CAMDEN, NJ—Two bands with careers spanning multiple decades for the price of one? Sign me up! Def Leppard brought their Mirror Ball Tour to the Susquehanna Bank Center with special guest Heart for what promised to be a night full of chart-topping hits. Neither band disappointed and both managed to keep the entire crowd on their feet for the duration.
Evan Watson started the evening with a brief set armed only with his guitar and a stomp box, with support from Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell on guitar for one song. While a southern backwoods style solo act was not expected for a big rock show, it was a nice change of pace from the standard practice of blaring AC/DC through the PA system. Sure enough however, that happened just before Def Leppard took the stage.
Heart came out to the intro of Led Zeppelin’s “Into The Light” and proceeded to tear through a blistering set of timeless hits. The band members were clearly enjoying themselves on stage. Opening their show like it was 1978 with the track “Cook with Fire,” Heart played with the musical urgency of a young new band with something to prove. What they did manage to prove in a just over an hour was that they can hold their own with any band on stage. Ann Wilson can still sing as powerfully as she ever has. And not only is she an amazing singer, but she is an equally captivating frontwoman, most notably demonstrated on their take of “You’re The Voice.”
Heart still has a love for their songwriting craft as evidenced by new takes on old classics. They managed to add a new vitality to some songs by, ironically enough, stripping them down. The verses of “Never” were simply Ann’s voice with Nancy Wilson on acoustic guitar and harmonica. “Alone” featured only piano and acoustic guitar, but with Ann’s soaring vocals there was no need for further accompaniment. “These Dreams” spotlighted Nancy on lead vocals as well as mandolin. However, Heart still knows how to rock. The song “WTF,” off their latest album Red Velvet Car, just shreds, and not a single person was in their seat by the set closer, “Barracuda.” The crowd fed off the energy Heart exuded from the stage and gave it back to the band ten fold.
Def Leppard brightened up the night sky with their engaging stage set-up, featuring numerous huge screens and platforms. They kicked things off with their brand new track, “Undefeated,” leaving no question that they still have a knack for writing catchy sing-along choruses. While, regrettably, their set didn’t include much from their first two albums, it did manage to shower the crowd with hit after hit. “Let’s Get Rocked,” “Rocket” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” gave the crowd more than enough to sing along to. The concert didn’t just feature hits though. Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell were given plenty of opportunity to display their guitar showmanship while the band’s cover of “Rock On” was preceded by a bass solo from Rick Savage. The most enthralling part of the night, however, was the drum solo by Rick Allen. You read that right. Drum solo. All I can say is, ANY drummer would be proud to be able to match Rick Allen’s drumming skills. Def Leppard’s show had plenty to offer, and aside from a two song acoustic interlude the band left little chance for anyone to sit still. Even a young boy of about 10 years old didn’t let his crutches hold him back while he sang every word to “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak” at the top of his lungs.