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Tuesday, 3rd July 2012

Nashville, TN - Media Reviews

Def Leppard and Poison bring the power of rock to Bridgestone Arena By Brianna Johns

To younger generations, some may know "Rock of Ages" as a Broadway musical or hit box office smash, but before the sounds of 80s rock were unleashed upon the Great White Way and the silver screen, we had real 80s rock and the amazing bands that blessed us with their incredible music. This past Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena, fans of that very kind of sound got to have their faces melted off by two of the greatest bands known to man: Def Leppard and Poison.

Poison was the first to take the stage. As the house lights dimmed inside the arena, the concert space was suddenly illuminated with light. A large banner featuring one of the band's logos was hung with care as the sweet sounds of C.C. Deville, Rikki Rockett, and Bobby Dall filled the air. From center stage arose Bret Michaels, rising up from a trap door in the belly of the beast of rock. With the entire arena on its feet, the crowd cheered as Poison opened with "Look What The Cat Dragged In".

Throughout their set, Michaels was extremely interactive as he danced along the catwalk and high-fived fans. As they transitioned from song to song, both C.C. and Rikki had solos of their own, C.C. shredding impeccably on the guitar while Rikki impressed on drums, occasionally tossing his drumsticks into the air and catching them with amazing precision.

The band also debuted a song from their new album, a cover of Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band".

After they had played a few of their hits like "Unskinny Bop", "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", and "Talk Dirty to Me", Michaels called out to the crowd, asking Nashville if its fans wanted to hear one more song. His question received quite an enthusiastic response and Poison rockers closed out their set with "Nothing But a Good Time".

Once Poison left the stage, fans were greeted to a small intermission, a large banner of the Union Jack, and a countdown clock on small screens amping up the crowd for Def Leppard's big debut.

As the minutes faded away to seconds, the house lights dimmed once again. Like the legends they are, Def Leppard made no ordinary appearance. Lights began flashing as music filled the air. Instantly, the banner was illuminated and released, falling to the ground revealing five plasma screens, a large stage setup, and the band everyone had been waiting for all evening.

Def Leppard opened with one of their newest singles, "Undefeated". While some fans in attendance didn't seem as familiar with the tune (often featured on ESPN segments) as others, that didn't keep them from screaming. Getting into their set list, front man Joe Elliott proved that he is just as good in 2012 as he was back in 1980s. His voice literally has not changed one bit. If you stopped everything you're doing, pulled up Def Leppard on your iPhone, and added thousands of screaming fans, it would sound exactly the same.

The rockers played several songs from their Hysteria album, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, including "Rocket", "Animal", "Armageddon It", "Hysteria", and "Love Bites" as well as tracks that some may not have expected such as "Gods of War" and "Women", both songs having been missing from a few set lists of tours past.

In the middle of the show, an equipment trunk was rolled down the catwalk to the very end and Elliott asked the audience if they'd join the band, encouraging everyone to sing along. All five members shared a seat on the trunk as they played an acoustic medley of "Where Does Love Go When It Dies", "When Love and Hate Collide", and "Two Steps Behind".

As they were with Poison, fans were also treated to a cluster of solos from lead guitarist Vivian Campbell who entertained the crowd with his delicious skills along with drummer Rick Allen, who absolutely wowed with his utterly impressive hand and footwork.

Just when fans thought the night was over after a rousing version of "Pour Some Sugar on Me", Def Leppard returned to the stage for an encore performance of "Rock of Ages".

Overall, Def Leppard and Poison's Rock of Ages tour was a perfect example of how bands today should entertain. The only way I can describe this show is to put it in these terms: This concert was like someone had placed you in the passenger seat of a DeLorean, sent you back to the 1980s, and gave you a ticket to one of the best rock concerts on the planet. It genuinely felt like taking a step back in time and every member of each band on this tour is a legend in his own right and in our hearts. Both Def Leppard and Poison have been rocking sold out shows around the world for almost four decades and neither band shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Let's raise our glasses, wail on our own guitars, and hope they never do.

These guys are still on tour so get your tickets while they last!

By Examiner 2012.

Def Leppard, Poison and Lita Ford at Bridgestone Arena, 7/3/12 By Eric England

Fourth of July eve is quite possibly the best night of the year to hit up an arena rock show. That much was clear before The Spin even set foot inside Bridgestone Arena Tuesday night to catch a pop-metal triple threat of Def Leppard, Poison and Lita Ford. A patriotic nobody-has-work-tomorrow lack of inhibition was in the air on Lower Broad as throngs of yuppies - whose idea of letting their hair down is wearing novelty glam-metal wig - congregated outside the enormodome. There was more True Religion and Ed Hardy than there was Aquanet and spandex, that's for sure. But in an age when Rock of Ages isn't just the name of Def Leppard's current tour but a Broadway show and a Tom Cruise vehicle to boot, that's no real surprise.

