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day, 11th August 2015

Kansas City, MO - Fan Reviews

Fan Review - Curt Taft

As mentioned in my review for the Tinley Park, IL show in 2014, I took the conservative route for that tour (buying second level seats for just two shows) in order to save money for a tour in 2015’s “proper tour (behind a new album) and the eventual return to Las Vegas.” When this year’s tour was announced, I worked SIX shows into my schedule: Kansas City, Sedalia, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Tinley Park, and Moline.

Well, here we are a year later with no new album and no scheduled return to Las Vegas. As usual in Leppard Land, delays on top of delays on top of delays have occurred and we have ourselves yet another package tour with no new product to promote.

Not yet, anyway.

Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel as we are quite possibly a month or so away from a new single and hopefully a mere 73 days away from the new album being released.

Despite the fact that this tour isn’t yet supporting the new album, I stuck to my plans to catch six shows. My first would be taking place in Kansas City, where I saw the band in 2011 and 2012. Both of those shows took place at the Sprint Center. This year, the show was booked at a venue called Starlight Theater. I had never been there before or even heard of the place before this tour was announced.

After getting duped into paying an extra $3.00 for preferred parking that had no discernable advantage over regular parking, I made my way into the venue. It was a really cool place, as it was basically a castle with a stage at the bottom and 8,000 seats in front of it.

As with most shows this tour, Tesla took the stage first shortly before 7:00. It was a beautiful night, but the sun was blazing to my right, quite possibly giving me awkward sunglasses-shaped tan lines on one side of my face.

The doors had been open for less than an hour (since the doors opened about 15 minutes later than announced), so the crowd was fairly sparse for Tesla’s opener “Edison’s Medicine.” It was immediately apparent that the sound in this venue was quite good, with one problem… The smaller stage area meant the lighting rig and stacks of speakers were lower than normal. So while the sound was clear as day, the low end bass was overwhelming at times. It was a problem that plagued all three acts.

I hadn’t seen Tesla since they opened for Def Leppard in 2005 (my 13th show!), but it seemed like they hadn’t aged a day. Their set varied just a little from that show, as “Gettin’ Better” and “Hang Tough” were played instead of “Into The Now” and “What You Give.” Next up was “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out),” which sounded extra heavy thanks to the excess bass.

The crowd finally sprang to life with “Signs” and remained standing for the rest of the set: “Love Song,” “Little Suzi,” and closer “Modern Day Cowboy.” Tesla sounded as great as I remembered from 10 years ago and I’m excited about seeing them several more times this summer.

The changeover was quite short, and Styx took the stage at 8:00. I had told my girlfriend before they came out that I was going to try my best to enjoy them just to pass the time. Three bands I couldn’t stand as a kid were Journey, Styx, and Poison. Thanks to Def Leppard, I’ve seen each of them multiple times. By the end of this tour, the only two bands I will have seen more than Styx will be my two favorites: Def Leppard and Aerosmith.

Styx opened with “The Grand Illusion,” featuring that creepy Michael Jackson looking face peeking out from behind the stage. Then came “Too Much Time On My Hands” and “Fooling Yourself,” which is what I was trying to do by thinking I could enjoy this band. I made it through the next song, “America,” but lost the battle when they started “Lady.” That song was too much.

I give credit where credit is due, so I must say that Styx performed as well as ever. Their sound is tight and each person in the band is quite good at what he does. The fact that the non-Shaw guitar player was dressed like a Bee Gee didn’t hurt his playing at all.

The band disappeared from the stage, leaving the obnoxious keyboard player alone to woo the crowd with snippets of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” At this point I had to wonder why a band of 40+ years was dedicating a portion of a one hour time slot to snippets of covers.

I zoned out for the rest of the set. Considering I’ll see them at four of my next five Lep shows, I’ll give enjoying them another shot.

With that, the changeover for Def Leppard began. My excitement quickly began to build as I was eager to see them headline a show after last year’s coheadlining slot with KISS that shortened their set more than ever. Since this tour began in April, I didn’t bother trying to avoid seeing Leppard’s setlist for this tour. I knew the basic rotation, I just wasn’t sure where the rotation would fall for this show.

My excitement was bolstered by promotion for the new Def Leppard album on the screens at the each side of the stage. It has been so long since a new Def Leppard studio album was released that my brain has forgotten what it feels like to anticipate one.

The curtain was dropped over the stage, and the final countdown began. A mere nine days ago, this stage was host to none other than Mary Poppins… And now here I was, waiting to see my favorite band for the 37th time.

In a slightly different version than what we saw in 2002-2003 on the “X” tour, “Disintegrate” played over the PA as the band took their places behind the curtain. When the song ended, the curtain was pulled as Def Leppard kicked off their show with “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop),” a song I hadn’t seen live since the mystical Viva Hysteria shows in Vegas in 2013.

“Animal” followed before Phil made his way down the catwalk to introduce “Let It Go.” Since it has featured in many shows over the last couple of years, I decided to film it with my phone. I’ve filmed songs at many different shows, and the extra bass in this venue was apparent in that recording.

I had wondered how Joe would sound after the difficulties he had over the preceding weekend due to a mix of a cold and excessive exhaust thanks to Sturgis, but Joe’s high and long note at the end of “Let It Go” put all fears to bed. He nailed it.

“Foolin’” came next and was followed by the moment of truth… “Let It Go” was played, meaning either “Promises” or “Paper Sun” would come next. I handed my phone to my girlfriend to film in case it was “Paper Sun,” as I wanted footage of it but wanted to be able to enjoy it as much as possible. I gave her two stipulations for filming: “Don’t fuck it up and don’t film me rocking out like an idiot.”

But… “Promises” was played. I didn’t mind, as I love “Promises” and it never should have been dropped from the set in my opinion. Again, it was my first time seeing that song since the Vegas shows in 2013.

The set was fairly standard from there. “Love Bites” and an earlier than usual “Armageddon It,” which a great introduction and crowd reception for Vivian.

These days, I’m taking every show for what it is and enjoying it as much as possible. Having said that, if I have any complaints about this tour (aside from the album not being out in time for it and the inclusion of Styx), it’s the return of “Rock On.” If the band is only playing 90-95 minutes per night, including a cover is a buzzkill. Especially one so overdone. I would have been happier seeing “Helen Wheels,” at least it’s a ‘new’ track.

Joe took center stage for a solo performance of “Two Steps Behind” before the band came back on stage for “Rocket,” perhaps my favorite of all the big hits.

Next up was the welcome return of the full electric version of “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak” and the always amazing “Switch 625.” I go into every tour thinking it could use a break, but it blows me away every time I actually see it.

“Hysteria” retained its usual spot before “Let’s Get Rocked” was played in a fairly new spot. The slight mix up of moving “Armageddon It” up and “Let’s Get Rocked” down helps keep things a little fresh.

The crowd went crazy for “Pour Some Sugar On Me” before the encore break.

Def Leppard returned to the stage for “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph,” both of which Joe nailed, and the show came to an end at 10:54. It made me wish they would squeeze another song into the set, but it is what it is.

With that, the sold out show came to an end and it was a blast.


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