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Friday, 29th January 2016

Sunrise/Fort Lauderdale, FL - Media Reviews

Concert Review: Def Leppard & Styx By Kevin Kaminski

Joe Elliott wasn't left stranded at sea during Def Leppard’s inaugural fan cruise experience in late January, but the same couldn’t be said for his voice.

Elliott contracted a severe case of laryngitis during Def Leppard’s ill-fated “Hysteria on the High Seas” event—a four-night voyage-from-hell aboard the MSC Divina that redefined Murphy’s law (Def Leppard cancelled its performance; the ship encountered horrible weather throughout its Miami-to-Bahamas itinerary; and a member of one of the other bands performing on the cruise, former Rainbow and Dio bassist Jimmy Bain, was found dead in his cabin).

The band cancelled its Jan. 27 appearance with Styx and Tesla in Greensboro, N.C., to give Elliott’s voice time to recover. But even with two days rest, the singer was in no condition to take the stage during Friday’s triple bill of classic rock at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

As much as possible, Elliott relied on his bandmates’ backing vocals and an enthusiastic crowd—one that seemed to be willing Def Leppard through its 15-song set—to handle the power notes in songs like “Love Bites” and “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak.” When he did try and carry a verse or two, the 56-year-old had to sing in a lower octave; there wasn’t a number in the set that didn’t somehow feel off because of it.

That said, give Def Leppard credit for taking the stage at all. Elliott knew going in that his typically powerhouse voice—as integral to the band’s sound as Phil Collen’s gritty guitar or one-armed drummer Rick Allen’s astounding percussion work—had betrayed him. But he tried to tough it out; musically, the rest of the band tore through one hit after another intent on giving the half-capacity crowd its money’s worth.

“Yes, my voice is f—-ed up, it’s gone,” Elliott said early in the show. “But we don’t cancel. We [perspire].” The next night in Orlando, Def Leppard did indeed cancel its show.

As for the undercard, Styx turned in the performance of the night, led by charismatic keyboard player and vocalist Lawrence Gowan. Just like another classic ’70s/’80s band, Journey, which hired a Steve Perry doppelgänger in lead singer Arnel Pineda, Styx found the perfect replacement for founding member Dennis DeYoung in Gowan, who joined the band in 1999. Gowan takes the stage like he won the rock lottery—one minute, he faces the audience while playing keyboard behind his back; the next, he channels the spirit of a Broadway performer, strutting about and striking dramatic poses. Most importantly, he owns the DeYoung songs on his plate—like the soaring “Suite Madame Blue,” which, dare I say, sounded better than the original.

The core members of Styx, guitarists James Young and Tommy Shaw, seem to be having a late-career blast on stage. The band, which has toured nonstop the past decade with other acts from its era, knows what its audience wants—trotting out a selection of greatest hits, from “Fooling Yourself” and “Blue Collar Man” to the set-closing “Renegade”—but it also takes stage with the enthusiasm and energy of a group just starting out.

Prior to his pitch-perfect renditions of “Lady” and “Come Sail Away,” Gowan paid homage to the late David Bowie with acoustic keyboard versions of “Starman,” “Life on Mars,” and “Changes.” It was a not-so-subtle reminder to appreciate our legends of rock while we still can.

By Boca Mag 2016.

Def Leppard, Styx, and Tesla Formed a Power Trio of '80s Rock at BB&T Center By Wendy Rhodes

When the enormous logo curtain fell, the sizzling guitar licks of Phil Collen, Vivian Campbell, and Rick Savage of Def Leppard immediately validated the hysteria of the crowd over the weekend at BB&T Center. Joe Elliot took centerstage to a mass of screaming fans, belting out the first words of the anthem, “Let’s Go” from their long-awaited new release, Def Leppard.

And, well, it wasn't great. Rolling into “Animals,” it only got worse.

Gone were Elliot’s unmistakable powerhouse voice and his usual swagger as he humbly solicited the crowd’s forgiveness, explaining in his endearing English accent that he had been ill for days and had never performed this sick in 38 years. A disastrous attempt at “Dangerous” was followed by Elliott’s plea to the crowd to take over for him on “Fooling.’” His willing legion of faithful fans belted out the lyrics word-for-word, followed by “Love Bites,” while Elliott held the microphone towards the crowd and bowed his head in appreciation.

The silver-studded, gloved hand of Rick Savage shredded some impressive licks on “Armageddon It” as Elliott descended from a platform donning a feather hat and white jacket. The band broke out a funky groove and owned the audience on David Essex’s “Rock On.” Elliot seemed to take the title to heart, and by “Rocket” he had the crowd in his back pocket as he hit his stride with “Bringing on the Heartbreak,” “Switch 625,” “Hysteria,” “Let’s Get Rocked,” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”

The laser light show and backdrop photos of Def Leppard’s early years bore witness to enduring appeal of one hard rock’s most beloved bands, and fans were quick to embrace them, strained vocals and all.

As always, Collen’s abs were a ripped as his guitar licks, Savage’s solo was flawless, and while Campbell‘s energy was understandably subdued, his riffs were powerful. Allen sported an English flag emblem in place of his left arm, his bare feet banging the electronic pedals with enough power and precision to rival any world-class drummer.

Despite the tragic circumstances that have surrounded the band — current drummer extraordinaire Rick Allen lost his left arm in a 1984 auto accident, “Riffmaster” Steve Clark lost his battle with alcoholism in 1991, and former Dio and Whitesnake guitarist Vivian Campbell is currently battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — Def Leppard proved why they're still headlining world tours while other '80s bands have been relegated to grainy iPod playlists. When Elliott brought out old friend and Tesla lead singer Jeff Keith to help finish off the reminder of the set, forgiving fans went wild as the duo brought it home with encores including, “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph.”

