Even though I went exclusively to see Cheap Trick (see below), Def Leppard was the headliner last night, and since the promoter comped LEO two tickets, I thought it would only be polite to watch a little of their set.
First, it has to be said, but the overwhelming majority of the folks in the crowd were all on the high side of 30. This was cool, because it shows that us "old folks" will go out to see bands, and it was cooler still because I seem to be aging much more gracefully than much of Def Lep's core audience, i.e., people who were in high school between 1979-1989.
So after Cheap Trick tore through their by-the-numbers set and a 30-minute teardown, Def Lep hit the stage. The house PA was blasting the usual classic rock mix. Queen's "We Will Rock You" came on, and got the crowd pumped up. About 10 seconds before Brian May's outro solo ended, the house lights went out and the show started. This struck me as a little peculiar. Not too many bands use another band's tune as a teaser... and using a teaser by a band that is about 200 times better than your own band is counterproductive, but whatever.
Def Lep takes the stage to a pulsing, driving, vaguely familiar riff, and singer Joe Elliot starts singing, "So you think you'll take another piece of me/To satisfy your intellectual need..." Yes, folks, Def Leppard opened their show with a cover of the Sweet's "Action." A gutsy move, and one that allowed me to mentally congratulate myself for recognizing the fact, smug in my awareness that I was most likely the only person in the arena besides Def Leppard themselves who knew that this was not a brand-new Leppard tune. Yeah, I'm a dick.
Then they did "Let's Get Rocked," one of their songs that I find kind of puerile and annoying; then they did "Foolin'" from Pyromania, which I like (shut up). Next was "Let It Go" from High 'n' Dry, which I also like (hey, fuck you, I was in the eighth grade). Then things get blurry. They did a couple of songs that I can't remember (which says a lot), then they did "Love Bites," a song that I thoroughly loathe, but I decided that the next song they played that I didn't a) instantly recognize and b) actually like, I would split.
As if reading my mind, they played Badfinger's "No Matter What." Then Elliott started telling the audience how they hardly ever play this next number and they've only been breaking it out on special occasions and blah blah blah, and they played some recent song whose name escapes me and that's when I hit the road.
All in all, they delivered for their aging fanbase, so good for them. As I was walking to my car, it occurred to me that if someone had told the 12-year-old me that 25 years in the future I would leave a Def Leppard concert early even though I had free tickets, I would laugh in your face.
But here we are.