In April, my wife and I bought tickets for my mom’s birthday to see two olden hard rock juggernauts share the iWireless Center stage on October 7 in Moline, IL. She has bashfully liked Def Leppard since the Adrenalize era, for the music, but more so because of the memories they recall of her late close friend, with whom she listened to the Sheffield group while working.
Before arriving in Moline, we ate a greasy dinner and perused the unique assortment of military patches and mass produced crap at the World’s Largest Truck Stop on I-80. The time conversing with my mom and wife before the show was just as important as the upcoming shared musical experience.
We are indifferent to Tesla, thus had no problem showing up at the conclusion of their opening set. The three of us were settled and primed by eight o’clock, when the dirty white boys of Foreigner initiated their performance with “Double Vision.” While I have never been much of fan, I think the current lineup’s skill surpasses the classic’s due to the more powerful rhythm section of former Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Chris Frazier. Founder, and only original member, Mick Jones, confidently led his hired guns and gave the crowd a predictable greatest hits set. Kelly Hansen’s near flawless vocal range rivals that of his most famous predecessor, Lou Gramm, and he interacted with the audience enthusiastically. Towards the end of the set, the Moline High School Choir assisted Foreigner on “I Want to Know What Love Is.” How thrilling was it for them to share the stage with one of rock’s most successful bands? By the time the jukebox heroes were finished, they had won me over as a live act.
…And then came the men who, powered by John “Mutt” Lange, producer and Shania Twain-cheater, set the standard for mega-star 1980s hard and pop rock. Def Leppard’s first song debuted their new single, “Let’s Go,” which sounds like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” if influenced by The Beatles. Vivian Campbell, respected former guitarist of Dio, has continued touring despite the troubling return of his cancer. He and MVP co-guitarist Phil Collen seem genuinely happy when performing. Joe Elliott’s melodic and distinct vocal range has diminished through the years, but continues to excite the ladies. Bassist Rick Savage’s low end followed Rick Allen’s trustworthy backbeat like the faithful friend he is. Savage, along with Collen and Campbell, sang backup and augmented Elliott’s voice when out of his range, much like Michael Anthony did for Roth, Hagar, and Cherone in Van Halen. The anticipated hit singles were faithfully performed, and I was most excited to hear “Let It Go” from my favorite release, High ‘n’ Dry. That song and the instrumental, “Switch 625,” were the most adrenalizing selections of the set for me. After “Photograph” was unleashed and the show concluded, the happiness my mom radiated made for another revered memory.
The full audio of Def Leppard’s set is available for free download here. Rock, rock, til you drop!