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Tuesday, 18th October 2011

Adelaide, SA, Australia - Media Reviews

Def Leppard, Heart and Choirboys bring '80s rock back to Adeladie By Patrick McDonald

Def Leppard, Heart and the Choirboys launched a triple-pronged, three-nation revival of '80s rock.

The scene-stealers at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre last night were US group Heart, led by Ann Wilson on vocals and sister Nancy on guitar.

Although Heart were second on the bill, Ann's stratospheric vocal range, power and tenacity on such classic '70s rockers as Magic Man and Barracuda were among the evening's high points.

Nancy, in turn, took the lead on '80s power ballad These Dreams.

However, it was Ann's astonishing vocal acrobatics on a stripped-down rendition of their big torch song Alone which drew the night's biggest response from a small but otherwise enthusiastic audience.

Heart also performed a virtually identical cover of John Farnham's trademark hit You're The Voice (only with wonky keyboards instead of bagpipes) which proved to be another crowd-pleaser.

Sadly, that came at the expense of Heart's mega-hit All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You, which was strangely omitted from the set.

British band Def Leppard's tour in support of its Mirrorball live album is essentially a greatest hits package, with each member getting a chance to show off on some flashy instrumental solos.

There wasn't quite the sense of cartoonish fun which underpinned its 2008 Sparkle Lounge tour, although spectacular video screen imagery still provided plenty of visual entertainment.

All the expected anthems were there, from the chant-alongs of Rocket and Let's Get Rocked to the acoustic singalong Two Steps Behind, and the soaring Love Bites.

As the night wore on, the hits just kept coming: Armageddon It, Photograph, Pour Some Sugar on Me and Rock of Ages, all played with Leppard's signature energy and precision.

Earlier, Australia's Choirboys squandered too much of their 20-minute spot with crowd banter - but everybody got to scream along with Boys Will Be Boys and an extended Run To Paradise, warming them up for the evening's main course and dessert.

By Adelaide Now 2011.


Editor Scott McLennan went along to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre to see the bombastic aplomb of 80s rock heroes Def Leppard, supported by Heart.

I suppose a rock's out of the question? The rather meagre crowd at this Def Leppard and Heart gig indicates Adelaide isn't terribly enamoured by frontman Joe Elliott's eternal query. Despite being the best double bill of '80s soft rock heroes since, well, Def Leppard and Cheap Trick performed at the same venue three years ago, little can disguise the large tracts of space in the general admission zone or the empty seating sections in the stands.

It's a shame, since Heart's debut performance in Adelaide after 35 years of hits proves singer Ann Wilson and her guitarist sister Nancy can still pull off AM radio favourites such as What About Love? and Magic Man with dynamic aplomb.

"Hello everybody!" Ann bellows in her trademark raspy voice. "Pleased to make your acquaintance. We finally got here - this has been a dream for a long time! The 1980s is a decade we're going to celebrate tonight."

As the crowd catches onto a familiar melody, Ann belts out alternative Australian anthem You're The Voice (the squeaky synths prove less enticing than the bagpipes of John Farnham's original) and stone cold classic Alone, while Nancy takes lead vocals on the gorgeous These Dreams. Crazy On You (sampled by Eminem on his Encore album) finds Ann's voice at its blustering best, while the riffs of Barracuda still sound as ballsy as Led Zeppelin's The Immigrant Song. Despite it being their biggest hit in Australia, Heart evade performing All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You, instead finalising their set with The Who's Love Reign O'er Me.

Free of speaker stacks and paraphernalia, there are few embellishments to Def Leppard's stage set-up save for a giant mirrorball of Mardi Gras proportions plus a couple of sunflowers atop Rick Allen's drum riser. Perhaps even these floral additions might have a functional purpose - maybe it's sunflower oil that shirtless guitarist Phil Collen uses to give his pecs their lathered glow? The 53-year-old looks good for his age, but his bare and oiled torso might be more at home in a gay porno called Axes All Areas rather than a cold and half empty arena Down Under. Nonetheless, his riffs are as top-notch as ever and he adds strong backing vocals on the songs where frontman Joe Elliott can't quite hit the notes.

Kicking off with Undefeated and Let's Get Rocked, hunched drummer Rick Allen's bare feet are shown on the big screens furiously working his pedals, with the stump of his lost left arm covered by a Union Jack shield. Allen gets a break during the acoustic Two Steps Behind, although Bringin' On The Heartbreak cranks it up a notch when the electric instruments kick back in.

With silky mane, gruff vocal and genial crowd banter ("I heard a two-part harmony out there - well done whoever that was!"), Elliott remains hard rock's answer to Rod Stewart, but beyond the great hooks and bad puns of Rocket, Armageddon It and the always impressive Love Bites, tonight's gig doesn't quite gel. While the Sheffield veterans' sound and lighting are great (in contrast to a poorly mixed and negligently lit Heart), unfortunately something feels a little tired.

The hits from Hysteria, Pyromania and Adrenalize stay strong, but - just like their 1999 album of the same name, the Euphoria tonight is missing.

By RipItUp 2011.


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