I ❤ live music. The talent of musicians, the energy of the audience, that feeling you get when sound hits you like a wave, a wail, and a wall. I love all of it. I find that whether I intend it or not, my music choices have a lasting impact on my worldview, including my politics, my personality, and my faith. But I’ll get back to this in a little while. 🙂

I was thoroughly excited to see the Rock of Ages tour earlier this week. It was a lot of fun! Lita Ford opened for Poison and Def Leppard. I’ve been a Lita Ford and Def Leppard fan for many a year, but this was the first time I saw either of them in concert. To be honest, I’ve never liked Poison, but they had terrific showmanship. Really, all of the bands put on a great show and seemed genuinely delighted to still be rockin’ after all these years.

Me in front of the stage while it was being prepped for Def Leppard

Lita Ford (aka the Queen of Metal) opened with a (too) short set and rocked her best known works from her 1988 album Lita, “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever.” There’s another song on that album that I love called “Blueberry,” but she didn’t have time to play very many songs (even though I requested it on her Facebook page. *grumpy face*). She also played a couple of new songs, which I dug immensely. I’m so glad to know she is making music again after a very long (16-year) hiatus. If you aren’t familiar with Lita Ford, check her out. She got her start as part of the Runaways and, in my opinion, was by far the best talent to emerge from that fledgling group.

Like I said, Poison had great showmanship. And they have a lot of songs that are fun to sing and dance to. Their sound quality was not awesome, though. Which I suspect is due more to the effects on their gear (i.e., guitar distortion) than the sound engineer. This was true the first time I saw them, too. Back in 19*mumble* when they opened for Heart. The lead guitarist C.C. DeVille had a solo segment and really demonstrated his talents. Interestingly, he played some Van Halen to strut his stuff. I was both impressed and a little saddened by his display of skills. Impressed because he rocked it and saddened because he’s in a band that doesn’t play music that fully utilizes his technical skills. I felt the same way when Rikki Rockett did his drum solo. If I’m not mistaken, he pulled out some Led Zeppelin a la John Bohnam to pump up the crowd.

Lita Ford’s stage set-up was austere compared to Poison. And Poison’s stage was moderate compared to Def Leppard. Def Leppard had full-on arena rock staging — lights, video, sound effects, moving parts. It. Was. Awesome. They played just about every hit from 1981 through 1995 and I was happily surprised I remembered a lot of the lyrics. It was one of those shows where the crowd sang more than the band. One of the many impressive moments was when the singer, both guitar players and the bass player all sat near the front of the stage, all playing acoustic guitars and sang “Two Steps Behind.” Rick Allen’s drum solo was also kick-ass. His is an amazing story of resilience. I didn’t realize until after the show that Def Leppard is truly a legacy band. Of the five members, four of them have been in the band since their seminal album Pyromania (that included the breakout hit “Photograph”). If you aren’t familiar with Def Leppard…actually, you probably are — but maybe you don’t know it. Its hard not to know at least one of the seven top 40 hits from their 1987 record Hysteria — which stayed on the charts for three years. Damn. Talk about staying power. And they still rock. Their performance this week was excellent.

Def Leppard performing “Two Steps Behind”

Admittedly, there were signs of age on and off stage. Alas, no one can escape Father Time. All of the singers struggled to hit the high notes written for young voices. I didn’t care, though. And most of the audience didn’t seem to care, either. The show started at 7:00pm and lasted until nearly midnight. Several hours of rockin’ on a concrete floor took their toll on my back and I had to sit down for while. Lame, I know. See previous Father Time comment. But let it be known I got up from my seat and got down to “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”

Listening to that music took me waaayyyy back; back to days of sizzling on South Beach in Miami, FL and listening to these jams on the radio – or a on a mix tape. Stop snickering. Mix tapes were bad ass. I started reminiscing about that time in my life when these bands were blaring on the radio and it was still fun to watch Headbanger’s Ball. That was when I first pulled away from convention. When I first started thinking about alternate conceptions of the divine and discarding preconceptions of faith. I hadn’t really thought about it until this concert, but the music I was listening to shaped my beliefs, and not in a small way. And not in a bad way. I will think on this some more and get back to you. *wink*

What about you readers? Have you gone to any retro tours lately? Did you have fun? Do you still listen to that music?

+ Featured image, the stage set-up for Def Leppard on their Rock of Ages tour.