Last night, Def Leppard kicked off their Downstage Thrust Tour 2007 in Cincinnati, Ohio. For a first night, there were few - if any - noticeable flaws.
The Brits opened their show with “Rocket,” and continued with “Animal” and “Excitable.”
“Foolin’” came next, and then lead singer Joe Elliot asked guitarist Vivian Campbell to join him on the catwalk.
Turns out, the Leps were about to play “Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)” from High n’ Dry! Joe told the crowd that the band hasn’t performed the song since their Pyromania tour. That means Vivian has never played the song for a live audience, so a little Def Leppard history was made in the Queen City!
By this time, it was pouring and the hordes of people in the lawn were running for shelter. Even with covered seats, I still got wet. The band competed with the vigorous thunder and lightning for center stage. Finally the band gave up, walked down the catwalk and addressed Mother Nature, thanking her for the light show.
Occasionally, there were small technical mishaps, including popping and echoing microphones. During one song, Joe pointed to his ears and mouthed a complaint to a roadie. Otherwise, things seemed to move smoothly.
Now it was time for some heavy hitting and that means “Love Bites” from Hysteria. The 12,000 or so fans went completely bonkers. A man directly in front of me started jumping and yelping. I think he was having some sort of religious experience. In just a few short songs, his shirt would be gone, twirling around his head like a cheap stripper.
The ever-sexy bassist Rick Savage climbed to the highest point of the two-tier stage for his solo that eventually turned into “Rock On,” from the Yeah! covers album.
From fast to slow, the Leps do ballads best. The quintet went “intimate” with “Two Steps Behind” and “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak.” This time, all band members – save for drummer Rick Allen – joined Joe on the catwalk. Joe strummed his guitar while singing, and crazed fans below the catwalk nearly knocked the rockers off their platform.
A highlight of the show was when “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” switched from acoustic to electric.
The band also played “Switch 625” while Joe took a breather. This also allowed guitarist Phil Collen to demonstrate his abilities. Later, the band played “Hysteria,” “Armageddon It,” “Photograph,” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” This is the point of the show when the aforementioned man took off his shirt and bounced around like an idiot. Having fun at concerts is wonderful; jeopardizing the safety of those around you because you’re flapping around like a fish out of water is something else.
I was stunned the band didn’t save “Sugar” for their encore; instead, they went with “Rock of Ages.”
All in all, it was a great first night of a tour.
Joe Elliot sounded strong in voice, and everyone in the band looked both happy and healthy. I must admit, the pauses between songs seemed longer than at other Def Leppard shows.
A note about the stage: Def Leppard is touring in many sheds this summer. As such, the stage design is fairly basic with a raised platform parallel to the drum riser. There are several microphone stands all along the stage, allowing each member to roam freely. There are no pyrotechnics, but there is a gigantic television screen projecting images during each song.