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Monday, 7th February 2000

Montreal, QC - Media Reviews

Fans Lick Up Leppard Sugar By Martin Siberok

At the Molson Centre in Montreal, on Monday.

It's hard to knock Def Leppard. These well-intentioned, hard-working lads from Sheffield are veteran showmen and consummate entertainers who send their loyal fans home with smiles on their faces and ringing ears.

After 20 years of gigging and a slew of million-selling albums, there are few surprises at a Def Leppard show. It's everything the fan has come to hear - polished hard rock with lots of appealing pop melodies. This was true Monday night at the Montreal Molson Centre where nearly 6,000 fans were on hand to see old friends play familiar songs. And that's what they got, a string of hits that just keep on coming one after another - Love Bites, Armageddon It, Photograph, Rocket, Rock of Ages and Pour Some Sugar on Me, which got an extra roar of approval.

Midway through the well-paced set was an attractive acoustic rendition of Two Steps Behind from the Last Action Hero soundtrack. After this brief reflective moment, the volume was cranked up and the Leppard leapt into overdrive. Even several tracks (Demolition Man, Paper Sun and the single Promises) from the band's most recent release, Euphoria, were thrown into the mix. At one point, singer Joe Elliott announced that Canada was the first country where the album went gold and thanked all those present for their unfailing support.

Def Leppard is totally at home on stage with boyish Elliott bounding around in a long leopard-print jacket stirring up the crowd. While on the sides, guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell battled it out with soaring riffs over a firmly grounded rhythm provided by bassist Rick Savage and one- arm drummer Rick Allen.

It's funny to see that the band has managed to survive the fickle nineties intact. But then many might say the same about The Rolling Stones or Aerosmith.

Kudos go to opening act Joan Jett, whose Blackhearts looked like they were extras from Spike Lee's Summer of Sam. Playing New York City punk, the band - legs spread wide and guitars slung low - would have been more at home in CBGB's than a hockey arena.

Wearing black leather pants and a purple PVC halter top, the shaven-head Jett was a GI Jane incarnate. A rocker, born and bred, she pulled off a fast- paced 50-minute set that included all the hits: Crimson and Clover, I Hate Myself for Loving You and Do You Wanna Touch Me (the Gary Glitter classic). Yet the highlights were a growling cover of Iggy Pop's I Wanna Be Your Dog, a souped-up version of the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song and Fetish, a kinky new track.

The opening chords of I Love Rock 'n' Roll had the crowd on its feet paying homage to the 39-year-old pioneer of grrrl power and rebellion. There's nothing complicated about Jett's music, it's just three chords played straight from the hip.

Rumours have it, she'll be doing her own tour this summer - it'll be a date worth keeping.

Def Leppard with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts play Fredericton tomorrow, Moncton on Friday, Halifax on Saturday and Ottawa next Monday.

By The Globe And Mail 2000.


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