I was initially disappointed with Def Leppard.
Let me start out with two caveats. One is that there were many, many people dancing and rocking all over the place and having the time of their lives. Experiences are subjective and mine doesn't carry more weight than anyone else's; it's just the only one I am qualified to give.
The other caveat is that I felt differently toward the end, and I want to write about getting there.
The first thing I should point out is that even at my most disappointed, I have already seen a great, totally rocking Def Leppard show, about twelve years ago at what was probably PGE Park then. Not only were they on fire but they played every song I wanted except "When Love And Hate Collide" (which would have been a long shot).
My favorite Def Leppard songs are "Pour Some Sugar On Me", "Let's Get Rocked", and "Armageddon It". They did end up playing all three of those songs Saturday night, but the concert was starting more in the veins of "Hysteria" and "Animal". If those distinctions don't seem important to you, then my feelings probably won't make sense, but for me it felt like they were quieter and more subdued.
They have been doing this for 40 years; maybe it wasn't fair to expect otherwise. They have aged, not that you can tell by Phil Collen's abs. (I still get a kick out of his inability to perform with a shirt. He did start out with a vest, but it didn't last.)
While I was still thinking that they were quieter, their stamina was strong. It was a long set followed by a generous encore. I also have to admire their continuing to create new music. "Let's Go" was one of the songs played and it's pretty good. Also, for a band to get to a point where it is in their fourth decade that they release the self-titled album, and that feels right, is pretty impressive.
Then what completely won me over was "Photograph".
If my earlier statement of preferences did make sense, you can probably guess that is not one of my favorite songs. However, they ran a slideshow of old photos during it that took me back.
I may not have gotten into Def Leppard until the early 2000s, but Behind the Music filled me in on what I had missed. Seeing the old pictures of Steve Clark, and Rick Allen before the accident, and yes, tracing the overall passage of time -- this is a band of survivors. They have regrouped and done unexpected collaborations and they just keep going. All of my fondness for the band welled up. It was touching that they were still there, and good to be there with them.
The 2005 show was still better (for me), but this show has its own place.