Saturday, August 27th, 2005
General Motors Place
Vancouver, British Columbia Canada
**Live Report & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
It had been seventeen long years since I last witnessed a Def Leppard concert (HYSTERIA tour with Tesla opening) and honestly, the majority of the years in between were not missed. Sure, the band has continuously released albums but after 1992?s ADRENALIZE, Def Leppard (and, in all fairness, the entire musical landscape) took a different direction. They seemed content to share the spotlight with former fellow hard rockers, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, as balladeers for ?soccer Moms? everywhere. Gone were the days of the mighty NWOBHM youngsters dishing out power riffs on tracks like ?Wasted,? ?Hello America? and ?Let It Go.? Later experimentations like 1996?s SLANG and the piffle found on 2002?s X showcased a band grasping at straws and coasting by solely on their name. The glorious middle years?comprised of the monolithic PYROMANIA and HYSTERIA albums?were gone. As recently as 2003, the band was found playing summertime country fairs in North America and left many fans asking, ?What ever happened to???
Like all well-seasoned rockers do, Def Leppard recently collaborated with Universal Music and put together, ROCK OF AGES: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION, a two CD career retrospective of hits, album cuts and the obligatory new track at an irresistibly low bargain price that would shine on the local Wal-Mart shelf. This release, along with an upcoming ?covers? collection entitled YEAH!, was the focus of Def Leppard?s latest swing through Vancouver and several thousand fans were there to sing, dance and reminisce about ?the glory days.? And as expected, the Sheffield lads gave them exactly what they came for over the course of two hours?
ON THROUGH THE NIGHT?s ?Hello America? would have been a rightful way to kick off the proceedings but ?Action? (a Sweet cover from 1993?s RETRO ACTIVE b-side collection) was chosen instead and left a few people scratching their heads. Like Linus? security blanket, the warm and fuzzy feeling of familiarity quickly crept in, though, with the hideously dated (though loads of fun), ?Let?s Get Rocked.? Along with the release of the ROCK OF AGES and YEAH! collections, 2005 also signifies the 25th anniversary of Def Leppard and frontman Joe Elliott commented on 1983?s PYROMANIA run of dates through Canada as their first step on North American soil, later adding Canada boasts the honour of being the first country in the world for ROCK OF AGES to go double platinum. The appreciative band led the crowd in a round of applause before launching into ?Foolin?? and the excitement continued. The floor of General Motors Place was awash in fans spanning the 20-, 30- and 40-something demographic and most could be seen dancing in the aisles (much to the chagrin of security staff) and singing along to every lyric. As witnessed on ?Let?s Get Rocked,? ?Hysteria? and others, the band?s signature vocal harmonies are still in place, while Elliott himself still appeared to reach the highs effortlessly. ?Gods of War? remains a timeless, but little-known gem, whose lyrics seem as prudent today as they did back in 1987. ?Rocket,? an ode to ?70s Brit rock, seamlessly followed a cover of the David Essex classic ?Rock On,? while the inclusion of a Badfinger cover (?No Matter What?) earlier in the set helped embed YEAH! in the collective subconscious. ?Rocket? also featured a chill-inducing shred-off between guitarists Vivian Campbell (ex-Dio/Whitesnake) and an incredibly youthful-looking Phil Collen, a tandem that is often left mired in the pop leanings of the band. Despite currently looking far removed from his days in Dio, lest we forget Campbell is responsible for the licks found on the unholy trinity of Dio?s HOLY DIVER, THE LAST IN LINE and SACRED HEART albums and he showcased them early in the set through an extended solo during the ultra-sappy ballad, ?Love Bites.? Elliott strapped on an acoustic guitar for a lighter-infused version of ?Two Steps Behind? that left the arena reeking of butane. The encore of ?Bringin? On The Heartbreak? (hearing the J. Lo clone next to me say to her tone deaf musclehead boyfriend, ?This is that Mariah Carey song!? left ME heartbroken) and the crushing drums of ?Pour Some Sugar On Me? had everyone in the crowd singing along to the now-canonized lyrics. Like ?Paradise By The Dashboard Light? and ?Hotel California,? ?Pour Some Sugar On Me? is one of those songs that EVERYONE between the ages of 30-50 knows the riff and words to, whether they like to admit it or not.
Hungry Def Leppard fans were left satiated by the non-stop hits in the band?s eighteen track, two-hour set. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the songs were taken from PYROMANIA and HYSTERIA, while SLANG and X were wisely left out. Nostalgia can be a good thing and Def Leppard seems to have come to grips with that by not boring crowds with thankless parades of new material. To quote KISS, ?you wanted the best, you got the best,? and along with a stunning new ?best of? collection and this tour, Def Leppard gave fans just that.
Let?s Get Rocked
No Matter What
Two Steps Behind
Gods of War
Rock of Ages
Bringin? On The Heartbreak
Pour Some Sugar On Me
***As always, many thanks to Jamie at House of Blues Canada for the ticket, photo pass and his help at the show.
Visit Def Leppard?s official site