Date: Saturday July 11th 2015
Opening Bands: STYX, Tesla
About 14,000 people gathered at the beautiful Bethel Woods Center For The Arts on a hot July night to see formerly hugely popular acts Def Leppard, Styx and Tesla perform their hits. I say “formerly hugely popular” acts, but judging by the capacity crowd that came to see them at the Woodstock site on a hot summers night you would easily be forgiven for thinking that these bands were/are still as relevant today as they were in their respective hey-days. Bethel woods, of course was home to the iconic 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, and today is the site of this state of the art and well groomed venue.
For those of the audience who were not still in the parking lots enjoying the tail-gating good times Tesla came on stage around 7pm to a still filing in crowd. They still have their hardcore fans and there was a good many of them rocking out their best Tesla t-shirts and getting down to their tunes. Jeff Keith, the singer for Tesla still sounds pretty much exactly the same as he did the first time around, and belted out the songs like he was performing them live for the first time. they had a very short set, 25-30 minutes in total, but when they played the crowd-pleasing and well known hits “Signs” and “Love will find a way”, Tesla proved that it was quality and not quantity.
Styx, of course were greeted like Heroes, They got straight down to business as soon as the curtain fell, which, as soon as it did hoards of fans came rushing back to their seats- the line for the $13 beers can wait! Though not their original singer, Lawrence Gowan owned the songs and the audience throughout their set. Arguably the highlight of their set was the Medley of hits they played from Elton Johns ‘Rocket Man’ to Queens ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ into Otis Reddings ‘Sittin’ On the Dock Of The Bay’ which had the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs….from there they (or he- Lawrence Gowan) went into Styxs’ biggest hit ‘Come Sail Away’ which had a deafening singalong from the audience. They finished with ‘Renegade’ which was also very well received but no ‘Mr. Roboto’ for some strange reason.
After another short break the Headliners for the evening, Def Leppard, took to the stage around 9.30pm starting off with
the very appropriate for the evening, ‘Rock! Rock! (Till you Drop)’ followed closely by one of their biggest hits ‘Animal’- which produced the first singalong of their set. Joe Elliott (The singer for those of you that aren’t familiar) had a bit of a Steven Tyler thing going on with several womens scarves tied to his mic stand, he even danced like Steven Tyler somewhat. Pretty much the entire crowd were on their feet for the whole show, at one point, Joe Elliott address someone in the front row that was sitting down and told them (and therefore everyone else in attendance) “this is a rock-show, get off your fuckin’ arse”. Let’s just hope it wasn’t a Kanye West-like moment where he (West) famously demanded an audience member stand up while he was performing (It turned out that the audience member was wheelchair bound). Oops. ‘Love Bites’ got a great reception as did ‘Rocket’. Elliott played a little bit of Joni Mitchells ‘Woodstock’ but admitted to not actually knowing the song too well….still, a nice nod to her, and the venues history nonetheless.
‘Pour some Sugar On Me’ was of course the last song of the main set-list which saw hundreds of audience members heading to their cars to try and beat the traffic ( Good luck with that!). For their encore Def Leppard played ‘Rock Of Ages’ and ‘Photograph’ to the loyal fanbase still there singing along. they promised to return to Betel again, next year perhaps?