In some ways, pairing Def Leppard and Poison together doesn’t seem like a good idea. Leppard is a British act associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. Poison is an American act that emerged out of the ’80s glam metal scene. But these two bands (they also toured together last summer) do have one thing in common — they know how to please their fans. In front of a half-capacity crowd at Quicken Loans Arena last night, both groups resorted to arena rock clichés (sing-a-longs, hand-slapping, acoustic segments) during their respective sets that, while entertaining, ultimately rang hollow.
After a huge curtain emblazoned with the image of British flag dropped, headliners Def Leppard emerged on a two-tiered stage to play “Undefeated.” Throughout the night, guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen traded nasty guitar licks like two fighters locked in a duel as they played hits like "Animal," "Hysteria," and "Armageddon It." They were the real highlight since singer Joe Elliott’s voice often sounded thin, particularly on the power ballad “Love Bites.” But Elliott’s voice hasn’t entirely faded. He sounded sharp on an acoustic medley and he was equally strong on “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” a track that really resonated. Predictably, the band closed the 19-song set with “Photograph,” "Pour Some Sugar on Me," and “Rock of Ages.”
Poison (pictured) can certainly put on a show. Singer Bret Michaels and crew mugged and hammed their way through a hit-heavy set that included a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band,” a fitting choice since Michaels was so vocal about his support for the U.S. military. Michaels, who wore one of the Poison t-shirts being sold at the merch booth, shamelessly promoted himself and the band, acknowledging that they’ve had “26 kick ass years” together. The band predictably closed its set off with “Talk Dirty to Me” and “Ain’t Nothin’ But a Good Time.”
Singer-guitarist Lita Ford started the whole show off with an uneven set of old and new material. She couldn’t quite carry “Close My Eyes Forever” on her own, but she had the crowd up off its feet for a raucous rendition of “Kiss Me Deadly.”