The concert at Vernon Downs, Sunday August 23, 1998!

Well, I'm just now dragging my butt out of bed, after an exhausting, long,
incredibly great day, yesterday. I made the 3 hour drive up to Vernon, NY,
with a friend of mine, to see the boys. They were playing a festival for a
local radio station, which is a yearly thing, apparently. It's called "Fireworks
Over Central New York", and the radio station was WOUR, 96.9. Along with
Night Ranger, the festival also featured 3 really awful grunge-type bands, a
reunion of a popular local 80's band, Alecstar, The Tubes, and Paul Rodgers
(ex-Bad Co., Free, The Firm). It was held at Vernon Downs, a horse track.
There were various vendors and rides, kind of like a mini-fair. Night Ranger
wasn't selling ANY merchandise at all, however. The radio station was selling
shirts with the band line-up on it, though, so I had to get one of those. I mean,
how often do I have the chance to buy a shirt with the words "Night Ranger"
on it? :)

We got there around noon, just as the gates were opening. Unfortunately,
we really should have left a little later, because after that we had to try
to stay as far away from the stage as possible, due to the horrible music
being played by the bands that were on it. :) After the 3 grunge bands,
Alecstar came on, and they were fairly decent. They did a great cover of
Led Zepplin's "Ramble On", and some cool new stuff. Around this time, I ran
into Rumours In The Air member, Rocker Chic, and her 3 friends, who were
all very cool, and rabid Night Ranger fans. :) It was great to meet you
guys! During Alecstar's set we noticed Brad Gillis actually walking around
in the crowd. We were pretty much the only people that recognized him,
which I guess shouldn't shock me. We talked to him for a few minutes, and
got some autographs. :)

After Alecstar went off, we made our way up front for The Tubes. They
actually put on a hell of a show! They were very energetic. I'm only a
casual Tubes fan. The only disc of their's that I have is The Best Of, so I
didn't recognize a bunch of the songs, but I still enjoyed there set. Fee
Waybill is a great front man. He really looked like he was having fun up
there, and was happy to be there. They opened with "Sushi Girl", threw
"She's A Beauty" into the middle of the set, and "Talk To Ya Later" at the
end. They encored with "White Punks On Dope", at least I think that's the
name of the song. The crowd seemed to know it, but I didn't. :) They
actualluy got a great response.

Luckily, after the Tubes went off, the people in front of us, one of which
was the biggest Tubes fan in the universe, I think, left, so we were able
to move up to the very front, and slightly off center, to Jack's left
toward Brad. After a brief wait while Night Ranger's gear was set up, the
boys hit the stage, ripping into New York time. It was so great to see them
on a nice big, full-size stage again! They weren't cramped on a little bar
stage...they had plenty of room to jump around, which they made the most
off...except for Fitz, of course. :)

I have to say, that after seeing this show, I find it hard to believe there
are any kind of "problems" within the band. They all looked absolutely
thrilled to be there, and like they were having the time of their lives.
There was a lot of goofing around between members of the band, especially
Jack and Kelly. They were smiling and seemed genuinly pleased at the crowd
response, which was excellent! People were really cheering and going wild
for them! The crowd was singing along really loudly to all the songs, which
kept the guys smiling. I have to think that them being up on a nice big
stage again, playing in front of thousands of people, who are all loving
the show, had to have made the guys really happy. When they did "Sign Of
The Times", a whole bunch of us that were up in the very front were singing
along pretty damn loudly, and that caught their attention. Especially Jack,
who smiled in our direction. I guess they were pleasantly surprised that
people actually knew a new song!

True to form, a few minutes into the set, Jack had problems with his bass.
I assume it's the one he always has trouble with...I think he needs to
trash that one. :) Other than that, the show went off without any problems.
Jack did a lot of promotion for WOUR, as he made comments about how
great the station was, several times. The version of "Sentimental Street" that
they did was EXCELLENT. It started with a brief keyboard solo by Fitz,
which lead into the song. For the first verse it was just Kelly and Fitz
out there, then the rest of the boys came out to sing the chorus, and after
the first chorus, Brad and jeff kicked in with the electric guitar. As much
as I love the all keyboard version of the song, it was great to hear it with
some crunch again! My only complaint was that "Coming Of Age" was left
in the set. Granted they did it better than Damn Yankees ever has, I just
think with a set that short, they should be doing ALL Night Ranger songs.

Throughout the show, Jack made all the same speeches and comments that
he always does, so I'll spare you any recap of that. After the show, I was
lucky enough to be on the guest list, so I got to go backstage and talk
breifly with everyone, except Fitz, who came out of the trailer and quickly
slipped off. Jeff signed a CD for me, and kelly signed a copy of my
interview that i did with him, and posed for a picture. All the guys were
great, and took the time to talk to me for a few minutes. After Night
Ranger came Paul Rodgers, but I really didn't pay attention to his set.
When he was done, there was a pretty nice firewrosk display. All in all, it
was a fantastic day and a fantastic show.

Here's Night Ranger's set list (Not quite in the correct order, I don't think):

New York Time
Rumours In The Air
Sign Of The Times
Sing Me Away
Touch Of Madness
Fitz solo/Sentimental Street
Coming of Age
Four In The Morning
When You Close Your Eyes
(You Can Still) Rock In America

Sister Christian
Don't Tell Me You Love Me

- Craig Matusinski

Thanks for the review, Craig!