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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.

Media Review - Metal-Pop Nostalgia Gratifies Def Ears By David Lindquist

Rock music returned to the Indiana State Fair on Tuesday night, absent since the Goo Goo Dolls and Gin Blossoms played the Grandstand in 1996 (and perhaps hinted at by Savage Garden in 1998).

The Y2K comeback rested on the reliable shoulders of Def Leppard, who attracted an audience of about 7,500.

Revered royalty of 1980s metal-pop, the U.K. band knows its oldies are all that matters. Def Leppard recorded albums in 1996 and 1999 but played just one song from each.

On the topic of nostalgia, vocalist Joe Elliott looks remarkably similar these days to Axl Rose circa 1991.

Elliott's long, straight hair was a windblown accent for his Mick Ronson T-shirt, tight leather pants and Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes.

(None of Rose's petulant tardiness, though. Def Leppard hit the stage at 7:20 p.m. and was gone by 9.)

If there's a musical connection between Def Leppard and Guns N' Roses, it's that 1983's Pyromania album was nearly as important to hard rock as the Gunners' Appetite for Destruction.

Gutsy and primitive, Pyromania screamed for attention via Rock of Ages, Photograph and Foolin'. In concert, these melodic songs were given passionate -- if slightly hurried -- treatment.

Unfortunately, Elliott and Co. were seduced by "progress" on subsequent recordings.

The band's signature sound (lucrative, to be sure) became a hard-wired formula of saccharine-sweet vocals, winkingly suggestive lyrics and unshakable overproduction.

Time certainly hasn't prodded the band to rethink its approach.

Women, Hysteria, Love Bites, Pour Some Sugar on Me, Rocket and Armageddon It (all from 1987's Hysteria) tumbled out as so much vacuum-sealed Muzak.

Armageddon It did benefit from some nice guitar work by Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell.

Campbell approached the gnarled panache of Queen's Brian May during one solo, giving way to some pleasant liquid lines by Collen.

A half-acoustic, half-electric rendition of pre-Pyromania song Bringing on the Heartbreak was a rare moment when Def Leppard seemed geared for surprise.

More than anything, the night underscored the difference between Pyromania's fresh energy and the calculated coasting of everything that came after.

You'd like to believe revolution is still just a sleeveless Union Jack T-shirt away, but it's much too late for these lads.

By David Lindquist @ Indianapolis Star 2000.