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NIGHT RANGER "Dawn Of Madness" Show In Waukegan, IL

By Duane Vickers, Houston Contributor
Thursday, October 25, 2018 @ 6:28 AM


At The Genesee Theater October 18th

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Photos By Duane Vickers, Jill Clement and Eddie Berrios

When 80’s Rockers NIGHT RANGER announced that they’d be playing their first two albums Dawn Patrol and Midnight Madness in their entirety it was an “All Hands on Deck” alert to the band’s diehard fan base that this is the show you have to be at. After all if you are a hardcore NIGHT RANGER fan it was either one or both of these albums that hooked you, so when Waukegan, IL was announced as the site where this show was to happen, a lot of fans’ (myself included) reaction had to be “Where”? However, with just a short drive from either Chicago or Milwaukee, Waukegan was easy enough to get to. And the historic Genesee Theater proved to be a perfect venue to launch the “Dawn of Madness”. Featuring beautiful architecture, wide open aisles, spacious seating and a welcoming staff, the Genesee Theater added a fan-friendly atmosphere to what was to be an amazing evening of Rock.

The band offered fans a unique VIP Meet and Greet experience that included a Q&A session with the band at their soundcheck. This was a real laid back atmosphere that began about 5:00 PM with the band answering fans questions and taking requests for songs to play at soundcheck. It was at this Q&A session that founding member and bassist Jack Blades explained that Waukegan, IL was chosen because it was in the general area where NIGHT RANGER first broke big on the radio and started selling out arenas back in the 80’s, so with Waukegan being centrally located between Chicago and Milwaukee it seemed like a good location to have a test market for the “Dawn of Madness” two-album show, to see how it goes because they’d like to do more of them. In my recent interview with founding member and lead guitarist Brad Gillis, he expands on this. That article can be found on KNAC.COM HERE.

There’s usually the natural anticipation of the band taking the stage to see what you might hear them play but this was beyond that. The band was about to do their best Marty McFly and take you back to where it began and when we all first met and rocked out together thru the radio, cassette tapes, MTV and the pages of magazines.

After a meet and greet with fans it was time for the “Dawn of Madness”. The band hit the stage at about 8:10 PM to a packed house to deliver their debut album, 1982’s Dawn Patrol, with a stage featuring smoke and a full video board background. There had been some speculation on how the set would run, however the band elected to play the album in sequence opening with their hit “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” followed by “Sing Me Away”. It was next in the set that we were getting to uncharted territory with “At Night She Sleeps”, featuring a flawless keyboard sequence from keyboardist Eric Levy. As the band went thru their set, the video board featured photos from the band’s past and their different logos thru the years. Making things even more special, in between songs Blades, Gillis and founding member, drummer and lead vocalist Kelly Keagy shared stories about the writing and recording sessions for Dawn Patrol, many never told before. They took their time and while they had a load of material to deliver, they didn’t rush it, stopping along the way to share the experiences. Next was the ballad “Call My Name” followed by the guitar heavy “Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight” featuring dueling solos from Gillis and lead guitarist Keri Kelli. “Can’t Find Me A Thrill”, “Young Girl In Love” and “Play Rough” were songs I never figured I’d hear live. So many songs get lost along the way when it’s on to the next album and then in the live set time is limited so it was so special to finally hear these songs. Rounding out the Dawn Patrol album were “Penny” and the song that gave the band their name, “Night Ranger”.

It was next what I considered the “bonus” of the evening. Having interviewed Gillis prior I knew something like this was coming but when it actually happened the response was pure appreciation. A lot of bands maybe would’ve opted for an intermission in between albums and that would’ve been understandable, “Hey go visit the merch stand, grab a beer, we’ll be right back”, nope. Instead the band broke things down for a short acoustic set full of some even deeper tracks from some of their other albums. In this acoustic set were “Forever All Over Again” from Neverland, “Reason To Be” from Man In Motion, "Panic In Jane” from Seven and “Color Of Your Smile” from Big Life. When I say it was “pure appreciation” from the audience, these aren’t songs the casual fan knows, but looking around during this set, everyone was singing the words. Every diehard NIGHT RANGER fan will tell you, it wasn’t the hits that hooked them, it was the deeper tracks they connected with so if the band was wondering how this would go with the audience, it was a grand slam.

