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Saturday, 2nd July 2011

Uncasville, CT - Media Reviews

Def Leppard Plays It Safe With Nostalgia By Thomas Kintner

Def Leppard and Heart have continued to release new music with varying degrees of success since the heights of their individual heydays, but both have in common that their current appeal is primarily in the nostalgia realm. That truth was front and center when the two bands shared a double bill Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, and delivered performances that rarely strayed from the safest of hits.

Headlining five-piece Def Leppard kicked off its show with its newest single, the minimally enticing anthem "Undefeated," and never got anywhere close to recent material again. Instead, it focused on powerhouse renditions of familiar, digestible favorites along the lines of the punchy "Let's get Rocked," where singer Joe Elliott could bark at lyrics with a weathered ragged edge in his voice.

One of the group's essential calling cards is its pairing of smoothly forged electric guitar lines, hook-fueling riffs the likes of what Phil Collen splashed across the sizable "Animal." Vivian Campbell was equally decorative with his half of the guitar bookends, picking out the cool, early passages of "Foolin'" and extending the overwrought power ballad "Love Bites" with a searing interlude.

Appearances by 1992's "Make Love Like a Man" and the chugging instrumental "Switch 625" were as far off the beaten path as the 90-minute show headed, as the group leaned heavily on its biggest 1980s singles, replicating familiar shiny arrangements and heavily harmonized choruses. Biggest hits were saved for last, including the roomy screech of "Photograph" and the carefully manicured celebration of raw things in "Pour Some Sugar on Me" that closed the set. An encore of "Rock of Ages" was much like what preceded it, a faithful recitation of the song's essential character, covering everything from energy to gloss.

Heart has only two of its original members, but they are the most important ones in sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. A supplemental foursome anchored their efforts, while Ann Wilson wielded a voice still clear enough to hammer at the likes of 1978's "Heartless." Nancy Wilson had to work a little harder to shape the lyrics of "These Dreams," but spent most of the show chipping in harmonies and guitar, including her acoustic dressing on "Never."

The group's single offering of a cut from its newest record, "WTF," made little impact despite its heavy grind, as the song had little going for it outside of insistence. The bounding "Crazy on You" was worked for all it was worth, as Ann Wilson howled with gusto, and then did more of the same with the set-closing "Barracuda." An encore of Led Zeppelin's "What is and What Should Never Be" made for a pleasant trip away from the expected, and suited Heart's penchant for high-end wails matched with booming rock backdrops.

Evan Watson opened the show with just three songs, but made his blues-laced tunes into an effective table setter for the evening. His solo offering of "Woodpecker" was full of grit and power, while a guest appearance by Vivian Campbell as a second guitar made for a high-polish offering.

By Hartford Courant 2011.

Def Leppard And Heart Rock The Mohegan Sun Arena By Jim Pasinski

During the decade from 1980 to 1989, Heart and Def Leppard combined sell over 50 million albums in the US. Their songs were staples on rock radio and their music videos were in heavy rotation on MTV. On Saturday night (July 2), these two rock powerhouses joined forces at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

The band Heart are very well-known for the sister duo of Ann and Nancy Wilson, as they are the only two remaining original members of the band. Singing soulstress, Ann Wilson had no problems hitting the notes and her high piercing vocals never sounded better opening with "Cook With Fire" and "Heartless." Then Heart kicked it into high gear with their biggest singles of the 80's "Never," "What About Love," and "These Dreams." Guitar virtuoso Nancy Wilson came alive on the band's early hits "Magic Man" and "Crazy On You." Their short hour long set closed with the raw energy and screaming guitars of "Barracuda." As the audience cheered on, Heart returned with a surprising cover of Led Zeppelin's "What Is And What Should Never Be." Once again, Ann's vocals and Nancy's guitar playing made the song all their own.

With the lights out once again, it was time for Def Leppard to take the stage. Images of sport heroes and world leaders splashed across the screens as the group dove into their newest song "Undefeated." Their set list ran through as a greatest hits package. Fans were on their feet singing along to "Let's Get Rocked" and "Animal". Front man Joe Elliott made sure the band received the applause it deserved, working the audience into a frenzy at every opportunity. Newest band member Vivian Campbell made his presence known with his electrifying solo on "Love Bites." After the heavy drumming of "Rocket," Def Leppard slowed things down with an acoustic version of "Two Steps Behind." The audience helped Elliott sing the beginning of "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" before the entire band returned to blow the roof off the arena. Def Leppard finished with their biggest hit singles, "Armageddon It" and "Photograph" before hitting the climax with "Pour Some Sugar On Me."

Drummer Rick Allen introduced the encore with his only vocals of the night reciting "Gunter glieben glauchen globen," as the audience jumped to their feet for "Rock Of Ages." Def Leppard proved once again that after over thirty years, they are still one of the best rock bands performing live.

By JP's Music Blog 2011.


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