After this slightly nightmarish evening, I can say I will likely never be attending another concert at this venue again. Luckily the bands were not at fault whatsoever and produced a great show as I had expected they would- but the buffoonery occurring at the venue was a total turn off, and ruined not only my night, but the night of many others as well. The environment at Darien Lake’s Performing Arts Center is usually less than ideal, but Wednesday night’s show was packed full of belligerent drunks, poor security and let’s say- I was breathing in air full of everything but oxygen. Amongst all the smoke, drunken vomit and people so inebriated they couldn’t stand for longer than a few songs was, fortunately, three great bands.
Opening the show was Tesla, who I have seen a handful of times now and can say that they always deliver a great performance. Being given the opening slot on a three band show, Tesla only had time to perform their most popular songs such as “Signs”, “Love Song”, “Little Suzi” and “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)”. Amid the hits was the band’s latest release “Save That Goodness”, where Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen (who produced the song) came out on stage to play alongside Tesla. The band performed a total of 8 songs, closing out their set with “Modern Day Cowboy”, a favorite among many.
Up next was REO Speedwagon whom I was most excited to see, purely because they were the only band of the night that I’ve never seen before. Although my REO Speedwagon experience was high jacked by a drunken imbecile and her husband, from what I did hear and see the band sounded great. The band performed a nice variety of songs, many of which hail from my favorite record of theirs, Hi Infidelity- “Tough Guys”, “Don’t Let Him Go”, “Keep On Lovin’ You” and “Take It on the Run”. Although seemingly soft spoken, REO Speedwagon lead singer and guitarist Kevin Cronin oftentimes took the opportunity to tell the crowd a funny story in between songs or give the backstory to the song they were about to perform. Overall they put on a great show, and I hope to see them again relatively soon- minus the drunken idiots, of course.
Headlining the night was Def Leppard, a band I’ve seen more than a handful of times and every time have put on a good show. Wednesday night in particular, however, I did notice that Joe Elliot’s voice was sounding better than I’ve ever heard it sound in the past five years or so. Joe’s voice has always sounded good live, but something about this one performance in specific sounded a little more polished and impressive. Def Leppard shows are generally very similar, and by that I mean the content that they perform stays fairly consistent- “Hysteria”, “Photograph”, “Rock of Ages”, “Rocket” and my personal favorite “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” with a transition right into “Switch 625”, among other hits. This year they gave us the classic hits plus a few tunes off their 2015 release, Def Leppard. The band incorporated the first three songs off of Def Leppard into their set; “Man Enough”, “Let’s Go” and “Dangerous”, giving the audience a taste of their latest work. Also mixed into this year’s set was a cover of the David Essex (or Michael Damian, however you best know the song) hit “Rock On”. A solo I look forward to seeing every single year is Rick Allen’s heartening drum solo, which is always performed with distinction and enthusiasm.
Although the environment was far less than perfect, it was matched and overcome by three great bands performing three entertaining and impressive sets, all of which I would definitely go see again.