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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.

Media Review - Def Leppard does the time warp By Jeff Miers

So the '80s never really died, right? They just faded away . . . or not.

Wednesday, as '80s metal outfit Def Leppard took the stage at the Erie County Fair, concertgoers grooved to the best pop metal band of them all.

It was like watching "The Breakfast Club" for the 43rd time. You knew exactly what was going to happen, but you loved it anyway.

Yellow-shirted security guards stalked the grounds, ostensibly making sure nothing bad happened but also enforcing a no-smoking rule in effect - odd since this was an outdoor venue.

The black-T-shirt brigade consumed the racetrack area with an unspoken insistence that the Me Decade had not died.

Maybe it hasn't. Since the majority of the audience, by all appearances, had come to relive its glory years - those high school days when all that mattered was who was dating whom and whether or not Dad would let you use the car Friday night for the football game and party - it seemed fitting that the security force treated all in attendance like high school kids. A cigarette was as forbidden beneath the open sky as it was in Mom and Dad's house, back in the day. Because, by all appearances, most of the crowd was trying to smoke, this was amusing to behold.

So, Def Leppard, then. The band emerged from Sheffield, England, at the forefront of the late '70s/early '80s new wave of British heavy metal.

It made two great records - its debut, "On Through the Night," as good an imitation of real '70s Brit-rockers like UFO as one was likely to hear in 1980, and "High and Dry," the greatest AC/DC imitation of all time, down to the appropriation of that band's producer, Mutt Lange.

Things got shifty rather quickly for the Leps following "High and Dry," and the enlistment of Lange - who would later not only produce Shania Twain's pop-country-metal crossover hits, but marry her - meant that each consecutive Lep record sounded more like overproduced pop and less like metal. ("Photograph," anyone?)

"Pyromania" came first and broke the band wide open, but "Hysteria" blurred the lines between Def Leppard and, say, Michael Bolton, by making it clear that the late '80s would be a time of overproduced and ultimately shallow records. It sold something like 10 million copies. But then again, so did Taylor Dayne.

Metalheads made their colors plain at the fair - next in popularity to the vintage Leppard concert T's was a preponderance of "patriotic" shirts with such slogans as "These Colors Don't Run" - and welcomed the band like a Special Forces unit returned from wherever.

And the Leps - vocalist Joe Elliott, guitarist Phil Collen, guitarist Vivian Campbell, bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen - loved every minute of it.

They played the hits, as well as a few tracks from post-platinum albums like 'Slang' and "X." The crowd went nuts.

The band, sounding as good as it did in its heyday, opened with the two strongest and least cheesy numbers of the night. In the early '80s, 'Let It Go' led off 'High and Dry' and made one not feel a bit fey for liking Def Leppard. 'Rock Till You Drop' was the only song from "Pyromania" that any self-respecting metalhead, circa late '80s, would be caught dead admitting a love for. The band performed both with fire and passion.

The set maintained this exciting consistency throughout, as the band proved its excellence on many levels. The guitar corner was handled quite well by Collen and Campbell, who are no Thin Lizzy guitar section, but will do in a pinch, and by Elliott, who full-throated it for the whole show. The song selection treaded the straight and narrow.

No surprises, then. Def Leppard brought the house down. The band was tight, enthusiastic and, in its own way, pretty darned musical.

But we'll wake up in 2003 again and wonder what was delivered.

By Jeff Miers @ The Buffalo News 2003.