Salt Lake City, UT - Media Reviews
I had the opportunity to see the Def Leppard, Cheap Trick, Poison tour when it came through Salt Lake City, Utah on August 24, 2009. Cheap Trick is one of my favorite bands of all time and I've never had a chance to see them perform live. So I was extremely excited to see Cheap Trick perform. Def Leppard is also one of my favorite live bands so I was really excited to see them even though I've seen them twice before. As for Poison, well, I like C.C. DeVille but I don't particularly like Bret Michaels singing.
The show was held at Usana Amphitheater in Salt Lake City and the traffic and parking is atrocious there. Every time I see a show at Usana I swear I will never go see another one there. The grass seating is only passable and the sound tends to be very mid-range heavy. This show was no exception although the sound was better than usual. Def Leppard’s sound was very good. Will I go back to see another show at Usana? Maybe…but it sure does suck in terms of traffic and parking.
For some stupid reason, Cheap Trick opened the show instead of Poison. Now by my count, Cheap Trick has been touring for four decades straight and had a couple of multi-platinum albums in the process. They've also had a #1 single and many high charting singles as well. So why are they opening for a s0-s0 80's glam metal band like Poison? Makes no sense to me. But that's what happened and Cheap Trick took the stage first. Their guitar sound was a bit biting but the drums, bass and singing were glorious!
Rick Neilson's guitar playing was excellent and the whole band was really nailing it. I love bands that have been playing for a long time and aren't afraid to lay down some new style to old songs. The standout was singer Robin Zander who sang like he was still a young man. My award for best singer of the evening goes to Robin Zander. Tom Peterson's 12-string bass sounds amazing in a live show setting. It was really cool to hear him playing the 12-string bass.
The bummer about the Cheap Trick section of the show was that they only played for 1 hour. Their stage show was also slim because they were given a very small place to perform right at the front of the stage. So, if I ever get another chance to see Cheap Trick live, count me in! I want to see them get the kind of treatment they deserve.
Poison followed Cheap Trick and their stage show was considerably larger. They were given more room and had some pyro-technics which were a nice effect. They were joined by the Bass Player from Bon Jovi because their regular bass player fell ill. He did a passable job but I can’t remember his name… C.C. DeVille played brilliantly and his guitar playing has gotten much better over the years. Rikki Rocket has also improved over the years and he really did rock the drums, which brings us to Brett Michaels…
If there is a weak link in Poison, it's Brett Michaels. I really hate his singing. It's weak and unremarkable. He can't sing with real power, he can't sing really high, he honestly sounds like you might sound singing while driving your car. So why is he fronting a band playing Amphitheaters and touring with Cheap Trick and Def Leppard? Well, he does have a lot of stage presence. He commands the stage and really drives the show. He is a very good front-man. So where he lacks in singing, he makes up for with performance.
Finally Poison finished (after making us suffer through Every Rose Has It’s Thorn) and Def Leppard took the stage. Def Leppard's stage was huge and beautiful. It was triple-tiered and the two lower steps were fronted with video boards that worked in tandem with a giant video screen behind the band. Def Leppard's guitarists, Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell, bass player Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen played beautifully. They even played Switch 625 which is one of my favorite hard rock instrumentals of all time. The band really sounded great and they looked great too. They were all in good shape and very active onstage.
Which brings me to singer, Joe Elliot. I love Joe's voice and it's one of the most unique and best hard rock voices all time. That being said, he really struggled with the singing on this night. His voice was hoarse and he really had a hard time hitting the high notes. His voice cracked many times and he did a lot of falsetto singing. He also used the crowd to sing the high choruses on songs like Photograph. I have to give him credit because it was obvious that he was struggling but he made no excuses and did the best he sounded capable of. I'm sure that the constant touring and singing songs that he powered out in his 20's is hard on his vocal chords. He still put on a very good show.
Overall, Def Leppard sounded and played the best of the night in terms of the music and the mix. How they got their bass frequencies to sound so good at Usana Amphitheater I do not know but it really sounded great and I felt it rattle my chest. My awards for the night are: Best singer – Robin Zander of Cheap Trick, Best Guitarist – C.C. DeVille of Poison, Best Overall Show and Production – Def Leppard!
By Live Musician Central 2009.
Just how many rock stars were in Utah on Tuesday anyway?
Not only did three of the biggest names in rock play on the same stage before several thousand fans at the USANA Amphitheatre, but when one of the bands needed an emergency substitute, who should just happen to be hanging out backstage but Bon Jovi's bass player Hugh McDonald.
McDonald stepped up to the plate just 20 minutes before Poison was scheduled to go on stage when bassist and part-time Utah resident Bobby Dall became too ill to perform. Rather than cancel their set, singer Bret Michaels said McDonald volunteered his services and took a crash course in learning several Poison songs.
The band was a little late getting on stage, and Michaels himself seemed to be fighting something as his voice wasn't as strong as it has been in previous Utah shows. But Poison and McDonald deserve full props for their show-must-go-on attitude.
