WEST VALLEY CITY — The 2015 summer concert season at the USANA Amphitheatre wrapped up Monday night by saving the best for last.
Fans packed the amphitheater for a sold out high energy show featuring veteran rockers Def Leppard, Styx and Tesla, making a Monday night in Utah feel more like a Friday.
Lead singer Joe Elliot made several comments throughout the night about the size of the crowd as he looked out over the vast sea of people.
Not once during the show did any of the bands announce, “This is our new song.” Instead, it was a crowd pleasing evening of hit after hit, transporting many of the 40-somethings and 50-somethings in the audience back to when many first fell in love with these bands between 1977 to 1987.
The majority of the audience were clearly there for the headliner, Def Lep. And the boys did not disappoint. Backed by their typical big light and video theatrical production, the Leppards gave a high energy 100 minute set.
On this night, songs from the High-n-Dry and Pyromania albums turned out to be the highlights of the evening. Opening with “Rock, Rock Til You Drop” and ending with the encore of “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph,” (yes, I know the band technically opened with the pre-recorded “Disintegrate”) the band also ripped through “Foolin'” and “Bringin on the Heartbreak/Switch 625.”
And of course there was the Hysteria album, featuring fan favorites “Animal,” “Armageddon It,” “Rocket,” “Love Bites” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”
During “Hysteria,” the large digital screens showed video clips from the 1987 tour, including many of former guitarist Steve Clark who passed away in 1991.
Elliot’s vocals were in fine form as he walked and skipped around the stage, high-fiving fans and keeping the atmosphere festive. He later made his way out to the center of the catwalk for an acoustic solo rendition of “Two Steps Behind.”
Guitarist Vivian Campbell, who has been receiving cancer treatment and was unsure if he’d be able to even tour at all this summer, looked healthy and happy, was all smiles, and played exceptionally well Monday.
Likewise, there was no questioning the health status of lead guitarist Phil Collen whose 57-year-old shirtless frame was as impressive as his guitar playing. The rhythm section of Rick “Sav” Savage and drummer Rick Allen played like a unit that have been together for three decades.
“Promises” off 1999’s Euphoria album, was a nice addition to the set list, though many in the crowd seemed to have forgotten the song as it didn’t garner the same reaction as the older material. “Rock On” is a song that needs to be retired from the set list, maybe in favor of another Pyromania or High-n-Dry song. But “Let’s Get Rocked,” another post-Hysteria song, sounded good and was rightfully in the show.
Yes, it was basically the same set list that Def Leppard performed last summer. But the Leppards played like they were performing for people who were seeing them for the first time. Elliot did remind fans that the band has a new album coming out in October and told them they would be back to play new material. It would be nice if rather than another summer triple bill tour, if Def Leppard would return as arena headliners and play 2+ hours.
Just like Def Leppard, Styx returned to USANA with essentially the same set list as last summer, opening with “The Grand Illusion” and “Too Much Time On My Hands.” Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young and company sounded good. But it was essentially the same show fans had seen before.
Keyboardist Lawrence Gowan was exceptionally active in dancing around the stage as well as around, and on top, of his keyboard. Drummer Todd Sucherman, whom I’ve sung his praises before, was his typical top form, making crazy fills and solos look easy.
The Chicago-based band finished strong with “Come Sail Away,” “Rockin’ The Paradise” and “Renegade.”
Tesla isn’t revered in the way Styx and Def Leppard are. But the band has quietly built a solid, nearly three decade career at this point. And of all the five-member, dual guitar bands that played Monday, they still have the most original members.
Tesla has had a good history with Utah, which is probably why the majority of fans were already in their seats when the band opened the show. Concentrating heavily on their first two albums, Mechanical Resonance and The Great Radio Controversy, Tesla played a solid 40 minutes of songs from the late ’80s, including “Rock Me To The Top,” “Hang Tough,” “Little Suzi,” “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out),” “Signs,” “Love Song” and “Modern Day Cowboy.”
Guitarist Frank Hannon shows no signs of slowing down. Singer Jeff Keith was his typical easy-going, personable self as he interacted with fans.
Overall, Monday was a great ending to a very good USANA season.