Review and photos by John Jeffrey
Darien, NY - Aside from Lynyrd Skynyrd, I can't think of any other active rock and roll group that has dealt with as much adversity as Def Leppard. From drummer Rick Allen's 1984 car crash (which resulted in him losing his left arm), to the death of guitarist Steve Clark in 1991, to Clark's replacement - Vivian Campbell - and his continuing bout with cancer (Hodgkin's lymphoma), this English rock band deserves to have it's name put in the dictionary, right next to the word "perseverance." Ironically, Def Leppard has teamed up this summer with two other bands who are no strangers to adversity themselves, as their direct support group - Styx - features bassist Chuck Panozzo, whose battle with HIV/AIDS restricts him to a limited role in their live show (as he only appears on a handful of songs throughout their set), and the show's opener are none other than the 80's hard rock heroes - Tesla - whose lead singer, Jeff Keith, is still on the mend from having a total hip replacement surgery earlier this year. This lineup of "Rock Warriors" played to an enthusiastic crowd at Darien Lake's PAC on Sunday night (dubbed the 2015 "Weenie Roast" by local radio station 97 Rock), making sure all of those in attendance got their prescriptions filled for 'rock and roll nostalgia.'
Tesla started their set about 15 minutes earlier than the advertised 7pm start time, as apparently they wanted to throw in a couple extra songs. Unfortunately, none of them were from their awesome CD, 'Simplicity,' which they released last year. Their 9 song set was filled with just about every song you would expect they would play, which pretty much set the tone for the entire evening - from all the bands on the bill. Tesla performed at the top of their game and sounded great, but alas, there's always been something about their live show that has failed to put them 'over the top,' making me feel that they have simply peaked out as a mid-level artist.
Next up was Styx. Styx performed essentially a truncated version of the same show they did during
last year's run with Foreigner, albeit minus several songs, due to their shortened time slot. They still managed to deliver a hit-laden set, partially achieved by eliminating much of the pre-song banter normally served up by Lawrence Gowan and Tommy Shaw. Although, they did keep Gowan's 'keyboard karaoke' sing-along part in the set, as it really segues nicely into arguably their biggest hit "Come Sail Away." Styx never fails to deliver with their live show. Many of their peers need to stand up and take notice.
Def Leppard closed the show, again playing primarily a 17 song 'greatest hits' set. While no 'new' material was performed, the band did please their diehard fans by playing one rarity, "Paper Sun," which hasn't been played live in over 10 years. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again, it's really disappointing how American music audiences are so unsupportive of having their favorite bands perform new music in concert, whereas European audiences are much more supportive and receptive. That, combined with the recording industry being in shambles discourages most bands from recording new music, let along playing it live. And the ironic thing is that the same people who only want to 'hear what they know' are the same ones who complain about band's set lists becoming stale and stagnant. The good news is that Def Leppard will be releasing an all new album in October of this year, and seeing that these lads from Sheffield still bring it they way they do in concert, makes me believe it's not over for Def Leppard, and I look forward to seeing them again soon, with a new show and some new tunes. As front man Joe Elliot says at the end of the show, "Until next time!"
Edison's Medicine (Man Out of Time)
The Way It Is
Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)
Modern Day Cowboy
The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time on My Hands
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time) / Bohemian Rhapsody
/ (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay
Come Sail Away
Rockin' the Paradise
Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)
Let It Go
Two Steps Behind (acoustic/Joe only)
Bringin' on the Heartbreak
Let's Get Rocked
Pour Some Sugar on Me
Rock of Ages