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Wednesday, 15th April 2015

Penticton, BC - Media Reviews

Def Leppard still sweetly rocking in Penticton By Dale Boyd

Penticton was asked if they wanted to get rocked, and the answer was a resounding yes.

I can say without a doubt that U.K. rockers Def Leppard brought in the most people I’ve ever seen in the South Okanagan Events Centre at one time.

The floor was packed and once the crowd stood up they didn’t return to their seats for the rest of the show.

Def Leppard is the first of a three-pronged British invasion of the SOEC, with Brit Floyd and Ringo Starr coming to Penticton in the fall. If this show was any indication, the invasion will be quite successful.

Most of the original line up was intact, including one-armed drummer Rick Allen, and the glam metal veterans sounded like they hadn’t aged a day since hits like Let’s Get Rocked, Pour Some Sugar On Me and Armageddon It first hit the radio.

Lead vocalist Joe Elliott still hits the high notes with precision and power blending well with the high-gain solos from Phil Collen that led to many an air guitar in the crowd.

You realize how much of a hit machine Def Leppard was when hearing best of tour. I wouldn’t consider myself a mega-fan, but I found myself singing along and knowing most of the words to songs I hadn’t heard in years.

The pace would only slow briefly for a few slower songs, and a solo acoustic effort from Elliott featuring a brief Neil Young shout out because we’re in Canada, but the performance was hard-hitting and high energy.

The initial set ended with Pour Some Sugar On Me, arguably the highlight of the show, and I personally wondered how they would follow that up. As said before, these guys are hit machines and after the capacity crowd screamed for an encore, they returned with Rock of Ages and Photograph capping off a hard-rocking set.

By Penticton Western News 2015.

It's better to burn out then fade away By James Miller

For a three-year period beginning in the summer of 1987, you couldn't go anywhere without hearing a track from Hysteria.

Rock-and-roll's answer to Thriller where every song was written as a potential single, it was a defining moment for a band which up until that time was receiving more press for activities which had nothing to do with their music.

Drummer Rick Allen signed when he was 15. He lost his arm in a car accident at age 21 and rather than quit, reinvented himself thanks to a specially-designed kit. Guitarist Steve Clark (the "C'mon Steve" referenced in Armageddon It) died of a drug overdose. Albums were delayed. Jim Steinman (Bat Out of Hell) was even brought in at one time to produce, only to abandon the project. More recently, guitarist Vivian Campbell had a bout with cancer.

Remarkably, with a track record of releasing a new album about once every four to seven years, they've enjoyed tremendous longevity and with almost the entire line-up of originals.

Having Jeff 'Mutt' Lange (Back in Black for AC/DC, Everything I Do I Do It For You for Bryan Adams, his ex-wife Shania Twain's monster albums) as a producer and co-writer for most of their career didn't hurt.

Kicking off its new world tour in Penticton, they brought a 90-minute, nostalgia show to the South Okanagan Events Centre, Wednesday, to a sold-out and extremely enthusiastic audience.

"Glad to meet you," lead singer Joe Elliott said in his obvious British accent, making numerous references to playing in the Peach City for the first time in their 35-year career. They're fixtures in Vancouver and once made it as close as Kelowna.

"This won't be the last time, we will be back," he twice promised during the band's encores — Rock of Ages and Photograph — by far the band's two best songs.

Elliott correctly noted that even though Def Leppard was a global phenomenon, they enjoyed tremendous success in Canada. Singles which weren't hits elsewhere did well in Canada. Canadians supported the band in the pre-Pyromania days when many had never heard of them.

"Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Loverboy, Emm Gryner," he said, listing some of his favourite Canadian musicians.

With a new album due this fall — the first in seven years of new material — they stuck entirely with older material with only one song from this century, a remake of Rock On by David Essex, recorded by Def Leppard in 2006 for an album of covers.

As expected, six of the seven singles from Hysteria were featured. There were only a few surprises. They opened with an album track, Rock Rock (Till You Drop) from Pyromania, and included two forgotten gems from the 1999 album Euphoria, Promises and Paper Sun, early in the set.

Four of the numbers were ballads, the best being Two Steps Behind, Elliott's lovely solo acoustic number originally written for The Last Action Hero Soundtrack.

There were several opening night glitches. The show didn't seem as tight as one would think but that's the drawback to hosting the first night of a tour.

The benefits to Penticton and the complex itself were great. The SOEC hosted three full days of technical rehearsals, while Elliott posted a shot of Okanagan Lake on Facebook taken from his hotel room at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

Adding to their mystique, Def Leppard politely declined interview requests, also denying photography access which is nearly unheard of. As a rule you get the first one to three songs — no flash either in the pit or behind the soundboard. Perhaps the image they want fans to remember is a young, blonde Elliott in a Union Jack muscle shirt.

He's a few years older, a few pounds heavier and his voice didn't seem as angelic as it did when I first saw the band during its 1992 Hysteria tour.

None of this matters to fans, of course, because they were really digging the show. The beauty of a classic rock concert is that it takes you back to a happy time in your life, remembering where you were when we first heard Allen mumble, "gunter, glieben, glauten, globen" and wondering what the hell it was he was saying?

As for the trademark song, they held that for their closer.

With lines such as "you've got the peaches, I've got the cream" and "I'm hot, sticky sweet" there has never been a rock song as dumb — but undeniably irresistible — as Pour Some Sugar On Me.

By Penticton World Herald 2015.

Def Leppard's crew set up shop in Penticton for three days preparing for nation-wide tour By James Miller

It's believed the band itself, which arrived Tuesday, did a wine tour of the Okanagan while lead singer Joe Elliott posted a photo of Okanagan Lake on social media taken from his hotel room at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

"Check out this view out of my room this morning. Still a little chilly, but I bet this place is beautiful in summer," he posted on the band's Facebook page.

Rocker Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company), who resides in Summerland, sent the band a welcoming gift.

Elliott said twice during the performance, "We will be back."

Clarke said a follow-up date hasn't been confirmed but the venue would certainly entertain a return date for Def Leppard during another tour.

By Penticton World Herald 2015.


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