Miami Florida(June 18th, 2022)
Miami’s Hard Rock stadium is chock full of people singing one rock anthem after another at the tops of their lungs. The party atmosphere is thick, and everyone is reliving a little bit of the hedonistic times of their youth. The curators of this trip back to some of the best times of the eighties has been dubbed “The Stadium Tour”, the co-headlining extravaganza featuring Motley Crue and Def Leppard along with Poison, and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts.
When this tour was announced back in the winter of 2019, it instantly became the ticket everyone wanted. All eyes were on the following summer for it to kickoff. But as everyone knows a little thing called a pandemic got in the way and delay after delay happened. People were beginning to wonder if it would ever happen. Eventually new dates were announced, and all of a sudden things got real. This was going to go down. When the first night of the tour happened, there was a collective sigh of relief for all the ticket holders heading to Miami.
Under sunny skies and typical south Florida summer humidity, fans were lining up early to get to Hard Rock Stadium so they wouldn’t miss a single note. From worn Theater Of Pain and Pyromania tour t-shirts to freshly minted merch, fans brought it all out for this night of glory. After all, even in these bands heyday, you never had the chance to see them all together in one night sharing one stage.
While everyone knows the four bands on the bill, there’s also an opening act joining in on the festivities. While it is definitely a high profile gig that will draw tons of eyes and ears, it has to be a group that can fit in with the night. Instead of finding yet another band from back in the day, they found a gem of a band in Classless Act. Based out of L.A. these guys are riding the youth wave that is hitting the rock scene. Founded in 2019, they came together in a way that suites the times, they all met through social media. While the band may be new, they performed liked seasoned pros. Lead singer Derek Day worked the big stage of the stadium like a pro. The stage setup for the night was a ‘T’ which would allow band members to walk towards the crowd. Instead of sauntering down to the end as most usually do, Day made a habit of running the length of it while not missing a note. While they only have one album so far, and a limited time slot, what they brought was perfect for the environment. Their music was filled with driving beats, big hooks, great guitar work and equally as important tons of rock n’ roll attitude. If anything, having Classless Act on the tour is like having a young version of the main bands opening up for them.
What can be said about Joan Jett that hasn’t been said before. The iconic bad girl of rock n’ roll and her band the Blackhearts have created some of the most enduring hit songs as well as giving an edge to classic songs as well for years. Now it was time for her to take to the stage. As she strode on stage in a black and dark blue spandex outfit and dark sunglasses, she exuded nothing but coolness that can only come from years of having been there and conquered that as a woman in a male dominated industry. When she was handed her Gibson guitar, it was now all business. She led off the show with “Victim of Circumstances”. While she sounded great on the song, it was on the next song “Cherry Bomb” that things got fun. She would step out in front of her mic stand and was smiling while soloing away. Not to mention she filled the Runaways cover song with that classic Joan Jett attitude. She played many of the songs she has famously covered through out her career such as “Light Of Day”, “Crimson And Clover”, and “Do You Want To Touch Me” which she had the audience singing the “ooh ya” part. Of course she played a raucous version of “I Love Rock N’ Roll” the Arrows song that shot her career into the stratosphere. With the crowd singing along to this classic hit she was enjoying the interplay with them. She closed her part of the show her hit “I Hate Myself For Loving You”. Leading it off she said, “I’m sure we all know someone that fits this song”. This was a great song to cap things off as everyone in the crowd was singing along and enjoying her stellar performance.
Up next was one of the bands that defined the hair band era, Poison. While they may have been one of the best groups of that era, these days they have left the Aqua net and the spandex behind when they hit the road. Instead they rely on the multiple platinum albums and tons of hit songs in their arsenal as well the charisma of one of the most energetic front man Bret Michaels. With CC Deville on one side of the stage wearing a top hat and his flying V guitar in hand, Bobby Dahl on the other side with his bass and Rikki Rocket behind his drum kit they played a quick intro and Bret came running out on stage as CC started ripping into the power chords of “Look What The Cat Dragged In”. You could tell every member of the band was excited to be there by the huge smiles on their faces. Bret was a veritable fireball of energy. He was jumping and there wasn’t an inch of the stage that he didn’t cover. Before they played “Ride The Wind”, Bret let everyone know he was fired up as he had been waiting two years for this party to happen. It didn’t matter what song they played, whether it was “Talk Dirty To Me”, “Fallen Angel”, or “Unskinny Bop”, they simply sounded amazing. This is a band that time has had no effect on. All the energy that this band brought to the stage could have powered a small city. As Bret said we are here to put on one hell of a show and did they ever. Not only did they play many of their most beloved hit songs, but CC and Rikki both showed their musical chops with some incredible soloing. In what had to be one of the most appropriate songs of the night, Bret introduced it by saying we’re not leaving until you’ve had nothing but a good time. When the band launched into “Nothing But A Good Time”, the stadium erupted in cheers and just like every other song they did a masterful job.
