When someone mentions Def Leppard, or Heart, almost everyone knows who they’re talking about. Two of the greatest rock bands of all time. Last Wednesday, Def Leppard was at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal Citywalk with Special Guest Heart – the opening act was Evan Watson. The short version: Great Show! The long version: It was a damn great show!

I have not been to the Gibson Amphitheatre since it was called Universal Amphitheatre, and that was a long time ago. I’m happy to say that this place may be my favorite concert venue. I’ll talk about that more later, but lets get into the concert a bit.

Evan Watson

Evan Watson opened the show…. I know what you are thinking, and so was I. You may not know who he is, but you should check him out. I love shooting photos at concerts, and I will shoot any show they will allow me to (most of the time), but the main reason I shot the Evan Watson performance was to get an idea for the venue before Def Leppard or Heart took the stage. I am soooo glad I did. Loved it. Great vocals, in a kind of Blues Rock style, mixed with some nice guitar work.

He brought out Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard for a few songs and it was a nice treat to watch two performers having fun. I would see him again.

(More photos of Evan Wilson and Heart are available on my Flickr stream)

Heart

I firmly believe that Ann Wilson is the greatest female rock vocalist – ever. I have seen this band many times and have never been anything short of amazed. Ok, not true. Last time I saw them was at the Hilton in Las Vegas and the sound system was ear fatiguing. The band was great as always, but the sound was not. Wednesday night at the Gibson the sound was perfect.

Ask anyone that has been to a Heart show about how well they do Led Zeppelin. Absolutely killer. If you listen to me on the air, or know me at all, you know I love Zep. The Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience post is a good example. Heart opens with Zep, they play a few Zep titles throughout the show, and basically nail it. The actual Heart catalogue reads like a “Rock’s Greatest Hits” list. You end up knowing every word to every song.

Heart has been at this a long time, and in the early days (like many others), I had a thing for Nancy Wilson. She can sing and play circles around almost anyone out there. I’ll leave you with this thought… Heart is a band that should be on every rock fans must see list. If you have not seen this show, you are missing greatness.

(More photos of Evan Wilson and Heart are available on my Flickr stream)

Def Leppard

Def Leppard Rocks! That’s really all I need to say, but I should give some background. Every rock fan knows the list:

Bringin’ On the Heartbreak
Photograph
Love Bites
Pour Some Sugar on Me
Hysteria

I could keep going with song titles, but I think you get the point. I have been on the air at KCAL since 1987, and I’ve played my fair share of Def Leppard. I have always liked the band, but the truth is I had no idea what Def Leppard would be like live. No one that I know has ever mentioned seeing them live. After Wednesday’s show, I would pay to see this band again.

This is a group of guys that play hit after hit, and seem to still have fun doing it. Seriously, I was constantly aware that these guys were smiling. It was infectious. Phil Collen sounded great on guitar. As the band played, everyone in the place knew every song, every guitar lick, and every word. Yep, they still have it.

Because I had been there for the Evan Watson part of the show, I had seen Vivian Campbell earlier in the evening. When great guitarists like Campbell or Collen play classic riffs, I always think “this guy created this out of his head”. With Def Leppard that seems to happen every song.

With Rick Savage (above) and Rick Allen (below) you have two guys that really play well together. Tight, really tight. I also loved the Union Jack arm hole cover on Allen’s shirt, and again, his constant smile.

On vocals is frontman Joe Elliott. I wondered, after all these years, how his voice would be. Take it from me…. this guy Rocks! Every note, every song, perfectly delivered. I’ll say it again, I would love to see this band live again.

The Venue

The Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal Citywalk (formerly Universal Amphitheatre) was excellent. From the ushers, to the bartenders, to the building itself, this was very well done. Pacific Amphitheatre has always been my favorite venue, but not anymore.

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September 13, 2011 at 10:41 am | Concerts, KCAL Crew, KCAL Rocks, Lifestyle | No comment