It’s consistently funny how you wind up dissecting time. And what strikes you as a meaningful passage of it. A year ago, I distinctly remember being completely, unironically excited about seeing Night Ranger at the Rib America Festival, that celebration of over-eating, over-priced BBQ and over-the-hill classic rockers. As the night drew near, I recruited a friend equally open to experiences and we headed down to Soldier’s Memorial, a light rain alternating with a medium rain. By that point in the evening, the gates were open and the cover was waived, a nice touch.
With the rain falling, the band was delaying the start of the show and so it was time to people-watch. The under-umbrella Night Ranger fans didn’t disappoint. If nothing else, there was always the joy of spotting slightly-tattered, stretched-over-bellies concert tees. “Look, there’s a Nektar!” “Ooh, nice Dream Theater!” It was a fun game, but started to wear as the rain alternated in severity and the band stayed tucked away, dry in their bus. The PA guy steadily announced that they’d be out any minute, which resulted in hearty “woooo!” the first time; that response waned after multiple, broken promises.
Eventually, the band came out and struck all the right poses. Jack Blades worked the stage like an experienced hair metal frontman and his bandmates (seemingly all original, save for a ringer on keyboards) followed suit. A couple songs in, the crowd forgave them the long delay and three or four songs in, the group felt comfortable enough to mix in a new track (yawn) alongside the old hits. And did you know the band penned the theme song to the Michael J. Fox film, “The Secret of My Succe$s”? Well, they did. And they played it.
Whether it was the fifth, or sixth, song I don’t recall (hey, it’s been a YEAR), but the during that cut, the skies opened up again and rain fell sideways. Heavy, drenching rain that came with these quick warning signs: nearby lightning, a rush of very cold wind, then that distinct sound of a curtain of rain about to hit you.
Folks, if you’ve never seen Night Ranger get rained-out mid-show, it’s something you’ll want to see. The band, without so much as a “thank you, St. Louis!” placed their instruments on-stage and disappeared behind banks of lights and Marshall amps. They were there, they were gone. Several classics remained to be played, but… not for the fans of Rib America ’08. And with those fans now drowning in the cloudburst, who could blame them?
Well, folks, they’re back. Night Ranger. At Rib America. Friday, 9 p.m. Can’t make it this year and that’s a shame, but I’ll always have ’08 and the promise of what could’ve been, lighters held aloft, “When You Close Your Eyes” played at 10, multiple Bang Tango t-shirts in close proximity.
Ah, time. You trickster.
(If memory serves correct, that night slowly became morning and an NBA journeyman was spotted at a Washington Park nightclub named after a publishing titan, but that may have all been a dream, and is certainly a story being saved for another day…)