Def Leppard's metal still mighty

The '80s loom large. And why not? For anyone in their mid- to late 30s, this was the decade when so much was decided. Political awakenings. Perhaps the genesis of a sense of family and love relationships. But God forbid that your taste for music was forged during the Reagan years. Drum machines for drums; arms for hostages; big hair for talent – it wasn't the friendliest of times for anyone who believed in the promise of the '60s. Though Def Leppard started out in Sheffield, England, copying the twin-guitar harmonies of Thin Lizzy and the angular muscle of Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, the music Wednesday was of a different stripe. This was "pop metal," a friendlier version of the sound that was electrifying Britain and haunting independent record stores in this country, circa 1980.

Def Leppard pulled a large crowd to Darien Lake, and there's no doubt that co-headliners Journey had something to do with the number of people willing to brave the cold. But clearly, it was this British fivesome – unchanged, pretty much, save for the loss of original member and guitarist Steve Clarke – that was responsible for bringing metal to the folks who would've never been receptive to it. Def Leppard played a close to flawless show to an audience ranging in age from 15 to 50. The group pulled from throughout its career, and there was, as a result, an interesting mix of music. The blatant AC/DC-infused hard rock of "Let It Roll" sat snugly against the post-Mutt Lange mega-overdub choir of vocals informing "Women."

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