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Wednesday, 18th June 2003

Moline, IL - Media Reviews

Def Leppard deftly mixes old and new By Tim Seward

With the exception of Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction," Def Leppard had THE hard-rock album of the 1980s with "Hysteria." It was so popular it launched seven singles, and teenagers routinely bought extra copies of the cassette in case their old ones wore out.

And when lead singer Joe Elliott and company mixed in a "Hysteria" song Wednesday night, the 5,500 at The Mark of the Quad Cities responded with that old fervor. Not that the crowd hadn't responded to the earlier stuff or the new material from "X," but there's nothing like not being able to hear the singer because the crowd's collective voice overwhelms the band. That's a good, old-fashioned rock concert.

Def Leppard didn't disappoint on any level, from the moment it took the stage until the encore.

The highlight of the evening was "Rocket." Not only does the song allow for fancy guitar riffs, it also lets the band display its trademark harmony.

The guys also took the opportunity to showcase their solid guitarists, Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen, with mini-solos. Both played roughly one minute each, but their solos flowed together and each ended on a note that was featured in "Rocket." Mr. Elliott even had a solo of sorts, working in a verse from the Who's "My Generation." The whole package worked well.

Nearly as good was a song played earlier in the set. The band picked a solid opener in "Let It Go," but it wasn't until the fourth song, "Bringing on the Heartbreak," that the concert reached a high peak. "Heartbreak" is a classic hard-rock song in that it starts slow and keeps building until ... boom ... the chorus. Elliott and company really delivered on that song. "Foolin'," two songs later, was a lot of fun. The band played through the song without any extended solos, and that resonated well with the crowd.

And it was especially nice that Def Leppard played "Hysteria" without any frills. The ballad is one of the best from the genre and the band gave it the right treatment. The band was relentless in playing music that fans could relate to. Def Leppard did a remarkable job of interspersing some of their lesser-known songs with their classics.

For most people, the concert's real teeth came from the songs that Def Leppard kicked into near the end of the show. Beginning with "Women" -- which included an echo effect that sounded much like the high-tech sound featured on the album -- the energy level went through the roof. Featured in the mix were "Rocket," "Photograph" (from "Pyromania"), "Animal" "Armageddon It" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me."

One thoughtful thing Mr. Elliott did was keep a dedication simple. He didn't use the microphone to preach his political views while dedicating "X" 's "Long Long Way To Go" to the British and American soldiers in Iraq. Instead of pointing fingers, ala The Dixie Chicks and Michael Moore, he simply dedicated the song and moved on.

Thank you, Joe. I was there to see a rock show, not CNN's "Crossfire."

By Moline Dispatch 2003.


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