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Wednesday, 22nd April 2015

Calgary, AB - Media Reviews

Brit music legends Def Leppard rocked the house at Calgary's Saddledome Wednesday By Gerry Krochak

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame doesn’t want Def Leppard, but ’80s hard rock fans from coast-to-coast in Canada sure do — they need them, in fact.

While both band and fans are looking a little long-in-the-tooth and paunchy in the gut (guilty as charged) the good news is that we’re all aging at the same clip, and the need to rock is a never-ending pursuit.

Wednesday evening at the still-vibrating Scotiabank Saddledome (home of the C of Red, dontcha know?) seemed to prove the point beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Following an intro of The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again, 55-year-old singer Joe Elliott and his cohorts leaned into the hard-hitting troika of Rock! Rock! (Til’ You Drop), Animal and Foolin’— all from the 1983 summer soundtrack, Pyromania — sandwiched around Let It Go from the group’s ’81 sophomore belter, High ’N Dry.

On an uncluttered and low-budget stage production (you gotta make it on the road when you haven’t sold a record in a quarter-century) Elliott addressed the crowd with a cheery, but unimaginative salvo: “How we doing out there, Calgary?” he asked.

“Let’s get those hands in the air!”

Uh … OK.

That said, the tunes have aged reasonably well, and the 9,500 40- and 50-something teenagers in attendance were acting like Wednesday night was a Friday (or a Thursday night after a Game 6 win, at least). Musically, the band hasn’t lost much: Guitarists Phil Collen (the un-paunchy one) and Vivian Campbell traded licks, while bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen held down the bottom with ease and aplomb.

Elliott doesn’t hit the high notes as he used to, but the relaxed frontman ruled the stage at half-speed and kept the crowd mildly entertained through Promises and Paper Sun, a couple of lesser-known songs that went over well enough for those not running back to the bar … or the restroom after too many visits to the bar.

The loudest cheers were reserved for the heavy artillery of Hysteria heavy-hitters such as Love Bites and Armageddon It, but the mega-selling Sheffield veterans kept the crowd on its toes with the David Essex nugget, Rock On, and a solo-acoustic spot for Elliott with Two Steps Behind.

Bringin’ On The Heartbreak and the musical interlude of Switch 625 from the criminally underrated 1981 LP (yes, el-pee) High And Dry preceded more Hysteria barnstormers in the form of the album’s title cut as well as Let’s Get Rocked and Pour Some Sugar On Me. The crowd went bananas for the 1987-era 1-2-3 punch.

The encore could only get back to Pyromania for Rock Of Ages and the still-grabbing single breakthrough, Photograph. You can always go back for awhile … the trick is to not overstay your welcome — 90 minutes was just about right.

Opening the show were Saskatoon-based hard rocking veterans One Bad Son. While certainly an opportunistic opening slot for the Prairie lads, they didn’t waste time being star-struck, and they certainly didn’t look out of place on the big stage.

Singer Shane Volk led the hard-driving quartet through its paces with It Ain’t Right, Vinyl Spin Burner, Retribution Blues and current hit single Black Buffalo.

Overall, a decent showing, but hey Shane, even if you’re not a Calgary Flames fan …uh, last night was not the best night to admit it.

By Calgary Sun 2015.

Def Leppard softer but still show some power during Saddledome rock show By Mike Bell

It used to be easy.

Thirty years ago, hell, even 20 years ago, it used to be an easy thing to identify a power ballad.

It was what the ROCK acts did every so often when they wanted to slow it down, man — you know, get a little tender for the ladies, slip in a little something to, er, slip in a little sumpin’, sumpin’. There were roses, there were thorns, and nary the twain shall meet. Until they met. If you know what I mean.

Now, well, now that we’re decades removed from those days, we’re a whole lot older and the same bands who went to that soft side as an alternative to what they did are now older too, having a more difficult time going or getting there. It shows.

And a band like U.K. mainstays Def Leppard, are the perfect example of that. Or they were Wednesday night during their easygoing, lowercase, Saddledome rock show in front of a group of predominantly similarly aged 10,000 or so fans.

The night was one semi-long, semi-hard power ballad. One extended soft-rock offering that showed that where once love bit, it now, for the most part, cuddled, spooned and fell asleep an hour or so after the kids were in bed and well in advance of that Jimmy Fallon fella coming on the teevee.

