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Friday, 2nd June 2017
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Edmonton, AB - Media Reviews

Def Leppard's wonderfully dated hair metal causes Hysteria at Rogers Place By Tom Murray

You can’t help but want to cheer for Def Leppard.

Not just because of the fact that they’ve held to almost the same lineup for 40 years, or that they stood by drummer Rick Allen after the accident that took his left arm in 1984, but also because they’ve diligently kept with the wonderfully dated but commercially successful pop-metal synthesis they distilled in the mid ’80s. The sound remains the same even as they age away from it; the English five-piece might no longer be the young, coiffed hard rock gods they were in 1983, but they’ve somehow retained an impressive onstage aura. Even bare-chested guitarist Phil Collen, who long ago accepted his thinning hairline and went with the close cropped cut, or drummer Rick Allen, who now gives off an endearing rock ‘n’ roll dad vibe, at least on the video close-ups.

Let’s Go and Animal (from the multi-platinum Hysteria) set the tone for the evening, rolling somewhere between weekend party tunes and pure, unabashed nostalgia. Foolin’ and Armageddon It kept the mood going, while Rock On by British pop star David Essex nodded at their roots. They went a little deeper into the Def Lep catalog with a grouping of lesser known songs, ending with Rocket, before giving remarkably preserved bassist Rick Savage and drummer Allen a brief moment to show off instrumental chops.

Singer Joe Elliott took a moment to point out the significance of their 40th year as a going concern, noting that the English scene of 1977 not only featured such hard rock figures as Thin Lizzy and UFO, but also punk rockers The Clash and Sex Pistols; early blueprints for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that Def Leppard originated from. From there they delivered all of the the hit songs that everyone expected, ending with a satisfyingly sleazy Pour Some Sugar on Me, and on into a short encore ending with Photograph.

Openers Poison gave Def Leppard a run for their money in the energy department. The Midwest rockers had plenty of their own Top 40 hits to kick around, and they played them with the attitude of snotty punks. From opener Look What the Cat Dragged In to the glorious trashy Talk Dirty to Me they had the crowd in the palm of their hand, strutting up and down the stage like presumptive headliners, paying lip service to both Def Lep and Tesla while acting like the true kings of the evening.

There was the usual act of homage to the local sports team, though it was nice to see lead singer Bret Michaels wearing an Oil Kings rather than the usual Oilers jersey; the hail-to-the-troops speech just before Something to Believe In cooled the good feelings for some listeners, unfortunately. Since Michaels isn’t a particularly astute or interesting political commentator (to be fair the lead singer stressed that he wasn’t intending this) we’ll skip his thoughts and instead focus on how tight and intense guitarist C.C. DeVille and the rest of the band were, especially on the cover of Your Mama Don’t Dance, the fierce take on Unskinny Bop, and the set ending rave up Nothin’ But a Good Time.

Openers Tesla boasted all of the moves and the sound of the late ’80s hair metal titans that they were, but without the irresistible hooks that both Def Lep and Poison had in abundance. That might have been a personal take, however, since many in attendance seemed to be thrilled with their renditions of early hit Love Song and Signs, which was originally recorded by the Five Man Electrical Band.

By Edmonton Journal/Edmonton Sun 2017 - same review posted by both sites.


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