Def Leppard is more than two decades removed from its most popular records, but its accessible rock has aged well enough to keep the group impressively popular over the years. The group came to the Comcast Theatre in Hartford Tuesday night as the headliner on a three-act card, where it powered through a typically slick rundown of hits that began on a pleasantly cool summer night and ended in a torrential lightning storm.
After beginning the show with a video presentation that ran quickly through the band's history and claimed, "that was then, this is now," the band spent its time almost exclusively on then. Only one of its 16 tunes was from its current album, as the group focused instead on the likes of "Rocket" and a slithering rendition of "Rock On."
Always able to do impressive things with meticulously polished studio work, the band didn't always translate them to the stage in ways that measured up, as in an "Animal" ill-served by the raw edges in its chorus. Singer Joe Elliott's haughty bark was augmented by processing on many tunes, including "Foolin'," but not so much that it sounded false.
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Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick rolled into the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA Tuesday night performing to a near capacity crowd. The audience spanned a generation, as families brought their children to see the two legendary 80's metal bands that are still at the top of their game today.
Kicking off the nights festivities at 6:45 P.M., Cheap Trick hit the stage for a colorful set, as guitarist Rick Nielsen dressed in a pink suit and 5 neck yellow plaid guitar cranked out the catchy riffs of "I Want You To Want Me", and "Surrender". Singer Robin Zander sporting a white hat was in good voice. Highlight of the Cheap Trick set was their hit ballad "The Flame".
"Rock of Love's" Bret Michaels and his band Poison hit the stage at 8 P.M. performing a 60-minute set of pure infectious pop. Opening with "Look What The Cat Dragged In", Poison delivered a high-energized punch featuring Bret Michaels in pretty good voice for having suffered from the major Tony Awards incident a few weeks ago.
As Friday night's triple bill began at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, fans were treated to something they rarely see these days – the sun.
But that solar energy didn't warm up the crowd for Cheap Trick. Many were either still filing in or hanging out in the beer garden for the band's 40-minute set.
Singer Robin Zander's vocals were muffled on some songs, but the sound did improve as the set went on. He just didn't seem that into it, even stepping off stage during "Dream Police."
It was guitarist Rick Nielsen who helped salvage their performance. He is entertaining to watch, with his shiny purple suit, bow tie and multi-necked guitars, but he just couldn't carry the whole set.
"Don't need nothin' but a good time," goes that old rock chesnut by '80s glam-metal outfit Poison.
Well, look no further than Saturday night's trio of British heavy metal veterans Def Leppard with opening acts '70s pop-rock outfit Cheap Trick and Poison fronted by Bret Michaels of Rock Of Love Fame at the Molson Amphitheatre for a perfect example of that.
The three name acts drew a nearly sold-out crowd with Poison's party-hearty, fun vibe surprisingly giving more polished headliners Def Leppard a run for their money.
Cheap Trick got the four hours of music off to a start with a sturdy if uneventful 40-minute set which included their most famous hits I Want You To Want Me, Dream Police, and Surrender along with some suprising covers like Elvis Presley's Don't Be Cruel and The Beatles' A Day In The Life (they are going to be performing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at the Hilton in Las Vegas starting in September backed by a full orchestra.)
Sugar poured? Check. Roses inspected for thorns? Yup. Flame produced? Oh, yeah.
Def Leppard, Poison, and Cheap Trick made for a mostly hot, sticky sweet triple bill last night at the Comcast Center.
It wasn't exactly a hat trick – we'll get to Poison in a minute – but it was one of this summer's smarter package tours. The three bands – all pop at their cores, with varying degrees of power chords applied – took the all killer, no filler approach. They hit the stage, knocked out the hits, and quit while they were ahead.
While it can be difficult to watch the mighty Cheap Trick doing a 40-minute opening set while the sun is still out, the Chicago power pop pioneers certainly exhibited more oomph than they have in recent years.
Remember that scene in "The Wrestler" when Marisa Tomei's gold-hearted stripper recalls the good-time glory days of '80s hair metal? " '90s sucked," she and Mickey Rourke concluded.
Well, if there was one show you could expect to find that cinematic Jersey Girl at this summer, it would have been Wednesday night's super-rocking alliance of Def Leppard, Poison and Cheap Trick at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.
Before the final song of the evening, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott asked the adoring crowd a fairly straightforward question: "Do you want to get rocked?"
Cheap Trick. Then Poison. Then Def Leppard. Friday night's lineup at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center were bands that dominated radio play through much of the '70s and '80s, who could fill SPAC as individual bands back then.
Same bands, same crowd, same songs Friday night, but all were 20-plus years older. This was not about moving their latest music forward, but reveling in the pop-metal that once flourished for a generation of teens.
Cheap Trick opened the night serving 40 minutes of their hits. They crescendoed with "Surrender," Robin Zander's voice sounding like it does on the original track. They built to that point with "I Want You to Want Me," Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel," and "The Flame," their power ballad that put the front half of the pavilion on its feet.
At this time last year, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott opined that popmetal band Poison was more interested in its image than its music. Poison's Rikki Rockett fired back, challenging Elliott to a bare-knuckles fight.
