Monday, April 27, 2015

Rise up, gather 'round: Def Leppard Live

Nostalgia is a powerful thing and currently the most dominant cultural currency. All forms of media are mined for reboots, sequels, prequels, to feed our middle-age need to revisit what we loved as children/teens and rock'n'roll is no different.

While the salad days are long gone for Def Leppard (and in some band members case,literally never were), April 23rd's sold out show at Edmonton's Rexall Center was a loud (but not uncomfortably so) resurrection of 80's metal. It was endlessly entertaining but also completely safe.

Playing only their hits and a couple lesser known songs, it was relaxed and comfortable walk through 30 years of music. My personal high point was during Hysteria, where the massive LED screen behind the band ran vintage concert footage from decades past and paid tribute to long dead guitarist Steve Clark. It was transported me and plastered my face with joy. I had been at the shows captured on film. I had seen them being filmed. It was home.

After the show, my wife and I discussed how mixed the crowd was, but dominated by 40-50+ couples and even families. I had enormous trepidation that the show would be represent the end of personal era, and the putting away of childish things. The secret embarrassment of still digging a hair band from the 80's and the smack in the face that we are old were hanging heavy on me. So many of the attendees seemed trapped pretending they were still 18 or 25 and that the party never ended. Unlike shows of the past the darkened arena was dotted with phone screens, waved instead of lighters. Teens and twenty somethings ran through their selfie routine, practicing their best smiles against the wall of human flesh. It was surreal. 

The band and crowd wiped that away, the band playing as if a crowd of 15k people was just a house party, casually strutting around the stage, the performances tight if detached. My wife described it as a lack of pretense. I think it is more of a level of comfort. These 55 year old men have nothing left to prove, having survived the 90's and 00's. The crowd were as loud and appreciative as any I have attended, including the madness of the long gone Montreal Forum. 

Edmonton, it seems, is a great place to see a show. The drunk middle aged men next to at one point screamed "they're really singing! They still got it!"

Def Leppard is my musical comfort food. I no longer care who knows it.

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