’80s band package tour provides three times the power pop sleaze
MANSFIELD - Sugar poured? Check. Roses inspected for thorns? Yup. Flame produced? Oh, yeah.
Def Leppard, Poison, and Cheap Trick made for a mostly hot, sticky sweet triple bill last night at the
It wasn’t exactly a hat trick - we’ll get to Poison in a minute - but it was one of this summer’s smarter package tours. The three bands - all pop at their cores, with varying degrees of power chords applied - took the all killer, no filler approach. They hit the stage, knocked out the hits, and quit while they were ahead.
While it can be difficult to watch the mighty Cheap Trick doing a 40-minute opening set while the sun is still out, the Chicago power pop pioneers certainly exhibited more oomph than they have in recent years. Top-hatted frontman Robin Zander was in great voice - even hitting the sometimes unattainable money note in “The Flame’’ - and bounding around with as much energy to classics like “Dream Police’’ and “Surrender’’ as his always manic guitar foil Rick Nielsen.
The admirably fit members of Poison played an energetic hourlong middle set but frontman Bret Michaels - he of the ever-present cowboy hat and harem of reality show vixens - was not, to put it charitably, having a good night vocally. There were also some feedback and rhythm problems that didn’t make second-string hair metal tunes like “Ride the Wind’’ and lighter-prompting ballad “Every Rose Has its Thorn’’ any more palatable. Guitarist C.C. Deville remains a nimble player whose soloing is not that pleasant to listen to, and the manic and repetitive nature of Michaels’s canned banter and thanks, genuine though it seemed to be, got old quickly.
Def Leppard arrived and made Poison look like amateurs.
For 90 minutes, the British hard rockers reproduced the irresistible polish and whomp of their meticulously crafted raunch ’n’ roll with airy harmonies and the dense riffing of the naturally shirtless Phil Collen and eventually shirtless Vivian Campbell.
Frontman Joe Elliott apparently goes to a different personal trainer, but whoever takes care of his voice does nice work, as Elliott got his gruff croon and cathartic scream on for most of the night, only showing signs of fatigue toward the end. The band tore through its seemingly endless string of hits in its hard candy catalog - the quivering “Hysteria,’’ the racing and ridiculous “Armageddon It,’’ the walloping “