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Wednesday, 12th April 2017
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Montreal, QC - Media Reviews

Def Leppard at the Bell Center: hysteria still operating By Caroline Vigeant

The British group Def Leppard has triggered "hysteria" at the Bell Center for the fifth time since 2003, when it sounded its glam metal Monday to mark the 30th anniversary of the cult album "Hysteria" in front of more than 10,000 people.

True to his habit, singer Joe Elliott hailed the Montreal crowd in French. The quintet that has evolved in the musical landscape for forty years has offered a colorful spectacle, to resume a formula oiled, but that could not be more suitable for this second stoppage of the North American tour, begun Saturday. Multicolored projections shattered on the background screen, the scene was bathed in luminous jets just as flashy as the well-oiled pectorals of guitarist Phil Collen.

By TVA Nouvelles 2017 - read the French original via the link.

Bell Center: the generosity of Def Leppard By Marie-Josée Roy

Def Leppard's guys can not be accused of lacking generosity. Third concert in Montreal in five years (after 2012 and 2015), not to mention stopovers in Quebec in 2013 and 2016. No hit forgotten in a performance of one hour thirty without shortness of breath, a lot of visual candy and a complicity to break everything with A parterre more than enthusiastic.

You know, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage, Phil Collen and the company are disembarking at the Bell Center, a place they know well, on Monday, to get back in touch with a crowd with which they are just as familiar and almost revered. The pretext? The release of their last eponymous opus, two years ago, and whose songs Let's Go, Dangerous and Man Enough were heard during the evening.

By Huffingtonpost Quebec 2017 - read the French original via the link.

Def Leppard at the Bell Center: Hysteria Operates By Caroline Vigeant

Not only have we dragged the classics of High'n'Dry and Pyromania , but also three songs from the eponymous album released in 2015 - Let's Go, Dangerous and Man Enough - which did not detract so much from the sound Of the y group is unchanged.

By Journal de Montreal 2017 - read the French original via the link.

Def Leppard, Poison, Tesla bring rock of ages to Bell Centre By Jordan Zivitz

It was a shock to hear frontman Joe Elliott say that 2017 marks Def Leppard’s 40th anniversary. It was clearly a bit of a shock to him, too: “It crept up on us.”

Maybe the English hard-rock veterans seem younger than their years because their catalogue is lean compared to most acts that have clocked two-fifths of a century. Or maybe it’s because they can still bring lusty conviction to numbers about … sugar? Yeah, that song probably wasn’t about sugar. Their weekend anthems betrayed some wrinkles Monday when they headlined a three-band throwback bill at the Bell Centre, but that didn’t obscure the delight Def Leppard took in striving for eternal youth.

Most of those wrinkles came from Elliott, who was sometimes held hostage by his diminished range in songs that originally saw him go for broke. There was little of the laryngitic paralysis that marred the band’s 2012 Bell Centre show but, especially in the early going, the singer’s once-elastic tenor snapped short of the high notes.

While a glitzy Animal exposed the cracks in Elliott’s voice, he fared better with the back-to-basics elemental rush of Let It Go, the serious swagger of Foolin’ and when he played off of his bandmates’ halo of harmonies in Armageddon It, adding an appealing growl rather than being overwhelmed by the choir. He didn’t want for enthusiasm, repeatedly gliding arms outstretched down the catwalk in an addictive everyman rock-star pose, and he limbered up by the time Rocket sent him shooting for the cheap seats.

A four-decade run means the quintet has earned its own slice of the classic-rock nostalgia that powered Rocket’s lyrics, but Monday’s 90-minute set confirmed latter-day Leppard isn’t purely a jukebox. Opening the main attraction in a nostalgia triple-header with a number from 2015’s self-titled album was gutsy, and Let’s Go earned that pride of place with its “welcome to the party” mission statement and familiar but fresh guitar heroics from Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell.

Man Enough was another worthy representative from the most recent album, the strutting bass giving Rick Savage his second showcase in a row; previously, his aquatic rumble anchored the inventive dynamic build of Rock On as Elliott donned a top hat and appropriately blinding ringmaster suit.

The frontman gave every band member his due, accompanying them to the lip of the catwalk or, in drummer Rick Allen’s case, bowing down before the grinning face on the rear-stage Jumbotron. The perception of Def Leppard as a band of brothers was reinforced by the vintage video clips that backed Hysteria, the set’s emotional high water mark. Rather than being burdened by their history, the musicians seemed empowered by it.

