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Thursday, 18th September 2003

Edmonton, AB - Media Reviews

Comeback special By Fish Griwkowsky

Def Leppard adds a little adrenalin and hysteria this time around. Is it ever too late for love? Not in this roadside turnoff, baby.

To a claustrophobic crowd of over 4,500 (at $40 a pop), Def Leppard staged something of a comeback special last night, far exceeding the adrenalin and hysteria they generated their last couple times through, including the disastrous rock fest and their unappreciated surprise appearance at that Molson Rocks debacle, where people were falling asleep on the amps and hissing.

Joe Elliott, who was in his 20s when the band formed in western civilization's late '70s, looked like a husky mechanic, and his voice suffered slightly under a Canadian flu


Still, watching the mayhem and roller-rink lights as he sung 'Rock of Ages' to close the main set sure takes a metal nerd back, even if the Def Lep strayed a little into the glam side of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

But the numbers in the crowd allowed for no major beef, perfectly around the population of a small Alberta farming town. Just the kind of place that ensured this outfit's continuity, n'est-ce pas?

The night was at its finest when Elliott and crew engaged their best two albums, 1983's wicked Pyromania and '87's Hysteria. Especially with the swooning 'Love Bites' in the encore. I had some vague flashback of dancing with someone else's girl at a high school dance, which quickly vanished at the thought of Terence Trent D'Arby. What the hell were we thinking back then?

Still, good memories. Also appreciated were K-97 classics like 'Photograph', fuh-fuh-fuh-'Foolin',' 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' and the dopily named 'Armageddon It'. Well, "arm" I? Ugh.

The crowd averaged about 30, with lots of deviation, and that odd new trend of faux-headbangers outnumbered the actual longhairs in sleeveless Union Jack T's.

Gum-chewing blond girls in ponytails, riding their boyfriends' shoulders for extended periods, looked jealously at each other, pumping their fists in the air to 'Make Love Like a Man'. Speaking of which, men piggybacked each other and showed the band their useless boobs, too. Um, welcome to Edmonton, lads! LET'S GET ROCKED!


Yep, they played that one, too, to everyone's delight. So. Why the partial marks? Well, besides taking a little too long to start the hyperdrive, Elliott's voice was a little froggy, and the sound was downright amateurish at first.

Also, despite former Whitesnake guitarist Viv Campbell's assurances to Steve Tilley in the paper the other day, X is only Leppard's "best album" if by "best" he meant dullest and least likely to infect the airwaves. So all attention to it was an almost tedious aside.

Conversationally, Elliott stuck mostly to repeating the name of our city and asking how we were, which, I suppose, is better than talking about his children's foundation or something. "It may be getting colder outside, but it's getting warmer in here," he let us know. Then, "We're gonna try and tear the f---ing roof off this place!" and other generic lines a robot could recite.

But he made up for that with a nod to the Who's 'My Generation' during the 'Rocket' guitar solo, which earned many raised signs of the devil.

Strutting about somewhat calmly in leather pants and a sleeveless shirt with the White hand of Sauron slapped on it, Elliott also busted through the anthemic 'Women' and, my personal favourite cross-species love song, 'Animal'.

I was both glad I came and sad it wasn't about a decade earlier, if only because it all fit a little better, emotionally (plus I could use my future knowledge to bet huge on some upcoming hockey games).

The opening act, a strummy, tattooed dude named Ricky Warwick, put on a decent show.

"I was readin' somewhere that drinkin' alcohol is really, really bad for you," he joked. "So I decided ... I'm gonna give up readin'." Best line of the night, eh.

In all, Def Leppard cleared their sagging name and all the kids screamed loudly on their way home down Jasper, just the kind of thing conservative elements downtown so fear, the babies.

Don't they realize they shouldn't mess with the Lep in this town?

By The Edmonton Sun 2003.


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