It was fitting that Def Leppard played “Rock of Ages” as an encore at its tour stop Monday night at Save Mart Center.
The members of the British band are 40 years into their career and seem to be owning their role as the next great elder statesmen of rock – the hair metal heirs to the Rolling Stones or the Who or Pink Floyd (should those bands ever cease to exist and who knows if that will ever happen).
Def Leppard seems to transcend mere nostalgia, with a visually clean, simple stage setup and a performance as polished and on point as I’ve seen.
Yes, the set, which ran more than 90 minutes, was heavy with hits (“Love Bites” was the highlight of the night) and at points the digital screen flashed with images of the band’s younger days. But the band also seems to have embraced its age, playing through new material and reworking the old tunes to fit changes in Joe Elliot’s voice.
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Poison – For those looking for pure nostalgia, there was Poison. I’d forgotten how often the L.A. glam band (playing here with its four original members, plus a guy on keyboards) was on the tape deck in my adolescence. Then the band broke into “Unskinny Bop” (and later “Nothing But A Good Time”) and I found myself fist-pumping and singing along.
All the women around me jumped up at the opening riff of “Talk Dirty to Me.” Just saying.
Tesla – There’s more than a bit of classic rock glam left in Tesla. That’s both in its music – straight-up bluesy rock played at top volume – and aesthetic. They have the haircuts and neck scarfs and vocalist Jeff Keith’s snakeskin pants. When guitarist Frank Hannon brought out the double-necked Gibson, it was a throwback moment that seemed obvious and fitting.
▪ Brett Michaels made sure to break news of the NBA Finals. “I’m hearing rumors,” he said, sending many in the crowd straight to their phones.
▪ Poison invited a bunch of military personnel to the show and dedicated a song to their service. It was a cool move.
▪ It’s been a while since I’ve smelled marijuana at a concert. And it just so happened the first whiff coincided with Tesla singer Jeff Keith telling the audience to “smoke ’em if you got ’em, Fresno.”
▪ On that note: Any band that has a song about the Tesla-Edison feud is OK by me.
▪ Because it bears repeating: Unless you are Ralph Macchio and dueling Stevie Vai for your soul, there is no need for a guitar solo. Sorry, C.C. DeVille.
▪ Unless your drum kit is attached to its own roller coaster, don’t do it. If you do a solo, be like Rick Allen and keep it quick and to the point.
- Let’s Go
- Let It Go
- Love Bites
- Armageddon It
- Rock On
- Man Enough
- Bringin’ On The Heartbreak
- Switch 625
- Let’s Get Rocked
- Pour Some Sugar On Me
- Rock Of Ages
Set list via www.deflepparduk.com/2017fresno.html