Def Leppard has been thrilling fans for decades with some of the greatest rock songs ever written. The band has been touring almost nonstop for over a year in the U.S. and have stopped in most major markets but the band’s 2017 tour promises something new and special for the fans. The summer of 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the band and the party rolled into the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on April 21st so the band could celebrate with its fans with special guests Tesla and Poison in tow.
The concert kicked off on time when Tesla took the stage. Tesla is celebrating a milestone as well as the band has been around for 30 years now and it launched right into a high-powered set with “Into the Now.” The crowd was still arriving so it took a little while for the energy of the crowd to match the energy of the band. Still, this did not deter the band as they built the set at a slow simmer before kicking into its hit “Signs” after a couple songs that go the crowd fully into the show. Tesla then closed out its set with a trio of hits with “Love Song,” “Little Suzi,” and “Modern Day Cowboy” that had the Xcel Energy Center rocking and ready for the second act of the night, Poison, to take the stage.
Poison took the stage with the guitarists and drummer leading into “Look What the Cat Dragged In” before lead singer Bret Michaels came out to thunderous applause and cheers. It was clear from the first second of the act that this was a rock band and that Poison had come to take no prisoners. The original lineup had not played together for years for different reasons until this tour so the tour is a reunion celebration of sorts for the band. Poison blasted through “Ride the Wind” and a highly interactive version of “Talk Dirty to Me” before Michaels slowed things down with a heartfelt version of “Something to Believe In” dedicated to the men and women serving in the military as well as military veterans. It was a poignant moment as the Xcel Center was lit up with cell phone lights. Poison kicked it back into high gear after the conclusion of the ballad and powered through the rest of the set to thunderous applause. Michaels kept saying he was pumped up by the crowd and the energy was evident. Poison wrapped up the electric set with “Nothin’ But a Good Time” and left the crowd primed for the main act.
Def Leppard took the stage to thunderous applause as the crowd was primed for the main act. The band kicked into its opening song, “Let’s Go,” and something strange happened as the energy level in the Xcel Energy Center seemed to drop. The song, of the band’s latest album, was not a crowd favorite and the flow of the concert seemed to drop. The band kicked things back into high gear with one of its hits, “Animal,” and the power of the show began to rise only to once more stall after the next couple songs. When the lead singer, Joe Elliot, introduced the fourth song of the set, “Dangerous,” there was a surprisingly slight reaction from the crowd. The light show and the band’s performance showed the high talent and showmanship that the band has crafted over four decades but the set list was uneven and the crowd never got fully vested in the show. It was not until about halfway through the show, when the songs from the band’s last album were finished, that Def Leppard took full control of the show and brought the crowd to a crescendo with hits such as “Rocket” and “Hysteria” before finishing the main part of the show and leaving the stage to thunderous applause with “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” The band returned for a two-song encore of “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph” and showed that Def Leppard still has the skill and music to deliver a rock concert as strong as any other band.
Tesla and Poison delivered in their performances as good if not better than could be expected. Those two bands alone were well worth the price of admission to the show. Def Leppard’s stage show, with stunning visuals on large screens that carried down to the stage, and even on the steps leading up to the drummer, and a spectacular light show was solid and up to the expectations of the audience. The set list, however, just was not always up to par and seemed to stumble through the first half of the band’s performance with less popular songs mixed in with the hits that the crowd wanted to hear. The new songs, which lack the power and fan support of older material that made the band an international sensation, made the set feel uneven and kept the energy of the show from sustaining the full power of the music throughout the entire concert. Def Leppard is still a band worth carrying a show filled with thousands of rock music fans and the tour is a must-see concert event of 2017. It just felt as if there was some missed opportunity in the set list that kept the concert from becoming a show for the ages.