And speaking of true religion, the scene outside the arena was utterly devoid of any sense of evil, as we're pretty sure that - while the folks in this crowd may have come to indulge themselves - most of them will be at church on Sunday. Nevertheless, a handful of self-appointed soul-savers were on hand, passing out religious pamphlets and shouting soap-box scripture through megaphones. Unlike Def Leppard, these people really do need to update their act and realize that yesterday's hesher heathens are today's suburban squares, and they're not playing records backwards in search of subliminal messages to justify suicide solutions. Perhaps these street preachers should save their efforts for Skrillex, which actually just might be the devil's music.

That said, walking into the arena felt like doing the time warp, as opener Lita Ford was midway through her seven-song set, rocking out on the edge of the stage with a "Stairway"-worthy double-neck guitar that matched her trademark Texas-sized platinum locks.

By the time we found our seats - beers and hotdogs in hand - Ford was introducing her biggest hit, "Close My Eyes Forever." With duet partner Ozzy Osbourne absent, the singer encouraged the still-thawing crowd to sing the Dark Prince’s parts. It's unfortunate that they didn't sing louder, because that model-A power ballad only really works as a duet, and true be told, Ford was only singing it in key about half the time, resulting in a rather tepid rendition. Luckily the singer got her sea legs back, drawing the crowd to its feet and then some with a set-closing "Kiss Me Deadly" - the first of many rousing, seminal fist-pumpers we'd hear by night's end.

Remarkably, or perhaps not so remarkably, Poison played Bridgestone on this very night last year, opening up for Motley Crue on the Glam-A-Geddon 25 Tour. What's more, the band played the exact same 11-song set as last year. But what Bret, CC, Bobby and Rikki (thankfully) lack in spontaneity, they make up in originality, turning in a set full-chocked with crowd-pleasers like the anthemic "Ride the Wind," the hedonistic rallying call "Nothin' but a Good Time" and the undeniable, New York Dolls-worthy pure sleaze-pop gold of "Talk Dirty to Me." The only real bummer about the set was that the band could find time for drum and guitar solo breaks and a Grand Funk Railroad cover, yet they didn't play their best song, "Cry Tough." They definitely lose points for that. Of course, the crowd wouldn't let Bret Michaels out alive without playing the power ballad par excellence "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." That lighter-cuing moment was so magical that, at least for The Spin, it was hard to believe what we were seeing was real.

Bret Michaels may look like a makeup-caked, transparently wig-clad freak in close-up reality show shots, but from 20 or 30 yards away, he still looks like a golden god. Along with his bandmates, Michaels lives in a bubble of a world in which 10,000-plus people a night enable them to think flame patterns on guitars, bedazzled cowboy hats atop bandanas, boot-scootin' boogie steps down stage catwalks and multiple attempts to play blues harmonica are totally awesome. Just as "Unskinny Bop" makes for a great concert moment but is still a terrible song, we didn't know whether to applaud Poison or make fun of them for cocksuredly displaying almost every passe cliche in rock in less than 60 minutes. With each passing beer, we did more of the former and less of the latter.

Def Leppard, on the other hand, is some serious business. Within seconds of a stage-obscuring Union Jack curtain dropping to reveal the larger-than-life British quintet in all its glory, we'd forgotten that Poison ever existed. In an instant it was like we were watching a Michael Bay movie, as if the band came armed with bazookas loaded with billion-dollar pop hooks and pitch-perfect vocal harmonies and started launching them right into our fucking faces.

Was Mutt Lange himself doing the front-of-house mix? With Joe Elliott nailing both his sky-reaching choruses as his breathy low verses with studio clarity and the band replicating its recordings with pomade-slick precision, it certainly sounded like it. A quarter-century past the peak of their success and Def Leppard still performs with the same precision of their prime. And what's up with guitarist Phil Collen? That dude seriously looks like he hasn't aged a day since the "Pour Some Sugar on Me" video. We wondered if we were actually just seeing a Tupac-at-Coachella-style hologram when gazing in disbelief at the guitarist in all his shirtless glory.

By the end of the band's first song, the crowd was howling like they'd gotten their money's worth. That's quite a feat, seeing as how Def Lep opened with "Undefeated," a single from 2011. New material was not the rule of the night, however, as over the course of a couple hours the band treated fans to an all-killer-no-filler hit parade that included a whopping eight selections from its 1988 blockbuster LP Hysteria in addition to Teflon staples like "Foolin'," "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" and "Let's Get Rocked." Shit, we don't even think 30 minutes had gone by before the band had already pulled out the power-ballad one-two punch of "Animal" into "Love Bites." While Def Leppard is often pigeon-holed as harbingers of hair metal, the band puts on a show befitting of classic rock legends. We came to Bridgestone lookin' for nothin' but a good time, and for our money it didn't get better than losing our shit as Def Leppard played "Photograph" right into "Pour Some Sugar on Me," only to come back out and encore with "Rock of Ages."

By Nashville Scene 2012.


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