At most concerts, the last band to play is often the headliner, the best band of the evening. On this night however, those who attended were given the gift of TWO headliners..
Heart was first, kicking off their set with a surprising cover of Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll. As the day slowly shifted into night, the band neared the end of its set. A roaring rendition of “WTF” (from the new album Red Velvet Car) got everyone excited for the final songs of the set, “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda”. Every chord, every word and every part of the melodies reverberated throughout the arena, near-perfect recreations of the studio recordings – Heart sounded heavy – and better than ever!
The blistering rendition of “Barracuda” ended forcefully as Ann Wilson held the final note of the song – as the note echoed throughout the rafters of the pavilion, everyone in attendance clamored for more. More! Soon enough, Nancy and Ann Wilson returned to the stage for yet another Zeppelin cover (The Battle of Evermore), building up steam for their second encore – “Love, Reign O’er Me” (The Who cover). “Oh yeah!” Ann exclaimed as the band returned, “We love you, Cleveland!” Perhaps there is no more powerful way to end a concert than with a song by The Who, as Heart did – after all, Roger Daltrey and Co. WERE once the Guinness World Record holders for “Loudest Band in the World”…
Def Leppard was next, and the band appeared very pumped up after hearing Heart’s show earlier in the night..
Def Lep began their set with “Undefeated” (from the 2011 release Mirrorball) as images of sports heroes like Michael Phelps, Jimmy Johnson, and Mark Ingram were projected on the band’s backdrop. The song seems intended as a message to all the band’s critics – the Leppard is here, and here to stay! Def Leppard is certainly no stranger to adversity (drummer Rick Allen’s 1984 car accident in which he lost his left arm) or overcoming adversity (Releasing its biggest album ever, Hysteria with Allen drumming with only one arm). Last night’s concert was an affirmation that Def Leppard rocks today, yesterday, and will for years to come…
With a hit-laden set, Def Leppard seemed intent to thrill the packed arena at Blossom. “Thank you, Cleveland,” singer Joe Elliot proclaimed early in the set (channeling his inner Spinal Tap), “Tonight, we’re going to rock you like it’s 1983 all over again!”
The band certainly played with the youthful exuberance and energy they had as young men back in ’83 – after all, guitarist Phil Collen could not have been persuaded to put a shirt on at any point in the band’s performance..
The final songs of the set were two of the most epic of the night – “Photograph” is simply a great song, and got everyone in the right kind of excited frame of mind for “Pour Some Sugar on Me”. Naturally, the band came out for an encore, and it was WELL worth it for everyone who stayed to see it – Rock of Ages is about as quintessential a rock song as any other.
For anyone who has never seen Def Leppard live before (like myself) one wonders how the slick vocal choruses and harmonies might sound when performed live – and especially after so many years. However, singer Elliot and the rest of the band showed that whatever studio magic made their albums sound so good in years past is within themselves, as they recreated that magic on stage.
1. Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin Cover)
2. Magic Man
4. Straight On
5. What About Love
6. These Dreams
9. Crazy On You
11. The Battle of Evermore (Led Zeppelin cover)
12. Love, Reign O’er Me (The Who cover)
Def Leppard Setlist
2. Let’s Get Rocked
5. Love Bites
6. (Bass solo)
7. Rock On (David Essex cover)
9. Two Steps Behind
10. Bringin’ on the Heartache
11. Switch 625
13. Armageddon It
15. Pour Some Sugar on Me
16. Rock of Ages
Ed. note: This article was also published on WNCX.com, available here.