Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto - July 16, 2007

JASON MACNEIL -- Special to Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:03 AM ET

TORONTO - Roughly 20 years after their career hit the stratosphere with the album Hysteria, British rock band Def Leppard are still on the road, trying to recreate 1987 all over again. And while they're getting a bit long in the tooth, the quintet can still take fans back to a certain place in time as they did last night at Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre.

The British band, who have seen their star power diminish in recent years, gave the fans what they wanted with a roughly 90-minute set of early favourites that relied on guitar-driven solos by Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell.

With a wide video screen above them that at times featured three different camera angles, Def Leppard opened with Rocket as images of rockets and satellites provided the almost obligatory eye candy. Lead singer Joe Elliott glad-handed fans in the front of a walkway extending out from the main stage while fans got into the show early.

VOICE WEARING THIN

From there, the group tore into Animal, the first of the several crowd-pleasers but also the first to show that time is starting to wear on Elliott's vocals.

While most of the songs were supported by strong backing vocals, Elliott isn't as powerful as his early days. However, he still managed to make the most of things with Excitable.

Def Leppard knows that they were at their height in the '80s and most of the night kept going back to 1981's High 'N' Dry, 1983's Pyromania and especially mining tunes from 1987's Hysteria album. The first true highlight was following the opening guitar notes of Foolin', a moody track that has a big beefy chorus.

"Thank you very much! Merci beaucoup!" Elliott said, choosing to ignore some of the boos emanating from the crowd for the second salutation. The boos turned to cheers, shrieks and fist pumps for the plodding rocker Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes) and the ensuing Another Hit and Run.

Things took a different turn when the electric guitars were swapped for acoustic ones for a brief two-song quasi-unplugged set that featured all but drummer Rick Allen near the lip of the catwalk stage. "From back there we can see you, from out here we can hear you," Elliott said prior to the campfire ballad Two Steps Behind and a decent rendition of Bringin' On the Heartbreak.

BAND TOOK OVER

Elliott took the occasional rest as the band fleshed out some tunes, with the instrumental Switch 625 coming across quite nicely. Both barechested, Campbell and Collen doled out one strong riff after another while the one-armed Allen was equally up to the challenge.

If there was a lowlight to the evening though, it was perhaps during another filler moment when bassist Rick Savage took it upon himself to dole out a bass solo.

Only a few bass players can get away with such a feat, and Savage is not one of them.

Nonetheless, Def Leppard rounded out the evening with Elliott sounding much better for the mid-tempo pop track Hysteria. It was also a decent primer for the homestretch of hits that had the crowd, filling nearly two-thirds of the seats and a large portion of the lawn, drowning out the band during Armageddon It, Photograph and perhaps their biggest hit, Pour Some Sugar on Me.

The opening act primarily for this current North American run has been Styx. But Kim Mitchell was selected on this night to warm up the crowd. Mitchell, whose new album Ain't Life Amazing hits stores today, relied on hits such as I Am a Wild Party, Patio Lanterns and Go For a Soda.


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