Night Ranger rocks GTMO
As promised, here's the concert review of Night Ranger in Cuba, supplied by the legendary "Commander" himself -- Jeff Johnston:
It was an amazing show, almost two hours of high energy rock and roll under a full moon, and bathed in tropical breezes. There was a bit of a scare earlier in the day when it was discovered someone in the crew had left a very important box of gear back in Florida.
With only 6 hours until show time, calls went out around the base to guitar players and musicians who loaned their own guitars, amps, strings, etc. so that the show could go on. That's just the way GTMO works. I ran into a friend of mine this morning who told me he still can't get over the fact that Brad Gillis played his guitar in concert. How cool is that?
"You're Going To Hear It" is going to be the first single off of "Hole In The Sun", and it sounded great. It's more of a "rocker" along the lines of "Don't Tell Me" and "Rock In America."
A couple of things you won't find on the setlist: Jack fulfilled a promise to Ted Nugent by leading the band in an amazing acoustic version of "Cat Scratch Fever," with Ted's message that he'll be back with the full version later this year.
And much to the surprise of his bandmates, Jack started the encore with "Highway to Hell." The rest of the band quickly picked it up and drove the crowd into a frenzy.
And I have to admit, during the final moments of the show, when every light was trained on the big American flag behind the stage, and "Rock In The USA" was booming out across the hills of a Communist country, it was pretty freaking inspiring.
I'm told I did a good job with my introduction, but my memory of it is a little fuzzy. The crowd started gathering at noon for an 8:00 PM show, so a lot of them were already in mid-concert form. And my introduction was sort of segmented, so every time I stopped talking they would crank it up in anticipation. It went something like this:
"Ladies and gentlemen, MWR in association with Air Operations and Radio GTMO is proud to welcome to the Lyceum stage..." (whoops from the crowd), "From San Francisco, California..." (More whooping), "Taking a break from their North American tour to play their first overseas show for the military.. (cheers), "Platinum recording artists..." (cheers and applause) "A band whose influence on rock and roll is nothing short of legendary..." (cheers, applause, and the beginning of a "Night Ranger chant), "Guantanamo Bay, THIS IS NIGHT RANGER! (total apoplexy).
There was only one set of stairs leading onto the stage, and I didn't want to run into the band as they rushed onto the stage, so I ended up jumping off the stage into the pit. Which looked pretty cool, until I realized the only way out was to crawl back under the stage. I felt like Jake and Elwood sneaking out of the Palace Hotel ballroom.
Anyway, we said goodbye to the band this morning. They've got a gig tomorrow night in West Palm Beach. And even though the show was awesome, the enduring memory is what a great bunch of people they all were. From Jack and the band through all of their crew and management, they really couldn't have been any nicer.
They went throughout the base meeting and greeting personnel from all five branches of the service, even getting "behind the wire" to chat with the troops guarding the detainees. They must have posed for 5,000 photos and signed almost as many autographs.
Here's one of a thousand stories I could tell you about them: My friend Joe, who runs the radio station, brought his 6-year-old son Andrew to the show, and we had mentioned to Brad that Andrew had received his first guitar for Christmas. So during the show, Brad motioned for Joe to bring Andrew up to the stage, and pushing aside all the other folks clamoring at his feet, personally handed Andrew a pick.