April 21, 2003
Bi-Lo Center - Greenville, SC
The evening started with Ricky Warwick, a blue collar acoustic act. Between his rough voice, which called to mind Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi, and sleeveless denim shirt, I was surprised to hear his rich Irish accent as he injected humorous anecdotes between songs. I could even imagine John Mellencamp singing Three Sides to Every Story. (For this song, Warwick was joined by Def Leppards Vivian Campbell). With titles like I Dont Wanna Waste Away and Ending is Better Than Mending, Warwick showcased his ability to blend catchy melodies and insightful lyrics. He managed a big rock finish with just his acoustic guitar.
Def Leppard followed with a long set that was technically proficient although often lacking in real feeling. Certainly the band looked good; theyve aged well and used a relatively low budget but very colorful light show reminiscent of the more elaborate lasers and effects used during their heyday. The somewhat sparse crowd was enthusiastic but a bit rusty, confusing sign language I love yous for the more appropriate devil horn hand symbol.
Probably the most emotive contribution came from guitarist Phil Collen who reveled in the spotlight most of the night while the equally competent Vivian Campbell was relegated to the shadows. In fact, for the first half of the set, I wondered why a former guitar god like Campbell had been hired to play such basic parts. Both guitarists had a wonderfully fluid style, as evidenced during a mid-set duel when Campbell was finally allowed to showcase his talent. It was nice to hear them let loose and play as I was already well-tired of the muted arpeggios that Collen ceaselessly supplied when he wasnt soloing. Although not as flashy, the rest of the band performed competently. At one point , frontman Joe Elliot took it upon himself to don an acoustic guitar for a quickie sing-a-long version of Sweet Home Alabama that the crowd loved. Drummer Rick Allen played remarkably well in spite of his obvious handicap of having only one arm. The singer was misty eyed as he introduced and thanked his plucky band mate for all his years of service.
Def Leppard played almost all of their hits in their
22-song set, ensuring that every fan got his moneys worth. Some songs, such as
Lets Get Rocked and Pour Some Sugar on Me, came across as
embarrassing attempts at rap from the days when Caucasians just didnt do that.
Hysteria worked well in a live format and sounded almost like David Bowies
Heroes. The band didnt neglect its new album, X, and
dedicated Long Long Way to Go to the British and American troops in Iraq. They
also performed a half acoustic, half electric version of Now off that record.
Bringin' On The Heartbreak," Foolin and Rock of Ages
were the high points of the night, sounding like genuine rock anthems in contrast to the
overly polished later hits such as Animal and Armageddon It. Rock of Ages in particular showed why
Def Leppard were early metal legends and made a resounding finish to the main show. Maybe
things should have ended there, but the band seemed determined to dilute its efforts. They returned onstage in a blizzard of bubbles for
a squishy version of Love Bites. So much for head banging! The final song was
Lets Get Rocked, possibly the lamest rehash that they ever recorded.
This was a disappointing ending to an otherwise satisfying night.
DEF LEPPARD set
Greenville, SC 4/21/03
Ring Of Fire
Bringing On The Hearbreak
Four Letter Word
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Rock Of Ages
Lets Get Rocked