By Jason Michaelsen, Tampa Bay Correspondent
As someone who was born in the 70’s, raised in the 80’s and partied in the 90’s, seeing Def Leppard, Styx and Tesla was a dream come true. Unfortunately, Mother Nature prevented Tesla from playing as a thunderstorm passed over the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphiteatre, an outdoor venue.
After a 90 minute delay, a patient but anxious crowd jumped to their feet as Styx took the stage. Tommy Shaw, James Young, Lawrence Gowan, Chuck Panozzo, Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips came out with so much energy and enthusiasm that everyone in the crowd immediately forgot about the storm. Over the years Styx has lost and gained members but never lost the sound and style that has brought fans from near and far to hear them. Once they began playing I felt like I had just broken out my old vinyl and threw it on the record player; the sound quality was dead on. Opening with Grand Illusion was the perfect way to begin and it drew the crowd in. With each song they played more and more to the crowd; the amount of energy the audience radiated back hyped the band up even more as though they were feeding off each other. Lawrence spun his keyboard around on a pivot and danced while playing and all four guitar players came to the center of the stage and rocked out side by side. Finishing their set with “Renegade” they had just as much passion and enthusiasm as there had been during their opening song.
With the crowd energized, a black veil that read “Def Leppard” dropped. Moments later it fell as though a cable had broken, then flew up like a rocket was propelling it from underneath. With a blaze of lights, the UK band, consisting of Joe Elliott, Phil Collen, Rick Allen, Rick Savage and Steve Brown (standing in for Vivian Campbell who is currently battling cancer but is set to rejoin the group soon) began playing “Rock Till You Drop” sending the audience into a frenzy of clapping and screaming. The interaction between the members and the passion you could see in their faces as they performed each song is what has kept this band around for so long with such a devoted following. Watching Joe Elliott’s face as he bellowed out each melody showed the love and passion he has for music. Encouraging the audience to sing along with “Two Steps Behind” kept the energy level high even with the slower tempo. Needless to say, when the band played “Pour Some Sugar on Me” the audience screamed and sang along as though letting the entire surrounding areas know they were there. Finishing out their set with “Rocket” the crowded arena erupted in cheers and clapping, showing that after all these years Def Leppard is a group that has transcended time.
Sitting in the stand and listening to both of these groups, it was as if time had moved in reverse. Both Def Leppard’s and Styx’s performances were high energy, dramatic and passionate; they sound just as amazing as they did when these songs were performed for the first time. If you have the chance to see them, do not miss it.
**Photos by Jason
Short segment “Pour Some Sugar on Me” in Tampa
Short segment “Come Sail Away” in Tampa