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Tuesday, 28th April 2015

Saskatoon, SK - Media Reviews

Leppard sweet and not too sticky By Cam Fuller

Most bands can’t fathom selling 100,000 albums.

Def Leppard was selling 100,000 albums A WEEK back when kids were lining up to buy Hysteria and Pyromania.

Those kids are now bringing their own kids to Def Leppard concerts, the record sales are past 100 million and the band is still playing live, as it did Tuesday night at SaskTel Centre. (Though with the curious stipulation on this tour that no media photos be allowed. But guys, one of your biggest songs ever was Photograph!) People at ground level were on their feet before the fifth song, Foolin’ which sounded great. The plodding and weaker tunes Promises and Paper Sun were put up with politely. Love Bites was even slower but better liked, bringing out the iPhone flashlights and a few old fashioned Bic lighters.

Staging and tech were clever and tasteful. Light panels created neon club signs reading LIVE MUSIC and LUCKY. On the back wall during Armageddon It, a real-time counter scrolled the world’s growing population. Sobering, that.

Back centre was famous one-armed drummer Rick Allen, perched barefoot five steps up on an octagonal platform, fluidly drumming; efficient and focused, he has just as much impact with far fewer dramatics than most other drummers.

Their intro music was the entire song Won’t Get Fooled Again by the Who, and the boys kept their U.K. heritage top of mind - early in their career they were briefly vilified for allegedly pandering to America - with Rick Savage’s Union Jack bass and with "London 1957" printed on Phil Collen’s axe (his birth year).

(About that Collen - wow, does the guy ever work out. Shirtless and body-greased under a leather vest, he looked like he was wearing a plastic superhero chest and abs.) Singer Joe Elliott was a cool, confident pro. Never in a rush, he knew what he had to do and how to do it. Before a mild costume change, he played an acoustic guitar solo for a singalong for the ballad Two Steps Behind that was sweet, but not sticky sweet. It seems charming and quaint that this band was once considered heavy metal.

Rocket got the blood pumping again and signalled the trajectory of the rest of the night, which would of course include Let’s Get Rocked, Pour Some Sugar on Me and, yes, Photograph. (Hope you took your own!)

Saskatoon’s own One Bad Son - Kurt Dahl, Shane Volk, Adam Grant and Adam Hicks - opened the shindig with a 45-minute set, basking in the arena glow and making the absolute most of the moment.

“I’m almost lost for words. This is insane. Thanks so much,” singer Volk said.

He was breathless, and for good reason after a few songs’ worth of paint peeling vocals. Vinyl Spin Burner from the quartet’s latest album Black Buffalo was totally intense, leaving Volk almost on his knees with the exertion, looking like a man trying to lift a car with his shoulder. The more melodic Black Buffalo, which has hit #7 on the Canadian rock charts, was well received, and the way the band has One-Bad-Sonified Psycho Killer got more than a few of the unsuspecting smiling in appreciation.

By The Star Phoenix 2015.


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