St. Louis, MO - Fan Reviews
Fan Review - By Curt Taft
The "Slang" album is the first one I have vivid memories of going out to get. I have Lep related memories going all the way back to the late 80's, watching "Historia" over and over again, and a lot of memories of listening to "Hysteria" on cassette... And as a kid, I rewound and listened to "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and "Armageddon It" so many times that I broke not one, but two cassette tapes. Those were the two greatest songs I had ever heard at that early part of my life!
I don't remember when I first got "Adrenalize," but I'm fairly certain looking through the booklet is when I first learned of Steve's passing. I don't have any recollection of how that made me feel, which is probably a good thing.
And I remember when "Retro Active" came out and "Two Steps Behind" was a big hit but I didn't have the album yet, so I would just have to sing the song to myself... And since I didn't have the tape and couldn't listen enough to learn the lyrics, I made up my own!! I remember one verse had to do with soccer and being 'two steps behind' the person in front of me. But again, I don't remember exactly when I got the album, I just remember thinking "Desert Song" was really different and really cool.
"Slang," on the other hand, I completely remember. It was only a few days after the album had come out and I didn't know what to expect. I hadn't heard anything on the radio and of course, had no internet, so I didn't know the album was going to be like it was. So my mom took my nine year old self to JC Penney (of all places!) and in the back of the store, they had a music section. I searched and searched and finally found the cassette. Even the look of the album was different, making it harder to find. I was amazed that the classic logo was absent from the front cover.
On the drive home, I made a joke to my mom about the title of "All I Want Is Everything," saying it was about me since I would ask her to buy me stuff (though I hardly asked for everything, I was actually a really good kid!). Of course I hadn't heard the song yet, but even so I wouldn't have understood the serious nature of the song at that age.
When I got home, I sat down on my bed, put the tape in my tiny little radio, and pressed play... And about 20 seconds into "Truth?" I stopped the tape and took it out to make sure the cassette said "DEF LEPPARD" on it because I couldn't believe what I was hearing. My jaw dropped. The opening of "Truth?" removed all doubt that the album was anything like "Adrenalize" or any other previous album. Which is part of why "Truth?" is the perfect song to open the album.
Each song was a surprise. "Slang" amazed me because it flirted with rap, and a lot of my friends were starting to drift into listening to rap at the time. And here was my favorite band, doing a bit of rap-rock! "Gift Of Flesh" was Def Leppard doing heavy metal (to my ears, anyway), and I didn't know what to think about the Indian flavor of "Turn To Dust," which of course has been my favorite song for many years. And "All I Want Is Everything" ended up being my first CD single, which I found by accident in a Sam Goody store (while helping a friend search for a cassette single of the Macarena. Ha!).
"Work It Out" was on the radio constantly around these parts after the album was released, and the radio also served as my way of finding out that Def Leppard was playing at the amphitheater in St. Louis. When I first heard the commercial for the show, I asked my dad if we could go. Over the next few days, I begged my parents to get tickets to the concert. I was too young on the "Hysteria" tour, and wasn't fortunate enough to catch any shows on the "Adrenalize" tour since my parents weren't concerned with concerts having a five year old and a baby in the house.
Thankfully this time, my parents got tickets. I went with my dad to a local second hand record shop called Rick's, which was owned by a guy that drove a hurse as his normal day to day vehicle. His shop also had bootlegs, as while looking at the Def Leppard CDs, he had one called "White Lightning" with a pyramid on the front. I had no idea what it was, but would learn a few years later.
All that mattered at that point was that we had gotten concert tickets. I was officially going to see the band for the first time on July 30, 1996 at the Riverport Amphitheater in St. Louis (Maryland Heights), MO.
At that point in my life, I had never been so excited for something. Which made my cousin's joke that much more cruel. My cousin, who was also going to the show and had already seen the band on previous tours, called me the night before the concert and told me that Rick Allen had hurt his foot and the concert was canceled. I was devastated! Thankfully, he was full of shit and the show was going on as planned.
