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Friday, 15th August 2008

Grand Rapids, MI - Media Reviews

Rock excess rules with Def Leppard, Billy Idol By Lorilee Craker

Hedonism was alive and well Friday night as glossy pop-metal outfit Def Leppard enthralled about 8,500 blissed-out fanatics at Van Andel Arena. There were sweaty, shirtless rockers, show-off-y guitar solos, fans making out and much, much more. What would the queen say about all of this rock 'n 'roll excess? The Brits (and one Irishman, Vivian Campbell) did pay homage to HRH at the show's launch, as a huge British flag rose in the background to the sounds of "God Save the Queen," in stylized, electric guitar format, of course. "Animal" featured a sideshow of band members morphing into creatures such as gorillas and vipers on enormous video screens behind them as they played. For the first few songs, the sound drowned out some of Lepp's hallmark harmonies, which was pretty much the only negative in almost two hours of loud, raucous head-banging and shiny pop metal.

"C'mon C'mon" and "Nine Lives," off their new CD, "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge," were warmly received by the crowd, maybe because they still bore their unmistakable stamp of luscious harmonies, layers of guitar and extra-sharp hooks. The good news is Joe Elliot is as cheeky as ever and still has amazing stamina in the vocal department. The guy can hold a strong note for a looong time, as he did on "Foolin'." "Thanks for being so patient," he said, referring to the band's reschedule from its original April date. Obviously, his voice, hampered at the time by illness, is back in fine form. During the subdued portion of the evening, he and his amigos came out on the catwalk bearing acoustic guitars. Elliot dedicated two softer songs -- "Two Steps Behind" and "Bringing on the Heartbreak" -- to Susie Young, the ailing wife of James "JY" Young of Styx, and Billy Bob Thornton, the actor/musician, in town as well Friday, with whom the band bowled the previous night in GR.

Things got rabble-rousing again soon after; "Photograph" lit the crowd on the fire, and just when you thought it was as rowdy as it could get, "Pour Some Sugar on Me" stoked everyone anew. With Elliot's voice in stellar shape, and the shirt-free guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen scorching it up with blazing guitar solos, it was clear Def Leppard is on top of its game, and probably will be for many, many years to come.

By The Grand Rapids Press 2008.


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