JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

August 24, 2016
Gexa Energy Pavilion
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Dave Gray
Photos by Dave Gray

Def Leppard - Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon, Tesla

Rock Rolls At The Gexa Energy Pavilion

Last week, it rained all night at Dallas' GEXA Energy Pavilion, yet the fans still stayed on the lawn to witness a rock and roll show. Tonight, the weather was different, hot and humid, but that still didn't keep the fans away from a rock and roll bill for the ages. Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon and Tesla blasted hit after hit for over 3 hours, and to be honest, I didn't see anyone leave their seat during any of the bands' sets.

Sheffield, UK's Def Leppard show was totally electric. From the opening cut "Let's Go," from the recently released self-titled CD, the band proceeded to rip through all the greatest hits and more. Hits from the classic Pyromania, High ‘N' Dry, and Hysteria highlighted the night, while the band mixed in another new cut, "Man Enough" midway through the set.

Despite all this band has been through, amazing all the band members seemed to be in great shape physically and vocally. Joe Elliott's voice was spot on most of the night. I did hear a time or two where he took the low road vocally, instead of screaming the lyrics out, but who can blame him? That song was originally recorded in 1980, 36 years ago. A shirtless Phil Collen showed that he still works out, obviously, and on each song, it seems that he would break out a new, stunningly brilliant guitar. Taking the center stage during solos and walking up the runway provided some really cool close up views of his work, and the mix was really good tonight, with the guitar parts really audible. Even when he wasn't soloing, the guitar parts had audio clarity. Vivian Campbell looked great as well, considering all he has been through, and since he was to celebrate his birthday tomorrow, Joe Elliott encouraged the Dallas' audience to sing "Happy Birthday" to him, before letting him solo. Vivian' collection of Gibson Les Paul guitars were also on display tonight as he split most of the solos with Phil, again, a perfect mix.

Joe's "best friend" and bass player Rick Savage was introduced midway through the set as the guy at who helped Joe form the band…and the rest is history. Rick and drummer Rick Allen launched into a super version of David Essex' 1973 hit "Rock On," before the band proceeded into the final chapter of hits. I was really surprised to hear "Switch 625," one of my favorites, an instrumental the followed "Bringing on the Heartbreak." This gave the drummer Rick Allen the opportunity to show us his skills on the drums (while barefoot).

Truly, this was a night full of electricity and musical memories. The band still has it, if not now more than ever. Visually the LED displays, lighting, production and choreography are top notch, if not the best I have ever seen. This honestly has to be one of the best shows touring this summer. Rock On!

Champaign, Illinois' REO Speedwagon is still a very good band as well. Kevin Cronin, Bruce Hall, and Neal Doughty are great musicians, and tonight they played all the great REO hits from the 1970' and 80's. Even if you don't listen to the radio, you can't not know these songs. Dave Amato's guitar wailed during "Tough Guys," "Ridin' The Storm Out," "Keep On Loving You" and of course "Roll with the Changes." With three original members, REO is a very solid act, with a perfect mix of ballads and guitars.

Opening act Tesla fought the heat, as the sun wasn't down yet, but seemed to satisfy the early arriver's. Vocalist Jeff Keith and guitarist Frank Hannon were really solid, smoking through "Edison's Medicine" and "Modern Day Cowboy."