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Wednesday, 29th June 2011

Scranton, PA - Media Reviews

Def Leppard doesn't play it safe review By Brad Patton

Rockers hit Montage stage with recent efforts, don’t just get by on nostalgia.

With its first song Wednesday night at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain, Def Leppard showed why it is not like a lot of other bands.

While many groups with a similar long and successful track record might be satisfied with playing its hits and keeping it safe with a dose of nostalgia, Def Leppard stormed onto the stage with "Undefeated," the standout track from its most recent album "Mirrorball."

And with that opening salvo, the British superstars proved they are still a force to be reckoned with.

The band consisting of vocalist Joe Elliott, guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell , bassist Rick "Sav" Savage and drummer Rick Allen is still in fine form, with its weaving guitars, rock-solid rhythm section and soaring vocals. Whether playing one of its anthems from the 1980s or one of its newer songs, the band still knows how to give the crowd what it wants.

Early highlights included knockout versions of "Let's Get Rocked," "Animal" and "Love Bites," followed by a great cover of "Rock On" and a nice, stripped-down version of "Bringin' On The Heartbreak."

The band then hit its early stride with "Two Steps Behind" before settling in for a long night of its hits.

Special guests Heart opened the show with an impressive set of its own, focusing early on its ballads from the '80s and then finishing up with its '70s rockers. The Wilson sisters proved at least two things on Wednesday: one, singer Ann still retains one of the most powerful and distinctive voices in rock; and two, Nancy has some of the coolest rhythm-guitarist moves this side of Keith Richards.

Some of the ballads, such as Nancy's vocal showcase "These Dreams" took on more of an acoustic feel, with Nancy playing mandolin and Ann playing a black acoustic guitar with a heart shaped center hole. Nancy played acoustic on most numbers, and unleashed a fine harmonica solo as part of "Never."

After playing "WTF," a number from the band's latest album "Red Velvet Car," Heart finished up strongly with dazzling versions of "Magic Man," "Crazy On You," and "Barracuda."

Following a brief exit, the band then treated the crowd to a stunning version of Led Zeppelin's "What Is And What Should Never Be," featuring some fine fretwork from guitarist Craig Bartock channeling his inner Jimmy Page.

On most nights, Heart would have been worth the price of admission on its own, but on Wednesday they were just the opening course.

The attendance figure for Wednesday’s show was not available at press time, but it looked like another sizeable crowd on the mountain.

Def Leppard and Heart have upcoming Pennsylvania dates in Hershey on July 3 and in Pittsburgh on Aug. 20. The next concert at the Toyota Pavilion is the Vans Warped Tour on July 14.

By Times Leader 2011.

Heart explodes on stage at Montage gig with Def Leppard By Patrice Wilding

Ann and Nancy, the sisters Wilson who front Heart, exploded on stage at the start of their nearly hourlong set Wednesday night at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain, clad in glittering, shining black leather and lace, looking like fierce femme fatales of rock.

"There's a couple, one has a Heart shirt, one has a (Def) Leppard shirt, and they're sitting together with their arms around each other. They've got it right!" Ann declared two songs in, welcoming the crowd of 8,000. And no doubt, those in attendance seemed equal parts devoted to the co-headlining rockers.

After inviting the audience to join in by singing along, the band launched into the hit ballad "Never" to roars of approval from appreciative fans, followed by a version of "What About Love" that practically brought the crowd to its knees.

The Wilsons acknowledged the concert was meant to be a celebration of '80s music, and reinforced their point with the classic hit "These Dreams."

An acoustic "How Do I Get You Alone" gave Ann a chance to stretch her vocal talent, as she sneered her way through the heartfelt lyrics with raw emotion and a range that left jaws on the floor. It was clear to all that the auto-tuned divas who dominate today's popular radio would largely be left in Ann's proverbial dust by comparison.

An offering from Heart's most recent effort, "Red Velvet Car," was up next; the slyly titled "WTF" thundered through the grounds and was welcomed as lovingly as any of the band's more recognized singles.

The synthesizer-rich "Magic Man" and a riveting "Crazy on You" erased any doubt that these women could hold their own on a bill shared with their British male counterparts. And just when the crowd thought it was safe again, the Wilsons whipped them back into a frenzy with the ripping riffs of "Barracuda."

Following a rousing cry for an encore, Heart returned to the stage, and after a round of band introductions, during which Nancy described her sister as her "soulmate, best friend and partner in comedy," the band paid homage to rock legends Led Zeppelin with a cover of "What Is And What Never Should Be."

Deadline prevented a full review of Def Leppard's set, but the crowd could be heard shouting along to hits like "Foolin'" from across the mountain, indicating a night of great music, pleasant weather and satisfied fans.

By The Times Tribune 2011.

A Leppard never loses its spots By Stephanie DeBalko

The crowd may have started out a little skimpy, but that didn’t stop ’80s icons Def Leppard and Heart from rocking the socks off of Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain Wednesday, June 29 with “The Mirrorball Tour.”

The show began with an unexpected twist when, in an unprecedented move, opening act Evan Watson brought out Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell to perform a tune with him during his three-song set.

And things just kept rolling from there. Heart, fronted by knockout vocalist Ann Wilson, blazed through “Cook With Fire” and “Heartless,” stopping for a beat so Wilson could proclaim that a couple, decked out in Def Leppard and Heart shirts with their arms around each other “had it right.” The band covered all the huge hits, including “What About Love,” “These Dreams” and “Alone,” interjecting slightly lesser-known hits “WTF” and “You’re the Voice.”

Finishing with “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda,” Heart returned for an encore, performing Led Zeppelin’s “What Is & What Should Never Be.” The entire set was one defined by effortless force, and guitarist Nancy Wilson, with her multidimensional musical talent, proved that the long-past cliche of girl power is still alive and well.

Def Leppard finally took the stage — which was overshadowed by a huge disco ball suspended from the ceiling — with “Undefeated,” and while that song seemed to promise only a lukewarm evening, the band quickly got the fire burning with “Let’s Get Rocked,” “Animal” and “Let It Rock,” which ended with phenomenal vocals.

After addressing the audience with his regally British voice, frontman Joe Elliott and his band launched right into “Foolin’” and “Love Bites,” and a bass solo — yes, bass solo — acted as an interlude before a very sexy version of the cover of David Essex’s “Rock On.” The entire band (except for drum impresario Rick Allen) moved to the front of the extended stage to perform acoustic versions of “Two Steps Behind” and “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak,” before which Elliott asked the energetic crowd, “How do you fancy joining the band for about seven or eight minutes?”

Def Leppard rocketed through “Hysteria,” “Photograph,” where Elliott’s vocals were smoother than ever, and the radio anthem “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” before exiting, leaving the crowd begging for more.

And the encore, “Rock Of Ages,” could not have been more appropriate, because after seeing this show, it’s pretty likely that any preconceived notions one might have had about Def Leppard’s strictly-’80s-hair-band status will be thrown out the window. Every single member of the band was at the top of his game the entire night, throwing out lengthy, ridiculously good solos like it was nothing and amping up the crowd through simple, pure rock ’n’ roll.

Both Heart and, especially, Def Leppard brought more force to the performance than fans have seen from either one in awhile, and the bands definitely shocked the pants off of anyone who thought the show was simply going to be some ’80s rock stars just going through the motions.

By Weekender 2011.


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