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Thursday, 19th July 2012

Chicago/Rosemont, IL - Media Reviews

Def Leppard & Poison live! By Carter Moss

The '80s were revived last Thursday night, as two of the decade's premiere arena bands invaded Allstate Arena on the "Rock Of Ages" tour. Def Leppard, with their longest-standing lineup still intact, played their middle-aged crowd a 120-minute-plus career-spanning set that included all of their big hits, including nearly every track off 1987's 12-times-platinum Hysteria.

The band's age did show through a few times, as extra echo-effects and more were added to Joe Elliott's vocals on many of the uber-high notes, but overall, Elliott and his crew proved they can still rock pretty hard. The light show, video screens, and the band's backing harmonies were as prominent as ever, and the band still moved energetically around the multi-level stage, interacting with the crowd. One band member even looked healthier in his older age - eternally shirtless guitarist Phil Collen showed off his ripped abs (a result of less partying?).

Def Leppard did offer a few surprises, including an acoustic mini-set out on the a catwalk, sitting on a gear case playing acoustic guitars (except drummer Rick Allen who went with a shaker instead). The setlist included portions of hits like "When Love & Hate Collide" and "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad," before Elliott invited the crowd to sing through "Two Steps Behind" in its entirety. Other pleasant surprises included the Hysteria gem "God Of War" (complete with all the battle sounds from the recording), and the instrumental "Switch 625" coming out of "Bringin' On The Heartbreak."

Elliott asserted his veteran's command of the stage, and at the end of the night he praised the crowd, "This is why we keep coming back to Chicago" and promised to return. Each Lep got the expected solo, but the highlight as always was drummer Allen proving once again that only having one arm doesn’t diminish his skills or ambition, as he rocked through some impressive rhythms with his array of foot pedals.

Openers/co-headliners Poison played to a full house as well, with a 40-minute set that included all the expected hits, just one ballad ("Every Rose Has Its Thorn"), and a cover ("Your Mama Don't Dance"). Frontman Bret Michaels, donning the classic bandana and occasional cowboy hat, gave the crowd what they wanted (especially the ladies), and even managed to sneak in a few plugs for "The Celebrity Apprentice All-Stars" and his upcoming solo show in Chicago. Guitarist C.C. DeVille proved he hasn't lost a step as he ripped through the riffs, and the rest of the band kept up with Michaels well.

Lita Ford kicked off the night of nostalgic rock with a short but energized set that closed with her big hits "Close My Eyes Forever" (sans Ozzy) and "Kiss Me Deadly."

By Illinois Entertainer 2012.

Rock Of Ages Tour featuring Def Leppard and Poison : Still Rolling By Shawn

The Rock of Ages Tour, featuring Def Leppard, Poison and Lita Ford made its Chicago stop at Allstate Arena July 19th. The Tour commemorates the 25th anniversary of Def Leppards blockbuster album, Hysteria, and both Def Leppard and Poisons' numerous sonic appearances in the hit Broadway Musical, "Rock of Ages" and its Hollywood film adaptation released in June.

I arrived at the arena just before Poison took to the stage, too late to catch Lita Fords performance. The arena was about 90% full, with most of the empty seats being towards the back. Most people were busy grabbing their drinks before Poisons' impending opening song. Having seen Poison before, I had some idea of what to expect and their performance differed very little from their 2006 performance with Cinderella. Aside from the title Track of their debut album "Look What the Cat Dragged In", Poison kept a very standard though somewhat shortened set list, rocketing through most of their greatest hits, "Ride the Wind", "Your Mama Don't Dance" (Loggins & Messina cover), "Fallen Angel", "Unskinny Bop", "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", "Talk Dirty To Me", "Nothin' But a Good Time", a drum and guitar solo and a momentary jam on some Zeppelin.

The band was tight, but very much going through the motions. Bret Michaels' stage presence was nothing spectacular and his crowd interaction was very formulated, which the crowd reacted to non-the less. He also partook in some shameless self-promotion of his return to "Celebrity Apprentice" and his performance this week at Chicago Ridgefest. Bobby Dall appeared to have walked onstage in his street clothes and did very little to pump up the crowd. Rikki Rockett did the same stick twirls and tosses he's done since the bands early days, and did not seem very excited, though Bret Michaels informed the crowd that Rikkis' father had recently passed away which would explain his lack of enthusiasm. CC Deville was the one bright spot in Poisons' performance, being his usual cartoonish self, decked out in Black Vinyl Creeper Boots, his trademark platinum blonde hair teased to the sky as he danced and pranced across the stage. He also partook in lots of very animated guitar improv during many of his solos. Poison, while still a formidable act, with it's classic lineup intact and tons of great songs to pump an arena up, seem to be mailing in their performance.

Def Leppard made their presence known when they came out with Rick Allen situated at his specialized drum kit with incense burning, Rick Savage decked out in Leather, Phil Collen in his usual shirtless appearance, Vivian Campbell with his array of Gibson Les Pauls, Joe Elliot at the helm and Union Jacks everywhere as usual. Their usual impressive laser and light show illuminated their silhouettes on their double-tiered stage with catwalk.

They opened the show with a new song off their recent "Powerball" album called, "Undefeated" to which the crowd responded with some enthusiasm. Def Leppard then kicked it into high gear barreling though several hits "Rocket", "Foolin'", "Make Love Like a Man", "Animal", "Love Bites", "Lets Get Rocked" as well as the deeper cuts, "Let It Go", and "Gods Of War". All the songs came with their own personal slideshow; some incorporating elements of their respective promotional videos and others with unique videos to this tour with the crowd eating everything up like a feast.

The band then took it down a notch with Joe, Phil, Rick, and Vivian grabbing acoustic guitars and Rick Allen grabbing percussion with the whole band coming out on the catwalk. The band played an acoustic medley of "Where Love Goes When It Dies", "Now", "When Love and Hate Collide", "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" and "Two Steps Behind". During this more intimate performance, Joe Elliot gave a very personal recollection of the bands memories of Chicago and Allstate Arena to the crowd, talking about their first time in Chicago in 1980 with Ted Nugent and Scorpions and thanked the crowd and City very genuinely for their support. The band sounded in top form with hardly a note missed and backing vocals as good as ever. The band then plugged back in with "Woman", "Bringing on the Heartbreak", the deep instrumental "Switch 625", with a tribute to the late Steve Clarke playing on the jumbotrons, "Hysteria", and impressive solos from Phil Collen, Vivian Campbell and Rick Allen. Although Ricks' drum solo may not have been mind blowing, the crowd went wild with support for him and his ability to pull off such a solo was impressive still. The saga of his injury and recovery is to this day, one of the most awe-inspiring stories in Rock.

Joe Elliot gave a shout out to the entire band and recalled all of the tall tales of Def Leppard that we know so well. He next gave a special shout out to Vivian Campbell and had him kick into "Armageddon It", "Photograph" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me". The last song of the night as was expected was "Rock of Ages" which gave the crowd a perfect cap to their night. Throughout the whole night, Def Leppard had the crowd by the palm of their hand and knew how to work the stage like it was their home. Even with the declining concert attendance of today, Def Leppard are one band that continue to pack arenas due to their consistent spectacles of performances. Joe Elliot thanked the crowd towards the end for their years of support and exclaimed as long as you continue to come we will continue to come. Overall a great performance by a classic band with a perfect blend of stage show, stage presence, Big hits, deep cuts and raw energy. The Rock of Ages Tour was well worth it even if just for Def Leppard at this show.

By Chicago Music Magazine 2012.


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