Joe Elliott has man-boobs.
I know, as far as opening lines go, it’s not exactly “Frank Sinatra has a cold.” It’s important to the story later, though, and not even in a negative way.
An old friend of mine, Matt Pool, called me last week and wanted me to come with him to see Def Leppard, Poison, and Lita Ford in Dallas. Since it had been about two decades since I had seen any of those bands, I agreed and headed off to the Metroplex.
This is all the Lita Ford I needed.
We got to the American Airlines Center, where I noticed something that stands true at almost every show I’ve ever been to. Women dress for concerts like they’re going to the after-party, while men dress like they’re going to a bar fight.
For starters, Lita Ford looked really good for whatever her age would be now. I refuse to look it up, by the way. I feel like if I really know what she looks like and how old she is now, it will somehow invalidate all my teenage masturbation, and I just can’t have that.
We got there as she was playing “Close My Eyes Forever,” which is one of the two Lita songs I knew. She followed with “Kiss Me Deadly,” which was the other, so that led me to believe we had arrived at exactly the right time.
So Lita was good but brief, and led to Poison’s set. I know Bret Michaels has been reborn with his work on “Rock Of Love” and “Celebrity Apprentice,” so I figured he’d be a big hit.
I was right. Bret Michaels looks like one million crisp one dollar bills. He’s in great shape, and other than the insistence on wearing a bandana, cowboy hat, or both, he looks a lot like he did twenty years ago, just with less makeup and more muscle tone.
The rest of his band, however, looked freshly embalmed. Standing next to Bret Michaels, they looked even dead-er. In a band, everyone should have the common decency to age at the same rate. Bassist Bobby Dall appeared to be coming to the stage directly from his day job on “The Walking Dead,” while Bret seemed to be midway through his Benjamin-Button-like existence.
Poison was the big opening act, so they got about eight songs to play the hits. If you remember it, they played it. The show only slowed down long enough for Bret Michaels to hit us with with a steady stream of rock star chatter.
Bret Michaels, a man who understands what women want. Which is Bret Michaels naked.
“Hey you guys are great tonight, I tell you Dallas has always known how to rock, we filmed a video here back in the day and it’s great to be back here on Labor Day because we’re huge supporters of the troops and we always want to show them love wherever we go because it’s all about the troops and you guys look great tonight and this section over here is special to me because of my diabetes and they’re in my charity and I love them and Donald Trump has asked me back to do the All-Star Edition of Celebrity Apprentice and I told him I would…”
It seemed both sincere and incredibly well-practiced at the same time. Bret’s been a frontman for almost thirty years, he certainly knows how to hit the lights.
In Poison’s set, CC Deville got a guitar solo. I think CC is a very funny guy, witty, friendly, and seems like someone who would be a lot of fun to drive cross country knocking over liquor stores with. However, he’s just not any good. That hasn’t changed from the 80′s, CC has always played like he’s falling down a flight of steps. It sounded at times like he was trying to play Van Halen’s “Eruption,” but he just wasn’t really that close. It would have made more sense if CC had just taken a moment to announce he was doing his solo as a tribute to teenage boys trying to learn “Eruption” back in 1982, because that’s really what it sounded like.
A few songs later, drummer Rikki Rockett (probably not his real name) took a drum solo, which actually wasn’t that bad. I have to ask though, who goes to see Poison for the instrumental solos? They had songs like “Nothin’ But a Good Time” and “Talk Dirty To Me,” they weren’t exactly a jazz fusion quartet.
Poison got an energetic half hour, played most of the songs the crowd wanted to hear, and cleared out to make way for Def Leppard.
Joe Elliot still can rock for a fifty-three year-old, even if he does need to cover up with a jacket.
Lep was the unquestioned headliner, complete with video boards, better lighting, equipment changes, and everything else that comes with having about fifty million album sales at some point in the past.
And Lep sounded great. No complaints at all there, especially considering they’re all in their fifties.
With Lep, the crowd was fully up and dancing. And let me tell you, it is a beautiful thing to see forty year-old moms dancing about in seductive ways that would completely embarrass their children.