How times have changed.
Barely a year later, it seems Def Lep and Poison have kissed and made up – they're now touring together.
Tuesday night at the Comcast Center, a near capacity crowd had nothin' but a good time as the triple bill of hard-rockin' Def Leppard, glamour boys Poison and power-pop oddballs Cheap Trick relived the days when hair was huge and worries were few.
The guy in the Cheap Trick T-shirt standing near the box office just prior to the commencement of Friday's Def Leppard show at Darien Lake did not look happy.
Matter of fact, he appeared to be crying. As it turns out, he'd driven from Cleveland to see his favorite band, the one whose name was emblazoned on his shirt. And, upon arrival, he faced the news that that band was not going to be playing.
Cheap Trick, as it turns out, was stuck on a grounded airplane in New York City, violent storms having prohibited takeoff. No refund, partial or otherwise, would be forthcoming.
Three-quarters of a full house turned out to see Def Leppard, Poison and Cheap Trick on Friday. But this was a Def Leppard show in essence, though, and that band delivered the goods.
At the end of Def Leppard's show Tuesday night, lead singer Joe Elliott offered the audience at the Susquehanna Bank Center a deal: "Don't forget about us, and we won't forget about you."
It was a moment of unusual vulnerability for a band whose most fervent pronouncements generally involve the word rock. But gratitude was the order of the night. Def Leppard, Poison, and Cheap Trick, who kicked off a seven-week tour in Camden, don't have much in common except paunches and power ballads. They were all just happy to be there.
In Def Leppard's case, remembering their fans meant focusing overwhelmingly on old material. "Nine Lives," the Tim McGraw co-penned single from last year's Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, was the only song released after 1993. Based on the polite stares and closed mouths that greeted the newish outlier, the lack of fresh material did not matter much.
It was more than 20 years ago that hair metal taught the kids to tease-and-spray, and since then high-heeled boys and their sticky metallic hooks have become fodder for love-lorn reality shows and slick Broadway musicals. And the answers to some of the pressing questions of our day – Is the Leppard still Def? Is Poison still nothin' but a good time? Is the Trick still Cheap? – will be answered at an amphitheater near you when the 40-date Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick tour, which opened last night at near-sold out Susquehana Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey, rolls into a town near you. The answers are, in order: Yes, yes, and depends if you sit out on the lawn or pony up top-dollar for ringside seating.
First up was Cheap Trick, who have never really left the road since they went live at Budokan, and their bracing blend of Beatlesque hooks and high voltage riffs still rocks righteously. Cheap Trick rocked the early arrivals with a short, sharp set that mixed classics like "I Want You To Want Me" and "Dream Police" with super-fresh new material like "These Days" and "Sick Man Of Europe" from their just-released album, The Latest.
Step inside, walk this way and prepare to be Leppardised. As Sheffield's favourite hair metal sons arrived on stage at Vector and cracked into Rocket the sold-out crowd rocketed to their feet – and they stayed that way for 90-minutes of pomp'n'roll.
This was stadium rock 80s-style, people.
Any thoughts Def Leppard might be hair metal has-beens – because, let's face it, 1983's Pyromania and 1987's Hysteria were the band at their best – were blown away as they made their first appearance in New Zealand in 16 years.
As an example of Def Leppard's enduring pulling-power, many in the crowd would have barely been born when Hysteria came out.
Def Leppard front man Joe Elliott ended the band's Auckland show with the words, "Don't forget us, and we won't forget you".
On that basis his band will not be forgetting the fans who packed out Vector Arena in a hurry.
Returning for their first show in New Zealand in 16 years, the British Gods of '80s rock music took the same fans who listened to their records 20 years ago on a whirlwind nostalgia tour through their greatest hits.
The band were under no illusions as to what songs the crowd wanted to hear as they played hit anthem after hit ballad over an hour-and-a-half on a stage stacked with guitar and bass cabs and a two-metre riser for one-armed drummer Rick Allen.
The Detroit Red Wings may be feeling a twinge of embarrassment after their 3-2 home-opening loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, in which the Stanley Cup champions passed the puck like a remedial-level pee-wee team.
That is, until Def Leppard's Joe Elliott redefined the concept of embarrassment during one of their NHL Face-Off Rocks segments at the Fox Theater in Detroit. This is what you get for booking a band from England: Drive on the wrong side of the road, place the holiest of holy hockey grails on a pedestal upside down.
KISS was right. This is Detroit Rock City.
Enough about KISS, though. This was a night for Def Leppard, a night for the hockey-crazed fans of Detroit, a night for rock-and-roll and this great sport to come together.
And boy, did they ever.
Thursday night proved to be a double-your-pleasure type of night. Those lucky enough to be at Joe Louis Arena at 7 p.m. had the opportunity to witness the fourth Stanley Cup championship banner to be raised to the rafters in the last 11 years.
But those who were unable to nab those tough tickets at The Joe had the chance for the next-best thing. The historic Fox Theatre, just down the street from The Joe, provided the opportunity not only to watch the game on a big-screen TV, but to see one of rock-and-roll's most successful bands put on a live performance.