Poison & Def Leppard – June 26th – The Pepsi Center

Photos by Ty Hyten

The Scene: On Tuesday night the Pepsi Center was home to two legendary monsters of glam metal, Poison and Def Leppard, on the “Rock of Ages” tour.  The 20,000 seat arena was filled with a sea of spouses dressed in Levi’s and Def Leppard t-shirts fresh from the merch stands.  The stage was cloaked in black as 80’s rocker Lita Ford shredded and screamed while folks found their seats.

Poison:  Shortly after Lita’s set the stage transformed in to a gnarly lime green and purple scene from 1988. The boys took the stage and Bret Michaels appeared from the top of a large riser behind the band with a volcanic eruption of bright white smoke.  Despite a rocky past, Bret, C.C., Bobby, and Rikki all looked genuinely happy to be playing together and I guess for that amount of money I could forgive my enemies too.  Michaels worked the catwalk, and touched the hands of cheering fans, as he belted “Ride the Wind.” C.C. Deville’s guitar screamed as he pulled and pinched the strings on his Flying V under a head of hair that hasn’t changed in two decades.  The guys sounded awesome and their over-the-top stage set helped fully fling the crowd into the mood for some wild 80’s rock.

Def Leppard:  During the set change, a giant Union Jack was lowered in front of the stage as a countdown timer on-screen built anticipation. When the clock stopped, the flag fell and Vivian Campbell, Rick Savage, the one-armed Rick Allen, and a shirtless Phil Collen started in on “Undefeated.”  Joe Elliott stepped forward from the back to growl “look in these eyes” as the crowd gave an arena sized cheer.  The guys moved around the clean stage (no amps or pedals) with enthusiasm, albeit with a bit less hair and speed than 25 years ago.

Elliott prowled the catwalk like a husky super model, cuing fans to sing along by extending his jeweled microphone.  The audience swayed and clapped their hands above their heads.  After “Gods of War” the band all made their way out to the end of the catwalk with acoustic guitars (and a maraca) to play a cell-phone-raising “Where Does Love Go When It Dies?” followed by several other classics.  Before retreating back to the stage Elliott mentioned to great applause that this tour was in celebration of 25 years since Hysteria was released and that some of the audience might remember that the live VHS “Live: In the Round, in Your Face” was recorded in Denver at the now demolished McNichols Sports Arena. The crowd roared and the band started the iconic intro to “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”  After leaving the stage, the band returned to play the tour’s namesake “Rock of Ages” which capped off an arena show done right.

This concert was just what I came expecting; an elaborate stage, two well-polished acts, and squealing guitars.  But what I didn’t expect was how well both acts still rock and what a great show they put on for their fans.

Energy: A
Sound: A
Musicianship: A
Stage Presence: A+
Set/Light Show: A+

Overall: A


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