Last night I saw Def Leppard and Billy Idol at the Nutter Center here in Dayton, Ohio. I must be upfront: I was much more excited about seeing Billy Idol and his band than Def Leppard. After all, I’ve seen the Leps quite a few times so I knew what to expect.
I was issued a photo pass for the show and I was very excited about this because I wanted some good shots of Steve Stevens. Sadly, the venue lost the pass – and apparently the credentials for a lot of other people too. This meant I had to leave my professional camera in the car. So, I had my smaller back-up digital camera ready to go…but security was turning everyone at the door away with such devices. *Tangent time.* Since when did it become wrong to take a little camera into a concert to snap a few shots of a favorite artist? I get why the average person can’t tote in professional equipment – but come on. A small digital camera is not going to produce magazine-quality prints. I just don’t get it and I’m sick of venues and bands cracking down on the no camera policy. This situation put a bit of a damper on the beginning of my evening. *Tangent over.*
When I finally found my seats, Billy Idol and band were already on stage. It took me all of two seconds to zero-in on Mr. Steve Stevens. That man is amazing. In fact, Billy’s entire band is pretty phenomenal and he sounded great last night, too – but Steve stole the show. His solos were awesome…and he played intricate parts behind his head…while smoking a cigarette! Billy Idol performed “Rebel Yell,” “White Wedding,” “John Wayne,” “Dancin’ With Myself,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “LA Woman” and more. During LA Woman, Billy changed the words to Dayton woman. I’m sure the band did this in every city. I had fairly decent seats considering stage view, but I wasn’t on the floor and Billy was giving lots of things away. He threw out some autographed items and the band was good about throwing picks and drum sticks. In general, it seemed like Billy Idol and Co. were having a great time. Last night was the band's final appearance on the Def Leppard North American tour.
The crowd was very sparse during Billy Idol but I figured things would pick up before Def Leppard -- boy was I wrong. I’ve never seen the Nutter Center so empty. In fact, I’m not even sure why the venue didn’t just reseat people and bring the crowd in closer. Huge patches of empty seats everywhere was just plain sad. Also, the crowd was dead. There was no energy or excitement. This mood continued through the entire gig.
When it was time for Def Leppard, a giant screen projected images of old albums and the DL band members through the years. Then, the words “That was then…this is now” popped up and suddenly we were in the Sparkle Lounge. Def Leppard performed:
2 Steps Behind
Bringin’ On The Heartbreak
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Rock Of Ages
Let's Get Rocked
I have to admit the addition of “Bad Actress” to the set surprised me. I figured Def Lep would only add two new songs to their set list. I saw Def Leppard last summer at Riverbend and I thought the band sounded pretty good. Last night, it seemed like Joe Elliott was struggling. He waned between good and bad moments. Again, there was no energy in the venue, so perhaps that was part of the problem. Even the music felt a little sluggish.
Def Leppard is one of the few bands that features a bass solo at every show. Since I play bass and Rick Savage is my favorite band member, this is always a highlight for me. I did notice Sav is wearing his hair a bit curly again. The past few tours, he’s straightened it out like a high school prom queen. I think he looks better with a wavy mop. Anyway, I always enjoy his solo and the extended intro to “Rock On.” This was my favorite part of the show.
Shouldn’t “Let’s Get Rocked” be the first song of the set – and not the last? I’ve always thought this was an odd way for Def Leppard to end their shows. They are lucky to be in the rare position of having so many hits. They have the pick of the litter! I suppose if I was driving the car, I would put something like “Photograph” at the end of the show. I am thankful that “Animal” was early. After all, it is my favorite.
Phil Collen was good to be sure. I think if Joe’s voice keeps failing, Phil should take over more of the lead duties. Perhaps even sing in tandem with Joe. I would rather hear this than canned backing vocals – and yes, Def Leppard were using canned vocals last night.
So, the verdict on concert week? Crue Fest wins by a mile, followed by Def Leppard (only because Billy Idol was on the tour) and then Poison.
The next live review? Around the clock coverage from Rock the Bayou in Houston, Texas starts in exactly one week. Be ready.