Preceding Def Leppard was seasoned headliner Styx, who whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a high-energy opening of “Grand Illusion,” followed by “Too Much Time on my Hands” and “Fooling Yourself.”

Tight and clean with magical harmonies, there is no denying that Styx thrives on performing live, sharing a grandeur that only forty years of touring can produce. For many, Styx represents the soundtrack of their youth, and fans rocked down memory lane with hit after hit, highlighted by the multi-talented Tommy Shaw dominating the guitar and vocals on “Blue Collar Man” and “Renegade.”

Spinning around on a rotating keyboard platform, Lawrence Gowan delivered a stellar performance of the infamous “Come Sail Away” that would have made Eric Cartman proud, followed by a shortened version of “Changes” in heartfelt tribute to the late, great David Bowie.

To the delight of some and chagrin of others, the ballad-laden set was noticeably missing “Babe,” but satisfied the sentimental with the rich melody of “Lady.” Indicative of the endurance of one of the best-selling rock bands in history, gone were the thumb-charring lighters of yesteryear, the venue instead lit up by the cool glow of cell phones.

The climax of their show came during a scorching rendition of “Miss America,” courtesy of the commanding vocals and crushing guitar of James “J.Y.” Young. Then, taking an abrupt turn, the encore of “Rockin’ The Paradise” brought out Gowan in a black-sequined jacket and top hat, kicking up his feet like an Irish River Dancer.

Vacillating between hard rock, gentle ballads, and a touch of the theatrical, Styx offered something for everyone, but it was the heart-pounding percussion and seat-shaking power of their hard rock songs where Styx shined the brightest.

Tesla, in peak form, kicked off the night as a hippie-looking Jeff Keith draped in a long, flowing shirt belted out the kind of power vocals that made 80s music a religion to those who still to pray to the Gods of Rock. Think you don’t think know Tesla? Remember the song you loved but couldn’t place who did it? That was Tesla.

After announcing that, “Everything is cool, bitchin’, and outta fuckin’ sight in Fort Lauderdale tonight!” Keith strutted, shuffled, and spun his way into favorites such as “Rock Me to the Top,” “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out),” and “Little Suzy.”

The double acoustic guitars on Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs” lay testament to the fact that a cover song can outshine the original, but it was “Modern Day Cowboy” that showcased the flawless musicianship of the band and the personality, raw vocals and energy that make Keith one of the best front men in the business. Both with Tesla and then again with Def Leppard, the night belonged to Keith.

By New Times 2016.

Def Leppard, STYX, Tesla By Lauren Cariseo

On Friday night fans were time warped back into the 80’s as Tesla, Styx and headliner Def Leppard performed an array of hits, although they did so with Def Leppard’s frontman Joe Elliot noticeably sick…but hey the SHOW MUST GO ON. Nonetheless, the crowd wasn’t swayed in the slightest and just had this eager energy to them all night.

To start the night’s festivities, Tesla with their driving rhythm and harmonic melodies set the tone for what was about to be blasted on our senses. Leading that charge were Jeff Keith’s screams and Troy Luccketta’s pounding drums. You couldn’t help, but feel nostalgic as big hair and leather pants were set to grow on your flesh once again.

However, the illusion was set as STYX graced the stage and began their set with Grand Illusion. With rotating pianos and theatrical lighting, their entire show was really entertaining and a glorious treat for all to see. Lawrence Gowan kept the energy alive with an over-the-top wardrobe and moves on stage that would make Justin Timberlake take a second look. But, if the age of true music wasn’t enough, we had the great opportunity to watch the legend and South Florida resident bassist Chuck Panozzo go off during Light It Up. It was pretty funny seeing a twist to modern time where cell phone lights lit up the arena instead of lighters. Still, even as the world has changed, the same harmonious venture seemed to resonate with the crowd all the same.

Later, as a tribute to the late David Bowie the band performed Life on Mars/Changes. Yet, even then the theatrics were far from over as the crowd erupted with what was believed to be the show’s closer, fan-favorite Come Sail Away. But, as any good band does, there’s always room for an encore and STYX provided that with two songs, Rockin’ in Paradise and Renegade before their journey was over.

Now, the anticipation of the crowd was in an uproar, afterall the hit-making machine Def Leppard was next, hidden behind a towering banner. With the sudden drop of the banner, the five members appeared and blasted into Let’s Go as the crowd was on their feet screaming. Sure the illness to Joe Elliot wasn’t a great situation, but this band is no stranger to difficulties, especially when considering they’ve dealt with the tragic loss of long time friends Ronnie James Dio and Jimmy Bain from the band Dio. In fact, Bain passed away while a part of Def Leppard’s party cruise less than a week before performing tonight. However, that’s not even accounting for the loss of their drummer Rick Allen’s left arm in 1984.

So while the show could’ve been an epic failure due to the unforeseen cold of Joe Elliot, he battled and put on an amazing performance… with the help of the crowd’s roaring support. They actually helped be his voice. Every song was amazing from Foolin, to the cover of David Essex’s Rock on. During Hysteria, there were different displays showing statistics of population, oil, death and much more that made you think in awe of all the crazy stuff that’s gone on since the 80’s and how they’re still rockin’ and having the same amount of fun as they did in their 20’s.

As the night finally came to a close, there wasn’t a single butt in the seat, because as you guessed it, Pour Some Sugar on me was the last song before the encore. Yet, this wasn’t a normal encore as Jeff Keith from Tesla came on stage to sing the two songs Rock of Ages and Photograph.

It was an amazing time to reminisce that time in the 80’s and see all three amazing bands rock the night way.

By South Florida Insider 2016.


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