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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.

Media Review - Def Leppard makes near-annual pilgrimage to USANA Amphitheatre By Doug Fox

It just wouldn't be a summer concert season at USANA Amphitheatre if there wasn't a rock solid performance by Def Leppard on the books.

The British hard rock band delivered a typically Lepp-tastic concert Friday night under a harvest moon, pumping out 17 songs in a tight 1-hour, 40-minute effort. Of course, any Utah rock fan who has followed the band in recent history could have predicted as much, as Def Leppard has made itself right at home at the West Valley City venue -- appearing there eight times in a 10-year span.

Standing at the end of a ramp that extended some 15 or so rows into the crowd, lead singer Joe Elliott made specific mention of the support the band has received in Utah as he soaked up the audience adulation at the end of the show.

"I just remembered something," he said while looking out over the standing ovation that extended from the front rows to the far reaches of the soldout crowd. "Half -- at least half -- of our live album was recorded here. This is why!"

At this point of its career, Def Leppard is not reinventing its concert wheel. The band knows its strengths -- and, I suppose, weaknesses -- and puts the former on full display while compensating for the latter. The band's show is loud, high-energy and visually stunning, all things that make for a memorable concert experience.

With the frequency of its Beehive State appearances, it's interesting to track the band's setlists from year to year. There's a definite order to things -- for example, the final eight songs Friday exactly mirrored last September's show. The order of the same hit songs also followed an identical precise pattern.

Where Friday's show differed from past years, however, was the addition of three songs from the band's new, eponymously titled, album. In a day and age when bands with deep hit catalogs seem to almost fear straying from the tried and true in concert -- at the risk of triggering a rash of bathroom-break-itis in the audience -- it's refreshing when a group shows the confidence to showcase new material.

Def Leppard opened Friday's show with "Let's Go," the new record's lead track. The song, with its clear clarion call to arms of concert-goers, seems to have been specifically written as a show starter. "Welcome to the carnival, welcome to the party, welcome to the edge of your seat," sang Elliott.

Message received.

The two other new tunes were the melodic rocker "Dangerous" and the offbeat bluesy and bass-heavy "Man Enough." All three were excellent additions to the show. Kudos to the band for showcasing them -- I wish more classic bands would take the same approach.

There were multiple moments that stood out during the course of the concert. To wit:

The raw power of "Let It Go" is always a welcome adrenaline rush early in the show. Here's hoping this song from "High 'n' Dry" always remains in the set.

Guitarist Vivian Campbell is always much more understated in his stage performance than his more flashy counterpart Phil Collen -- although, was it just me, or did he seem to be a bit more animated this time around? That being said, two of my favorite moments were his solo segments when he opened "Foolin' " and "Armageddon It." The former is appreciated for its mood-setting simplicity and the latter for its immediately recognizable, and extremely catchy, riff.

The segue from "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" into the beginning of "Switch 625" and the opening to the band's cover of David Essex's "Rock On" each put a welcome spotlight on bassist Rick Savage. His speed riffing on the "Switch 625" opening was performed on a rising platform behind the drums and he took a short bass solo before kicking off "Rock On" out on the audience ramp. The moment when the full band and lights kick on in the middle of that song is always a senses-pounding highlight.

Collen, who takes the stage shirtless and glistening in sweat as if he just finished getting a pre-show weightlifting session in -- is always entertaining in concert. In addition his excellent lead and rhythm work, the array of sounds and squealing noises he can ring out of a guitar are somewhat amazing. In a new twist, a small camera was mounted to the top of his guitar which offered a unique vantage point looking right down the barrel of his fingerboard and into the audience during encore solos for "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph."

If a Def Leppard show is indeed something of a circus, as the lyrics to "Let's Go" would suggest, then Elliott is indeed the ringmaster of record. Dude knows how to work a crowd in ways that are both obvious and subtle. His between-song banter and storytelling registers on the Goldilocks scale -- not too little or too much, but just right. Especially enjoyable was his long-term memory about getting together with a 16-year-old friend to listen to records, and the pair being mutually inspired by bands like Queen and AC/DC. "We said, 'What do you think if we just put a band together?' Thirty-nine years later, that 16-year-old is still my best friend," Elliott said while introducing Savage. Elliott may have lost some vocal power and range over the ensuing years, but his rock spirit and enthusiasm are still willing.

Rick Allen is somewhat lost visually behind his drum kit, but it was fun when he shared a laugh with the crowd by looking right into a video camera that allowed him to salute fans on the giant video board behind the band. His drum work continues to inspire.

Whether you caught or missed Friday's Def Leppard show, there's no reason to fret. Next summer is only nine months away.

REO Speedwagon held down the middle slot on the three-band bill, belting out 10 songs in the band's hour on stage. Kevin Cronin remains a frenetic frontman and is even more the storyteller than Def Leppard's Elliott, if that's possible. At a couple different points, Cronin referenced a show the band performed in Utah a couple days after the 9/11 terror attacks, when there was some debate whether people were ready to show up so close on the heels of historic tragedy.

He and the band, however, were surprised when 10,000 fans turned out for the concert.

"(That was) when the people of Salt Lake City said, 'We are not held down by terrorists,' " Cronin said.

Highlights of the band's set included "Take It on the Run," "Tough Guys," "Time For Me to Fly," Bruce Hall's lead vocal turn on "Back on the Road Again" and anthemic rocker "Ridin' the Storm Out," with Cronin giving a shoutout to deceased original guitarist Gary Richrath in the beginning.

Cronin also recalled a night in the 1980s when he woke up at 4 a.m. with three simple chords stuck in his mind.

"I thank goodness I had the wherewithal to roll out of bed and into my home studio," he said, "because, I tell you, our lives have not been the same since."

He then launched into the beginning of monster ballad "Keep on Loving You."

REO -- especially with Dave Amato on lead guitar -- remains a consistent crowd-pleasing act. It would be great to see them in a headlining slot in the years ahead.

Tesla opened Friday's show with a too-fast 45-minute set. Tesla is a highly underrated live band and never ceases to entertain -- both with its material and with its sense of humor. Jeff Keith's vocal rasp is embedded in the band's DNA and his engaging stage presence is fun to behold in person.

Set highlights included "Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)," "Signs," "Love Song," "Modern Day Cowboy," and brand new song, "Save That Goodness," which was bolstered by a walk-on appearance from Def Leppard's Collen.

By Daily Herald 2016.

Reviews from the 2016 Salt Lake City, UT Show.