It’s become almost like an official marker that summer is back – Def Leppard hitting the road across North America. Last year, the British rockers toured with the sister songstresses known as Heart, this year, they’re out with Poison and Lita Ford, guaranteeing a night of magical ’80s anthems and enough well-polished arena rock designed to create some genuine hysteria.
Noisecreep caught night two of the tour, in Irvine, Calif., and it was a textbook crowd-pleaser.
Lita Ford hit the stage early, right at the 7:00PM start time, and while many were still filing in, she still managed to raise a bit of the roof on the strength of her best known hit, 1988′s “Kiss Me Deadly.”
Next up was Poison, who were welcomed back to Los Angeles with lots of warmth and enthusiasm from the capacity crowd, who most likely were around on Sunset Strip back in the early ’80s when the band first started out. Despite many of his recent health battles, singer Bret Michaels seemed to be in fantastic shape, leading the band through such staples as “Unskinny Bop,: “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and “Talk Dirty to Me,” among others.
Guitarist C.C. DeVille dutifully recreated all the iconic fretboard histrionics from many a famous Poison video, and Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dall were their usual steady rhythm section – rare is the band that still has all original members after so many years – it’s one of the things that makes the former glam-n-big-hair legends so endearing.
Then it was time for another band that brings not just the fraternal comfort of original member familiarity, but a lion’s share of hits. Riding the wave of the release of the Tom Cruise film named after one of their songs, “Rock of Ages,” Def Leppard showed once more why they command the crowds they do, year in and year out.
Their epic, 22-song set reads like a pop-metal history book – “Foolin’,” “Animal,” “Hysteria,” “Photograph,” “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” “Photograph,” and other fist-pumping anthems were balanced by a nice acoustic medley and a few more obscure nuggets from the deep catalog.
And when the show ends with “Rock of Ages,” it’s clear that these guys understand their place in the pop culture strata. Joe Elliot, Phil Collen, Rick Allen, Rick Savage and Vivian Campbell have created music that has become the fabric of a couple of generations now, and when the red solo cups are held high by so many baby boomers from the front row all the way to the back of the sweeping lawn, it’s easy to see why Def Leppard means the world to its fans – and why it just wouldn’t be summer without them.
Welcome back, boys.
Watch Poison, Def Leppard from June 22, 2012
Def Leppard, Poison and Lita Ford tour dates:
Jun. 25 – Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center
Jun. 27 – Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
Jun. 29 – Atlanta, GA @ Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood
Jun. 30 – Tampa, FL @ Tampa Bay Times Forum
Jul. 02 – Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center
Jul. 03 – Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
Jul. 06 – Cleveland, OH @ Quickens Loan Arena
Jul. 07 – Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
Jul. 10 – Baltimore, MD @ Merriweather Pavilion
Jul. 11 – Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center
Jul. 13 – Wantagh, NY @ Nikon at Jones Beach Pavilion
Jul. 16 – Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre
Jul. 17 – Hamilton, ON @ Copps Coliseum
Jul. 19 – Chicago, IL @ Allstate Arena
Jul. 22 – Cadott, WI @ Rock Fest
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