That’s why I don’t care about Girls Gone Wild at all. Getting girls to go wild isn’t that difficult, it seems. But Women Gone Wild? Now there’s a market. Seeing some twenty-one year-old drunk and dancing isn’t out of the ordinary, it happens every Friday night in Austin by the thousands. Seeing a forty year-old woman having a good time and dancing on a chair really means something, especially when you know she’s got to go home, sleep it off, get up and get the kids to school tomorrow, all without vomiting in front of the children. God bless them, and God bless rock and roll.
Phil Collen is so cut, he looks like he should put on a hockey mask and chase Mad Max.
I’m Reid Kerr, and I approve this message.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, Def Leppard. Lep was sort of stretched across the decades. Guitarist Phil Collen, who’s a vegetarian, wandered the stage shirtless and ripped looking like a junior version of the Rock, if the Rock were British, with utterly-British-colored skin. On the other hand, singer Joe Elliott…well…
Joe Elliott has moobs.
Yep. He’s got man-boobs. And in his defense, he’s fifty-three and can still hit most of the notes he wrote thirty years ago. He puts on a Hell of a show. However, when he came to the stage, he was wearing a loose black t-shirt untucked over black jeans, with some kind of jacket over it. The jeans working their way up into the loose folds of the shirt made it look like he was wearing maternity pants.
The band played pretty well, though. They had a big catalog, and played almost everything you’d think of. They had a great sound and stage show, and a big crowd on hand.
It was a bit odd to consider, in fact. They were a band full of fifty year-olds performing to a full crowd who all came to hear songs they wrote when they were 21 years old.
We used to flick lighters to show we were high, now we use our phones to show off our unlimited night and weekend minutes.
You remember when you were 21? Did you do anything worth remembering, much less putting it down on CD for the rest of time? Probably not. No one goes to see Tom Hanks in a movie and compares it to “Splash.” I go back and look at some of my old notebooks from time to time, and when I was 21 I couldn’t write a convincing shopping list, much less a million-selling single.
Def Leppard puts on a pretty good stage show for grandpas.
It was a two-way nostalgia, as all three bands mentioned their previous runs through Dallas. They remembered the good times, and so did we.
Lep saved the two biggest hits from “Pyromania” for close to the end of the show for good reason, as Joe Elliott just can’t scream like a 21-year-old anymore, and no one should expect him to. But as the band played “Photograph,” the five video screens at the back of stage came to life flashing old pictures of the band from the early eighties.
And then it hit me, the reason we were all there, the reason all these “nostalgia” tours work so well.
In those pictures, everyone in the arena was suddenly twenty-five years younger again. Seeing Def Leppard in old pictures reminded everyone not only what the band used to look like, but also what we were like at that point in time.
Let’s not kid ourselves, you voted for “Foolin’” too.
When I got my first copy of Pyromania, I was thirteen years old, and had just moved to a new school. I started playing guitar, and the first book of guitar music I ever bought was a “Pyromania/High And Dry” book, with both of their albums in it. I can still play every lick on that album, too. I wore out the tracks on it. I remember playing along with that album on every musical instrument I owned, and watching ”Foolin’” on Friday Night Videos.
Seeing them in 1983′s pictures, I was right there again.
Hysteria came out my senior year of high school, and again, at a turbulent time in my life. Hysteria was everywhere, and actually stayed on the radio into my first year of college.
Kids, if you don’t know what “radio” is, it’s something that used to be important, like telegrams or guys who shovel coal on trains. No need to learn about it now.
Hysteria was the soundtrack to a pretty crazy time in my life, and anything you survive eventually becomes a quaint memory. We realized later that this concert was very close to the twenty-five year anniversary of seeing Def Leppard for the first time back in 1987.
The show meant a lot more than just a concert, or just a chance to go out and have a good time. It was a memory reborn, a chance to let music open up a brief window to earlier, probably-happier times.
So it doesn’t matter if Joe Elliott was a little bit off, or if he needs spanks. He’s in his fifties, that’s the rule, rather than the exception. He’s still putting on a Hell of a show. We’re certainly not in the same shape we were back twenty-five years ago, either.
Joe Elliott probably didn’t celebrate this concert with a monumental amounts of sex and drugs afterwards like he did in 1987. Hell, none of us drank a bottle of Boone’s Farm before the show and threw up in someone’s mom’s suburban, either.
We’ve all matured. That concert was a chance to remember, enjoy the memories, and realize how far we’ve all come.
– Reid Kerr always thought the British Flag made a great logo.