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Friday, 20th December 2002

Council Bluffs, IA - Media Reviews

Def Leppard gives fans what they want By Christine Laue

It wouldn't be a rock show until someone takes off his shirt.

At Friday night's Def Leppard show at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, 4,200 fans got not just one, but two bare chests of guitar players from the band that had the world singing "Pour Some Sugar on Me" in 1988.

While a few frontmen of new groups like Creed and Incubus disrobe these days, it was bands like Def Leppard that pioneered the art. And this audience, although about 3,000 shy of a sell-out, appreciated every piece of '80s rock 'n' roll nostalgia Def Leppard threw at them - from no shirts to lead singer Joe Elliott's silver-sequin shirt, from bombast to power ballad, and from "Pyromania" to "Hysteria."

The night, however, did include a dose of newness, with the five-piece rock band performing several songs off its 10th studio album, "X." The new songs, surprisingly written and produced by some of today's teen pop hitmakers, stood out as rock hits and potential Top 40 hits like those that initially made this band a crossover success.

Crowd members danced along to the newer songs instead of simply enduring them like necessary parts of seeing their old favorite band. By making songs with undeniable hooks and by working the stage, Def Leppard distinguished itself from other nostalgia rock acts.

Elliott's voice, however, was noticeably tired and strained, which may have accounted for a sound mix that favored the instruments and other members' harmonies over Elliott's vocals - a minor distraction.

Most people were so busy singing along, they might not have noticed. A man with a gray beard sang along to "Photograph" with an intensity and hand gestures like he was giving the Gettysburg Address.

When fans in several front rows scrambled to find a guitar pick Elliott flung during "Now," the first track off of 2002's "X," the lucky fan leaped from a crouched position into the air, high-fiving his pal.

The band played for two hours, including a two-song encore with "Love Bites" and "Let's Get Rocked." Avoiding predictability, they threw in one of their biggest hits toward the end, but not in the encore.

When the band sang the line "the best is yet to come" from the hit single "Armageddon It," off the massively popular 1987 album, "Hysteria," it was a cue for one of the night's best moments - "Pour Some Sugar on Me."

People reared back as they belted out the lyrics, pointing their fingers in the air to punctuate each word. And the rock stars on stage grinned in delight, never giving even the slightest impression that they were sick to death of singing this song for years.

It made it OK that they took off their shirts.

Christine Laue © Omaha Herald 2002.


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