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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.

Media Review - Def Leppard doesn't offer any surprises in Irvine, but that's OK By Steven Fryer

Bruce Springsteen ruins it for everybody.

After David Bowie died, Springsteen opened a show with Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel.” He opened another show with “Take It Easy” after the Eagles’ Glenn Frey died. At the final show at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, he worked “Wrecking Ball” into the setlist.

Def Leppard played soon-closing Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on Thursday for their last time. The quintet has played there many times, starting with two shows in summer of 1988 on the long Hysteria tour. Def Leppard guitar player Phil Collen has lived just over the hill, in Laguna Hills, for a couple of decades.

So it was reasonable to expect something different Thursday from Def Leppard than playing the same 17 songs in the same order in which they have performed all of this summer.

How about slipping in “Two Steps Behind?” The concert sequence in the video of that song was filmed at Irvine Meadows on July 10, 1993. It should be a unique memory for the band, because they had to play the song twice that night because the camera equipment malfunctioned on the first take.

Eschewing the opportunity to get “bossy” and do something special, Def Leppard played the same show they’ve played elsewhere.

But, hey, it was a heck of a show.

The band is touring behind the album it released last year, simply called “Def Leppard,” which is the most-straightforward, hardest-rocking album of new music from the group since 1983’s “Pyromania.” The band’s live performance takes the same approach.

The guitar work of Collen and Viv Campbell was front-and-center. Joe Elliott’s vocals, sometimes hoarse and sometimes struggling to reach the notes on recent Southern California shows, was stronger and clearer than they’ve been in years. The rhythm section of bass player Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen supplied steady foundation.

Allen is a marvel. Unless told or already aware of it, nobody would know Allen is playing with one arm, having lost his left one in a car accident in ’84. He compensates with a quick right hand and a series of pedals he works with his always-bare feet.

Def Leppard played three songs from the new album. The band started with the album opener, “Let’s Go” which is a close cousin, in guitar riff and meter, to its huge “Pour Some Sugar on Me” hit which closed the regular set. Encores were “Pyromania” hits “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph.”

The highlights were “Let It Go” with Collen playing that killer opening riff with aggression, “Foolin’” had plenty of guitar crunch, and “Love Bites” was appropriately dramatic.

There was the usual “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”/“Switch 625” pairing just like it goes on the “High ‘n’ Dry” album. Campbell played the late-great Steve Clark’s riff that starts “Armageddon It” and got an on-stage kiss from wife and baby. That was a heartwarming moment, knowing that Campbell has been working through Hodgkin’s lymphoma the past three years.

Def Leppard still is playing David Essex’s “Rock On” from its fine 2006 album of ’70s rock covers “Yeah!” There are better songs on that record that would be fun to hear live again, but “Rock On” gives Savage and Allen some interplay opportunities that were enjoyable.

Elliott made a couple of comments about Irvine Meadow’s demise and the property’s probable future as residential development. “We need houses,” Elliott said. “But not here.”

REO Speedwagon and Tesla opened the show. REO leader Kevin Cronin addressed the future of Irvine Meadows, too, asking the crowd “Do you want apartment buildings or do you want rock and roll?”

REO rocked harder than expected. Oh, the power ballads were there, of course: “Keep On Loving You,” “Time for Me to Fly,” etc. But the renditions of “Keep Pushin’,” “Back on the Road Again” and “Ridin’ the Storm Out” cranked. Cronin’s voice is as crisp as it was in the ’70s and he is remarkably slim and spry for a guy who will turn 65 in a couple of weeks.

Tesla is a basic hard-rock band. There’s nothing wrong with that. Tesla played tight and with energy, which is what an opening band on a hard-rock bill is supposed to do.

By OC Register 2016.

Reviews from the 2016 Irvine, CA Show.