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Monday, 20th August 2012

Saratoga Springs, NY - Media Reviews

Rock of Ages 2012 Tour brings the '80s back By Stan Hudy

Saratoga Performing Arts Center had an opportunity to jump into a time machine, break out the hair spray and allow a capacity crowd to collectively bang their heads Monday night as the Rock of Ages 2012 Tour took center stage in all of its ’80s glory.

Three of the 1980s' biggest rockers were on hand and didn't disappoint, at least intentionally. Lita Ford and Poison opened, and Def Leppard headlined the night of rock.

Female rocker Lita Ford started her set almost 10 minutes earlier than the 7 p.m. ticket time to a half-filled auditorium with the Elton John cover "The Bitch is Back." After two songs off her new CD, "Living Like a Runaway," she played her classic duet, "Close My Eyes Forever," which was an '80s hit with Ozzy Osbourne, singing both sides of the song, a credit to her. She closed with her 1988 hit, "Kiss Me Deadly," to cheers from the finally filled pavilion.

A quick stage change and the familiar top hat-wearing skull with a safety green background came to life as Poison took center stage with gleaming guitar riffs, smoke machines atop the stage and cowboy hat-wearing, harmonica-jamming front man Bret Michaels strutting his stuff in front of the crowd with "Look What the Cat Dragged In," the band's 1986 title track.

Ever the showman, Michaels showed enthusiasm throughout the night, thanking the Saratoga Springs crowd for 25 years of support, from headliner to co-headliner again Monday night.

Michaels showed his chops and jammed with his harmonica to the Loggins and Messina cover of "Your Mama Don't Dance" before turning over the stage, the cheers and screams for eccentric lead guitarist C.C. DeVille.

The shoe moved quickly into hits "Fallen Angel," "Unskinny Bop" and power ballad "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

Ready to provide a powerful finish, the band closed with "Talk Dirty to Me" and "Nothing But a Good Time" in front of a crowd that stood for the entire 60-minute set.Headliner Def Leppard opened with lead singer Joe Elliot's 2011 song "Undefeated" and 1987 hit "Rocket" in front of five tall, vertical screens that gave SPAC an arena rock feel, along with 24 small screens at the bottom of the raised stage.

Elliot continued to deliver through five more '80s classics before taking time to apologize for not hitting the high notes he is known for due to being "a little under the weather."

The 53-year-old wasn't deterred during the band's acoustic set of five ballads, joined by his three fellow guitarists, and the crowd reached a new high when drummer Rick Allen came down from his electronic drum set.

Elliot continued to struggle, but continued admirably through '80s classics "Hysteria," "Armageddon It" and "Photograph" that may have done him in.

The band closed to the VH1 No. 2 song of all time and MTV's No. 1 video of all time, 1987 anthem "Pour Some Sugar on Me."

The SPAC crowd remained in a frenzy when the lights went out, with many anticipating the band’s return for its encore and tour title song "Rock of Ages."

With little movement by the stage hands, the crowd still cheering, hope was in the air, but the front man's night may have been declared over as the Def Leppard logo appeared on the small screens and credits began to run on the center screen.

The roadies took over from there, tearing down the SPAC setup.

The mid-summer hair band spectacular still didn't disappoint, with the SPAC crowd on its feet for more than 2-1/2 hours of hand-waving, fist-pumping, lighter-waving excitement.

Whoever says the '80s are dead wasn't at SPAC Monday night.

By The Saratogian 2012.


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