No matter how many times you’ve seen a band in concert or played its music, there are moments that catch you off-guard. For instance, last night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard introduced the band’s longtime drummer Rick Allen. Allen’s story of course is that in 1984, he lost his left arm in a car accident, but the band waited for him to recover, and now he pounds away with his right arm and two specially designed foot pedals to simulate the drum sounds his left arm once created.
Elliott, mustering considerable force behind his weary voice, said, “He’s been sitting back there all night and hasn’t said a word! But now he’ll talk!” And Allen leaned forward to his mic with, “Gunter glieben glauten globen!” This bit of lyrical gymnastics from “Rock of Ages” was discussed at length back when “Pyromania” was released in 1983, when such issues mattered to rock-obsessed teenagers. What’s it mean? Who says it? Is it something profane? The answers came to be it means nothing; it’s just gibberish from a band with a keen since of humor. And in the band’s live show, Allen recites the band’s most famous lyric, which is only appropriate because of the astonishing recovery he made to continue performing now for 25 years since that accident.
It was a fun moment, and a fun show, too, put on by rock warhorses Cheap Trick, Poison and finally Def Leppard at a near-capacity Grand Garden Arena. If you were looking for four hours of high-volume rock ’n’ roll nostalgia, you came to the right place.
Like a free-form guitar solo by Poison’s C.C. DeVille, we’ll just let the notes fly:
Elliott’s voice was revealing considerable wear and tear from Def Leppard’s globetrotting tour, which began in June in Europe and finally halts in Auburn, Wash., on Sept. 12. More than seemed customary, he thrust the mic into the crowd for sing-alongs. The band often seemed to be playing to the audience’s vocals as much as Elliott’s, but hell, he still looks fine in slimming black. … Give Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen credit: At age 51, he can still pull off the shirtless, rhinestone-pants-with-a-leather-chain-and-silk-scarf-attached look. … Allen wore a T-shirt with the Union Jack as its left sleeve, covering his injured shoulder … Numbers to make you pause: Def Leppard released its first full-length album, “On Through the Night,” nearly 30 years ago (1980), Bret Michaels repeatedly thanked the audience for Poison’s now-22-year career, and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen introduced Robin Zander as his favorite vocalist for the past 37 years. Maybe it’s time to stop stressing on such demarcations of time. … Collen played a double-neck guitar, but I still favor Nielsen’s comically obnoxious five-neck instrument, which he broke out near the end of the set. He plays three necks, tops, but it’s a great, great prop. … It’s impossible not to sing “Pour Some Sugar on Me” in concert. It’s one of the more hypnotic rock songs, ever. … Nielsen still staggers around the stage like he can’t find the bottom of his feet. … Three women seated in my row were out for the show and to celebrate a birthday party: sisters Rachele Baker and Becky Kratt of Fort Myers, Fla., and Renee Hill of Boston. Renee, a flight attendant, was celebrating a birthday (we’ll call it 22), and the crew got into town Friday night and was to pull an all-nighter last night to leave this morning. It was a 6:30 a.m. flight. It’s even money they made it. … You don’t realize until they are strung together in concert how many hits Poison has amassed over those 22 years: “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Unskinny Bop,” “Nothin’ But a Good Time,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” “Fallen Angel,” “Look What the Cat Dragged In” and the cover of Loggins and Messina’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” all there. … But do we really need a drum solo from Rikki Rocket? He’s a fine drummer, certainly crafty enough to provide percussion for Poison, but in 2009, unless you are Neil Peart or the ghost of John Bonham, we don’t need a drum solo. … You know how you know it’s going to be a long guitar solo? When you play Eddie Van Halen’s classic “Eruption,” and it’s just one segment of a larger solo. That’s C.C. DeVille for you. … One of the happiest rock guitarists ever, Nielsen thanked the crowd for helping make the band’s fittingly titled latest release, “Latest,” “The No. 1 eight-track in the world!” He also said the band would be playing the Hilton soon, with a full orchestra, but provided no other details as to why (the “Sgt. Pepper” tribute show is why). … Venues I have seen Cheap Trick perform over the years: Art Acker Gymnasium at Chico State University, Mandalay Bay Beach, the patio behind now-shuttered Simon at the Hard Rock Hotel, Third Street Stage on Fremont Street and the Grand Garden Arena.
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