NIGHT RANGER SING ROCKTEMBER AWAY
RockTember IV: Grand Casino Amphitheater, Hinckley, MN, U.S.A. Day Two - September 10th 2016
Before recapping day two I need to give a big thanks to Dayna, from the Grand Casino, for allowing me to cover this awesome event again. This was my second trip to Rocktember and I enjoyed every minute of it. Hopefully this event continues for years to come.
Gabbie Rae took the stage first and fired into her set. She was the only act that did not originate from the eighties but her energy and big voice suggested she was a product of it. The songs rocked and she gave it everything she had to introduce herself to people that were not familiar with her. Her hit 'Scream' went over well and left a lasting impression on the crowd.
Vixen sounded amazing on the opener 'Rev It Up' and then into 'How Much Love' and vocally Janet Gardner was spot on as she also played rhythm guitar. Roxy Petrucci (drums) and Share Pedersen (bass) provided the backbone while Gina Stile's flamboyant guitar style gave the songs a heavier edge. 'Crying' was certainly a fan favorite from the opening notes and got a great response.
With the set winding down the elephant in the room; Vixen's biggest hit, 'Edge Of A Broken Heart', could no longer be contained and was unleashed. It's a great song and even better live. A solid and fun set by a band that pulls off their material well.
Kix, and many would agree, deserved to be higher on the bill. They have a vast catalogue of songs and energy to burn on stage so getting only nine songs was disappointing. The band took advantage of every minute, however, by playing an octane injected set full of classic Kix material while being very interactive with the audience.
Opening with 'Wheels In Motion' and then into 'No Ring Around Rosie' and 'Midnight Dynamite', it was clear they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Steve Whiteman still hits every note, and with his passion and personality he still remains one the best frontmen you'll ever see. The guitar duo of Brian 'Damage' Forsyth and Ronnie '10/10' Younkins provided the amplified thunder that powered 'Girl Money', 'Love Me With Your Top Down', and 'Cold Shower'.
Let's not forget the massive hits off the 'Blow My Fuse' album. The ballad 'Don't Close your Eyes' was breathtaking, 'Cold Blood' nearly took the house down and 'Blow My Fuse' finished off anything left standing. Kix provided one of the best sets of the weekend.
One of the last bands to squeeze out success in the eighties glam era was Slaughter. The 'Stick It To Ya' album spawned many MTV video hits and their set revolved around those songs and the follow-up record 'The Wild Life'. Jeff Blando (guitars) and Zoltan Chaney (drums) join original members Mark Slaughter (vocals) and Dana Strum (bass) in the current version of Slaughter.
The heavy hitting 'The Wild Life' kicked things off. Then going into 'Burning Bridges', 'Spend My Life' and 'Mad About You'. The monster ballad 'Fly To The Angels' went over big and the closer 'Up All Night' got everybody up and singing.
Standing up and shouting
A project called 'Scrap Metal' was up next. It was formed by Matthew and Gunnar Nelson. They round up guest stars and do songs from that guest's catalogue. First up was the Bruce Naumann, vocalist from Hericane Alice fame, playing 'Wild Young And Crazy' from the band's debut. International star Jeff Scott Soto sang 'Stand Up And Shout', which he had provided the vocals for in the movie 'Rock Star'. He also sang the Queen hit 'Tie Your Mother Down'.
The Nelson twins played 'Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection' and 'After The Rain' while Mark Slaughter contributed on guitar. Kip Winger took over bass duties and played some classic Winger hits with Slaughter still on guitar and providing backing vocals. They played 'Seventeen', Easy Come Easy Go', and 'Madalaine'. Lita Ford came to the stage and played 'Cherry Bomb', 'Close My Eyes Forever' with Soto completing the duet. Lita's big hit, 'Kiss Me Deadly', had everybody singing and rocking. An All-Star jam of Led Zeppelin's 'Rock N' Roll' closed out a really fun set.
Erasing the slate...
