Live Preview: Night Ranger

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The California-based melodic hard rockers introduce a new line-up at Hard Rock Hell AOR in March. Bassist/vocalist Jack Blades can’t wait.

You must have had mixed emotions when David Coverdale headhunted Joel Hoekstra, Night Ranger’s guitarist of six years?

Yeah. And nobody saw it coming. We’re pleased for Joel. But some things are a blessing in disguise, and Keri [Kelli, of Alice Cooper/Slash] has stepped in seamlessly.

What made Kelli, who’d deputised twice before for Joel, the right man for the job?

Keri and Brad [Gillis, guitar] get on great, and he runs around on stage so much. He’s been a sideman [with Alice] and now it’s time for the next rung up the ladder.

Did you consider inviting original guitarist Jeff Watson back?

No. We have a real camaraderie, so there was no reason to consider something that might have been a hazard.

Do you know what to expect at Hard Rock Hell AOR?

Not really. I’ve never even been to Wales. But I dig the UK. I’m flying in a week before our headline show in London to hang out with friends.

**Then why, except for dates in London in 2011 and ’12, have Night Ranger ignored Britain since 1985? **

I’ve no idea why that happened. It’s stupid, insane. I want to play England every year. That’s our goal.

How do Night Ranger’s most recent albums stand up against the ones that went gold and platinum in the eighties?

Very well. The biggest compliment we get is when someone asks: “Was that third song you played tonight from Midnight Madness [1983]? It was killer.” And I say: “No, it was on Somewhere In California [2011].”

You were in Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent. What are the chances of a reunion?

Anything is possible.

Hard Rock Hell AOR takes place in Pwllheli on March 12-15.