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Tuesday, 22nd April 2008

Boise, ID - Media Reviews

Def Leppard, REO, Styx at the Idaho Center By Michael Deeds

Def Leppard required no such insecurities. The British band burst onto the stage with "Rocket," a 1987 song that instantly swallowed up the entire arena.

"Rock it!" every person in the room roared. "Yeah!"

Unlike the first two bands, there was little comedy to be found. Still muscular, Def Leppard was planning to deliver a real rock concert.

Of the night's bands, Def Leppard is the youngest and remains the most intact, missing just one dead guitarist and that infamous arm. Guitarist Phil Collen was ridiculously ripped for a 50-year-old. He immediately tore off his shirt and revealed his six-pack abs.

Vocalist Joe Elliott arguably was the group's weakest rock-star link. Carrying extra weight, he's getting those Ozzy Osbourne jowls. And his voice wasn't particularly strong.

Maybe Elliott's voice wasn't that strong 20 years ago. Def Leppard's "Hysteria" album -- which sold more than 20 million copies worldwide -- introduced a highly produced vocal sound. Those familiar air-brushed harmonies and synthetic drums still rushed through the arena.

Def Leppard's stage was large but not titanic. (Van Halen is definitely doing it bigger.) But the band successfully revived the colossal, arena-rock vibe that everyone had paid up to $75 to remember. As Def Leppard pounded out "Let's Get Rocked" and "Love Bites," beers joyfully got spilled. The crowd was fairly tame, though, even if an occasional woman wearing no shirt and a push-up bra menaced security with her jiggles.

Def Leppard could have gotten away with a set closer in length to the 50 minutes that Styx and REO played. Instead, the group cranked for an hour-and-a-half. You had to feel sorry for the tired, seated child whose dancing dad kept smacking him on the shoulder euphorically around 10:30 p.m.

Def Leppard's most satisfying moments came during tunes like hard rocker "Foolin,'" from the band's classic 1983 album "Pyromania." The worst were throwaways like "Armageddon It," from the commercially massive "Hysteria." Naturally, Def Leppard felt compelled to perform a new collaboration with country singer Tim McGraw from the band's next album, due April 29. (Why the still-current McGraw would duet with Def Leppard is a mystery.) The tune was a snooze.

Maybe McGraw's presence would have saved it. Either way, you sort of had to forgive. Def Leppard dipped all the way back to 1981 for "Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)." And everybody secretly loves "Pour Some Sugar on Me."

Undoubtedly, most fans felt like the event was worth every penny, if for nothing else than a brief escape from bills and bosses. As thousands shrieked along to encore hit "Rock of Ages" - you know, the "gunter glieben glauchen globen" song - it was clear what this experience was all about: "What do you want?" we all screamed. "I want rock n' roll. Long live rock ' roll."

Idaho Statesman 2008.

Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon, Styx By Elaine Lacaillade

Arena rock is still alive and well as proved by the packed Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon and Styx concert at the The Idaho Center two weeks ago. As with any good concert experience, part of the fun is weaving and bobbing through a tightly packed crowd in search of refreshments and steeply priced souvenir T-shirts on the way to your seat. Here's how this particular show went down: Styx didn't miss a beat. REO insisted on singing some new songs ... what? And Def Leppard was loud. Sadly, loud does not a rocking show make.

Guys with long, gray hair dominated the stage. The look was the costume of the night and it worked. Even from seats a mere three rows from the top of the stadium, otherwise known as "nosebleed" seating, audience members screamed until they were hoarse.

The show openers were classic rock band Styx. As the band played on, the Idaho audience screamed, hollered and hooted in all the right places, and sang along to all the songs. The energy was contagious and exhilarating and the rockers didn't have to reach back very far into their repertoire to offer up their best hits, which sounded even better than on the radio. Members of Styx spoke to the audience asking, "Was it as good for you as it was for us?" and saying, "Idaho, you are so good, we just want to give you ... things. The least we can do is play one more." The crowd stomped and held up real lighters - not just using the lame illumination from cell phone screens to show their excitement. For the encore, the lights came back up and there stood on the stage, four members perfectly spaced, the originators of the rocking wide stance. The keyboard player followed his revolving instrument around; guitarist Tommy Shaw strutted in his timeless, sexy way; and the drummer worked his drums over like no one's business. Then at the end, they graciously introduced the next band. It was sad to see Styx exit the stage.

Second on the lineup, REO Speedwagon, with all the smoke and lights, was a sight to behold. Even the dudes in the audience howled and carried on during some of the finest examples of guitar rock. The band slowed it down and sang "Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" for the ladies. The band spoke to the audience, too, saying that they try and do their part to change the world and keep each other warm, and then launched into "Riding the Storm Out." The beautiful blend of voices during "Keep on Running" was a real treat.

Def Leppard headlined the show, but earplugs came in handy during their set. Unfortunately, something was definitely missing from their performance. Beginning the show with a black and white video of women in bras introducing Def Leppard's new single with guest vocalist Tim McGraw was not the way to go. They played some selections from the High and Dry album but did very little to get the crowd as pumped up. The offering of acoustic love ballads was cringe-inducing and even the glistening pecs of the shirtless guitar hero was not enough to save the experience. Waiting until the very end of the concert to play any rock anthems was not a good choice after the offerings from the other two awesome openers.

Lights, smoke and loud rock does not automatically make a kick-ass show, and Def Leppard clearly was not having a good night. Thank the rock gods for Styx because those guys made the whole concert worthwhile. Styx, Styx, Styx.

By Boise Weekly 2008.


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