Night Ranger

Night Ranger can still Rock In America

(LR) Eric Levy, Brad Gillis, Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Joel Hoekstra

(LR) Eric Levy, Brad Gillis, Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Joel Hoekstra

LINCOLN, CA – Night Ranger brought their high-energy show to Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Friday, as droves of fans piled into Pano Hall to see one of their favorite 80s band.

It was quite a night for fans as Thunder Valley Casino’s Pano Hall filled to capacity and the anticipation of seeing a legendary band was finally over. Night Ranger came out onstage firing on all cylinders with “Touch of Madness” and “Sing Me Away,” with fans screaming, yelling, singing and dancing, as virtually everyone in Pano Hall was on their feet.

Jack Blade Click for more photos

Jack Blades
Click for more photos

Original band members, 59-year-old Jack Blades (lead vocals, bass), 56-year-old Brad Gillis (guitar) and 61-year-old Kelly Keagy (drums), were joined by their newest members Eric Levy (keys) and Joel Hoekstra (guitar).

Brad Gillis

Brad Gillis

As Night Ranger barreled through their set-list, Gillis and Hoekstra shot back and forth across the stage jamming with each other as is customary for Night Ranger, with Blades joining in on the fun from time to time.

READ: Brett Michaels Slaughtered by Night Ranger

Kelly Keagy

Kelly Keagy

As Blades talked about their next song, “Secrets to My Success,” the title track for Michael J. Fox’s 1987 movie of the same name, you could see someone flashing a light at Blades attempting to get his attention. After finishing up with “Secrets to My Success,” Blades admitted screwing up the set-list and went back and introduced Keagy, who took over lead vocals to perform “Sentimental Street.”

Joel Hoekstra (r) and Brad Gillis hamming it up

Joel Hoekstra (r) and Brad Gillis hamming it up

Up to this point the majority of fans had been on their feet, but as Keagy weaved his way through “Sentimental Street,” a number of audience members started to sit down, but that didn’t last long.

Joel Hoekstra (L), Brad Gillis and Jack Blade

Joel Hoekstra (L), Brad Gillis and Jack Blades

Of course Blades threw in a few songs from his past Damn Yankees days including “High Enough” and “Coming with Age.” The band also played a brief medley of songs from the likes of Ozzie Osborne and The Eagles.

For their encore they brought the house down with “Sister Christen” and “Rock in America.” Protection Status

Bret Michaels Slaughtered by Night Ranger

Bret Michaels

Bret Michaels – Click for more images

Okay, maybe not Slaughtered.

It was an epic night Friday at Thunder Valley Casino Resort with Bret Michaels (Poison), Slaughter and Night Ranger providing over 4 hours of high energy entertainment.

While Bret Michaels was billed as the headliner, I do believe Night Ranger ruled the night with their intense, but fun loving, stage presence ““ more on that in a minute.

It was great to have the likes of Bret Michaels of Poison and Night Ranger’s guitarist Joel Hoekstra at Thunder Valley Casino the day after the new movie Rock of Ages premiered at theaters across the country. Music from Poison is featured in the movie and Hoekstra makes a cameo appearance. Hoekstra also stars in the Broadway hit Rock of Ages.

As over 4,000 fans filed into Thunder Valley Casino’s outdoor amphitheater, Slaughter took the stage kicking off this 4 hour extravaganza of hair flipping and high energy entertainment, with their hit song “Wildlife.”

As only true diehard fans can do in close to 100 degree weather, they rose up from the clutches of their nicely cushioned seats (ok, the bleachers ““ not so cushioned) to rock with the likes of Mark Slaughter (lead singer/guitar), Dana Strum (bass ““ makes sense with a name like Strum), Zoltan Chaney (drums), and Jeff “‘Blando’ Bland (lead guitar).

Slaughter – Click for more images

Within minutes into their set, the Slaughter crew were drenched in sweat and appeared to be totally into nothing but rocking and entertaining the crowd. Blando was the most energetic of the foursome, whipping his hair like it was 1999 and acting like he was still twenty-something.

The most violent award goes to drummer Chaney, who thrashed his drums to the point of having to pull out a wrench to fix one of his cymbals. The man was an animal!

While the entire crowd wasn’t on their feet during Slaughters performance, you could see them nodding their heads, pumping their fists, and just plain rocking out.

