Def Leppard / Poison / Cheap Trick – San Manuel Amphitheater – 09/06/09
By Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Cheap Trick started the show. It was daylight, and people were still settling in. I love Cheap Trick, and have seen them several times in clubs, but never at a major Amphitheater. They put on a good show, but since they were the 1st band, the sound wasn’t that great, and it was heartbreaking to see 100’s and 100’s of guitar picks being thrown to the audience, and I wasn’t anywhere near the stage to get one.
Their set started with “Weight of the World,” and then they went straight into super hit “I Want You to Want Me.” This got the crowd’s attention! Once they had our attention, they threw in a new song off their recent release, simply titled, “The Latest.” Then it was time for “She’s Tight,” Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel,” which was ok, but with such a short opening set, I’d rather hear another Cheap Trick song. “Voices” would have been great. During “Dream Police” it looked like it was raining guitar picks, Rick Nielson threw out so many! I wanted one sooo bad! They ended the set with “The Flame,” and “Surrender,” which are definitely two of the best Cheap Trick songs out there. Nielson did pull out his five-neck guitar at the end, but it seemed he really didn’t play it much. He ran around, showing it off and soloing a bit, but I would have liked to have seen it used during a whole song. Once Cheap Trick left the stage, a DJ started talking about doing something to do with your “Blue Tooth” phone. I just wanted Poison.
Poison hit the stage playing “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” as tons of pyro shot up from both sides of the stage. Eric Brittingham from Cinderella was filling in on bass for Bobby Dall, who had been sick. They cranked out hit after hit the entire night, including“Talk Dirty to Me,” “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” “Unskinny Bop” and “Every Rose Has it’s Thorn.” C.C. had a big guitar solo and Rikki Rockett had a drum solo as well.
But, the highlight of the entire night was when they played my favorite Poison song of all time, and one of the main reasons I moved to Hollywood in the first place, “Fallen Angel!” I still can’t see them play that song live without it bringing a tear to my eye. Tears were falling on the next song too, as Bret dedicated “Something to Believe In” to the Troops, and we all swayed together in unison. Big John was on stage too, capturing the crowd on video.
Poison closed out the set with “Nothin’ but a Good Time.” True, fans do always have “Nothin’ but a Good Time” at a Poison show, but I think it’s time for a different good time. They have been touring on the “hits” since they first re-united in 2000, and still, only play the hits. Poison has some AMAZING songs that many people have never even heard. I only hope Bret will realize this someday, before fans get sick of hearing the same songs every tour and quit coming back.
However, I will give Bret credit for changing up the words to “Nothin’ but a Good Time” and singing them directly to us, the San Bernardino audience. When they ended “Good Time,” Bret said, “I’m ready for a cold beer and some Def Leppard right now!” There was no Poison bow, maybe because Bobby wasn’t there. But instead of leaving right away, Bret and C.C. remained on stage for about 10 minutes, signing autographs, taking pictures, and shaking hands. They didn’t have to do that… Many kudos go out to Bret and C.C., and prayers go out that Bobby Dall is feeling better as well.
Now it was time for Def Leppard. I have to admit, I was a lot more impressed than I expected to be. This was my 4th time seeing them, I believe, and definitely one of the best. The set was amazing. They had a video intro that said “That was then, this is now” which flashed pictures of the band’s entire career on the screens. And then, all of a sudden, the entire band was on stage rocking “Rock, Rock, Til You Drop,” and we were ready to listen! They kept it rocking hard with “Rock it” and “Animal.” Tons of pyro shot out from all over the stage as Def Leppard played an extended version of “Too Late for Love,” and then “Foolin.” After fans sang along to “Love Bites,” they started to cover David Essex’s “Rock On.” I really don’t like that song in the first place, and again, I’d really just rather hear another Def Leppard song, but they made up for it fast with “Two Steps Behind.” For one of their “newer” songs, it was a nice treat to hear.
They started out “Bringing on the Heartbreak” on acoustic guitars, making it even slower and more beautiful than the original. Then, they kicked it into full gear at the solo and ended it heavy and electrified, with the “Switch 625” instrumental, just like on the “High N’Dry” CD. “Hysteria” was another magical sing along, “Armageddon It” seemed even heavier and faster than on the CD, “Photograph” was amazing, and “Pour Some Sugar on me” started with a harmony battle between Phil Collins and Vivian Campbell and was the perfect song to end their set, with everyone there rockin’ and dancin’ like there was no tomorrow. But they weren’t finish yet. After a quick break, they encored with “Let’s Get Rocked.”
Steve Clark is dearly missed, but his spirit is still with us and with the Band. Def Leppard put on an amazing, high energy rock-and-roll show, full of lights, pyro and a killer set list that none of us are soon to forget.