Dokken was on next; it could have been billed as 'Dokken and the Wild Mick Brown Comedy Hour'. Don has taking some heat about his voice as of late so I was anxious to hear it for myself. A surprise cut from the 'Erase The Slate' album, 'Maddest Hatter', opened the set and sounded great. That song features some big harmonies and the band pulled it off well. The band ripped through an impressive Dokken catalogue. 'Breaking The Chains',' The Hunter', 'Kiss Of Death', Dream Warriors', and 'Into The Fire'. My highlight was 'Too High To Fly' from the 'Dysfunctional' album.
Jon Levin rips on guitar and the newest member of the band, Chris McCarvill, held down the bass. 'Wild' Mick Brown is like a utility man. He drums, sings, and does a great stand-up comedy act. Through the entire set Mick got some jokes and one-liners in to keep things light and fun. It was particularly useful when Levin blew three amps and there was a delay in getting things fixed.
Kip Winger came onto the stage to announce it was Mick's birthday and led the crowd in singing 'Happy Birthday'. No Dokken set is complete without playing 'Alone Again', 'It's Not Love', and the curtain closer 'In My Dreams'. Overall I thought Don did a good job, it wasn't 1988 good, but not as bad as I feared it could be.
Ratt in the kitchen...
Ratt... hmmm... well... it was billed as Ratt. This is not the Ratt you knew in 1984, 1990, 1999, or even the 2010 line-up that released 'Infestation'. This is the 2016 version created by the lone original member Bobby Blotzer. The band itself is talented and worked hard interacting with the crowd but it just didn't sound like Ratt.
The set-list was loaded with everything you would expect like 'Your In Love', 'Lay It Down', 'Way Cool Jr.' and 'Back For More'. They dedicated 'Closer To My Heart' to Robbin Crosby and also threw in 'Dance' and 'Nobody Rides For Free'. Bobby also made a pitch to the crowd for support. 'Round and Round' closed things out. The proper billing should have been Bobby Blotzer's Ratt and not just Ratt. There were quite a few confused people wondering where Stephen Pearcy was.
Will you still Loverboy me tomorrow?
Loverboy seemed like an odd choice when I first saw the line-up. Not really a Metal or hard rock band and certainly not part of the glam scene. When you take a look at the catalogue, however, they have some big hits that are made to sing and dance to. The band sounded amazing and Mike Reno commanded the stage. It was a hit brigade that featured 'Hot Girls In Love', 'Lucky Ones', 'Turn Me Loose', and 'Notorious'.
Paul Dean's guitar tone was chilling. He could cater that sound to make the songs sound so big and grand. When it was time for the mega-hits people were ready to respond. 'Lovin' Every Minute Of It' sounded as good as anything I heard all weekend. The song engulfed the amphitheater and everybody in it and the ultimate anthem, 'Working For The Weekend', took the house down. Loverboy put on a great show.
Brad boy made good...
The headliner was all that was left of Rocktember 2016. Night Ranger hit stage with 'Touch Of Madness' and the sound was perfect. Jack Blades still comes out and plays like it's his last gig. He has tons of energy and vocally sounds as good as he did thirty years ago while Brad Gillis is fantastic on guitar and really engages the audience with his playing and his antics on stage.
The set included 'Four In The Morning', 'Sing Me Away' and 'Sentimental Street'. With Brad having ties to Ozzy and Night Ranger's other guitar player, Keri Kelli, having played with Alice Cooper the band launched into 'Schools Out' and 'Crazy Train'. Jack Blades also was in a fantastic side project called Damn Yankees and dusted off 'Coming Of Age' and the big ballad hit 'High Enough' which went over huge.
Kelly Keagy came out from behind the drums to sing the opening of 'Sister Christian' and got back on the kit before the song kicked in. Three more signature hits would finish off the set and all of them rocked. 'When You Close Your Eyes', 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me', and closer 'You Can Still (Rock In America)' finished what might have been the best set of the two day event.