Night Ranger - Islington O2 Academy London 23rd June 2011

At last the Holy Grail had arrived :  There was no Choir of Angels, but an awful lot of people "of a certain age" waiting very very very expectantly!

Although we had to wait outside for an extra hour due to the bands 7 hour immigration difficulties, this only heightened the air of expectation and made the queue to get in reach nearly to Highbury!!

Airrace were the support and as we went in due to the timing difficulties were still putting their kit on and had to play a shortened 30 minute set. Being the consummate pros they are they came on and gave it their all.

Due to the time constraints, we only got 2 songs from their soon to be released cd "Back To The Start" which were "Two Of A Kind" and "Better Believe It" and both showed a heavier approach but still showed off Keith Murrell's soaring voice. We had "Caught In The Game", "Open Your Eyes", "Promise To Call", a sublime "First One Over The Line" and a rip through of" Brief Encounter" from the debut cd to end it fantastic style.
Hopefully some more touring for the soon to be released cd will only increase their star!  They were understandably disappointed that they had to cut their set back - but they needn't worry - it was a blistering set that came across really well.

So at last it was here .During the gig Jack Blades said it was 26 years since they supported Foreigner on their only English date. Jack get it right it was 26 years and 9 days and I have waited patiently ever since. (Editor's Note - you're lucky I had to wait 29 years since getting the bus into Oxford and buying an import version of Dawn Patrol on LP!)
Over the course of 1 hour and 50 minutes it was everything and more.
This was an event. 800 crammed into the Academy to say they were there. In years to come 10,000 will say they were.  (Editor's Note again - We were!  Front Row!)

I've never heard so many people saying as we left it was the best ever. They were that good.
As you can see from the picture of the setlist that I managed to get we had classics old and new and a fantastic Damn Yankee's track ("Coming of Age") Four from the new cd (and the acoustic Japanese bonus track) that all went down well and had all the Night Ranger attributes of dueling geetar and great vocals.

We had great keys from new boy Eric Levy ,great vocals and between song banter and pirouettes on his one good leg (after damaging his hamstring last week )from Jack Blades ,powerhouse drumming and sublime vocals from Kelly Keagy, stunning geetar playing from the bear of a man Joel Hoekstra and Brad Gillis.

What to say about the man? His Wikipedia entry says "He is often regarded as one of the most innovative users of Floyd Rose styled tremolos" No Shit Sherlock! After his solo on Touch Of Madness the whole place had their mouths open. He plays geetar with an attitude of look at me with more whammy bar use than I have ever seen. There was more face gurning than John McGurning winning a gurning competition in Gurnington. The geetar interplay between the two was a joy to see. In fact the joy from them and all the crowd was incredible. The crowd sang the start to Sister Christian leaving the band to conduct and on at least 4 times I had goosebumps with Sentimental Street and Goodbye just incredible with its acoustic start and geetar led electric end. We were right at the front (as my Editor, NR has no doubt chipped in and mentioned by now) and as a result we were right in Jack Blades' eye line - when he asked NR if he had been practicing singing in front of the mirror all week. It took a while for him to register that Jack was actually talking to him. On stage. In front of everyone.. I thought he was going to die a happy man right there and then!

I really could go on and on. They say it won't be 26 years before we see them again but I would wait that long. I have once before!

Can't do a score - it was off the scale.

(Editor's Note again,again - OK I know this is Shazz's review but I need to chip in a bit too - Firstly: Well done to Airrace - A lot of difficulties to overcome and they pulled it off big time - I'm sure they've gained a lot of fans. I'm a big bloke in my forties, I've got a responsible, professional job  and things like this shouldn't affect me - I have seen hundreds of gigs, but given the adoration I had for these guys in my youth and the fact that, like most of their UK fans, I have never seen them - this was something special.  They only got to the venue at 7pm - the road crew worked constantly throughout the set to get the sound right as there was little or no sound check..and yet it was probably the best gig I have ever been to. No showy light rig, no pyrotechnics just talent. Just to be able to see Brad Gillis perform guitar miracles 3 feet from me was a dream come true. ..and yes I've been recovering all week from Jack actually talking to me. On a personal note, I was looking forward to this as a bit of light relief in a shit year - it was more than that - it was perfection. That is all. )
More photo's on our Facebook page (see link on the right --> ) and see here for our "Teaser" post with some You Tube footage of the gig.

Shazz (and NR)

All photo's credit Nige Robins - taken on an iPhone whilst singing at full voice hence the lack of focus!.

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