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Sunday, 25th May 2003

Grand Prairie, TX - Media Reviews

By Andy Laudano

Def Leppard rocked this sold out crowd with a set that drove long–time fans into a frenzy, by playing songs they haven’t done in years. Opening with “Let It Go,” they continued with the entire first side of High ‘n’ Dry! All the big hits were there too: “Photograph,” “Foolin,” “Rock of Ages,” “Love Bites,” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” as well as songs from X, “Now” and “Long Long Way to Go,” dedicated to British and American troops. Other highlights were an acoustic version of “Two Steps Behind” and a long version of “Rocket” with some of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” thrown in. Despite nursing a torn muscle, singer Joe Elliott was at the top of his game as was the rest of the band - drummer Rick Allen, guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell and bassist Rick Savage.

Backstage - Def Leppard recently played a sold out show at Next Stage in Grand Prairie. Long known as a band with a strong connection with their fans, this time around these rock legends went above and beyond the call of duty to take care of them.

Fans were already waiting, when the tour buses arrived early in the day. As soon as they got off the bus, drummer Rick Allen and guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell came over to greet the small crowd. Lead singer Joe Elliott apologized to everyone for not being able to sign autographs since his arm was in a sling. According to tour manager/fan liaison, Malvin Mortimer, Joe tore a muscle playing soccer.

After signing for everyone, the band headed inside for a sound check. After they finished, Allen and Collen came back outside and met with even more fans who’d since shown up. After the show a large crowd of 50-75 people gathered outside. Since there were so many people, I doubted the band members would come out. But, Allen and Collen came out yet again! Thanks to their unbelievable generosity a lot of fans, both old and new, went home even happier than they already were from seeing Leppard’s awesome show. I’ve been going to concerts, meeting bands and collecting autographs for a long time, but I’ve never seen anything like this before. This was truly something special.

I’d also like to mention what a great job the Next Stage security and staff do. They were there the whole time, overseeing and making sure everything ran smoothly without ever being rude or trying to run fans off. Meeting the band and the great show couldn’t have happened without their cooperation. On behalf of a lot of happy people, “Thank you” to everyone involved.

By Harderbeat 2003.

Hard-working Def Leppard still a powerful crowd-pleaser By J. Taylor Rushing

Def Leppard is no stranger to casualties, with a pile of personal and professional losses in its 25-year history. But the band has not lost its audience, nor its ability to reward it with tight and powerful musicianship.

Before a sellout crowd of 6,000 at Grand Prairie's NextStage theater Sunday night, the British quintet reminded its fans why it was one of the most formidable acts of the 1980s. Singer Joe Elliott, guitarists Phil Collen and Viv Campbell, bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen also gave a solid demonstration of how to give fans their money's worth.

At a time when many bands charge hundreds of dollars for lackluster performances, Def Leppard charges its audience a maximum of $53 per seat and gives them what they want -- a blast of '80s power-pop complete with all the frills.

They also used some nifty tricks, such as arranging their set list chronologically. Starting with 1981's High and Dry album, they ran through cuts from 1983's Pyromania and 1987's Hysteria before getting to their newest, 2002's X, some 45 minutes into the show.

The group's harmonies -- always one of its biggest features -- still sound note-perfect, and Collen and Campbell can still shred a fretboard with the best of them.

Allen, who lost his left arm in a car crash on New Year's Eve 1984, also performs as well as ever, thanks to a specially designed drum kit that allows him to play with his left foot. Yes, there were glitches Sunday night, most notably a lead microphone that wasn't working when the band took the stage. But Def Leppard more than recovered. The band hit particularly noteworthy peaks with Bringin' on the Heartache, Foolin' and Hysteria.

Opener Ricky Warwick offered a strong but bland half-hour of solo acoustic material. One of the founders of the British band The Almighty, Warwick came across as a step between Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen - not bad legacies to follow, but better left in more capable hands.

By Star Telegram 2003.

Leppard roars and fans enjoy hard-rock holiday at NextStage By Teresa Gubbins

Holidays can be a risky time for a touring rock band - will everyone be out of town? But Memorial Day weekend was no problem for pop-metal hit machine Def Leppard: The band was greeted by a full - and fully enthusiastic - house on Sunday at NextStage.

Def Leppard has been at it since 1977, and its expertise was plain to see and hear. Mixing up old hits ("Let It Go," "Bringin' on the Heartbreak," "Hysteria") with newer tracks ("Four Letter Word," "Long Long Way to Go"), the quintet seemed youthful and fit as they bounded across the stage. They sounded fine, too, plying their trademark combination of multipart harmonies and double-teamed guitar.

In its late-'80s heyday, Def Leppard played large arenas, and that history was evident in its showmanship. Singer Joe Elliott often communicated with the audience via delineated physical gestures: a pistol finger pointed in the air or a hand cupped behind the ear. Guitarists Vivian Campbell (he of the unbuttoned shirt) and Phil Collen (he of the shirt entirely removed) and bassist Rick Savage posed heroically – moves that would have felt trite in less skilled hands. But the Leppards, who also included famed one-armed drummer Rick Allen, did all the obvious things with freshness and zing, and a real sense of joy.

People in the audience held up Union Jack banners and flags – an early Def Leppard motif - and many wore T-shirts from previous DL tours. Mr. Elliott acknowledged the vintage shirts with a story about a new video the band shot for the single "Now," which follows the journey of a concert T-shirt from 1983 to 2002, when it gets bought back by the original owner on eBay.

He dedicated "Two Steps Behind" - a song from the '93 disc Retro Active that also appeared on the soundtrack to Last Action Hero – to the surgeon who recently operated on his shoulder to mend a torn rotator cuff.

"He put me back onstage in 12 ... [expletive] days," he said.

The song "Rocket" proved to be an all-encompassing concert experience. White lights gushed from behind, turning the quintet into silhouettes. In the audience, the scent of marijuana floated delicately, like the trail of perfume that lingers after a pretty girl walks by. Every person had a fist in the air, thrusting in unison to the "ROCKET!" chorus. Mid-stream, the lights turned colorful and trippy, and the song sank into a psychedelic jam. The pace slowed and the stage darkened, with Mr. Collen and Mr. Campbell casually trading effects – a quivering buzz saw, a murky note from the deep.

By the end of the show, Mr. Elliott's voice was pretty much shot, but the hits were running "Women," "Photograph," "Animal" - and at that point, it didn't really matter.

By Dallas Morning News 2003.


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