Def Leppard and Styx Impress Tampa Rock Fans
“Besides the Rolling Stones tour, the Def Leppard/Styx/Tesla show is the biggest classic rock tour of the summer” according to the Bradenton Herald, and RARAsFarm hit the road to see them on the first night of their summer tour!
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On Tuesday night, the classic rock legends kicked off their 60 city tour on a thunderous night in Tampa.
Almost as soon as we arrived at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, the skies opened up with some torrential rains and an amazing lightning show that lasted long enough to cancel Tesla.
Since the Amphitheatre was not letting folks in until the lightning stopped we tailgated in the parking lot and endured a lengthy delay, before finally slipping in to find several thousand people already jumping in and out of their drenched seats to the legendary Styx. We, however, only got to catch a few of their songs, which was amplified by the fact that they had to shorten their setlist due to time, noise ordinances, and the desire to let Def Leppard perform their entire setlist.
They still dished out a hit-packed set, including “The Grand Illusion,” “Too Much Time On My Hands,” “Foolin’ Yourself,” “Miss America” and “Blue Collar Man,” before closing their night with rollicking versions of “Come Sail Away” and “Renegade” which every single person in attendance sang along to. The stage backdrop featured album covers, as Tommy Shaw (vocals and guitar) took charge of the crowd and entertained us all by prowling the stage with fervid enthusiasm, shouting out to the crowd “All you fabulous brave people who are out here braving the lightning – thank you!”
The crowd was immediately on their feet as Def Leppard took the stage and started singing “Rock! Rock! Till You Drop.” The band, all nearing 60, still look like the consummate rock and roll animals they have been since the 80’s. And, on this night, they boasted a clear British flair. The band is an anomaly in today’s classic rock landscape, as they still feature their original line-up – a rare treat.
Phil Collen, strutted around the stage shirtless, showing off his buff chest, donning a special guitar he received as a gift for his 50th birthday which reads London 1957 in bold black letters. Vocalist Joe Elliot had his mic stand wrapped in a British Flag, while drummer, Rick Allen, had the flag emblazoned on the large headphones he wore, and bassist Rick Savage played a bass guitar with the flag painted on it.
“Tonight we set the limit – this is where it all starts – 59 more shows!” Elliott also announced to the crowd on behalf of their old tourmates, Tesla, that “they’re really sorry they couldn’t play – let’s give them a round of applause”.
Elliott and his bandmates owned the stage and the crowd as they delivered hits such as “Animal,” “Foolin’,” “Love Bites,” “Armageddon It,” “Rocket,” “Hysteria” and “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak.” They also offered up a cool cover version of David Essex’s “Rock On.”
As Elliott introduced Def Leppard, he specifically wanted to give a shout out to their long time guitarist Vivian Campbell who was out in LA visiting with doctors, who he “hoped to see him back on the road in a couple days.” Campbell has been fighting Hodgkins Lymphoma and has since noted on their webpage that he will be rejoining the tour Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama! Trixter guitarist Steve Brown filled in wonderfully for this show, highlighted by a jam session after “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak.”
Other highlights included a phenomenal bass solo by Rick Savage, and a nice acoustic version of “Two Steps Behind” from Joe Elliott. Barefoot drummer Rick Allen did a bit of a drum solo that had everyone cheering!
They closed their set with “Pour some Sugar on Me” which had the entire crowd singing along. The crowd begged for more, and after a brief break, drummer Rick Allen uttered the famous words “gunter, glieben, glauchen, globen” which started the encore “Rock of Ages.” They ended the night with their timeless hit “Photograph” and Elliot’s words: “Until next time – and there WILL be a next time!”
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