Night Ranger rocks Cache County Fairgrounds (with audio and video)

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LOGAN — Longtime fans and newcomers alike flocked to the Cache County Fairgrounds Friday evening to hear the legendary rock band <a href=”https://www.nightranger.com/#/”>Night Ranger</a> perform with the 2017 <a href=”http://www.cachevalleycruisein.net/”>Cache Valley Cruise-In</a>. From 30-year die-hard fans to children hearing the group play for the first time, the audience was filled with excitement pulsing as noticeably as the beat blasting from the towering speakers onstage.

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Moments before the show began, concert organizer Brandon Douglas was all smiles.

“I’m waiting for my feet to touch the ground, so I’m floating right now,” he said.  “I’ve been shopping with the band, I’ve hung out just visiting with them. I’m like a kid at Christmas, and today is Christmas Day! I’m excited to see so many people come out. I hope they have as good of a time as I’m going to have.”

 After the concert?

“Oh my gosh!” Douglas said. “I can’t believe how great it was! My mind is racing. Feet still aren’t touching the ground.”

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Night Ranger kicked off the performance with “Somehow Someway”, new original music from the band’s 2017 anniversary album “Don’t Let Up”.  Jack Blades, the band’s lead singer, frontman and songwriter, said Friday night marked the first time the song had been performed for a live audience. Asking for a show of hands, Blades asked the audience how many of them had ever seen a Night Ranger concert before.

“Where have you been?” he asked those who had not. “We’ve been doing this for 35 years!”

Considered among the most successful mainstream rock bands of the 1980s, Night Ranger is best known for songs like “When You Close Your Eyes” (“Midnight Madness” album, 1983), “The Secret of My Success” (“Big Life” album, 1987) and “Sentimental Street” (“Seven Wishes” album, 1985). Belting out hit after hit, including covers of songs from Damn Yankees, The Beatles, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne, the band entertained the crowd with its signature hard rock, along with power ballads like “Forever All Over Again” (“Neverland” album, 1997) and “Sister Christian”, from the group’s 1982 debut album, “Dawn Patrol”.

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“We’re having more fun up here than you’re having down there,” joked Blades.

But as the sun went down and lighters flared up, Night Ranger’s heart-pounding melodies fully engaged an audience comprised of all ages. Based in San Francisco, the Bay Area’s “bad boys of rock and roll” did not disappoint their Utah fans, ending the concert with the rousing “(You Can Still) Rock in America” (“Midnight Madness” album, 1983).

Seated on the front row, Laura Campbell traveled to Logan from Lehi to hear her favorite band play.  A devoted fan since 1984, Campbell said “Sing Me Away” and “Restless Kind” are the songs she likes best, but she absolutely loves all of Night Ranger’s music.

“I bought my tickets months ago,” she said. “I had to wait in line forever to get in, but I’ve gone much further to see Night Ranger than Logan.”

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The Night Ranger concert was the first concert ten-year-old Braxton Williamson has ever attended, and he said he’d been looking forward to the show “since my mom told me about a month ago.”

Braxton’s dad, J.D. Williamson, said being able to enjoy the concert with his son was “awesome.”

“My kids love this kind of music,” he said. “They’re all into Night Ranger. We start driving around in the car, and they start yelling out and quizzing each other on music. Rock when it first started out, it wasn’t something people wanted. It was kind of the banished, ‘Oh, no! Don’t do that!’ It was the bad music, but at the same time, it’s freedom of expression. It’s our ability to express ourselves and to have a fun time, for people to get out and to relate to each other. Everybody likes music. They may not all like the same kinds, but they can all enjoy it.”

Enjoy it they did! But the enthusiasm behind the Night Ranger concert was fueled by more than Jack Blades’ bass and vocals, Kelly Keagy’s drums and vocals, the guitar riffs of Brad Gillis and Keri Kelli and Eric Levy at the keyboards. Behind the musicians’ time-tested talent was the persona they conveyed, rocking the stage with showmanship.

“They are just good, down-to-earth people,” said Douglas.  “They’re not drama queens or anything. They took a family photo with us so they could be on our family Christmas card and they were cool about it and everything. They’re just like the next-door neighbor that you just want to be friends with. They’re no better than anyone else. They’re just cool.”

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Traveling the world on its 35th anniversary tour, Night Ranger plays next in Salem, Oregon on July 7. The group has performed more than 3,000 shows and sold more than 17 million albums.  

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jennifer@cvradio.com

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