In between sets actor, stuntman, producer, director, and all around nice guy, Branscombe Richmond came out to joke around with the crowd and throw t-shirts at unsuspecting audience members.

Night Ranger

Night Ranger – Click for more images

As Night Ranger stormed the stage it was complete bedlam on stage and off, with Hoekstra immediately flipping his blonde locs of hair while ripping away at his guitar, while off stage the entire audience jumped to their feet.

Starting their set with “Lay it on Me,” founding members Jack Blades (bass) and Brad Gillis (guitar), along with Hoekstra were going back and forth playing off of each other. Hoekstra and Gillis were the most animated of the three, as they were making faces at each other and constantly engaging the audience.

Drummer and founding member Kelly Keagy joined in the fun too, as Hoekstra, Gillis, and Blades all would work their way to Keagy.

As they played through hits like “Sing Me Away,” “Touch of Madness,” “Hearts Away,” and of course “Sister Christian,” they continued to interact with the crowd and each other. Hoekstra had a grin on his face almost the entire set, as did Blades and Gillis.

Jack Blades

Jack Blades – Click for more images

Blades announced to the crowd that Gillis was celebrating his 55th birthday as he ribbed Gillis most of the night.

Night Ranger sounds just like they did years ago and they’ve maintained their high level of energy throughout the years. The addition of Hoekstra has added another, more theatrical, dynamic to their performances.

Prior to Michaels making his way on stage Richmond reminded everyone about Michaels ongoing battle with diabetes and how important it was to take care of yourself and get checkups on a regular basis.

It was a strange start as someone from Michael’s team came out and made some announcements regarding merchandise (nothing new here), but then after he yelled;

“The Party Starts Now!”

The audience ended up waiting for another 10 minutes before Michaels made it out on stage.

Sounding a bit off with Poison’s hit “Talk Dirty With Me,” Michaels had the crowd eating out of his hand. Wearing his signature bandana and long hair (come on! It’s gotta be a wig.) Michaels worked the audience like a true entertainer.

Bret Michaels

Bret Michaels – Click for more images

Thanking the audience for making the VH1 reality show “Rock of Love” the number 1 show on VH1 3 years running, Michaels started in with the theme song for the show, “Go That Far.”

Sounding much better after a few songs Michaels continued with a number of cover songs including Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” Loggins and Messina’s “Your Mamma Don’t Dance,” and  Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite,” just to name a few.

He peppered in some Poison songs such as “Something to Believe in,” “Unskinny Bop,” and “Look What the Cat Dragged in”

While Michaels wasn’t Slaughtered by Night Ranger, I place him at a close second due to the number Poison hits he left on the shelf. Talking to a number of people after the show, they all agreed that Night Ranger won the night. However, all were in complete agreement that Michaels put on a high energy and entertaining show – so no, he wasn’t Slaughtered.


Coming to Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Summer Concert Series on June 29th is Trace Adkins and June 30th is Gabriel Iglesias. Read all about Fluffy’s last visit to Thunder Valley Casino.

Journey Brings Eclipse Tour to Sleep Train Amphitheater

Journey's Lead Singer Arnel Pineda - Click for more images


It was quite the Journey down memory lane last night at Sleep Train Amphitheater in Wheatland, CA. It was surreal at times, leaving me feeling like a Foreigner in a strange land. I felt safe the entire Journey since there was always a Night Ranger close at hand.

That was one rockin’ show out Marysville way Friday night. Journey brought their Eclipse tour along with fellow rockers Foreigner and Night Ranger. Talk about an epic four hour journey.




Leading off the night was Night Ranger with original members Kelly Keagy (drums/ vocals), Brad Gillis (lead guitar/vocals), and Jack Blades

Night Ranger - Click for more images

(bass/vocals). Newest additions to the band were Joel Hoekstra (guitar/backing vocals) and Eric Levy (keyboards/backing vocals).

Playing to a less than half full crowd – or is that half empty? – Night Ranger opened with “Lay it On Me.”  The fans that showed up early

thoroughly enjoyed the set. The band also performed “High Enough” a Damn Yankees song. As some of you may recall, Jack Blades formed the Damn Yankees back in 1989 with Ted Nugent and Sammy Hagar, breaking up in 1994.