After a short 5 minute break it was time to get it on again, this time with what I consider to be “The Album”, Midnight Madness. This is the album that grabbed me and made me a NIGHT RANGER fan. As they did with Dawn Patrol, performing the album in sequence, they opened the set with the usual show closer “You Can Still Rock In America” with Gillis and Kelli dueling it out on guitar. Next up, “Rumours In The Air” followed by “Why Does Love Have To Change” one of the deeper tracks that featured a spot-on vocal performance by Keagy. It needs to be said that from a fan’s perspective there were no hic-ups or bumps in the road thru this set which speaks volumes of the amount of care and rehearsal time that went into this show. Most of these songs haven’t been played live by Blades, Gillis and Keagy in decades and for Kelli and Levy, never. A big hats off to Keri Kelli and Eric Levy for their flawless performances and their part in helping transport the audience back in time for a couple hours.

One of the better stories in between songs from the night was Blades sharing how the band came off the road and was pushed in the studio to record the follow up to Dawn Patrol and being surrounded by a lot of uncertainty at the time due to the implosion of Boardwalk Records. “But we did have this song held off of Dawn Patrol in our back pocket, tell me how you think it worked out” and the opening piano from the band’s biggest hit “Sister Christian” was met with a loud approval from the crowd. That was followed by a traditional show opener “Touch of Madness” featuring Gillis’ own whammy bar madness. The next song, “Passion Play”, is one that I think should be on every set list, so if the guys are reading this…”Passion Play” should be on every set list! The fan favorite and hit “When You Close Your Eyes”, followed by another of my favorites, “Chippin’ Away” and “Let Him Run”, closed out the Midnight Madness set. The band didn’t leave the stage but instead stayed out and delivered the fitting hit “Goodbye” from 7 Wishes.

When it was all said and done the band had delivered what amounted to a two hour and fifteen minute set. The guys aren’t in their twenties anymore like they were when these two albums came out but Jack Blades still bounces around the stage like he’s still on the Midnight Madness tour. Both Blades’ and Keagy’s vocals were as sharp as ever. It was nothing less than your usual high level, high energy NIGHT RANGER performance, just a lot longer. The band was genuinely having a great time playing all of these songs again and sharing the stories that accompanied some of them. And the audience was eating up being treated to songs we’ve all jammed to for the past thirty-six years. So many great songs exist in the NIGHT RANGER catalog. I’ve never been a fan of the band playing cover songs, not when they have so much great material to choose from. Both Dawn Patrol and Midnight Madness are full of some of these deeper tracks that should be on heavy rotation in the live sets. Hopefully the band books more of these “Dawn of Madness” shows, getting to see both albums played in their entirety is something that you won’t want to miss if you’re a diehard NIGHT RANGER fan. This show had fans from all over the States and from as far as the UK and talking to many of them afterwards, I didn’t hear anyone say that they weren’t blown away. The “Dawn of Madness” test show was a unanimous A+.

Setlist:

Dawn Patrol

  • "Don’t Tell Me You Love Me"
  • "Sing Me Away"
  • "At Night She Sleeps"
  • "Call My Name"
  • "Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight"
  • "Can’t Find Me a Thrill"
  • "Young Girl in Love"
  • "Play Rough"
  • "Penny"
  • "Night Ranger"
Acoustic Set:
  • "Forever All Over Again"
  • "Reason To Be"
  • "Panic in Jane"
  • "Color of Your Smile"
Midnight Madness
  • "You Can Still Rock in America"
  • "Rumours in the Air"
  • "Why Does Love Have to Change"
  • "Sister Christian"
  • "Touch of Madness"
  • "Passion Play"
  • "When You Close Your Eyes"
  • "Chippin’ Away"
  • "Let Him Run"
  • "Goodbye"


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