In other words, it was actually a pleasant evening. It provided the nostalgia that most of the good folks needed without really, honestly, taking them back to those days when there were no kids, there were no Jimmys, just Dave and Jay, and the power ballad was a slowdown to the fast times or an antidote taken to quiet things down the morning after.

Sure, we could argue that Def Lep during their heyday never really were the hard stuff, but for many in the mainstream during the ’80s, they were.

And those many probably were happy to turn that head bang to a slow nod as the band took the stage to a tamed down version of Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop), the opener from their 1983 reputation maker Pyromania and the opener for the not-even two-hour set from the veterans.

Actually, they may have simply cocked their heads in confusion during that track attempting to recognize it, as the sound was muddy and terrible, and frontman Joe Elliott’s vocals were a horrible, mucky mess.

It took only that track, though, before things were rectified and issues were corrected. For? Actual bonafide power ballad Animal, which was accompanied by some similarly unedgy backdrops of neon signs broadcast on the large screen behind the rather typical stage on which the quintet stood.

That song was probably the real tone- and scene-setter for the evening, with everything following — music, energy, stage show, songs, etc. — being minimally plus or minus that established median.

The hits that followed, from Let It Go, Foolin’ and Paper Sun to Bringin’ On the Heartbreak, Hysteria and Pour Some Sugar On Me all sticking to a steady gallop or trot, one that the band and fans could keep up with.

And even the more rocking parts of the evening — many of them due to guitarist Phil Collen, who was given plenty of opportunity to flex his muscles, both musically and physically — and the songs that stepped up above, such as their cover of Rock On and their own songs Rocket, Let’s Get Rocked and Rock of Ages (hey, nobody said there was a great deal of originality back then), were still only on the congenial side of the fist pump.

As for the band and the stage show, again, they were just as palatable and predictable as the music, itself. There were spotlights, there were solos, there was an acoustic number, a catwalk, and big screens transmitting images that neither took away from or really added to the five folks doing the requisite posturing on the barely adorned area on which they played.

It was all pretty easy.

Powerful? Not so much. But what could you really expect here, now, us and them.

The evening got off to a somewhat harder but even more flaccid start with Saskatoontown prairie bar rockers One Bad Son.

The quartet put on a set of Back Alley tunes that made Buckcherry look like musical visionaries — one that was a step above cover band, but probably could have been improved by material that had already been vetted for public consumption. Well. Except for their somewhat lunkheaded, almost offensively terrible cover of Talking Head’s Pyscho Killer that they padded out their 45 minutes with.

Apart from that, even their current “hit” Black Buffalo was a somewhat forgettable pastiche of Sunset Strip screeching and derivative hard-rock chugging — a mix of hairband metal and post-Nirvana modern rock.

And, to be sure, any band that wins the lottery and gets a spot opening for an act like Def Leppard deserves a certain amount of goodwill, especially when they put in the kind of almost childlike energy and enthusiasm that OBS did for their onstage entirety. But still, at some point musically, you still have to back it up and deliver the goods. And not the ones that have long gone bad, the power greatly lessened.

By Calgary Herald 2015.

Def Leppard at the Scotiabank Saddledome on April 22, 2015 Concert Review By David Andrew Wiebe

So, in short, I was primed for this concert.

The band was probably the most relaxed that I’ve ever seen. They still rocked out without a doubt, but they didn’t really seem to have anything to prove.

Of course, we are talking about a band with a rich discography, several multi-platinum albums, and an incredible number of mainstream hits.

I think that’s the part that people often forget about DL, and when you begin to understand exactly how many recognizable hits they have, you can’t help but acknowledge their versatility, talent, and charisma; whether you like them or not.

There weren’t too many surprises throughout the show; at least not for me. Again, I think this has to do with how familiar I’ve become with the Viva Hysteria! DVD as well as their discography. Oh yeah, and I also play in a Def Leppard cover band.

There are a few moments that did stand out though.

Joe Elliot came out to sing “Two Steps Behind” all on his own, accompanied only by a lone acoustic guitar.

Rick Savage had the stage to himself for a moment while he played an interesting prelude to “Rock On”. Overall, “Rock On” works better as a live song than it does as a recording!

By Dawcast 2015 - read the full review at the website.


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