And they can still milk some mileage out of the proudly juvenile Let’s Get Rocked, basking in the big dumb brilliance of the call-and-response sections before Elliott leaned into Pour Some Sugar on Me’s “hunnh”s and “yeeaaahh”s with the glee of a 28-year-old.

The audience of roughly 11,000 matched his zeal and then some. When Elliott said “this city has been a major supporter of this band over the years,” you got the feeling it wasn’t part of his usual repartee. Even the usual repartee carried extra weight: “Until next time … and there will be a next time,” he vowed during the curtain call, as he has done before. Believe him.

And believe Bret Michaels, who came close to stealing the show in Poison’s extended hour-long opening set. For all the “poser” catcalls catapulted at the glam gutter dwellers in their heyday, there was no faking the frontman’s exuberance as he bounded out, greeting fans down the walkway while the party-ready band cranked up Look What the Cat Dragged In.

The backing vocals in an otherwise solid Ride the Wind were piddly, there was no soul in guitarist C.C. DeVille’s clownish showcase solo, and it barely mattered. Bandana and kegger charisma in place, Michaels was impossible to upstage and impossible to dislike.

By the start of the third song, he had name-checked the headliners, the other opener and all of his bandmates, and praised drummer Rikki Rockett for surviving his recent battle with cancer. The infectious cheerleading made everything buoyant, from Your Mama Don’t Dance’s cement-shoe boogie to the ad-libbed crowd praise after almost every line in Unskinny Bop, to the “zero political message” of Something to Believe In’s affecting show of respect for war vets.

Poison has stuck around for more than 30 years itself. There are likelier survivors, and Michaels’s lust for life suggests he knows it. Their party ended with the singer shaking hands at length up and down all sides of the catwalk as the road crew moved in. The closing song was Talk Dirty to Me, but this was a class act.

Tesla got an impressive percentage of seats out of chairs at the ungodly hour of 7 p.m., and not just during the swampy Signs. With serpentine rasper Jeff Keith content to slither in the background and an acoustic-guitar duet leading into Love Song’s louche blues-rock, this was satisfyingly decadent yet tasteful.

By Montreal Gazette 2017.

Def Leppard @ Bell Center By Laurent Lépine

Finally came Def Leppard . Not being a finished fan of this English band, I really did not expect anything. But to change their last visit to Montreal, I was surprised to see myself get up (to the chagrin of the people behind me), dance, and even sing. Like Poison and Tesla , their many hits were at the rendezvous and the amateurs of the group british were in the angels. But again, please, let go of the battery solos. And YES, we know for a long time that he plays with his feet, no need for a close-up on his toes.

By Daily Rock 2017 - read the French original via the link.

Def Leppard + Poison + Tesla @ Bell Center By Kieron Yates

The first signs of spring are in the air and the shorts and skirts are already out in abundance as Montreal gears up for summertime. The weather is gorgeous and so is the ambiance inside the mighty Bell Center, for the 80’s have loaned us three of its greatest for the evening. Originally a bill slated for Def Leppard alone, while touring pals Tesla and Poison were excluded, soon included the full package; much to my delight.

Playing the opening slot in any city on a Monday evening is a tough feat to pull off, but Sacramento’s Tesla did well and got people up out of their seats early on. As stragglers slowly made their way into the arena, Tesla were already into their seven song set – which strangely enough contained two cover songs. For a band that has been around for three decades and released seven albums; I found that a surprising decision. None the less, the boys started off with “Into The Now”, following that up with “Edison’s Medicine” from the wonderful “Psychotic Supper” record, “The Way It Is” and “Love Song” from “The Great Radio Controversy”, with the first of the two covers, Five Man Electric Band’s “Signs”, splitting them up. Finishing up with a cover of Ph.D’s “Little Suzi” and ending with “Modern Day Cowboy”. The band looked and sounded fantastic – with front-man Jeff Keith still as flamboyant and awkward as ever. Part of the charm of the group. I would have loved to have seen an extended set from these guys – perhaps they’ll return sometime soon. I have wanted to see these guys since I was nine years old, and a cassette copy of “The Great Radio Controversy” was sent to my home erroneously from Columbia House. Nobody else wanted it, so it fell into my hands – and I still own it thirty years on.

