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Tuesday, 30th July 1996

St. Louis, MO - Media Reviews

Def Leppard: Cashing In On Past By Diane Toroian

Spandex, explosions and a rotating drum stand so everyone had a chance to see the one-armed drummer - that was the Def Leppard of 1988's "Hysteria" tour. And I was there, waiting outside the Checkerdome for an autograph.

But I, like many other feckless fans, turned on Def Leppard. I started following singers with shorter hair and looser pants.

After Def Leppard's excellent Riverport appearance Tuesday night, I can no longer deny my true feelings. Please, if it's not too late, allow me to once again rock, rock 'till I drop.

The band has made it easy for me to return home. Gracefully sidestepping potential Spinal Tap-esque indulgences, Def Leppard did not succumb to aimless guitar solos, an elaborate stage setup or stupid arena rock tricks like splitting the crowd in two and forcing us into a singing duel.

Freshly shorn and beefed up, Def Leppard has arrived in the 90's. (If only some of its fans would follow. Hello? If nicely maintained bobs and properly fitting jeans are good enough for these glam rockers, why aren't they good enough for you?)

Def Leppard is out supporting its new album "Slang". Promoters and fans praise the bands bold new direction, but truth is it's just fiddling with its formula. The band sneaked in a few of those new tracks between classic rock anthems. such as "Let's Get Rocked", "Foolin", and "Armageddon It", and we faked enthusiasm. It's the least we could do. We let them believe they've still got it; they let us believe we don't need to grow up.

The band showed its sensitive side, too. Propped up on stools and armed with acoustic guitars, the guys strummed "Two Steps Behind." It was kind of like an Alabama show.

The biggest problem of this hit-heavy night was that it was never safe to break for the bathroom. A bunch of us thought we were smart to go during one of those new songs.

But when we heard the opening bars of "Hysteria", we let out a loud, loud collective scream and tore from the stalls, not even stopping to spritz our wilting hairdos.

Unlike Styx and Lynyrd Skynyrd, this nostalgia show didn't draw a big crowd. The lawn was nearly empty, but those of us in the seats screamed twice as loud. Of course, a slave to my alternative-rock pretensions, I initially listened to the hoots with bemused detachment.

But when lead singer Joe Elliot (sp) announced "Bringin' on the Heartbreak," I could not control my earsplitting "Whoooaaa!"

The woman standing next to me in a leather halter and no shoes was impressed. Well, she had shoes at the beginning of the night, but she gave her $135 boots to a roadie in exchange for a backstage pass.

As the guys behind us played air guitar and guys in front of us high-fived each other, we talked about which band member was the hottest. (I couldn't decide between a shirtless Phil Collen or an open-shirted Rick "Sav" Savage. She fancied Elliot, the only one still with long hair.) I gave her some notebook paper and a pen for her backstage adventure, she gave me a light. Imagine that sort of bonding at a Nine Inch Nails show.

The band got in on the good vibes too, stopping to shake hands and working the whole stage. Def Leppard isn't only trying to cash in a past glory, they really still love the music.

By the time the band sang the words "It's better to burn out than fade away" from "Rock of Ages," I was no longer sure on which path the band has embarked.

By Diane Toroian @ St. Louis Post Dispatch 1996.


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