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Saturday, 28th November 1987

San Francisco, CA - Media Reviews

Def Leppard @ Cow Palace By San Jose Mercury News

It is very tempting when listening to any heavy-metal group to simply switch off and fall for it like a mindless twerp, or, conversely, to dismiss it out of hand as a musical waste of time.

In the case of Def Leppard, which played Saturday at the Cow Place in Daly City (a second show was scheduled Sunday), either reaction would be a mistake.

In many ways, the group is, musically and stage wise, the best and worst of its genre.

On its new tour, it is out to outdo itself, musically and as a stage unit.

Which made for an interesting show Saturday.

Playing songs from as far back as the 'High 'n' Dry' album from 1981, the group reworked older items (with acoustic guitar sections and such), while delivering the new material from 'Hysteria' with record-perfection renditions.

The Def Leppard sound was intact, with its cliched guitar solos and crunching beats and bass, offset by melodic sensibility that often eludes many heavy metalists.

That is the charm and the flaw of Def Leppard.

Guitarists Phil Collen and Steve Clark are capable performers, just as bassist Rick Savage and Allen (playing an electronic drum set designed for his handicap), make for a pile-driving rhythm section.

But the group's songs mostly obscure these qualities with their garish, metal-based rocking inanities.

The melodies that temper these inanities are sung by Joe Elliott with an exuberant power (with harmony support from the rest of the group).

But just as the listener is drawn in, Elliott poses and struts like a preening idiot before fans who demand it.

To make matters trickier, the group's show came with a stupendous lighting and staging scheme that featured lasers and animation. fog and and in-the-round stage that made the show both a gaudy spectacle and a daring sensory blitz.

All of this conspired to make this show something of a muddle.

The group was as obnoxious and off-putting as it was in its 'Pyromania' days.

But at the same time, it made an attempt to innovate and to entertain the audience.

By San Jose Mercury News 1987.


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