Damn Yankees.
Their third album ‘Seven Wishes’ (1985) gave those in attendance a taste of one of their earlier hits still played on classic rock stations. With that Kelly Keagy removed himself from the drum kit, offering up ‘Sentimental Street’, with hundreds swaying in the crowd and chiming in on the familiar chorus. Both Keagy and Blades provided vocals on several of the group’s biggest hits, and they easily shared the spotlight.
Introducing the next song, Blades made light of the fact the band got a call from actor Michael J. Fox to write a title track for his 1987 film ‘Secret Of My Success’. Blades said the band wrote the song in a day but waited two weeks to present it, allowing Fox and the movie producers to imagine they labored hard over the song. Blades added Night Ranger made big bucks for the song, which was a nice punchline to time honored story.
After a few album cuts including their self titled track the band revisited Damn Yankees biggest hit ‘High Enough’. The early 90’s power trio included Blades, Ted Nugent, and Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw. Concert goers delighted in hearing ‘High Enough’, with Blades adding a few behind the scenes stories of his time with the band. Adding Don Henley’s huge 1985 hit ‘Boys of Summer’ was a nice surprise, a song Blades said he and his fellow mates had always enjoyed and felt embodied their style of music from the 80’s.
It was a five song whirlwind from that point on as Night Ranger closed with a quintet of their biggest hits across the board leading with the power ballad ‘Goodbye’ which peaked at #17 in 1985. ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ and ‘Don’t Tell Me You Love Me’ proved the guys know how to send up hard rocking guitars anthems, with founding axe-man Brad Gillis working the crowd and providing thunderous rhythms.
Keagy came out from the drum kit a second time to provide vocals on Night Ranger’s biggest hit, wasting no time keeping up with the beat, and the familiar music of ‘Sister Christian’, a tune he penned for his sister Christy. The few fans who weren’t already on their feet quickly jumped out of their seats as Keagy invited the audience to add background vocals on their highest charting single. ‘Sister Christian’ rose to #5 back in the spring of 1984, spending 24 weeks on the charts, eventually earning the #32 spot of the Top 100 songs of the 1980’s.
The band closed with a long version of ‘Rock In America’, setting aside any misnomer that the band were just another soft rock group from the 1980’s. Nearly four decades after they first formed, Night Ranger still have the chops and musicianship to back up prominence on the Top 40 and Mainstream Rock charts. With original members still in their 60’s it appears Night Ranger have some rockin’ years ahead of them.
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