Darien Lake PAC
Darien Center, NY
Wednesday August 31, 2916
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto
Def Leppard wrapped up the east coast end of their summer tour Wednesday night out at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center. They have a small west coast run of dates remaining later in the month. Joining them were REO Speedwagon and Tesla. Tesla was also on Def Leppard’s summer tour last year along with Styx when it came to the PAC.
The band lineup for Def Leppard has been stable now since 1992 making this the longest in the bands near forty year history. Led by vocalist Joe Elliott, the band not only took fans for a trip down memory lane with the hits, they also played three tracks off their latest release the self-titled Def Leppard released in 2015. With guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen leading the attack they showed why the band can still rock with the best of them. Bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen combine to make up a solid rhythm section as they have since 1978.
Never one to rest on their laurels, Def Leppard started the show with “Let’s Go” a new track before delving into the more familiar “Animal” from the Hysteria album. Hysteria as usual, was the bands best represented album with six songs in the set. Def Leppard have so many songs they are obliged to play that it seldom leaves much room to really dig deep into their catalog. Their 90-minute set Wednesday evening however did unearth fan favorite “Let It Go” as well as the David Essex cover “Rock On” which served as a beer break for many.
Guitarist Campbell has been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma over the past few years and looked and sounded great.
Things slowed down a bit when the band pulled out “Hysteria” but the pace quickly picked up as Elliott asked “Do You Wanna Get Rocked?” The band ended their main set with “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.
The standard encores of “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph” brought out the cell phones as fans filmed some video to take some souvenirs home for the evening.
REO Speedwagon rolled on stage to their traditional opener “Don’t Let Him Go”. The band led by guitarist and vocalist Kevin Cronin delivered a quick synopsis of what they are all about by touching all the big hits during their 60-minute set.
They did manage a rare play of “Tough Guys” complete with its customary Little Rascals introduction that the audience seemed to enjoy.
At one point Cronin said it was time to bring out the band’s “secret weapon”. What that meant was it was time for bassist Bruce Hall to take over the show with his song “Back On The Road Again”. Hall wrote and sang lead vocals on what has become a regular segment of every REO show.
“Our lives have not been quite the same since” Cronin stated as he spoke during the intro to “Keep On Loving You”. Without a doubt the band’s best known song, one that forever changed their destiny and direction. “Roll With The Changes” closed out the brief set and the band’s night.
Opening the affair was the hard rock band from Sacramento, CA Tesla. Tesla’s appearance makes it two years in a row they opened for Def Leppard. Tesla are no strangers to Darien Lake as they were the last headliners to play at the old Lakeside Amphitheater in 1992.
Guitarist Frank Hannon said he remembers playing Buffalo back in the day quite well opening for David Lee Roth. While Tesla did open for Roth in Rochester in 1987, they actually opened for Def Leppard, on the Hysteria tour at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium a year later. That show was memorable not only for it being played in the round, but it also was the first time the band ever played Buffalo. Had Hannon’s memory served him better it would have been a great way to mention the headliners. Judging by many in the crowd perhaps a good portion of the crowd may have been at that show in 1988.
The history between the two band’s date back to that tour in 1988. So during Tesla’s set it was no surprise that Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen came out to play on “Save That Goodness” a studio track he produced for Tesla’s upcoming live album.
Tesla closed out their set in kickass style with a fist pumping “Little Suzi” followed by a thunderous “Modern Day Cowboy”. Prior to these past two tours it had been some six years since Tesla last played the area. From the response these guys received someone needs to bring them in town for a headlining show. It has been long overdue.
Singer Joe Elliott addressed the crowd at one point stating “this is fun no matter what anyone tells you.” He went on to say they want to keep doing this for many years to come. This show marked the band’s tenth appearance at the Darien Lake PAC. The band has had more than their share of misfortune and tragedy yet they seem to persevere by picking themselves up and dusting themselves off each time. Some bands would have called it a day by now. Def Leppard are the exception to the rule. They believe in rock ‘n’ roll, believe in each other and continue to put on concerts that help keep memories alive for their fans as well as create new ones. In today’s crazy world it is good to have a concert like this come to town so that for one night you can simply have fun and escape from your every day problems even if only for a few hours.
Let It Go
Bringin’ On The Heartbreak
Let’s Get Rocked
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Rock Of Ages
Don’t Let Him Go
Take It On The Run
Can’t Fight This Feeling
Time For Me To Fly
Back On The Road Again
Keep On Loving You
Roll With The Changes
Rock Me To The Top
Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)
Save That Goodness
Modern Day Cowboy