Now it was time for headliners to join the party. As this is a co-headlining tour, Def Leppard and Motley Crue would be trading off time slots each night. At the previous stop, Def Leppard closed the show. So tonight they would go on before Motley Crue. Thankfully for everyone both bands would get the full amount of stage time. The crowd waited for the change over to be done and Def Leppard to take the stage, during that time a half curtain covered the front of the stage, so no one knew how things were going to be. When the stage lights came alive, the back of a car with a license plate saying Def Leppard was on the curtain. As the band started to play, the curtain was raised and everyone from the group was in place. As Def Leppard has a brand new album out, Diamond Star Halos, they opened the show with two songs from it, “Take What You Want” and “Fire It Up”. Both were exactly what you expect from the guys. The songs were full of harmonies and catchy choruses that were meant for stadium sing a long’s and of course muscular guitar work supplied by Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell. For many the thrills started when they got into their classic material like “Animal” which Joe Elliot sounded as good as he ever has. As Elliot said, “They would take a trip through the ages on this show”. Indeed they did take a journey covering material from early albums like High ‘n’ Dry all the way to their latest album Diamond Star Halos. Every stop on the trip was met with precision and polish. Elliot said that during the two years that they weren’t touring they used that time to make their new aforementioned album. Of course they debuted another song off of it “Kick”. While its great to hear all the classic songs they have, it was refreshing that they brought out their new material too. While so far the show had been a larger than life affair perfectly suited for a stadium, Def Leppard turned it into a much more intimate moment when they all came onto the forward part of the stage, including Rick Allen the drummer who had a drum kit brought out there. Armed with a mix of acoustic and electric instruments they debuted another song “This Guitar”. As this day was also Paul McCartney’s birthday Joe Elliot led the band in a quick verse of happy birthday in his honor. They saved the biggest hits of their career for last playing “Pour Some Sugar On Me” then “Rock Of Ages” and capping their portion of the night off with an incredible version of “Photograph”.
With the video screens on either side of the stage playing a tongue in check newscast from “MCNN” the newscaster said that the only form of communication would be through music. When the stage came alive, the guys in Motley Crue were there and the crowd started cheering wildly. As it is well known by now that drummer Tommy Lee broke four ribs just before the start of the tour he managed to make it on stage and behind his kit to start the show off. They opened things up with “Wild Side”. Talk about a perfect song to kick off a Crue show with. After all they are usually a trip on the wild side. While much has been said about the trials and tribulations of how time and the rock n roll lifestyle has taken on the band, They sounded good. Vince Neil was all over the stage connecting with the crowd and getting everyone fired up. Mick Mars showed everyone that he is still very much the guitar god even while dealing with painful chronic health conditions. As it is Motley Crue After all they even had scantily clad dancers on platforms flanking Tommy Lee’s drum kit. When the giant video screens in back of the stage displayed giant pentagrams, you knew exactly what song was coming next. Yes it was “Shout At The Devil”. As Vince said to the crowd “we haven’t played together in seven years, but we are having a blast”, obviously the chemistry is still there. After ripping through “Too Fast For Love”, sadly Tommy had to call it a night as he was playing against doctors advice. Tommy Clufetos the drummer for Ozzy Osbourne took over on the drums for the rest of the night. Motley Crue also played some new music as well. This night was only the second time they played their song “The Dirt” from their movie of the same name. At one point during the show Nikki Sixx was talking to the audience how they only had a few songs and they played a lot of cover songs, and how at the core of every great band is a fan, and he went on to say we are you referring to every fan. So the band decided to put together a medley of some of the songs that they loved including “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”, “White Punks On Dope”, “Helter Skelter”, and “Anarchy In The U.K.”. If you had thought that Tommy Lee was done for the night, you’d have been wrong. He came out and played piano on “Home Sweet Home”, which to no surprise turned into the biggest sing a long of the night. With the stage now pitch black through the pa all you heard was the revving of a motorcycle. Every fan knew exactly what song was next. When the stage lit up, there were three dancers out front and two large futuristic inflatable woman on the stage. To no one’s surprise they played a spirited version of “Girls, Girls, Girls”. Eventually the party had to end and tonight the final song was “Kickstart My Heart”.
This tour, two years in the making built up just as many questions as expectations. After this amount of time, people were wondering if it even was going to happen. Not to mention, would the bands be up to the task if the green light was given. With two dates in the books so far, everyone who had been waiting for this to happen has gotten exactly what they had wanted, and maybe even more than what was expected. For all the fans, this tour is a wonderful trip down memory lane. They are transported back to a carefree time in their lives and the Stadium Tour gives them exactly what they want. Poison’s lyrics sum up the night perfectly, “Ain’t looking for nothing but a good time. And it don’t get better than this”.
Joan Jett and The Blackhearts:
Hard Rock Stadium: