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Friday, 22nd June 2012
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Irvine, CA - Media Reviews

Def Leppard once again rocks Irvine By Robert Kinsler | Link 2

The long-running English hard-rock band once again packed Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, this time with Poison and Lita Ford along for the fun.

The movie musical Rock of Ages has been a bit of a disappointment at the box office since it opened earlier this month, earning under $20 million in its opening week, but the band behind the original '80s hit of the same name played to another full house in Irvine Friday night.

Def Leppard checked in on the second date of its summertime Rock of Ages Tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater to jump start the first weekend of summer, blasting out all of the quintet's hits to the delight of a large crowd eager to party. While openers Lita Ford and Poison had performed to a decidedly greater number of empty seats earlier in the evening, the headlining U.K. hit-makers turned in an amped-up show that gave fans everything they came for.

The Sheffield band has one of rock's most compelling biographies, including the death of original guitarist Steve Clark in 1991 and drummer Rick Allen's inspired ability to overcome the loss of his left arm following a tragic car crash seven years earlier, carrying on using a specially designed electronic drum kit that has become an integral part of the band's sound ever since.

Having sold more than 100 million albums in 35 years together, Def Leppard keeps shows focused on its wealth of smash singles. The group continues to ensure that fans never wait more than a few minutes before another one arrives.

Those radio favorites -- "Hysteria," "Foolin'," "Rocket," "Love Bites" and many more -- typically pack huge choruses spotlighting lead singer Joe Elliott and the backing voices of his band mates, blended with a fat rhythm and virtuoso guitar work courtesy of Phil Collen (longtime O.C. resident) and Vivian Campbell. It was that formula that fueled the party for the audience on Friday, who sang along when directed, pumped their arms in the air and lifted their beers toward the night sky whenever Def Lep launched into another staple.

By the time the band got through its opening cut, "Undefeated," and delved into its second song ,"Rocket," the crowd had already engaged their own thrusters and thousands were hollering out lyrics at full throttle.

Some of the more stirring moments in the show, however, came when the band veered off that course. Known for songs celebrating relationships and rock 'n' roll, Def Leppard surprised with an emotional performance of its anti-war rocker "Gods of War," complete with dark images of warplanes and religious symbolism projected on multiple large rear-projection screens. The group also indulged an acoustic mini-set on a ramp that stretched into the crowd, highlighted by a melodic singalong of the tender "Two Steps Behind."

The end of the night provided rocking versions of the band's best material, including the power ballad "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" (with blazing guitar work from Campbell), a heavy metal attack on "Photograph" and, finally, a one-two punch of "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and the night-ending "Rock of Ages."

Bret Michaels-led outfit Poison pleased plenty of people positioned around me, but ultimately offered up an hour-long set of nondescript glam metal.

A version of the band's biggest hit, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," came amid a set otherwise padded with bland rockers like "Look What the Cat Dragged In" and "Ride the Wind," as well as pedal-to-the-metal covers ("Your Mama Don't Dance," "We're an American Band") that failed to capture any of the magic of the originals.

The highlight of the band's set was the anthem "Nothin' But a Good Time," which admittedly connected with a crowd who felt the same way about this triple-bill.

Lita Ford kicked off the long evening with a solid 30-minute set of hard-rocking tunes. Lead guitarist of the all-female group the Runaways back in the '70s, she showcased fine chops, and though always a better guitarist than lead vocalist, Ford nonetheless connected with fresh originals such as "Living Like a Runaway" and "Branded" (bolstered by dueling lead solos) as well as an Ozzy Osbourne-free version of her biggest hit, 1989's "Close My Eyes Forever."

By OC Register 2012.

Def Leppard - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater - 6/22/12 By Daniel Kohn

Having a Broadway play named after one of your signature songs is a compliment, but seeing it turned into a bloated studio film featuring some of the biggest names in Hollywood is a whole different story. But that's what Def Leppard's legacy has somehow turned into: a nostalgia act for the people who want to relive the grandeur of '80s arena rock and British pop metal.

Nearly 25 years after their nadir, the band continues to draw thousands of people who can't let go of the good 'ole days to amphitheaters across the globe. What that says about their music or their fans is up to you, but for the nearly 16,000 people who were at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater last night, reliving the '80s still remained a blast, and not just a blast from the past either.

The show offered glitz, glamor, an expansive stage setup and four of the five original band members (original guitarist Steve Clark died in 1991). There was a cool video projection, which has become the hallmark of a Def Leppard show and as a fan, what more could you ask for? The band played a career-spanning, 100-minute set that featured strip club favorites like "Photograph," "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and "Hysteria" amongst the many songs in their hit-laden catalog.

Only the second date of their Rock Of Ages tour, the band sounded crisp and on-point. Joe Elliott remains a likeable frontman who still commands attention from the ladies (the first bra hit the stage after the second song, that has to be some kind of record) and whose voice sounds as strong as it did before. The band's chemistry is still dynamic and they know how to keep the crowd engaged in their show. Banter was kept to a minimum, which enabled fans to lose themselves in the music.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the show was how incredible drummer Rick Allen is. Nearly 30 years after he lost his left arm in a car accident, he continues to amaze with his drumming ability. The man was able to carry the show like a champ and it's crazy to think if he had both arms, how different his legacy would be. He could easily be considered one of the best rock drummers of all time, especially since his dynamic style carried the bloated guitars that ooze excess and overshadowed the only redeemable aspect of the band's sound.

How the band remains big despite having not been musically relevant for over 20 years is a testament to the power of their two Diamond-selling albums (for those of you scoring at home, that means over 10 million sold) and the strength of their hits. That's why Rock Of Ages serves as a slice of revisionist history regarding how great the '80s were.

Maybe the Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei characters in The Wrestler had it right during the most telling scene of the movie. In the bar scene where they're dancing to Ratt's "Round and Round," the two discussed the merits of why the '80s rocked. Def Lep was one of the best around Tomei's character said, to which Rourke's Randy "The Ram" Robinson responded, "Then that Cobain pussy had to come around and ruin it all."

If that's your point of view, then fine--it's likely concurrent with an overwhelming majority of Def Leppard's fans. They're likely to agree with The Ram's sentiment that there's nothing wrong with listening to good time rock. And that's what they did last night. Whether it's right or wrong is irrelevant if fans are going to pack venues, fork over $40 for a t-shirt and screaming for their heroes like time never passed.

Critical Bias: The hits have aged well, but it's impossible to fathom that the '80s are back.

The Crowd: Lots of drunk chicks with implants, mixed with a lot of leather, jean jackets and quite a few mullets, which is pretty much the entire spectrum of '80s rock fans.

Random Notebook Dump: Someone sitting by me thought that the title for "Photograph" was "Phonograph." Yeesh.

By OC Weekly 2012.

Def Leppard Kick Off Rock of Ages Tour With Poison, Lita Ford By Chris Epting

It's become almost like an official marker that summer is back - Def Leppard hitting the road across North America. Last year, the British rockers toured with the sister songstresses known as Heart, this year, they're out with Poison and Lita Ford, guaranteeing a night of magical '80s anthems and enough well-polished arena rock designed to create some genuine hysteria.

Noisecreep caught night two of the tour, in Irvine, Calif., and it was a textbook crowd-pleaser.

Lita Ford hit the stage early, right at the 7:00PM start time, and while many were still filing in, she still managed to raise a bit of the roof on the strength of her best known hit, 1988's "Kiss Me Deadly."

Next up was Poison, who were welcomed back to Los Angeles with lots of warmth and enthusiasm from the capacity crowd, who most likely were around on Sunset Strip back in the early '80s when the band first started out. Despite many of his recent health battles, singer Bret Michaels seemed to be in fantastic shape, leading the band through such staples as "Unskinny Bop,: "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," and "Talk Dirty to Me," among others.

Guitarist C.C. DeVille dutifully recreated all the iconic fretboard histrionics from many a famous Poison video, and Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dall were their usual steady rhythm section - rare is the band that still has all original members after so many years - it's one of the things that makes the former glam-n-big-hair legends so endearing.

Then it was time for another band that brings not just the fraternal comfort of original member familiarity, but a lion's share of hits. Riding the wave of the release of the Tom Cruise film named after one of their songs, "Rock of Ages," Def Leppard showed once more why they command the crowds they do, year in and year out.

Their epic, 22-song set reads like a pop-metal history book - "Foolin'," "Animal," "Hysteria," "Photograph," "Bringin' on the Heartbreak," "Photograph," and other fist-pumping anthems were balanced by a nice acoustic medley and a few more obscure nuggets from the deep catalog.

And when the show ends with "Rock of Ages," it's clear that these guys understand their place in the pop culture strata. Joe Elliot, Phil Collen, Rick Allen, Rick Savage and Vivian Campbell have created music that has become the fabric of a couple of generations now, and when the red solo cups are held high by so many baby boomers from the front row all the way to the back of the sweeping lawn, it's easy to see why Def Leppard means the world to its fans - and why it just wouldn't be summer without them.

Welcome back, boys.

By Noise Creep 2012.


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