Def Leppard performs at the Gibson Amphitheatre on Sept. 7
Photo: The Recording Academy
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By Jamie Harvey
Universal City, Calif.
As a child of the '80s, I grew up on a steady diet of MTV and radio hits. This particular concert on Sept. 7 at the Gibson Amphitheatre showcased two of the bands that reigned over those airwaves: Heart and Def Leppard.
After Heart wrapped up the "she said" portion of their timeless love songs, Def Leppard — consisting of Phil Collen (guitar), Vivian Campbell (guitar), Joe Elliott (vocals), Rick Savage (bass), and Rick Allen (drums) — took over the stage by kicking off their set with "Undefeated," a new track off their recent live album Mirror Ball: Live & More. In thinking about the band as they set out to entertain us for the evening, "undefeated" really does sum them up. Despite Allen losing an arm in a 1984 car wreck and former guitarist Steve Clark dying from a drug overdose in 1991, the band has soldiered on, cranking out feel-good hits along the way such as "Let's Get Rocked." That takes determination. I would have probably changed genres to death metal.
The crowd sang and swayed as the hits started flowing. Bands from this era really know how to utilize the full stage — there were stairs leading onto risers at the back of the stage that kept the band in constant motion, not to mention the catwalk out into the crowd. The screens behind the stage showed Def Leppard music videos, photos and classic footage as this tour is in support of Mirror Ball: Live & More, a three-disc reflection on the band's history.
"Foolin'" and "Love Bites" put anyone who was around in the '80s right back in that place, whether it be at an awkward school dance or cruising down the road with the stereo blaring when the world was a very different place.
"Two Steps Behind" and "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" brought the band to the catwalk for the acoustic portion of the set. The couples in the crowd seemed to be starring in their own '80s video, where everything moves in slow motion and there's a gauzy filter to everything you see. There was a departure from the rock ballads with the heavier instrumental "Switch 625," a point in the set when I forgot about the lyrics and focused on the musicianship.
The main set ended with "Photograph" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me," one of the ultimate rock dance songs. This sealed the deal of a good time for everyone involved. For the encore, Def Leppard came back with "Rock Of Ages," which is exactly what they have done — provided rock music for the ages.
"Let's Get Rocked"
"Two Steps Behind"
"Bringin' On The Heartbreak"
"Pour Some Sugar On Me"
"Rock Of Ages"
To catch Def Leppard in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(Texas-based Jamie Harvey is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She attended 112 shows in 2010. You can follow her musical adventures and concert recaps at www.hardrockchick.com.)