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Sunday, 22nd July 2012

Cadott, WI - Media Reviews

Def Leppard makes up for one-year delay By Chris Vetter

For Rock Fest fans and Def Leppard, the phrase "better late than never" is definitely true.

Def Leppard canceled their 2011 appearance at the music festival just a week before they were to play because of the death of the father of lead singer Joe Elliott.

The band was immediately booked to headline the Sunday show this year, and fans got their money's worth, as the British rockers played an impressive 105-minute set to close out the annual rock festival.

Elliott, 52, took the stage wearing a British flag on his shirt and his shoulder-length hair flowing in the hot, sticky air. The band surprisingly opened with a brand new track, "Undefeated," before launching into their familiar hits, such as "Rocket," "Foolin'" and "Animal."

The band made excellent use of the backdrop and the lighting, and they had an impressive stage set. Cameras focused heavily on drummer Rick Allen, who lost his left arm in a car crash in 1984. Allen got a drum set that works for him, and he's amazing to watch.

The crowd sang along loudly mid-set as Elliott sang the hits "Love Bites" and "Let's Get Rock" back-to-back. Elliott's voice has sounded better, as he was strained a bit on the high notes, but his energy made up for it.

In a memorable segment, all five band members sat on the catwalk together, as Elliott led the band through a medley of four of the band's ballads - "Right Now," "When Love and Hate Collide," "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad," and "Two Steps Behind." Normally, fans might only hear one of those songs in a concert, so it was awesome to hear the band zip through this arrangement.

The rockers finished on a high note, stringing together their hits "Armageddon," "Photograph" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me." They returned to close out their impressive 17-song set with "Rock of Ages."

Def Leppard formed in 1977, and they can boast to having sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Two of their albums, "Pyromania" and "Hysteria" are certified diamond for selling more than 10 million copies each in the United States. The band previously played at Rock Fest in 1999 and 2003. Their popularity hasn't slowed down a bit - although they canceled their Rock Fest show last summer, they easily sold out their show at the Minnesota State Fair last August.

I'm a big fan of Def Leppard - my first-ever CD in the mid 1990s was their greatest hits disc. On this night, they showed why they are a headlining act.

It was another muggy night at Rock Fest, as skies remained clear. It didn't rain at the festival grounds during any of the main stage shows over the four days.

Poison great but short

Poison put on a great show… while it lasted, anyway. The band was just kicking into high gear when they wrapped up a nine-song set in 55 minutes, leaving many fans bewildered and perplexed. Normally, the second-to-last band will play closer to an 80-minute show.

Led by Bret Michaels, the Hollywood rockers opened with "Look What the Cat Dragged In," and they got the crowd jamming with hits like "Your Momma Don't Dance" and "Fallen Angel."

Michaels, wearing his cowboy hat, told the crowd repeatedly that the band is celebrating a quarter-century together.

"It's been 25 awesome years, being able to do what we do," Michaels said.

The band had steam blasts rising from the stage, and they had a nice light show. The whole crowd sang along to the breakout ballad, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." Michaels pumped up the audience by moving into "Talk Dirty To Me," then finishing the short set with "Nothin' But A Good Time."

Poison played at Rock Fest in 2000, 2002 and 2006. I've seen them six times before this show, and they've never done anything so short, but they've always been the headliner, too. Perhaps they decided to cut their set short to give more time to Def Leppard.

Earlier in the day, former Skid Row lead singer Sebastian Bach had a fun 14-song, 80-minute set. He kicked off the show with "Slave To The Grind," before moving into some unfamiliar tunes. Bach was dressed in all black, and he played during the hottest part of the day.

"It's really (expletive) hot up here today, and I wore all black - not the smartest thing," Bach told the crowd.

Bach strikes me as the 44-year-old man who still thinks he's 15. He runs around the stage with youthful enthusiasm, gleefully whipping his long hair in the air, while swinging the microphone cable above his head.

While he is no longer a member of Skid Row, he plays all the songs the band had together, including "18 To Life," "I Remember You," and the big closing number, "Youth Gone Wild," which is an appropriate song for him.

Lita Ford had an unmemorable 10-song, 50-minute show. She looks great, but she simply didn't have the energy to get the crowd moving in the heat. She saved her big hit, "Kiss Me Deadly," for last. Perhaps she should have moved that song up in her set to get the crowd involved.

By Leader-Telegram 2012.


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