Critics have taken their shots at Poison in the past, but their professionalism really can't be questioned as Michaels, guitarist C.C. DeVille and drummer Rikki Rockett still put on a high energy show rather than just phoning in the performance.
Despite the shortened set list, ("Talk Dirty To Me" wasn't even played), the band still treated fans to favorites like "Fallen Angel," "Ride The Wind" "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and "Nothin' But A Good Time."
McDonald grew more at ease as the set went on, even taking a shot at backing vocals on "Unskinny Bop."
"There was no way we're ever canceling Salt Lake City," Michaels told the crowd with roaring approval.
The main act of the night, veteran rockers Def Leppard, opened in vintage Leppard style with a driving "Rock, Rock Until You Drop," nicely inserted back into the set list after not being played for a couple of tours.
The Leppards were backed by their typical extravagant stage show, complete with lights from every corner of the stage, two levels of risers and a giant screen in the rear that spanned almost the entire length of the stage. Def Lep even added a catwalk onto the USANA stage that stretched eight rows deep into the crowd.
Guitarist Phil Collen, going shirtless and looking to be in the best shape of his life, shredded through lightning guitar licks all evening.
Songs like "Rocket" and "Animal" off the landmark "Hysteria" album and "Foolin" were crowd pleasers.
But the rock show needed a few more rocker songs. Although Def Leppard have been better in recent tours about appeasing old school fans by adding deeper cuts off "Pyromania," "High N Dry" and even "On Through the Night" into their set lists, this was not one of those shows, and it needed another old school rocker added to the set list.
Going from "Love Bites" to "Rock On" and an acoustic "Two Steps Behind," you could almost sense the crowd getting a bit restless when that was followed by an acoustic "Bringing on the Heartbreak," the only song off "High N Dry" of the evening.
The song was thankfully salvaged three-quarters of the way through when the band went from acoustic to full throttle electric and followed that up with the instrumental "Switch 625."
After the audience serenaded birthday boy Vivian Campbell with "Happy Birthday To You," Def Leppard finished the main set strong with "Armageddon It," "Photograph," "Pour Some Sugar On Me," and "Rock of Ages."
By Deseret News 2009.
A dose of Bon Jovi bassist Hugh McDonald proved to be the perfect antidote for Poison on Tuesday night at USANA Amphitheatre.
When Poison took the stage -- nearly 25 minutes late -- in the second slot of the evening's triple bill, it was without bassist Bobby Dall. In his place, oddly, was McDonald, who has been a touring and studio member of Bon Jovi since the mid-1990s.
Poison frontman Bret Michaels explained during the set that Dall was "sick as a dog" leading up to the show and it finally became apparent that he would not be able to make a go of it on stage -- a bitter personal blow considering Dall is a part-time Utah resident. By sheer fortune, however, the band discovered McDonald hanging out backstage and quickly recruited him.
"He literally was just learning the songs about 20 minutes before the show," Michaels told the audience. "We would never cancel Salt Lake City."
McDonald did seem a bit cautious during the band's early songs, but gradually appeared more sure of himself as the set wore on. His playing, however, seemed spot on, as he provided a steady stream of rhythm for guitarist C.C. DeVille and drummer Rikki Rockett to play over. If there were any musical hiccups due to the last-minute replacement, they were not noticed by the audience, which gave the band raucous applause throughout its obviously shortened 40-minute set -- which included song highlights of "Ride the Wind," "Fallen Angel," "Every Rose Has a Thorn" and "Nothin' But a Good Time."
The clear stars of the evening, however, were headlining British rockers Def Leppard, who ripped through a 90-minute set of hits with all the aplomb and ease of a band that has been performing to packed arena-sized venues for more than 25 years now.
The show opened with drummer Rick Allen standing behind his kit with one arm -- considering he only has one arm -- raised in salute to the crowd as the intro tape blared out the beginning strains of "Rock! Rock! (Til You Drop)." The full band joined him moments later and the show was off and rocking.
Def Leppard is a band in constant motion live, with guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell, bassist Rick Savage and lead singer Joe Elliott working the crowd continually from a variety of locations throughout the stage -- including a catwalk that extended several rows into the seats. The catwalk was put to good use during a mid-set breather for "Two Steps Behind" and "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" -- which saw Elliott, Collen and Campbell all out at the end of the ramp playing acoustic guitars.
Elliott took the opportunity to give a congratulatory shoutout to Poison -- a band he publicly feuded with last year -- and McDonald for his last-minute, pinch-hitting assignment.
"Ten minutes before the show, he stepped to the plate with big cajones," Elliott said of McDonald. "He came here for free beer and ended up playing bass."
Def Leppard's set was chock full of hits, including "Rocket," "Animal," "Foolin'," "Love Bites," "Hysteria," "Armageddon It" and "Photograph" - all of which were accompanied by some mind-popping graphics on a giant video screen display, which actually connected with the stage risers and steps on either side of Allen's drums in a unique free-flowing fashion. Other highlights included the band's cover of David Essex's "Rock On," the electric finale of "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" and its segue into the instrumental rocker "Switch 625."
