–By Sean Derrick
Some things just never go out of style. Take, for example, a Def Leppard concert, throw in popular 80’s bands Poison and Tesla and voila! You have the makings for a sold-out show. That is exactly what happened Thursday night in Saint Louis, MO.
Performing at a sold-out Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre the bands, each of whom had their heyday primarily in the 1980’s, but neither were considered a one hit wonder by any means, performed like they were back in 1988, the only thing missing were the ripped up jeans (though I saw some on fans) and Aqua Net fixed hair.
While those things may have (thankfully) gone out of style, the music that was produced Thursday was timeless. If you question that notion just ask the nearly 20,000 fans packed into the Shed. And before you say anything about age I saw a very wide variety of age groups. Sure, there were lots of middle aged fans (counting me) but there were many, many younger fans as well. In fact 3 seats down from my was a kid, maybe 8 years old-ish, who sang along to every-single-Def-Leppard-song-word-for-word. It was awesome.
So was the show.
Def Leppard’s set started with “Let’s Go” (from their 2015 self-titled CD) and seemed a bit out of place. It wasn’t until the next song, “Animal” that the crowd really got into the music and got ramped up. I don’t have a problem with the song, itself. Only the placement. Not my choice to lead off a show, but that was the only thing I could find at fault this night.
In fact, the Leps sounded superb. Not a cookie cutter, sound exactly like the record note-for-note kind of perfect, but stylistically. Joe’s voice sounded better than it has in a long time and the guitar solos were the kind that came from the heart. Again, not a rehashed note-specific style from any particular record, but a soulful in-the-moment kind of vibe.
With this being the 3rd from the last stop on their 39 city summer tour, the band was in perfect synch and having fun on stage.
Lead singer Joe Elliott ( along with bassist Rick Savage, drummer Rick Allen, and guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell) mused about the heat in Saint Louis: “Welcome to summer. This is hot” and later added “Out of all the shows on this tour, this is the hottest.” But that didn’t stop them from roaring through a 90 minute set that read like a “Best-of”. Obviously, they couldn’t fit all of their fan favorites into a 90 minute set, but what they did choose satisfied most. From “Rocket” to “Rock of Ages” the crowd cheerfully ate it up. My personal fav was the instrumental “Switch 625” immediately after “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” which was played essentially for only three tours during their first 20 years, but has since become a staple at their live shows.
2017 is a milestone year for Def Leppard in that while it is the 30th anniversary of their mega hit LP “Hysteria” (25 million in worldwide sales) it is also the 40th anniversary of the band’s beginnings with Elliott and Savage. From the way they were playing and the younger fans rocking in the crowd it’s a good bet they will be selling out venues like this come their 50th anniversary.
Poison rocked their turn with a lively set and amped-up energy. Vocalist Bret Michaels, guitarist C.C. DeVille and bassist Bobby Dall each took several turns on the stage extension getting close to the fans and high-fiving them and doing the rock-star pose for cell phone pics.
Their set seemed perfect in building the crowd up with hit after hit like “Talk Dirty to Me” and “Fallen Angel” to a crescendo ending with “Nothin’ But a Good Time”. With the tremendous popularity they had in the mid 80’s to mid 90’s the band seemed the perfect pairing to Def Leppard on this tour.
And what is a Def Leppard show without Tesla to open? It seemed many shows in the 80’s I saw them Tesla was the opening band. And it fits. With Tesla’s straight-forward heavily bluesy feel the band made their set time seem to breeze by.
Check out the gallery of photos from the show after the setlists.
Def Leppard Setlist:
Let It Go
Rock On (David Essex cover)
Bringin’ on the Heartbreak
Let’s Get Rocked
Pour Some Sugar on Me
Rock of Ages
Strange Days of Uncle Jack
Look What the Cat Dragged In
Ride the Wind
Talk Dirty to Me
Something to Believe In
Your Mama Don’t Dance (Loggins & Messina cover)
C.C. DeVille Guitar solo
Rikki Rockett Drum Solo
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Nothin’ but a Good Time
Into the New
Edison’s Medicine (Man Out of Time)
The Way It Is
Signs (Five Man Electrical Band cover)
Little Suzi (Ph. D. cover)
Modern Day Cowboy