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MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
NIGHT RANGER: ISLINGTON ACADEMY, LONDON
REO Speedwagon, Journey and Night Ranger all have one thing in common. Not only are they amongst some of the finest ever AOR bands but also after an absence of many years from UK shores, once they finally returned they just keep on returning, making up for lost time.
Last year Night Ranger played this very venue, their first time in the capital for an unbelievable 26 years. Although that almost didn't happen due to the fact that the band were held up at customs at her Majesty's pleasure and only made the gig with minutes to spare.
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Many fans expressed surprise when Night Ranger announced they would be returning in less than a year on, but nobody was complaining. I must admit I thought seeing them for a second time around wouldn't be as good as the first time but how wrong was I. Night Ranger kicked some serious butt tonight with a re-jigged set list to keep the purists happy.
With the booming intro tape of AC/DC, Night Ranger were here to rock from word go. Surprises were in store too with not one but two songs from Jack Blades' venture with the 90s supergroup Damn Yankees. 'Coming Of Age' sounds like it was meant to be for Night Ranger but the ballad 'High Enough' was a real joy to hear.
I wasn't expecting to hear Ozzy Osbourne's 'Crazy Train' though. As Jack Blades explained, guitarist Brad Gillis stepped into Ozzy's band following the unfortunate death of Randy Rhoads and finished the tour after Bernie Torme's brief stint. Ozzy released the live album 'Speak Of The Devil' featuring Gillis and it was excellent to hear the crisp sound of Gillis on 'Crazy Train' as the album only featured Sabbath era tracks.
The band were having lots of fun too sharing jokes with the crowd and with each other. 'The Secret Of My Success' was a reminder of when AOR was king and being the soundtrack to many movies of the eighties. The bulk of the set was from the first three albums but newie 'Growing Up In California' is right up there with their best.
Set closer 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me' still rocks as hard as it did thirty years ago and featured a snippet of Deep Purple's 'Highway Star'. I would love to hear them do a full version of that.
For the encore drummer Kelly Keagy stands out front to sing the smash US hit 'Sister Christian', a song that is enjoying a new leash of life thanks to 'Rock Of Ages'.
Night Ranger can still rock in America and they certainly rocked the UK tonight. Night Ranger shook me all night long.
Lay It On Me
Sing Me Away
Coming Of Age
Rumours In The Air
The Secret Of My Success
Let Him Run
Eddie's Comin' Out Tonight
Growing Up In California
Touch Of Madness
Four In The Morning(I Can't Take Anymore)
When You Close Your Eyes
Don't Tell Me You Love Me