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Saturday, 3rd June 2005

San Jose, CA - Media Reviews

By Dan Wall

The current pairing of 80's rock gods Def Leppard and Bryan Adams actually makes a lot of sense, since Adams actually morphed into DL for his Waking Up the Neighbours album in 1991. A crowd of close to 10,000 came to San Jose's Municipal Stadium (home of the California League's San Jose Giants) for a double-header that featured no less than 20 melodic rock masterpieces.

Due to the fact that the band's are switching positions each night (one opens, then closes, and so on), Def Leppard went on at 7 p.m. in broad daylight. It's the first time I've seen Leppard in the opening slot since 1981, when the band nearly hastened Blackfoot's retirement plans by about four years with a smoking performance in Sacramento. The early evening setting did nothing to hamper the band's delivery, as the longtime Bay Area favorites ripped up 16 classics during its 90 minutes onstage.

Just one look at the set list should clue you in that it would be very hard to suck with a selection of songs like that. Virtually every tune played has been on the radio at one time or another, and that closing run that started with Photograph and ended with Pour Some Sugar On Me includes five of the greatest melodic rock songs ever recorded.

The sound was a bit muffled early on, but things started to get serious around the time the boys broke out Women, one of 7 songs the band performed from its classic Hysteria album. Guitarists Phil Collen (the small, blonde one) and Vivian Campbell (the tall, longhaired one) played spectacularly all night, often in tandem, and always with the volume punched up to 10. Even though neither are original members, they have both been in band for a long time now (Collen 22 years now, Campbell 14), and fit together like a glove.

Joe Elliott, the classy lead singer, led the band with aplomb as always. He is the perfect combination of singer, cheerleader and frontman, an elegant, handsome man who is one of rock's best vocalists. He does his best live to sing some of the most intricate harmonies ever penned, and as always, did a great job.

Bassist Rick Savage keeps the bottom in front of the world's greatest one-armed drummer (and one of its greatest even with both limbs), Rick Allen. Allen is worth the price of admission alone, triggering his toms and snare with his left foot, showing a tremendous amount of concentration. I think his handicap has made Allen even a better drummer than before, and he hammered home every song with nary a change to the legendary recorded versions. Of course, all of this would be for naught if the band couldn't nail those perfect four-part harmonies onstage, but if you've been reading along, you can probably figure out that those wear great as well.

The band looked genuinely happy to be back on the road and in America, a country that has accepted the band with open arms (unlike England, the band's home, which finally warmed up to them after Allen's accident) since the group debuted with On Through the Night back in 1980. The group is supporting its new anthology Rock of Ages, a two-disc set that encapsulates everything great about Leppard-songs, melodies, riffs and plain old fun, something in short supply these days. Like Bon Jovi, Mr. Adams and so many others, Def Leppard has weathered grunge, rap rock and nu metal, and is still out there, alive and kicking.

Just goes to show that planning is just as important as the actual show. First, whoever though of the plan to put this tour in minor league baseball parks should be sent to the minors. It's a minor league baseball stadium, dummy, and a Class A ballpark at that. Simply to small and ill fitted to stage a huge rock concert, the whole set-up seemed a bit silly when viewed from the stands. The promoters blocked off the entire infield portion of the field, which meant there was almost 200 feet of space between the back of the floor and the stands. And that's how it seemed-like there was a huge gulf between the crowd in front and those in the stands. This simply zapped any energy the crowd could muster to aid the bands, although Def Leppard didn't seem to suffer at all from this.

Also, by just having the bigger band (Leppard) headline all the shows, it would have solved another problem. Adams would have been a great opener, and with one other group (Night Ranger?) and a move to the biggest amphitheaters, this would have had a chance to be a great summer tour. I have a feeling this tour is going to be a hit and miss affair all summer, when with just a little bit of thought put into it, could have been nothing but a home run.

By classicrockrevisited 2005.

S.J. stadium rocks for first time in 17 years By Brad Kava

Rock 'n' roll was a family affair Friday night as thousands of people packed San Jose's Municipal Stadium for a concert by not-so-very heavy metal band Def Leppard and fresh-faced Canadian rocker Bryan Adams.

It was the first music show at the minor league home of the San Jose Giants in 17 years, and, with tickets free for children under 12, the first time this music was pitched to all ages. "This is a really good venue,'' said Mechelle Howard, 38, of Campbell. "Parents can come and sit back here and they don't have to be in the mayhem.''

Howard was in a seat behind home plate, while her 14-year-old son Zachary, a classic rock fan, was close to the stage a home run away along the outfield wall. The sound was surprisingly good in both places.

Fans were penned in sections of the field that were covered by hard plastic sheets, and they were kept off the infield, which made for a big empty gap. "I bet the average age is 20 up front and back here it's 40,'' said Howard.

The mix was perfect for bands that came from an era when rock radio became as safe and predictable as a food chain like Chili's or Red Lobster. The show was part county fair, part VH1. This was "Day on the Green'' for the new millennium. Subtract the bare breasts, the marijuana haze, the fights and the vomit, and add kids, barbecue, and diverse ages and ethnicities. Singer Randy Coleman, who has a song on the "Crash'' soundtrack, opened at 6:30 p.m. and then Def Leppard, the bigger draw of the night, came on for a hit-laden 90 minutes.

About a third of the audience left before softer headliner Bryan Adams, whose set still had some punch and certainly more originality.

Lilliane Eakes, 12, of Campbell, looked bored, and her brother James, 10, was falling asleep.

"This isn't abuse,'' said their mother, Sharon, 55. "It's abuse when I have to go to Britney Spears or Aaron Carter. We trade off, though.'' San Jose 9-year-old Dale Goas, who wore a Black Sabbath shirt and sat with his family of four, wasn't buying any of it.

"This music is wimpy,'' he said.

By Mercury News 2005.


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