Last Saturday, April 22, I saw a great show featuring two phenomenal bands: Night Ranger and the incomparable Dennis DeYoung. They performed at Harrah’s in Atlantic City and it was one of those rare concerts where I was equally interested in both bands.
Night Ranger kicked off the show with a 13-song set that was filled with crowd-pleasing hits, including “Sister Christian,” “When You Close Your Eyes,” “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” and “Four in the Morning,” among others. They also played two Damn Yankees songs, “I’m Eighteen” by Alice Cooper and “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. Jack Blades sang lead vocals on songs normally sung by Kelly Keagy because the band’s drummer is currently recuperating from heart surgery. By the end of Night Ranger’s set, the crowd was on their feet and singing along. Jack Blade’s unrelenting energy and Brad Gillis’ wailing guitar delivered a formidable 1-2 punch to the crowd in the form of blistering rock and roll. Big-time Night Ranger fans, like myself, left satisfied and casual fans became newly-christened devotees.
After a 15-minute break, Dennis DeYoung and his band took to the stage. Dennis played a 15-song set and the first three songs were “Grand Illusion,” “Lady” and “Lorelei.” An unexpected deep cut in the middle of the set was “Castle Walls” from the 1977 STYX album The Grand Illusion. It was my first time hearing the song, and it was fantastic. It’s nice to see that even at 70-years-old, Dennis can surprise a crowd by masterfully performing an album track from his former band’s catalog of music.
The rest of Dennis’ set was rounded out by a variety of hits, some of which include “Too Much Time on My Hands,” “Babe,” “The Best of Times,” and “Come Sail Away.” And his spellbinding version of “Suite Madame Blue” is always a delight to hear live.
Before the show I met Night Ranger and got a quick photo with the band. All of them were happy to meet the fans and I was honored to be among the select few to be in line for the photo op. Following Dennis’ performance, which was after midnight, I lined up with other VIPs to meet the man himself. Despite it being so late and him having just performed for 90 minutes, he was cheery and grateful for the praise and adoration the fans gave him. I introduced myself to Dennis and, much to my surprise, he still remembers me from when I interviewed him last fall. Dennis shook my hand, asked me how I was doing, we posed for a photo, and I thanked him for having me as his guest.
Night Ranger and Dennis DeYoung are fantastic musicians at the top of their game. They are both still creating and performing wonderful music that’s melodic and potent. If you have the opportunity to see either or both of them live, do so. You will enjoy it immensely.