Always wanting to up my game when it comes to reviewing, this album by 80’s band Nightranger was always going to be a challenge for me. Not because I’m not a fan of their particular genre of rock/metal but because it is a LIVE cd. What’s wrong with reviewing a live cd I hear you ask? Well, nothing really, apart from the fact that I really do not like live cds. Even the great live albums such as Kiss Alive, Live and Dangerous from Thin Lizzy or Unleashed in the East by the mighty Judas Priest (my favourite band in case you didn’t know!) do nothing for me.
So when the live album “35 Years and a Night in Chicago” from Nightranger dropped into the Ever Metal inbox, I thought, why not give it a go? I really didn’t know much about them as a band anyway (being born far too late!) and I thought this would help as I wouldn’t have any preconceptions about them or their sound.
And I am glad I did. Recorded at the House of Blues in Chicago on 7th May 2016 this is nearly an hour and three quarters of non-stop, start to finish, high energy rock and roll. But let’s start at the beginning.
Formed in San Fransisco, California in 1979 by bassist-vocalist Jack Blades, drummer Kelly Keagy and guitarist Brad Gillis from the ashes of the band Rubicon, they performed under the name Stereo and by late 1980 they had changed their name to Ranger and were opening for acts such as Sammy Hagar.
In 1982 they had to change their name to Nightranger after the country band The Rangers claimed a trademark infringement and the Nightranger machine was born. By this time they had recorded Dawn Patrol, their debut album, which peaked at number 38 on the US Billboard chart and went on to sell over 1 million copies, and they had performed opening stints for ZZ Top and Ozzy Osbourne.
Their first five albums went on to sell over 10 million and their total album sales have topped 17 million worldwide. They can boast of several platinum and gold albums and they have performed over 3,000 live shows.
But their success waned in the late 1980’s and the band split in 1989. Some fans saw their Hollywood soundtrack “flirtations” (tracks were featured on the Nick Nolte film Teachers and Explorers in 1985 and in 1984 Jack Blades co-wrote the title theme to the Michael J Fox film The Secret of my Success) as selling out and they also had to compete with up and coming bands such as Bon Jovi, Poison and Guns n Roses.
They reunited with the original line up in 1996, releasing two new albums in the latter half of the decade and brought their “guitar heavy, melodic brand of hard rock into the 21st century with their unparalleled talent, energy and creativity.”
By 2014 they had 11 studio albums (including the bestselling Dawn Patrol, Midnight Madness, 7 Wishes, Big Life and Man in Motion) and 8 live albums under their belts, had numerous line-up changes and were also one of the first big “video” bands with over 10 number ones on MTV.
And now to commemorate their 35th anniversary in the business comes “35 Years and a Night in Chicago” which sees the band “at the top of their game, delivering a performance not to be missed.”
This really is a trip down memory lane and all the hits are there from the traditional opener “Touch of Madness”, to mega hit “Sister Christian”, to MTV essential “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and rock anthem “You Can Still Rock in America.” There are some rarely played tracks and even a hint of what is to come with the track “Day and Night” from the new album “Don’t Let Up” released in the spring of 2017.
And that’s exactly what these guys don’t do. Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy’s vocals are sharp and on top form and the guitar mastery of Brad Gillis just never stops, while newer members Keri Kelly, ex-Alice Cooper guitarist and Eric Leavy fit perfectly into the band, delivering the songs as if they had been playing them from day one.
The comradery of the band is apparent even through a pair of speakers and there is so much energy and enthusiasm exuding from the band you would think they were all in their twenties, not a band with a combined age of 276!! (sorry guys!) But what is age but a number? These guys are obviously enjoying what they are doing and that’s the whole point of it.
So has my opinion of live cd’s changed at all after listening to this? I’m not sure on that one but what I will say is that this live cd captured the band and its current line-up at the top of their game, showcasing an outstanding performance that the fans in Chicago were lucky enough to witness first hand. It also captured the energy of the crowd and, as a listener, I felt I was there amongst them. I’m not sure if this is down to the superb performance or the level of production on the cd but whichever it was has leant itself to a fantastic cd that will have Nightranger fans reminiscing about the good old days.
Hard rock, pop metal or bubblegum metal. There have been many names for bands such as Nightranger but I will just class them as this……
Rock and fucking roll!!
2. Touch Of Madness
3. Sing Me Away
4. Four In The Morning
5. Growing Up In California
6. Rumors In The Air
7. Secret Of My Success
8. Sentimental Street
9. High Road
10. Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight
2. Night & Day
3. Night Ranger
4. When You Close Your Eyes
5. Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
7. Sister Christian
8. Rock In America
9. 7 Wishes
Jack Blades – Bass and Vocals
Brad Gillis – Guitars
Kelly Keagy – Drums and Vocals
Eric Levy – Keyboards
Keri Kelly – Guitars
Originally posted on Ever Metal
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