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Thursday, 28th July 2011

Chicago/Tinley Park, IL - Fan Reviews

Fan Review - By Curt Taft

It's been over two years since my last Def Leppard show on July 20, 2009. And it was almost fifteen years to the day since my very first show (July 30, 1996 in St. Louis, MO). After the longest break between shows since 2005, I was extra excited to be seeing the boys again, for the 24th time.

My journey to Chicago was a damn NIGHTMARE. My girlfriend and I left at 1:30. The drive from Springfield to Tinley Park takes three hours. We had to be at the ILAA 5 Star meeting spot at 5:45.

We had over four hours to make a three hour drive.

But construction on I80E that had traffic at a STAND STILL ended up making us late. While sitting in one spot, we listened to the entire "Slang" album. It was rough. Took us well over an hour to move enough just to get off the highway at the nearest exit. Even then, our detour was filled with more construction, which made us go even more out of our way, and other bullshit things like an RV breaking down at a stop light and a train. Not to mention by this time we were in the middle of 5:00 traffic in the Chicago area and there were other cars that were trying to take the same detour.

Anyway, I ended up having to text Helen to let her know that we'd be late to the party. I was definitely pissed at this point since the ILAA stuff isn't cheap and now thanks to some classic Illnois construction, I was missing out on stuff I paid for. I always factor in time for construction, but this was the worst I've ever dealt with. But it made for a bonding experience for me and my girlfriend!

We arrived at the venue finally and were given a runaround by people not knowing what the hell was going on with the ILAA stuff, but eventually we got in. Since we were late, we were given our tickets at the gate and found out we had FRONT ROW seats. That definitely helped me cool off a bit after the stressful drive.

The party was pretty nice. The food was good, but it was really hot in that tent. More on the heat later.

Helen had Phil's daughter Samantha helping out again, which was cute. This was the third 5 Star party I've been to and once again, I didn't win anything in the raffle. I just have no luck when it comes to winning stuff.

We made our way to our seats after awhile to watch Evan Watson. Not sure he fits with the music of the headliners (the last time a single person got up and played blues before Def Leppard it was a disaster... And that was someone the crowd had heard of - Billy Squier). But the time passed quickly and it was neat seeing Viv join him for a song.

Heart hit the stage pretty quickly after. They had changed the setlist up from what I had seen from earlier in the tour. They opened with a cover of Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll," which was awesome.

Heart's full setlist: Rock And Roll, Magic Man, Heartless, Straight On, What About Love, These Dreams, Alone, WTF, Crazy On You, Barracuda, ENCORE: Battle Of Evermore, Love Reign O'er Me

My girlfriend was disappointed that they dropped "Never," which is her favorite song of theirs and I know they had been playing it earlier in the tour.

For the most part, I enjoyed the show. More specifically, I enjoyed the show up until the encore. What I didn't enjoy were the toned down, stripped back approach to several of their songs and the fact that in a 12 song setlist, they played THREE covers. I loved "Rock And Roll," but the two in the encore (another Zep cover and a Who cover) did nothing for me. If I was a die hard Heart fan I would be pissed at three covers being in such a short set. Hell, I get annoyed with Lep playing the one they play! And Nancy Wilson singing "These Dreams" is still sexy as hell after all these years.

The changeover between sets was pretty quick. When "For Those About To Rock" came on, I knew we were close. The camera guy gave me one of the sound crew's guitar picks, which was cool.

Much to my delight, Lep hit the stage with "Undefeated." Knowing my luck, I was really afraid they would have dropped it by now. So I was nervous at first, but relieved when that drum loop kicked in. I had stated before I wasn't sure how well it would work as an opener. I knew the intro and guitar riff would be great for it, but as an overall song... I wasn't sold on it. Until last night. It was amazing.

I didn't know what would come next, and was caught off guard by the abbreviated intro to "Let's Get Rocked." When it ended, I expected "Animal," and that's exactly what I got. And when that ended, I expected "Foolin'," and that's exactly what I got.

Sadly, I predicted all the rest of the setlist and was right every single time.

On paper, the setlist is certainly disappointing.

It was like what they'd play at a radio festival. All hits and the new song. Plus it's quite disappointing to see them back down to 15 songs, which I expected knowing the extended verison of "Rocket" has returned. If they are going to limit themselves to 90 minutes, the bass solo and the long version of "Rocket" have no place in the setlist. Hell, "Rock On" can go too. I think it has lost all of its appeal now, even to the casual fan. It worked much better when they didn't know what was coming with the huge ending. Now they're all well aware of it.

And honestly, who gives a shit about a bass solo? It was a nice change of pace back in '06 and I understand it gives the rest of the guys a few minutes to take a break and change clothes (what is this, a Cher concert?) but come on... There have to be other ways to get that done now.

Anyway, despite the ugly setlist, I still enjoyed the hell out of the show. "Undefeated" was amazing and seeing anything from the front row (especially after a two year break between shows) is a great time. We got a lot of great pictures and my girlfriend walked away extremely happy. I'd say the setlist we got is good for her first show, but she's got two more on this tour (and I've got three). I hope the set is mixed up a bit. I'm not gonna look at what they've been doing as far as any type of rotation so I won't know unless they do it. My reviews of the other shows I'll be hitting on this tour (St. Louis, Indianapolis, Kansas City) won't be so nice if the same setlist is done at any of those shows. Especially considering I won't have front row seats to spare them. One upside is that since I was in the front row, I barely paid any attention to the screens, so I'll be able to watch them a bit more when I have some farther away seats at the next shows.

And there was an incident where Sav threw one of his picks into the crowd. It hit the ground near me, so I bent down to pick it up and almost had my hand crushed by the foot of a larger female fan... Considering it wasn't worth the bodily harm, I let it go. Can't fight with those female Sav fans, they'll tear one to pieces just for a bead of his sweat. But my calm way of dealing with it paid off as I got not one, but TWO of his picks later in the show.

As I mentioned in my post last night, Joe hit a wall during "Photograph." I don't know how he made it that long. He sounded absolutely fantastic on "Undefeated" but by "Photograph" his voice was shot. Probably the worst I've ever heard that song sung. But hell, by the fourth song in the set, I was having trouble singing due to the humidity. So I had to wonder how the hell he was doing it, especially in the smoke and lights (not to mention his emotions still getting to him, I'm sure - which is completely understandable). Hopefully the humidity lets up soon and he gets his pipes back after the break. He thanked the crowd in the encore for being so great and helping him get through the tough time.

Overall, a great night.


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