My entire family (myself, my mom, dad, and five year old sister) headed down to St. Louis the day of the show. It just so happened that the band was on local rock station KSHE when we were checking into the hotel, so I stayed in the truck and listened to the guys play "Where Does Love Go When It Dies" live acoustically on the radio.
After settling into the hotel, we made our way to the amphitheater. Since I was only nine years old, it seemed MASSIVE. Right in the entrance, there was a merchadise stand. My parents told me I could get one thing, and I was torn between getting a t-shirt or a tour book. I was extremely curious as to what was in the book. But the chance to represent my favorite band won over, and I went with a shirt.
Once we found our seats (which weren't great but I didn't care at all), my parents had to explain to me the process of a concert... In that there was an opening band. So technically, the first band I've ever seen live was Tripping Daisy. I don't remember much of their set, aside from the singer wearing a hot pink (or purple - give me a break, I'm colorblind!) wig which he ripped off and threw at one point. They also did some little acoustic thing where the singer sang something along the lines of "Def Leppard's who you're here to see," which made the crowd go crazy.
After what seemed like an eternity, it was time for Def Leppard to take the stage. They opened with one of my favorites, "Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)." I was amazed at the band's energy and how loud they were. Next was a song I wasn't that familiar with at that age, "Another Hit And Run." I actually remember wondering why they were playing that song. Shame on me!
"Foolin'" and "Animal" followed, and I was in heaven. I was finally seeing the band play these songs live, right in front of my eyes, and it was the greatest experience of my life at that point. I was also surprised by the stripped back approach taken to the songs.
The running order of the set escapes me, but the songs don't. Hits like "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" and "Hysteria" mixed with new songs "Deliver Me," "All I Want Is Everything," "Slang," and the big rock radio hit "Work It Out."
After the new stuff came more of the oldest featured that night, "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" and "Switch 625," which even at that point of my life, was synonymous with Steve Clark due to the tribute found on the "Visualize" video.
The band took a break and sat down on stools for a great performance of "Two Steps Behind," before kicking off a run of the biggest hits in their catalogue. "Photograph" and "Rocket" got it started, but seeing "Armageddon It" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (complete with "Love is like a bomb" intro) back to back pushed the night over the top. There they were, the two songs that were responsible for me snapping so many cassettes in my life, being played by the band, right there in front of me.
Of course an encore of "Love Bites," "Let's Get Rocked" (my sister's favorite song), and "Rock Of Ages" followed before the night was over.
Even though the concert lasted a mere 105 minutes or so, that was a really, really long show to a nine year old. And it was even more amazing than I had expected it to be. Even back then, I was wondering why songs like "Women" and "Too Late For Love" were left out. As far as I was concerned, they were amongst the biggest hits the band had. I also would have liked to have heard more of the "Slang" album. Four songs wasn't enough!
As we made our way out of the parking lot, KSHE started the Concert Playback, where they play all the songs featured in the setlist of the show. I was already re-living the experience.
Once back home, I wore my Slang tour shirt constantly. Not surprisingly, I was the only kid in fourth grade (or any grade, for that matter) rocking a Def Leppard shirt during the 1996-1997 school year.
The "Slang" album instantly my favorite, but it eventually earned that title. Every time I listen to the album, it's fresh, and it leaves me in awe that they even made this album. I don't skip a single track. I would say "Breathe A Sigh" is the weak point, but I even love that song. I'm not a huge fan of ballads, but the four on this album are all among my favorites. "Euphoria," on the other hand, didn't even have one that I could say that about.
The fact that I can remember so much about "Slang" and the era in which it was released, how it gave me my first chance to see the band live, how different it is from everything else they've done, how it shows what they are capable of, and the fact that it has such an impact on me every single time I listen to it is why it is my favorite album of all time.
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