Elliott's voice, which was in decently fine form for most of the evening, seemed extremely strained during "Photograph" as he struggled to maintain the song's high register. He immediately rebounded, though, as the band closed its main set with "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Rock of Ages" before returning for an encore of "Let's Get Rocked."
Issuing his now-standard parting shot, Elliott said, "Until next time -- and there will be a next time -- don't forget us and we won't forget you."
By Daily Herald 2009.
As Def Leppard played "Rock of Ages" before a screaming, throbbing, standing throng of fans Tuesday night at the Usana Amphitheater, the flashy video screen mixed fire with iconic rock stars.
Having watched a triple bill that began with Cheap Trick followed by Poison and finally Def Leppard, one could only reflect on what can be done with the basics of a lead guitar, a bass, a rhythm guitar and a drum set.
Those were the basics of all three of these classic, iconic bands -- yet the music they produced was a distinctive as the personalities of three different groups.
The highlight for most of the fans was the final act, Def Leppard, who used the wildest video screens this side of a U2 concert to amazing effect. Though lead singer Joe Elliott seemed slightly off on the acoustic "Two Steps Behind" and "Bringing on the Hearbreak," the crowd seemed to enjoy every second.
The audience got a chance to sing happy birthday to guitarist Vivian Campbell before Def Leppard really got things rolling with "Pour Some Sugar on Me," a song some say is the world's most popular song for strippers -- something emphasized by the exotic dancers on the video screen. And no one was sitting for "Rock of Ages," and the encore "Let's Get Rocked."
All things considered, it was a wonderful night for some good old rock and roll, all three bands delivered and there will be some tired, somewhat hard of hearing and very happy fans at work Wednesday morning.
By The Salt Lake Tribune 2009.
It had been several years since I have seen Def Leppard. Having grown up with them, album after album, I knew all of their songs by heart. Over the years, I have constantly heard people discussing the band, saying that they have evolved, they have progressed, and they have changed. One thing that hasn't changed is their ability to kick ass.
August 25, 2009 Def Leppard made their anticipated return to a packed crowd at USANA amphitheater. Openers Cheap Trick and Poison filled adequately to get the crowd going, but the real action of the night did not begin until the visual monitors behind the stage started flashing images of things past, and as the stage darkened, the silhouette of bassist Rick Savage could be seen standing above drummer Rick Allen's drum kit.
As the first 2 beats on the drums echoed out into the audience, fans knew what they were in for. The Pyromania album opening track Rock Rock 'Till You Drop immediately swung the audience back some 25 years, as singer Joe Elliot burst onto the stage. A catwalk that emerged from the front of the stage eight rows into the audience quickly became his favorite stomping ground, with guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen also virtually wearing their own hiking trail into the stage extension.
The songs flowed like well-aged wine right from the start. Rocket from the Hysteria album was the second track, and included Vivien and Savage leading the way with the classic yet often omitted backing vocals during the pre-verse portions of the song. Joe drew out lyrics from everyone in the audience, pointing his microphone at different sections of the crowd throughout each part of the chorus and having them sing lead with him.
At a point midway through the evening, Joe strapped on an acoustic guitar and walked out to the front of the catwalk with the 3 other guitarists. He invited everyone to be part of the band, and for us all to sing together and to "Sing the words right back at us" for an acoustical performance of the hit Two Steps Behind. It was difficult to hear the band singing over the audience, even from a few rows away from the stage. Joe took advantage of the opportunity, and after prompting the audience of almost 20,000, enjoyed watching them participate as everyone wished Vivian a happy 47th birthday through song.
With 30 years of classic rock anthems, radio mega-hits, and fan favorites, the band's available catalogue was very deep. True to their fans, they delivered a mouth-watering set list which spanned their careers, including Bringin' on the Heartbreak and the instrumental Switch 625 from the 1982 High and Dry album, following all the way through with C'mon C'mon from last year's album Songs from the Sparkle Lounge. Mega hits like the number 1 main-stays Love Bites and Pour Some Sugar on Me from the Hysteria album made their way into the set, along with a heavy helping of Pyromania favorites, including the set finale Rock of Ages.
Time seemed to vanish while watching the band perform, and before we knew it, the band had exceeded the curfew time limit for the venue. True to their fans as always, they were not going to end the night without an encore - they returned to the stage and performed the first track off of the Adrenalize album Let's Get Rocked.
Guitarist Vivian Campbell's birthday was only one reason to celebrate the evening. Def Leppard continues to find a way to remain timeless yet relevant, providing a performance solid enough to have me shuffling through my iPod as soon as I got to the parking lot. It's ironic that one of their most popular song lyrics states, "It's better to burn out than fade away." They have done neither.
By Salt Lake City Globe 2009.
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