Def Leppard, Foreigner, & Night Ranger (concert review)

Def Leppard, Foreigner, & Night Ranger – Value City Arena – Columbus, OH – 10/14/15

Good rock shows like this don’t come around that often anymore

At a time when many rockers are leaving the genre for the more lucrative country market, three bands showed that, pardon the pun, “You Can Still Rock in America.”

Night Ranger took the stage promptly at 7pm and played eight classic songs, highlighted by a raucous version of “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me.”  Probably the biggest surprise was “Touch of Madness,” which originally came from their album Midnight Madness.  Three members remain from the original lineup: Jack Blades was in fine voice, while guitarist Brad Gillis was as flashy as ever.  Drummer Kelly Keagy got his chance to step out in front for the ubiquitous ballad, “Sister Christian.”

Foreigner was next.  Their nine-song set relied heavily on their first four albums.  Guitarist Mick Jones is the only remaining member, yet despite recently battling health issues, his playing was very melodic.  Vocalist Kelly Hansen did a decent job – he doesn’t quite capture original singer Lou Gramm’s soulful delivery, but he makes up for it in his vocal range.  “Jukebox Hero” was a crowd-pleaser, while both “Urgent” and “Dirty White Boy” were nice surprises.  The lighters (and cellphones) came out for the ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is,” while a searing version of “Hot Blooded” closed their set.


Def Leppard opened their 17-song set with a brand-new tune, “Let’s Go.”  The lyrics are perfectly suited for the occasion: “welcome to the carnival / welcome to the party / welcome to the edge of your seat.”  That was followed by Pyromania’s “Rock Rock Til You Drop.”  They jumped back and forth between their two mega-selling albums 1983’s Pyromania and 1987’s Hysteria.


It’s great to hear a couple of tracks off 1981’s High n’ Dry – “Let it Go,” and “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” followed by the instrumental “Switch 625.”


The band has made it a tradition of pulling out at least one cover – and here they did an electronic-heavy version of David Essex’s “Rock On.”  Another highlight was singer Joe Elliott playing a solo acoustic version of the ballad “Two Steps Behind.”


Their show closed with a pair of stone-cold classics – “Rock of Ages,” and “Photograph,” the two songs that cemented their fame thanks to the early days of MTV.


Not enough credit goes to these guys who, after years of tragedy, have had the same lineup now for 23 years.  Guitarist Vivian Campbell, who has been battling cancer, was introduced as “happy and healthy.”  And drummer Rick Allen still played great with one arm.


You can take your trendy cowboy hats and boots and put them you know where.  Def Leppard, Foreigner and Night Ranger still know how to rock.  —Tony Peters