LIVE: Def Leppard & Heart @ SPAC, 8/2/11

Def Leppard
Def Leppard

Postponed from last month due to the death of Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott’s father, the rescheduled classic rock double-bill of Def Leppard and Heart attracted a large audience of fans to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. And they clearly felt that the show was worth the wait.

First up the Wilson sisters – vocalist Ann and rhythm guitarist-vocalist Nancy – played a powerhouse set chock-full of their signature hits including “Crazy On You,” “What About Love” and their number one hit from 1985, “These Dreams.”

Ann Wilson’s voice was spot on as she traversed the stage and its runway into the audience. Nancy Wilson was in top-form, too, slashing at her guitar and dancing around the stage. It was clear from the first to the last song that the Wilsons’ were having lots of fun.

English rockers Def Leppard have been longtime favorites at SPAC, returning numerous times over the years. Joe Elliott’s tenor voice has aged well and still soulfully belts out the band’s anthemic rockers from the ’80s.

Tunes from 1983’s “Pyromania” and 1987’s “Hysteria” drew the loudest response from the crowd as Elliott, Rick Savage, Phil Collen, Vivian Campbell and one-armed drummer Rick Allen roared through their set. But the band also included a pair of acoustic songs, bringing to mind what Led Zeppelin used to do all those years ago.

All in all, Def Leppard still knows how to rock out, keeping it fresh almost 30 years into their career.

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Kirsten Ferguson’s review at Metroland
Stan Hudy’s review at The Saratogian
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Though maybe not as spry as in past years, the five musicians are all consummate showmen – Elliott spent most of his time running back and forth and out into the catwalk mounted on the stage into the orchestra section. Guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell traded solos throughout, culminating in the epic jam on ‘Rocket.’ And the rhythm section pounded out the simple grooves of the big hits saved for the end, such as ‘Hysteria,’ ‘Photograph’ and, of course, the penultimate ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,’ in throbbing unison. Indeed, bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen pummeled everything within earshot with some of the loudest bass frequencies ever to grace SPAC.”

Ann Wilson of Heart
Ann Wilson of Heart
Heart's Nancy Wilson
Heart's Nancy Wilson

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