In between sets I wandered to the front gates to find 100’s of fans buying last minute tickets. By the time Foreigner took the stage the amphitheater was almost filled to capacity.

Foreigner - Click for more images

As Foreigner began their set with “Double Vision” it was quite obvious that the boomers in the crowd had become quite inebriated and weren’t feeling any pain. It was kind of comical seeing people staggering about due to their double vision while listening to “Double Vision.”

Obviously absent was original band member Mick Jones. Not to worry since lead Singer and Steven Tyler look alike, Kelly Hansen commandeered the stage with a take no prisoner’s attitude. Hansen was in complete control of the audience the entire set, jumping from one side of the stage to the other.

Hansen really got the crowding going as the band plowed through their hits including, “Head Games,” “Cold as Ice,” and ending with their smash hit “Hot Blooded.”

Much to the delight of cheering fans, Hansen really kicked it into gear when he jumped out into the crowd several times during his performance. Although there were a few fans that weren’t too happy to have the spotlight shining on them while taking a hit from their medical stash.

By the time Journey jumped up on stage the amphitheater was packed. The lawn seats were full and remained so to the end of the concert, which is unusual for a four hour concert.

I couldn’t believe the balls Journey had taking the stage. It was quite a sight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen balls that big. Seriously, these beach balls were huge. The audience really loved it as they kept hitting them to each other, back on stage, up in the air – quite fun!

Journey hit the stage in a sea of laser lights and of course those huge beach balls, performing “Separate Ways.” As many true Journey fans will tell you, there is no replacing Steve Perry as lead singer. However, I think the band has found a remarkable replacement with Arnel Pineda. He’s bundle of energy, sporting colorful tattoos and man can he sing. I’d swear it was Steve Perry on stage. In fact, I would argue he sounds like the young Steve Perry, which is even better sounding than the old Steve Perry.

Original band members included Neal Schon (guitar/vocals) and Ross Valory (bass/vocals). Another new member was Deen Castronova (drums/vocals).

Pineda has lots of energy onstage and while he tried to command the crowd I don’t think he quite had the entire audience eating out of his hand. I found him paying way too much attention to the fans in the first few rows ultimately spoiling it for people farther back in the audience. Many times he would almost lay down on stage to shake hands and sing to the few people who scored good seats, only to leave out the rest of the crowd.

Even though Journey is promoting their latest album Eclipse, they only played one song from it entitled “City of Hope.” Journey played many of their hits including “Wheel in the Sky,” “Open Arms,” and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.”

For their encore they brought the house down with “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Any Way You Want It.” While they played many hits they still had plenty more to play, leaving me to think they should drop one of the acts and think about touring with one band, rather than three.

I’ve had a number of people ask me who was the better band ““ Foreigner or Journey? I have to say I thought Foreigner ruled the night, but Journey really stood out due to the newest lead singer, Arnel Pineda. I have to call it a tie. If it wasn’t for Arnel and his ability to sound like the young Steve Perry, I would have given the night to Foreigner. It really was a contest between front men Kelly Hansen and Arnel Pineda.

One thing I have to respect is a band that gives a shout out to the city they are in, not one that’s miles away. Every band gave a shout out to Sacramento! Guys it’s Wheatland. Ok, I’d give you Marysville, but Sacramento? It’s not like we were in downtown Sacramento. You don’t hear bands giving a shout out to Sacramento at any Bay Area concerts! Maybe they should.

Regardless, it was a memorable night with some great music and a whole bunch of inebriated people to watch and laugh with ““ never at.

Night Ranger set-list:
Lay it On Me
Sing Me Away
High Enough/Coming of Age (Damn Yankees cover)
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me/Hotel California (the Eagles cover ““ Snippet)
Sister Christian
(You Can Still) Rock in America

Foreigner set-list:
Double Vision
Head Games
Cold as Ice
Dirty White Boy
Feel Like the First Time
I Want to Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded

Juke Box Hero

Journey set-list:
Separate Ways
Ask the Lonely
Send Her My Love
City of Hope (Eclipse)
Only the Young
Stone in Love
Wheel in the Sky
Open Arms
La Do Da
Be Good to Yourself
Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’

Any Way You Want it
Don’t Stop Believin’

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