Before Nirvana came along there were exactly 4 bands that existed in my world: Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Poison and Def Leppard. In fact the first album I ever received as a gift was Def Leppard’s Hysteria for Christmas right about the time I was in 5th grade. Despite this and all the concerts I have seen I somehow never got around to seeing Def Leppard. They usually come around every few years as a package deal with other aging rock bands and this time was no exception. How many more opportunities would I get to see them? I decided not to chance it and go it alone. I could not find any willing friend to accompany me partially because it was a weeknight and partially because I suspect most of my friends do not really give a damn about Def Leppard (they are hard enough to convince to go to more current shows). As a bonus I would get to see Styx.
Tesla is not a band I have ever really cared for. I do like their song “Love Song” but other than that I could not even name another of their songs. I was walking into the venue when they were playing “Love Song” and let’s just say it did not have quite the same warmth as the version that benefitted from studio magic.
Styx on the other hand was fantastic. This is a band that had always been in my subconscious because my dad listened to them. I just never realized I actually knew and liked many of their songs until one day I finally figured out who sang “Too Much Time On My Hands” and bought their Greatest Hits compilation. They rocked through a few of my personal favorites “Blue Collared Man” and “Miss America” with precision and energy. They also nailed “The Grand Illusion,” “Renegade,” and “Come Sail Away” but disappointingly left out “Mr. Roboto.” What I can tell you is Lawrence Gowan had an amazing voice and I never liked the song “Lady” as much as that night because he was singing his ass off and the band made it rock a little more than usual.
Def Leppard was touring for their soon-to-be released self titled album but to be honest I could have cared less. I love most of Def Leppard’s first 4 albums but after Nirvana opened up the musical floodgates for me I was too busy consuming new music to care about them any longer. My favorite moments were them playing “Foolin’,” “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak,” “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph.” The band also did a great version of David Essex’s “Rock On.” Overall I was a little disappointed with Def Leppard. Whoever their sound guy was kept messing with Joe Elliot’s vocals to the point where it became distracting to me. I don’t know if he was trying to mask the difficulties he was having hitting the high notes or what. I’ll forgive Joe Elliot because when I was in 5th grade loving this band I wanted his mullet and he came out and played “Two Steps Behind” by himself. I don’t really care for that song but he did great and I did not even realize he could play guitar. The drummer Rick Allen continues to be a savage drummer despite having only one arm and guitarist Phil Collen (not to be confused with Phil Collins) looked decades younger than he is and tore it up. All in all I am glad I got to witness Def Leppard but the night belonged to Styx.