KISS / DEF LEPPARD
July 25, 2014
Jiffy Lube Live
Walking through the parking lot for this event I was immediately reminded of the movie “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” because this IS that same crowd from that movie; literally & figuratively! The documentary was filmed in Washington, DC and the fans that appeared in the movie would be around the average age range of the customers attending this show.
The parking lot was filled with tailgaters cooking hot dogs, consuming large quantities of alcohol, and having a great pre-game before the show. Upon entering the venue I was impressed to see the bulk of the seats were filled and the lawn was jam packed. This show was not a completely sold out but it was definitely packed in tight. KISS/Def Lep were able to draw a very large audience which made for a great show!
Def Lep opened with “Let It Go” and the first thing I noticed onstage was Vivian Campbell. Watching Vivian onstage you can’t help but appreciate the mans dedication to the band; he’s battling cancer and going through chemo yet still gets up there with Lep and rocks hard...that’s hardcore!
Joe Elliot’s voice is a far cry from what it once was and the bulk of their set was the “hits” with a strong emphasis on the nostalgia of the bands past.
Watching Def Leppard I started to wonder if the band didn’t have a bad curse on it because there were so many tragedies within that band; Steve Clarke’s death, their drummer losing his arm, Vivian’s cancer, the “Slang” record (bad joke), etc., but in all seriousness it is interesting that they’ve managed to stay together as a band through all of those hardships.
Their unplugged set included “Two Steps” & “Heartbreak” which actually showed how much better Vivian was on an acoustic than Phil. It felt like in many parts of the set Phil stole all the guitar solo’s and left Vivian standing there playing simple rhythm and that’s a crime considering Vivian was an absolute shredder during his time with DIO.
“Foolin’ “ and “Photograph” were my personal favorites of the set because they sounded good and Joe’s voice didn’t seem strained like it did on other songs. Random side note, a small snippet of “Beth” by KISS was performed in the middle of the Def Lep set.
KISS were clearly the nights main attraction and this was the East Coast debut for their “Spider” stage set up. I won’t beat around the bush, the “Spider” crapped out onstage and was an absolute failure till the bitter end!
The large black curtain dropped to reveal Gene, Paul, & Tommy in the center of the “Spider” and as they played an extended intro to “Psycho Circus” they slowly descended towards the stage...once they hit the stage floor the spider was supposed to go back to the rafters; sadly the spider laid limp & lifeless for the first few songs!
During “Psycho Circus” Tommy’s guitar cut out a few times during his lead break and The entire band had to walk around the “Spider” contraption. Paul commented 2 songs into the set that “This lovely thing was supposed to go back up to the ceiling but it’s clearly not moving!”. The band was asked to clear the stage by the 3rd song so the crew could try to raise the “Spider” and within 30 seconds of the band exiting the stage the “Spider” was back up in the rafters where it was utilized as a lighting rig.
Paul’s mic cut out a few times and at one point he was clearly irritated by it and threw it to the ground. This entire show was plagued by technical problems and it was clear that the guys were happy to end this particular show asap.
At the end of “Hotter Than Hell” Gene did the breathing fire bit and I wasn’t sure why they kept the ending of “Firehouse” for “Hotter Than Hell” because the fire sirens ringing works for “Firehouse” fine but keeping that ending for “Hotter...” made it feel like they just recycled things.
Paul made a comment that the band were now “Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees” and I found it odd that he’d even make that comment onstage considering he put up such a stink over the entire induction in the first place.
“Love Gun” was added back into the set and for that one Paul went into the crowd. Usually Paul would fly back to the main stage just before “Love Gun” ended but for this show they changed the set and Paul stayed on the small stage in the middle of the arena until after he started “Black Diamond” which ended the first set. The band naturally closed with “Rock N Roll All Nite” and despite all the technical errors the show was fun from start to finish.
To compare the Def Leppard set to the KISS set for a moment, Def Leppard clearly had more top 40 hits in their set but KISS blew them away in terms of their stage show.
If you hit up the merch booths you may have notices that there were 4 different booths & each one had different shirts; the common bond between all the booths was the “Vintage” KISS shirts which had Ace & Peter on them sold for $25 whereas the 2014 tour shirts with the “new” KISS sold for $40.