Kissimmee, Florida – Two 1980s music giants made their first appearance in Kissimmee for the first time in 25 Years on June 15th, giving Central Florida rock fans hit after hit after hit for over three hours of pure rock and roll.
The British rock group Def Leppard headlined an evening in support of their latest 2-cd set aptly titled “Rock of Ages”, a take on the band’s 1983 hit single. Starting the show with the little known “Action” from the bands 1993 album “Retroactive”, the crowd got fired up quickly as the band pounded out what seemed like an afternoon of AOR Radio from 1989.
Reminding many of just how cheesy the band had become in the early 90s the band decided to launch into the dreadful “Let’s Get Rocked” which open’s with lead vocalist Joe Eliott asking “Do You Wanna Get Rocked?”,not with this song Joe.
But the band quickly made up for that “Adrenelize” error by launching into hits such as the lead off track to the gazillion selling Hysteria, “Women” quickly followed up by 1983’s teen roller skating rink anthem “Foolin’ “, and a nice seque into the dreamy ballad of “Hysteria”.
But Def Leppard was obviously a band with a set list crisis of sorts. With having dozens of songs to choose from it was going to be easy to leave out some fan favorites,and sure enough the band opted for the “lesser known songs” to fill in what a lot of fans had come to hear.
Punished with “Promises” from the bands 1999 disc “Euphoria” an album they swore was going to bring back the fans they lost when hair rock took a nose dive in popularity throughout the 90s.
It didn’t. Then came a Badfinger cover of “No Matter What” and the God-awful David Essex tune “Rock On” which really was about as necessary as the wait on the beverage and bathroom line at Silver Spurs which at times lasted in excess of 30 minutes.
The band wound down the rest of the night however with songs such as “Love Bites”,”Rocket”,”Animal”,”Photograph”, and what Eliott called “The last thing I would ever have expected to say,the title track to our new album “Rock of Ages”.
The night did not go without its politics however as Def Leppard played the epic “God’s of War” which featured a video screen plastered with images of President Bush turning into Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
A comment made to me during the segment of the show by Mandy Wilson of Tampa was “Do we need Def Leppard pushing this on us in the middle of a rock concert?”.
Good question. Its effectiveness remained to be seen as members of the crowd by shows end thought it was an uneccessary statement at a concert like this.
T.J. Bonner,33, of Ovideo said “This is not a Pearl Jam concert or CNN, why do bands have to get political like that? Can’t they just play the songs and let the music speak for itself?”
The concert came to an end with the hits “Bringin on The Heartbreak” from 1981’s High and Dry and closed out with the strip club hit “Pour Some Sugar On Me” which just about brought the house down.But many questions remained.
The band completely ignored hits like “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad?”,”When Love and Hate Collide”,”Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion), and zero was played from the 1996 disc “Slang” which was rather disappointing considering it was the one studio album from Leppard in over a decade that has shown inspiration and originality.
Fans took notice as well.
“Where was “Work It Out?” Jeremy Washington, 20, of Kissimmee asked. “I got into Def Leppard because of “Slang” but they act like the album does not even exist.”
Tesla opened the show in top form with a nearly 60 minute set supplying hits such as “Modern Day Cowboy”,”Signs”, and “Love Song”. The band is filling in dates that Canadian rocker Bryan Adams has been shifting with Def Leppard as they play minor leauge baseball stadiums across the country.
It remains to be seen the effectiveness of 2 musical giants of the 1980s and early 90s playing to Wal-Mart parking lots and low level ballparks, but if the reaction of Central Florida is a barometer they will be just fine.