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Leppard returns: Iconic rockers would rather burn out than fade away

September 6th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

Story & Photos by Ben Hansen
Special to The Hard News Café

SALT LAKE CITY—Rock juggernauts Def Leppard returned to Utah with another set jam-packed with radio hits, appealing to fans and newcomers alike by focusing primarily on their era as the biggest band in rock.

The set drew almost entirely from songs on the band’s recent greatest hits collection Mirrorball, which contains so many ’80s anthem-rock mega-hits that it could be easily mistaken for an encyclopedia on that era.

The band Heart was invited to open the show and performed a solid set, but anyone sharing the stage with Def Leppard is like comparing apples to oranges. From the moment the intro music rolled and the British boys appeared in the shadows, the energy of the crowd became palpable.

Lead singer Joe Elliot was in excellent vocal condition, delivering strong on high notes that haven’t been included in recent live versions of many classic songs. Little was held back while Elliot tore through the upper-octave barrage of “Love Bites,” “Rocket” and “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak.”

Elliot’s humor also was still sharp, as during his acoustic “2 Steps Behind,” when an audience member in the front shouted loudly again and again for the band to play their song “Wasted” from many years past. Elliot looked at the crowd and responded, “There is a guy in the front row shouting WASTED! I don’t know if he is wasted or if he wants to hear it.” He then proceeded to play the intro and a vocal to the song, then looked at the gentlemen and said, “There’s the opening…so what?”

Another highlight of the night followed “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” when the band powered directly into their instrumental “Switch 625.” On this night, the song had a more modernized punch to it, as lead guitarist Phil Collen introduced heavy palm-muting during the early distortion parts of the song. The result was an edgier, tougher version, to which the fans responded wildly, followed by a surprise furious double-bass drum solo by heralded drummer Rick Allen.

While it would be impossible for the band to put everything the audience wants to hear into their set, they presented a good selection that should have satisfied most of the crowd. Some of the other songs included were “Hysteria,” Photograph” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”

The only disappointment came during the band’s encore of “Rock of Ages.” As the first encore finished, the band, now past the city ordinance curfew, ended the set. Due to time constraints, the set naturally had to finish, but left the majority of the crowd at USANA clamoring for more.

Year after year, Def Leppard makes sure that Utah is included on its tours, and year after year thousands show up in anticipation of what is always a great show. The band has lived by its own lyric, “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” Judging by the response they receive every time they come to Utah, it appears that neither of these situations is in the foreseeable horizon for these rock legends.


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  1. One Response to “Leppard returns: Iconic rockers would rather burn out than fade away”

  2. By Teri Rose on Sep 7, 2011

    Hard to believe these guys are still going strong. Too bad concert goers can\’t bottle up that energy they feel at the concert and use it to wake up and do something just as energetic the next morning that will have them rockin the world in another 30 years themselves!

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