Review: Def Leppard, Styx, Tesla All Impress in Sioux Falls
It was as if a rock and roll time machine was ripped open at the Denny Sanford Premier Center Saturday night. Three slightly different eras of music on display, with one thing in common - it all rocked!
For the 'veteran' rockers, Styx represented the late 70's and early 80's. For the 'MTV generation', Def Leppard brought their massive collection of hits from the early to mid 80's. For the 'head bangers', Tesla delivered their well known tunes from the late 80's to the early 90's.
Def Leppard headlined the night with a set as flashy as the high definition images displayed behind them on stage. Phil Collen's performance on lead guitar was the envy of all of the guys in the building, while his chiseled physique at age 57 was a big hit with the band's female fans.
One of the highlights was the sight of a smiling Vivian Campbell on stage, tearing it up on guitar two years after announcing he was battling Hodgkin's lymphoma. Lead singer Joe Elliott used the words 'happy' and 'healthy' when he introduced Campbell, eliciting one of the biggest cheers of the night.
Ironically it was Elliott's health that was the story on this night. Two-thirds of the way through the show, he took the stage alone with an acoustic guitar in hand, to perform 1993's 'Two Steps Behind'. During the intro to the song, he noted he was suffering from a case of laryngitis, due in large part to the band's set the night before at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Elliott said the biggest side effect was his inability to reach the higher notes in songs.
That was quite evident by the time the band returned for its' two-song encore. Elliott's vocals were sporadic at best during 'Rock of Ages' and 'Photograph', but by then it didn't matter, he had already won the audience over by soldiering on despite not having his 'A' game. The feeling appeared mutual, as Elliott seemed genuinely moved by the outpouring of support from the Sioux Falls fans. At the end of the show he told the audience:
I owe you one!
You're welcome back anytime, Joe!.
Styx set the table quite nicely for Def Leppard with a high energy set, as Tommy Shaw and James 'J.Y.' Young ripped through Styx's Shaw-penned classics 'Too Much Time on My Hands', 'Blue Collar Man', 'Fooling Yourself', and 'Renegade'. Young delivered a strong vocal on 1977's 'Miss America'.
Keyboardist Lawrence Gowan handled the lead vocals on the Dennis De Young songs 'Grand Illusion', 'Come Sail Away', and 'Lady'. The Scotsman has been a more than adequate replacement for De Young for the last 16 years, but it is still very apparent all of these years later, that the band is doing everything they can to distance themselves from the De Young-written hits ' Babe' and 'Mr. Roboto'. I, for one, didn't miss them.
Styx brought their own appreciation for Sioux Falls to the gig, with Shaw reminding the crowd that the Denny Sanford Premier Center was the first venue to sell out when tickets for the show went on sale several months ago.
Tesla started the evening with a quick set of their biggest songs, like the Top Ten smashes 'Love Song' and 'Signs', along with other tunes that got considerable radio play back in the day - 'Modern Day Cowboy', 'Little Suzi', and 'Heaven's Trail'. The band was a big hit with their core audience, many of whom had seen the group when it stopped in Sioux Falls 28 years ago, something lead singer Jeff Keith reminisced about during the show.
The two observations I heard most after Tesla's set: It wasn't long enough and several fans missed the beginning because of the long lines outside the events center.
The length of the set was dictated by being the opening act on a three-band bill, as well as having a much smaller catalog than either Styx or Def Leppard. The delays getting in, according to one Premier Center official I talked to, were more about the last minute arrival of the majority of the audience and less about the staffing at the venue.
Let's face it, most times we don't care if we get to a show on time because we rarely go to see the opening act. This show was an exception. It's a good reminder for the next time you want to see the warm-up group - get there early!