Night Ranger – “35 Years and a Night in Chicago” 2CD / DVD (Frontiers Music)
Although noted for the fact that guitarist Brad Gillis was drafted in by Ozzy to fill in the mighty shoes of ill fated Randy Rhodes, Night Ranger soon became a band in their own right, with no less than 2 platinum and 1 gold album to their name, selling over 10 million copies worldwide in the 80s. Definitive of the arena rock phenomena at the time, although not associated with the hairspray of Poison or the street sleaze of Guns N Roses, Night Ranger seemed to rise above it to go into movie sound tracks like the 1987 Michael J. Fox film “The Secret of My Success”. Naturally this would have mixed reactions from fans and with increased tension from their label over airplaying softer ballads to their more guitar orientated rock, the band split in 1989. Despite various line ups in the early 90s, it was not until the return of Jack Blades in 1996 that led to a full reformation, although their market by then had shifted towards Japan rather than hometown USA. The millennium brought a resurgence in interest, with the band occasionally releasing albums but becoming more active on the touring front, still being able to connect to their long, but clearly never lost fans, many of whom grew up with the band. “35 Years and a Night in Chicago” indeed pays tribute to these people who’ve stuck long and hard with Night Ranger! A fitting 18 track double live release, the songs have been deliberately chosen like ‘Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight’ from their 1982 debut with Gillis’s wild, dexterous guitar testifying to his appointment by Ozzy on ‘Don’t Tell Me You Love Me’. Jack Blades is still in fine form vocally, especially on the band’s power ballad hit ‘Sister Christian’ and thoughtfully adds to the nostalgia by introducing each song with key historical events that happened at the time. It all comes together in ‘You Can Still Rock In America’, the definitive 80s anthem (and possibly alternate national anthem!?) with Kelly Keagy (still with the same bandana n dark glasses look) bringing it all home to the House Of Blues in Chicago, whose rapturous crowd deserve Blade’s salutation of ‘…y’all know how to kick ass – that’s for sure!’.