Tesla - Poison - Def Leppard > Colorado Springs June 2017

Went to see these bands in the Colorado Springs last week.  It is pretty great.  It was a mini Pepsi center type arena.  Meaning – it is shaped and functioned exactly like a 20,000 seat basketball/hockey venue… but was maybe 60% the size.  The sound was incredible, btw.  It was unusually good for an indoor venue.  We were high and wide to the right, but everything sounded just perfect all night.  Trust me, this is an incredibly rare and difficult achievement. The only time the sound suffered was during the headliners, but that was the fault of the band... and (believe it or not) I think it was very willfully completely washed out for them.

Started with Tesla.  Hadn’t seen them before.  It was good, and exactly what I expected.  A short set, about 45 minutes.  That is common for an opener of an opener.  I knew about 4 of the 10 songs.  They played my favorite song, Little Suzi… and they phoned it in magnificently.  What do I mean by that?  Well, they chopped off the beautiful and delicate and perfect acoustic intro.  I get it, we are short on time.  The performance was just ok, even though I was going nuts.  It really is a terrific song!  At the end, though, there was a good 2 minutes of pointless bombast.  It wasn’t just pointless (and it was pointless)… but they could have dropped that and saved the proper intro.  I am still super thrilled they played that song, it's kinda all I wanted to hear.  But still!

The whole show was not ‘phoned in’, though.  They ended with Modern Day Cowboy… and they killed with it.  They burned the place down with it.  The biggest take away from Tesla was how good the singer’s voice was.  It was incredibly powerful.  I dare say his live vocals are better now than they were 30 years ago.  This is probably because they are all clean now.  Tesla had very limited resources, sadly.  In order for a quick turnaround between bands, everyone's gear was on stage.  Tesla got to use about a third of the size of the stage Def Leppard would be using.  They didn't get to use the jumbotron, either.  Just, literally, a few big flat screen TVs behind them.  It didn't hold them back, though.
Setlist at the bottom.  Since this tour is all bands that have been together 30 years or more… we’ll talk about who is left.   For Tesla, it was 4 out of 5 original members.  Their original guitarist got kicked out of the band a few years ago for drug problems.


The question every one of us had, and still don’t quite get… why aren’t they headlining?  Poison killed it!  More specific, Bret Michaels.  I have never seen anyone work so hard to have fun.  More importantly, I have never seen anyone work so hard to make sure everyone else had fun.  He worked his ass off every single second on stage to make sure the people there had the best night of their lives.  Wanna shake his hand?  Play his guitar?  Play his harmonica?  Sing on the next chorus?  You can, and you probably did.  All during the show.  Their setlist was just perfect, all hits and all fun.  Since it was Memorial Day, he brought out veterans on stage, and encouraged anyone in the audience who was veterans to come on stage. I think we often think of veterans as old grizzled guys friend from Vietnam.  But we must remember the generation of damaged veterans Bush created with his two world wars.  OH… and remember that Bush defunded veteran care WHILE he was doing this.  Go ahead and google what Bush (GWB, jr, I mean) did to Walter Reed Veterans hospital.  This was a super cool and fun gesture, and the crowd went apeshit in support of our veterans.  God bless those men!  Bret Michaels blessed them, too.  You know, I'll strikethrough all that political stuff.  Michaels made a great point, that love and appreciation of our veterans doesn't have party lines, and I agree.

Ok, here is something odd about all the really nice military stuff he did.  He talked about the marines a LOT.  Mentioned Semper Fi and Hoo Rah and all that.  I know it and loved it as my dad was a Marine.  But here is where it gets odd – Colorado Springs probably had the highest concentration of military anywhere in the United States. We have 3 or 4 Air Force bases, the Air Force academy, and NORAD down here.  This is 100% a military down.  So what’s the problem?  The one thing the Springs doesn’t have – Marines. I didn’t even catch this, the wifey did.

He talked about Poison being together for 38 years!  Hot damn!  He was the consummate host, and perfect rock star.  He can also play the shit out of a harmonica.  His work ethic was apparent, and stunning.  After the show, when the others hit the nudie bars, Bret Michaels is probably Tebowing an 8 year old blind orphan backstage, introducing him to everyone and letting the kid play with all the equipment.

Show over, rock and roll bliss achieved!  Original members left?  All 4 are still alive and in the band.  Pretty cool, and the only band that night that could boast that accomplishment. 

Wait… Poison was only an opener?  How the shit is Def Leppard going to follow that?  I had to think they must be pissed.  But, I assume Bret Michaels does this every night.  I have to think he thought every night… why are we opening, again?  Well, he made sure the crowd remembered Poison.  Rolling Stone just did a really long piece (for them) on Poison.  It’s a good read.

