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Sunday, 20th August 2000

Des Moines, IA - Media Reviews

Def Leppard Remains A Beast Intact By Kyle Munson

Def Leppard, the long-running English pop-metal band that opened last year's run of Iowa State Fair Grandstand concerts, returned Sunday night to close down the 2000 series and pour some aural sugar on 8,033 euphoric fans.

Despite the repeat booking, just 1,830 fewer fans showed up than in 1999, and most of the 18 songs Def Leppard played were received as if it was the mid-"80s, hairstyles were big and Kurt Cobain hadn't yet smelled the teen spirit that would inspire him to replace "80s metal with "90s grunge.

True to last year's performance, singer Joe Elliott and guitarist Phil Collen led a Leppard whose musical chops and tightness have remained lean even if stylistically it has failed to venture a paw into the 21st century.

Formed 23 years ago, the band is best known for its mega-hit albums "Pyromania" (1983) and "Hysteria" (1987), a heyday the band tried to tap into with its most recent work, "Euphoria" (1999). (The "Euphoria" song "Promises" was well received on Sunday night.) Despite losing a couple of guitarists and one limb (drummer Rick Allen's left arm), the present-day Leppard is a beast intact and still able to catch fire on stage.

"Animal" and "Rock It" provided a couple of the high points. Throughout the concert, guitarists Collen (the shirtless one) and Vivian Campbell (who was always tossing a guitar pick into the air and catching it) knocked out flawless solos. A "90s-era song, "Two Steps Behind," was presented in an acoustic version, with the band seated; Elliott warned the audience that the concert was being recorded for possible use on the Internet.

"Pour Some Sugar on Me" stirred an absolute frenzy late in the concert, proving that Leppard's second consecutive fair show was a success because no other band still has the recipe for melodic metal anthems that celebrate sex ambiguously enough to keep the whole party guilt-free.

An encore featured the ultimate radio ballad "Love Bites" and "Let's Get Rocked" - the last song driving home the point that Def Leppard remains the band with the most uses for the word "rock."

Past versus present is a foreign dichotomy to Def Leppard, which is instead suspended in its own perpetual state of "Hysteria." With signs of fresh activity in 2000 (a refurbished www.defleppard.com official Web site, Elliott and Collen participating later this year in a Ziggy Stardust tribute band), is anybody taking bets on whether or not the old spotted cat will be back at the fair within the next few years?

By Des Moines Register 2000.


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