Def Leppard rock Massachusetts with Heart

A review of Def Leppard, Heart at the Comcast Center on June 30, 2011

, Editor-in-Chief

It was a flashback to the 80’s on Thursday night as Def Leppard hit the Comcast Center in Mansfield and took a trip down memory lane with help from Heart. Both bands played to the crowd’s nostalgic feeling with greatest hits dominating their respective set-lists, sparking sing-along after sing-along.

Def Leppard, who played the role of headliner, opened their set by going straight to their one and only new song of the night, “Undefeated”. Truth be told, the bonus track to the band’s new live album Mirrorball is an infectious rocker that is structured in the same way as the rest of their hits. And for that, it was a seamless flow into fan favorites “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Animal”. The rest of the 90-minute set was a showcase of the British rocker’s best material, mostly that of 1983’s Pyromania and 1987’s Hysteria. Despite the show’s predictability, it was perfectly fine for the undersized but devoted following who barely filled the seats inside the shed.

Frontman Joe Elliot still works the stage well and his vocals held up equally as strong, though they were slightly strained by the end of the night. With a parade of hits from power ballad “Love Bites” to rocker “Hysteria”, Elliot was aided by lively sing-alongs from the crowd. Guitarists Vivian Campbelln and Phil Collen (shirtless, of course) were a duel threat, leading the charge throughout the show. While each enjoyed solos of their own, the two came together for a thrilling duel on “Rocket”. Bassist Rick Savage, who truly still looks like an 80’s rock star, delivered an extended solo before the band delivered a cover of David Essex’s “Rock On”. Drummer Rick Allen’s moment to shine came during the instrumental “Switch 625”. Using a multitude of foot pedals with ease, Allen still inspires fans over 25 years since the amputation of his left arm.

Midway through the show, each of the band members (except for Allen) made their way to the end of the catwalk that ran through the center of crowd. Unplugged, the group delivered a stripped-down take on “Two Steps Behind”. Starting acoustically and finishing electrically, Def Leppard followed up with “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” off their 1981 sophomore album High ‘n’ Dry.

“Photograph”, complete with a video montage of the band’s history, ignited a massive sing-along before the crowd exploded for their signature hit and main-set closer, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”. Returning for a one-song encore, Elliot thanked the crowd and declared, “And this is why we keep coming back!”. The band then brought the night to a close with “Rock of Ages”.

Heart’s hour-long set was powered by a diverse 12-song set that culled material from throughout the band’s 35-year history. While their bandmates have changed many times over through the years, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson remain the heart and soul of the band. Ann’s vocal range remains their greatest asset and it was on full display with sings like “You’re the Voice” and “Alone”. For her part, Nancy took the lead for “These Dreams” but mostly provided solo backing vocals and harmonies.

While the first half of their set featured a few of their 80’s hits including the power ballad “What About Love”, Heart really hit their full stride and brought fans to their feet during the second half of the show. After a less than impressive run through the harder edged “WTF” off their most recent album 2010’s Red Velvet Car, Heart hit the crowd with a triple shot of their best songs from the late 70’s: “Magic Man”, “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda”. “Crazy On You”, featuring Nancy’s signature acoustic intro, was particularly impressive. “Barracuda” brought the main set to a rocking close, before the band returned after a lengthy break (an awkward move as many fans made their way to the concessions or bathrooms) for an encore cover of the Led Zeppelin classic “What Is and What Should Never Be”.

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