Def Leppard was fine, but they were no Poison.  Man, that may be the whitest sentence typed in quite some time. The oddest thing about the Def Lepperd set was their opener.  Welcome to the Carnival, or something like that.  It was terrible. It was flat… no rocking, no chorus… just an odd and sad drone.  It was like a resignation letter to the crowd.  They played well, and played all the hits.  I am putting all the setlist links below.  Let’s talk about what stood out.  Joe Elliot’s voice wasn’t what it was 30 years ago.  Normally, that is normal… but considering the last 2 singers have been around that long… I was disappointed.  They worked to cover it up, though.  The music was all mixed too loudly, and none of the instruments popped.
Joe Elliot was plenty likable, but not a stand out.  Let me put it this way; I could play a bootleg of 10 shows on that tour and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  Not in banter, or song selection, or anything.  Lesse… what else stood out.  Well, they didn’t sound computerized at all, which is great.  To me, Def Leppard albums for the last 25 years have sounded like Radioheads since OK Computer.  They sound like they were recorded and mixed on a laptop just looping the shit out of everything.  The one armed bandit did fantastic, btw.  His drumming was spot on all night, sounded totally full, and you could not tell he needed trickery to get around having one arm.  That was cool and impressive.

Phil Collen is their main guitarist, and is likely the brains behind the band.  He likely wrote every single song.  Most of the set he was shirtless, and for very good reason.  Holy shit!  This guy is ripped.  Dude is 60, looked 35.

This was one of those “I’m not gay… but if I were… oh boy!” moments.  They played ‘Foolin’, which made me super happy.  LOVE that song.  For me, they could have just played that song and left, I would have been happy (same with Little Suzy, above).  They played ‘Photograph’, of course, and did something really terrific during that song.  They did a slide show behind them.  You know… photographs?  The slide show was mostly comprised of pictures of Steve Clark, their guitarist who died years ago from drug and alcohol problems.  Since his departure, they had a ‘new’ guy.  He has been there 25 years, they said… but they joked he is still the new guy.  I get that, and think of him as the same, poor fella.  They did a nice introduction for him, but because their sound was mixed so poorly, I didn’t catch the name.  that guy kicked serious ass on guitar.  I was really impressed.  I found him better than Phil Collen.  Man, I should have caught his name.  Something I noticed during the show… the lack of pot.  Maybe because it was a school night, or a military town… but come on, people.  We are at a 4 or 5 hour hair band show and I never saw or smelled weed once.  They did well, as expected.  Really, though, it was Poison’s night.

Other observations… I walked by and checked out the merch, as I always do.  Shirts were $35.  That isn’t remarkable.  In fact, it is fair market  value.  Here is what is nuts… that is what shirt’s cost when I started going to shows 35 years ago!  Concert shirts growing up were $35.  I used this cool online tool, and it tells me that 35 years ago, paying $35 for a concert shirt is $97.92 in equivalent money.  They were always cheap, too.  Shitty cotton shirts that lasted about 2 years, and maybe a 2 color silk screen.  Probably cost them, when ordering in huge bulk, about $1 piece.  That is today’s money and yesterday’s money.  Concert tickets back then were $12 to $15.  Fees weren’t a big thing, back then.  TM didn’t exist.  Fees were probably about 50c.  All through the 1980’s, a concert shirt cost you the equivalent of 3 tickets to that same show.  Not, it is the exact opposite. 

I know this because I bought ALL those shirts.  What was the point of even going to a show if you didn’t wear the shirt the next day?  Duh.  Rock and Roll wasn’t about seeing rock, expressing joy, dancing and laughing and singing all night, or getting so high and drunk you pray your parents didn’t smell it on you.  Nor was it about community, and art.  No sir, not for me.  It was so I could tell everyone the next day that I was at Ac/Dc last night.

Back to the show – Def Leppard was great, and I had a great time… but they should have been the openers in-between Tesla and Poison.  We all thought that before the show, and we were sure of it after.  Def Leppard is almost all original, as well.  They are missing their original guitarist, Steve Clark, who died long long ago.

*** appendices and notes

in other markets, different bands played.  I just read a review where the line up was Tesla, REO Speedwagon, and then Def Leppard.  That seems odd.  We definitely fared better with Poison in the lineup.  If it were REO, I don't think I would have gone.

In that review, they mentioned the name of the new guitarist for Def Leppard.  Vivian Campbell.  Hmm.  Must be a typo, time to google.  Couldn’t be thee Viv Campbell, right?  It was!  Vivian Fucking Campbell himself.  I got to see Viv Campbell!!!! The reason I am going nuts is he was Dio’s guitarist.  He is a rock god, and a rock legend.  I got to see Dio years ago, which was of course amazing.  I remember lamenting, though, that he didn’t have Viv Campbell with him.

Setlists for all bands here.  Tesla, Poison, DefLeppard

·         Note about setlists. This site is amazing, and I use it almost daily. Have it bookmarked on my phone. I know bands like this do not change their setlists night to night. Few bands do. I make it a point to never check the setlists before a show. I want to be surprised.

Last note – As I waited for beer in-between sets, I took quick notes on my phone… knowing I would probably write this.  Here is what I cobbled down.  They are quick hits… index cards of the night > almost stream of consciousness

  • no pot in air, odd
  • Photograph...pics of late Steve Clark.  very cool they did that – wonder if he was 27 club      *editors note, he was 30 at his passing
  • Shirt prices same as 35 years ago.  35 bucks 
  • Def Leppard more assets, screens, etc. New guitarist amazing.  15 years, maybe 25 years.  Joe Elliot vocals drowned out, prolly on purpose. 
  • Tesla singer more powerful than ever. Little Suzy rushed and ruined, but modern day cowboy killed 
  • Poison made a real connection, should a been their show. 
  • Rick Allen drums sounded amazing, and not over produced. 


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