Def Leppard makes a triumphant in-the-round return to Vancouver on the Hysteria tour

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By Steve Newton

Being a rock critic is not all fun and games. “Sure, Steve,” you’re probably saying, “all those free concerts and backstage brewskies must be real tough.” Okay, so there are worse occupations, but like anything else it can get boring. You become pretty jaded after your first 100 or so trips to the Pacific Coliseum. Luckily, though, there are still a few bands like Def Leppard, who do things a little bit differently and can transform the old hockey rink into something really special.

Last Thursday (June 23) the youthful British quintet turned the Coliseum into a veritable rock palace of heavenly guitar blasts and soaring melodies. The main difference between other Coliseum shows was the centre-ice placement of the stage. “We wanted to do something a little bit different this time,” bellowed lead singer Joe Elliott, “so we thought we’d put it in the middle!”

The idea works well in a large venue, giving everyone a decent view, and also dividing in half the number of people getting squeezed against the stage-front barriers. A totally effective laser/light show helped focus attention on the stage, especially when coupled with frontman Elliott’s adept drive’-em-crazy antics. He really brought the 15,000-plus crowd together as one screaming, rock-thirsty unit.

And how many bands do you know that would stick by their drummer if he lost an arm? Leppard did just that, and with the help of today’s foot-pedal technology, Rick Allen has been able to develop a drumming technique that suits perfectly well the band’s bone-crunching sound.

“We’ve experienced a few ups and downs in the last four years,” Elliott told the crowd, “but the biggest up is sitting right here.” Then he clasped hands with Allen, and the crowd saluted his courage with a standing ovation.

Almost all of Def Leppard’s material was taken from its last two albums, Pyromania and Hysteria–they only went back to the older material once, for a killer version of “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” that featured a flamenco-guitar intro by Steve Clark.

For the encore, an outline of Marilyn Monroe’s face was drawn above the stage in green lasers, and the band played one of their hits from ’84, “Photograph”, which was dedicated to her. Then they played a bit of “Radar Love” before bringing out Jon Bon Jovi for CCR’s “Traveling’ Band”, tossing in bits of “Rock and Roll” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” for good measure.

After the show, Clark, Collen, and Allen were spotted down at Club Soda, hanging out with the likes of local rockers Paul Dean and Brian MacLeod. Not surprisingly, the night’s top-40 act Chrissy Steele played a Leppard tune or two. Needless to say, even those versions got folks riled up.



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