“Look What The Cat Dragged In” introduced the arrival of Poison – to a raucous Montreal welcome. Singer Bret Michaels warmed hearts for the duration of their hour long set, taking the time to dish out high fives and on several occasions, taking a knee to shake hands with the fans up front. As minor as that seems to be, let us not forget that many music stars – and Poison have fallen under that category for thirty odd years now, would take the time to even acknowledge a fan. If I could have reached out and slapped hands with the man, I would have. My seats were great (thanks again Evenko) but alas, my arms fell short. Michaels skipped up and down the walkway, hair flowing beneath the trademark bandanna, spewing energy and exuberance with every leap and bound. “Rock The Wind” was followed by a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” as covers seemed to be the cool go to thing in the early going of the show. After that, Michaels addressed the crowd to assure all of us that the following message was an apolitical nod to the servicemen of the United States military. Nothing out of character for the band, who then played “Something To Believe In”.

Not to be shown up by Tesla, Poison themselves pulled out a second cover, although one the boys have been jamming for long enough that many probably consider it one of their own; Loggins & Messina’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance”. By this point, the crowd is in full sing-a-long mode and nary an ass is sat in a seat. Because if the person in front of you gets up to rock out, your vision is obstructed but we won’t get into the whys of it. Everybody was on their feet, OK? Good! Lets move on then. It was then time for the guitar solo. The only thing I like less than a guitar solo is a drum solo. What are you going to do? So after the guitar wankery had passed us by, it was back to the rocking ways of “Fallen Angel”, then the classic “Unskinny Bop” (I still don’t have a clue what this song is about!) and… then came the drum solo. Great. On this occasion though, given that drummer Rikki Rockett had just beaten cancer, I clapped as hard as I could for the man.

The final moments of Poison’s set of course included the best of the bunch – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “Talk Dirty To Me”. Yet, while the music had ended and the road crew showed up on site to dismantle the gear and make way for England’s Def Leppard, there was Bret Michaels, still on the walkway, still shaking hands and dishing out high fives and taking the time to exchange words with the fans. Hats off to you, man. That is how bands should be. Always humble.

“Lets Go” kicked off the final portion of the night, with Def Leppard taking the stage to a now packed house of roughly eleven thousand spectators in attendance. Playing many of the groups hits as well as a few lesser known ditties – and a cover! David Essex’s “Rock On”. Some of the highlights on the night came by way of “Foolin’” and “Love Bites” (sure does, maaaan!), “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”, “Hysteria”, “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. All sounding dead on despite the time that has elapsed since these tunes were first written and performed. Age wasn’t something that the audience was reflective of, though. Some of the many that had gathered appeared to have been with the band from their beginnings while others looked to have been born after all of the bands major hits had breached billboards worldwide – and that is fantastic. Most fell somewhere between these two extremes. I wondered to myself, which, if any of today’s bands, will still be touring when (if!) I reach my sixties?

Front-man Joe Elliott too was feeling the ages, eluding to this being the fortieth anniversary of the band. “It crept up on us” he joked, and even if his vocal range isn’t quite what it was, it is still fantastic and damned near perfect. Def Leppard put on a quality show, with great lighting and a fantastic video montage of photographs of the band throughout the years – as an avid photography nerd, this plastered a gigantic grin on my clock. Many of the shots I recognized as being the works of one of my concert photography idols – one mister Ross Halfin. (Seriously, check him out!) And of course, the encore concluded with “Rock Of Ages” (which now makies me think of Tom Cruse every single time I hear it) and… “Photograph”. I can’t remember a Def Leppard show that didn’t end with that particular song.

For as long as I have been aware of the music of Def Leppard, I have had a severe admiration for drummer Rick Allen and his shear stubbornness in the face of serious adversity. Very, very few people would have found the courage and determination and commitment to continue on after sustaining such a life shattering injury as he did. For the two of you that might not be aware, Allen lost his arm in a horrific car crash back when he was just twenty-one years old. Arms are pretty vital to a drummer – all appendages are, really. Imagine that for a second. You’ve just hit the big time and now you’re in a position that would crumple most humans to the ground. This man, though, didn’t give up. He got back on the drum kit and taught himself to play the drums again, using extra foot pedals to compensate for what he would normally have done with his lost arm. The man played a drum solo that lead to a loud standing ovation. A well deserved one. If ever there was somebody to look to when things seem unbearably hard and adverse, it is without question Rick Allen. Mr. Allen, you sir, are a source of inspiration.

“Until next time… and there will be a next time” exclaimed Elliot as the lads exited the stage left and off into the moonlight. What a night.

By Montreal Rocks 2017.


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