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Saturday, 13th September 2003

Regina, SK - Media Reviews

Def Leppard one big hit By Gerry Krochak

Just three days after '80's hair-metal mongoloids Poison invaded the Agridome, veteran British rockers Def Leppard showed their mettle to a near sell-out crowd of 6,500 onlookers who were living in the past and loving every minute of it.

Twenty years, two months and one severed arm after the group last played the big orange barn, Def Leppard pulled out all stops on a full-blown arena rock extravaganza that pounded the giddy crowd of 20-, 30- and 40-somethings into submission with one hit after another in rapid-fire succession.

The songs have stood the test of time rather well and it was fitting that 44-year-old singer Joe Elliott would salute the crowd with a snippet of The Who's "My Generation" in the middle of his own group's monster hit "Rocket," about two-thirds the way through his band's 105-minute set.

Def Leppard comes from a time when things like singing and playing were important; if the group didn't receive its due as players in the '80s, it deserved full marks for tightness and musicality on Saturday night. Really.

Nearly a year after this tour started, the group was lively and energetic (if not a little paunchy) from the get-go. Elliott, sounding slightly hoarse as a result of the current jaunt which has taken the band to destinations including India and Russia, had the crowd eating out his hand early with punchy melodic rockers such as "Let It Go," "Stagefright," "Make Love Like A Man" and "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" from the 1981 album High 'N Dry.

Clapping, cheering, singing and dancing as opposed to head-banging, the majority of the crowd was on its feet from the opening chord until the final bow. They were clearly ready for a good old-fashioned rock show -- and they got one. Topical matter was light and fun (what did you expect from a group who night after night, in all seriousness, sings the lyric, "You got the peaches I got the cream") and quite frankly, just what the doctor ordered on this late summer evening. Kitschy? No question. And despite some dopey lyrical content, Def Leppard is rarely cheesy.

Moving back and forth across the massive stage lit up with brilliant shades of blue, green, purple, red and white, Elliott led guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell, bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen through heavy doses of Pyromania and Hysteria, including the hits "Foolin' " "Too Late For Love" and the title track from Hysteria, before launching into the title cut from the band's 1996 commercial dud, Slang.

After the acoustic interlude of Two Steps Behind, (from Retro Active) and "Now" (from last year's X comeback), the group got back on track in a big way with "Women," the aforementioned "Rocket" and the Marilyn Monroe-inspired nugget and breakthrough hit, "Photograph."

The crowd was going wild and the band only threw gasoline on the fire with "Animal," "Armageddon It" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me" to conclude the main set in spectacular fashion.

The leather-lunged throng roared long and loud before Elliott walked back up to the microphone and promised that, "If after 20 years, you're still cheering like this ... we'll be back again and again."

The crowd was rewarded with "Rock Of Ages" and "Let's Get Rocked."

Walking out through the front doors of the 'Dome at night's end, you couldn't help but get the feeling a show here in 2023 seems entirely possible.

Saddled with the tough job of warming up a gathering which was still finding their way from the bar to their seats, heavily-tattooed Irishman Ricky Warwick earned polite applause for his 25-minute hard acoustic set. Leppard guitarist Viv Campbell joined him on his forthcoming single, "Three Sides To Every Story."

Seems fair to say that Warwick earned himself a few sales for his Elliott-produced debut album, which hits the stores Sept. 23.

By Leader Post 2003.


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