Words By: Gerrod Harris

Talk about a throwback Saturday! Def Leppard, along with supporting acts REO Speedwagon and Tesla, rocked Toronto’s Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on July 16th for a night of hair metal and glamorous 80’s rock that will certainly be remembered!

Opening up the night was Tesla, an 80’s hard rock band with a highly energetic show!  Vocalist Jeff Keith proved time and time again throughout their set that despite being in the music industry for just under thirty years, his voice is just as powerful as it was in his youth; belting out melodies and raspy Steven Tyler-esque screams at the peak of a vocal range many could only wish of having.  Guitarists Dave Rude and Frank Hannon brought a unique dimension by blending both acoustic along with blaring electric guitars to give them a fuller sound, as heard on songs of the likes of “Signs” and “Little Suzie”.  Where many bands would opt to use a clean texture, or even an acoustic sounding effect pedal, Tesla’s frequent intertwining of acoustic and electric sounds gave them a fuller and more organic sound, ultimately giving them a unique hard hitting set!

Walking on to a medley of Beatles tunes, REO SPEEDWAGON took the stage next, offering a softer and tamer set between two of the 80’s more ferocious bands.  Despite that, their set did include a handful of heavier tracks including “Riding The Storm Out”.  The audience, however, was far more excited by their softer hits.  Songs like “Heard It From A Friend” and “Keep On Loving You”- which was played with lead vocalist Kevin Cronin on the grand piano- both received standing ovations.  The audience absolutely loved them, but to someone, such as myself, who was unfamiliar with their music, their set was far too fueled on nostalgia to really get into.

Def Leppard are touring to support and promote their 2015 self-titled record, Def Leppard.  Their Toronto stop marked the final show of this current leg of the tour.  The band took this opportunity to throw everything out there, making for a grand conclusion to this segment of their touring cycle.  Rather than have a giant curtain with their name on it drop down to the stage floor at the start of their set, Def Leppard had their curtain vacuumed straight up into the rafters, revealing a wall of amps with digital screens mounted on the front of them, as they blasted into the opening track from last year’s release, “Let’s Go”!  From that point on, they would only perform one more tack from their latest album- “Dangerous”- as the rest of their set was comprised of their stadium sized blockbusting hits.  From “Animal” to “Foolin’” and “Armageddon It”, the band proved that despite coming to the end of a lengthy tour, they were in nothing but tiptop shape.  Def Leppard is the epitome of the 80’s power ballad, so to see two of their best, “Love Bites” and “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”, was quite exciting.

All in all, Def Leppard performed exceptionally.  As an introduction into “Hysteria”, the band indulged in a lengthy instrumental jam which allowed for Rick Allen, the one armed beast, to lay out a vicious drum solo. Guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell proved to be one of rocks greatest guitar duos as they weaved around each other, flipping between incendiary solos and intricate lead lines.  What I enjoyed most about this show was that it was just like listening to a classic Def Leppard record of the likes of Pyromania or Hysteria– with the addition of roughly fifteen hundred fans singling along!  Vocalist Joe Elliot sounds exactly as he does on the albums and the backing vocals which are a signature part of the band’s sound were delivered excellently, far surpassing typical gang vocals to showcase rich four part harmonies.  Before leaving for an encore break, the band performed not only one of their best songs, but one of the best of the 1980’s, “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.  If you were not singing along before then, that opening guitar lick was bound to get you going.  The crowd erupted in cheers and belted along to the iconic chorus.  Returning for a two song encore, the band blasted through “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph” which both featured extended guitar solo sections.  Everything about the final three songs was simply perfect.  Watching Def Leppard perform their three most hard hitting anthems was nothing short of incredible; a flashback to hedonistic style of the 80’s when rock ‘n’ roll was truly larger than life.

 Def Leppard Setlist:

1: Let’s Go

2: Animal

3: Let It Go

4: Dangerous

5: Foolin’

6: Love Bites

7: Armageddon It

8: Rock On

9: Man Enough

10: Rocket

11: Bringin’ On The Heartbreak

12: Instrumental Jam

13: Hysteria

14: Let’s Get Rocked

15: Pour Some Sugar On Me

16: Rock Of Ages

17: Photograph

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