Media Review - By Source
The opening act was interesting, Ricky Warwick, an Irish guy playing acoustic guitar and singing. This is not the normal type of opening act that most rock concertgoers are expecting to see, and the political humor and drinking themes seemed to miss their mark.
The crowd was an interesting mix. Much like the Kiss Farewell Tour concert, it was filled with thirtysomethings. (Unlike a Kiss concert, no-one takes their top off, dammit!) A few families arrived with kids in tow, and I did not see anyone over about 40.
I can now fully accept Vivian Campbell as a Def Leppard guitarist. I had spent too many years as a young guitarist trying to emulate his playing when he was with Dio, and saw him live when he was in Whitesnake. I always thought of him as too heavy, too ~angular~ for a band like Def Leppard, but this night he turned my ear a new direction and I walked away with even more respect for this outstanding guitar player.
Def Leppard took the stage with authority, as only a band who has played together for so long can. There is something that grows when a band has been around playing live shows for 24 years; it is not just confidence or experience, a seasoned band hits a critical mass somewhere along the way that their sheer presence and history exceeds that of the individual musicians. As the old saying goes "The whole exceeds the sum of the components", and so it is with Def Leppard.
It was a very emotional night for me. Throughout my teenage years Def Leppard was always there, year after year; a soundtrack to my life. They opened the show with some very old songs from their first album, "On through the night", and although they did mix it up a little by throwing new material from the recent CD at different points, the bulk of the show was damn near in chronological order.
The point of seeing a live show isn't to hear a pristine musical performance; it is the communion, thousands of people being pulled through similar memories and highs and lows by the music we hear. It is infectious. But when you have that connection, and the performance ~is~ that good, then you have something that goes over the top. The songs hit the crowd like a tidal wave, and we fall willingly back and allow ourselves to be pulled along.
I was taken through a long trip down memory lane: teenage years, rebellion, girlfriends, loneliness, partying, playing in a rock band. And at the end, they encored with "Love Bites", a song that earmarked a time in my life where I had lost the only girl I ever really loved. That song spoke to me when it first was released, I had listened over and over back then drowning in things I was going through, and it still speaks to me this day.
And as I stood there awash in all this, admiring the craftsmanship and mastery evident in these songs and the power they have, I looked around and the crowd is as one, a community, a family. There is a common bond here, a thousand different memories tied to a single song, and for a brief shining moment you can appreciate that we really are all the same.
Def Leppard seems to know this; they have captured this crowd of teenagers back in the 80's, and it is the same people listening to the band today. Joe's final message to the crowd was "Don't forget us. We have never forgotten you. We ~will~ be back here again, for as long as you want us."
Thank you, Def Leppard, for your perseverance and appreciation. I will be coming back to see you when you come around again.
By Source Magazine/zippybackflash 2003.