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11 August 2011 @ 09:53 pm
Bp's Song of the Week #125: Heart "The Battle of Evermore" (live)  
Heart “The Battle of Evermore” (live Saratoga Springs 8/2/2011)

So I’ve been internally struggling with not only time to knock this out (should have been out last week), but also how to put down some notes from an absolutely awesome day in a way that will be fun for me to read back through in years to come, while not coming across as ‘hey, look at me and what I did’ for all reading.

There’s a fine line, and I guess, well, just know going in that I’m going to cross it.

Earlier this year I was excited when Def Leppard and Heart announced a summer tour which was coming through the area (as over the years I’ve cut down travel considerably for shows for various reasons). Def Leppard was my first favorite band. The “Photograph” video in early 1983 was my Beatles on Sullivan moment and Phil Collen quickly became my favorite musician with his black Ibanez Destroyer guitar and his general sense of cool. Being an MTV guy, Heart for me began with “How Can I Refuse” and “Allies” (also in 1983) and then WOUR in Utica introduced me to “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You,” with the former becoming the Heart song of choice for me. As each subsequent Heart album came out and my brother scooped them up on cassette I’d be right there. In 1988, Bad Animals, the first one I bought on my own I think, accompanied me on many 4:30 am morning paper route deliveries in the dead of winter – those memories come rushing back every time I listen to it. Brigade however was the one that tipped me over the threshold as I received tickets for my 16th birthday from Matt Gounis to see them live. The following few years consisted of collecting live audio, vinyl singles from the UK, all U.S. vinyl (though I never did get my hands on the limited run of Brigade on vinyl), etc.

To not only see a double bill with these two bands, but to meet and personally thank Ann & Nancy as well as Phil for their amazing music and inspiration over the years was an absolute blast! All three were very accommodating and fun to chat with for a bit. I had made some talking points for Phil and got to ask some questions, but sadly for Ann & Nancy I didn’t do the same and came up with all the questions afterward. I also wished I’d remembered when we were talking with Ann & Nancy about the recent stage collapse during a Cheap Trick show in Ottawa, to ask them about their experience in 1980 when their stage collapsed on them in Japan.

Having a collection of items from both of these bands made the decision what to bring that much more difficult. Being a music nerd sometimes is a heavy weight to bear! I brought four items for each and would decide in the heat of the moment. I decided on the Dreamboat Annie picture disc and Brigade era 8x10’s for Heart, and for Phil I went with a Rolling Stone ad from the late ‘80s featuring Pyromania & Hysteria as having just gone 7x Platinum, the “C’mon C’mon” 12” backer, and of course the album that started it all for me, the cover of my Pyromania LP. Phil was very chatty and talked to Mark and I for 10 or more minutes on a variety of topics. BTW, check out his new CD with Manraze (with members of Girl and Sex Pistols) – great stuff!

It was an awesome experience. And the shows….brilliant. I will say that Heart stole the show for me. Ann, at 61 years of age, still belts it out better than any other rock vocalist on the planet, and Nancy, despite having recently fractured her left wrist, is my choice for rhythm guitarist in any super group. Their vocal harmonies are unmatched and together on stage they are such a musical force. I wish they had played more from their most recent release, last year’s Red Velvet Car, but at least we got one track from that great release.

Leppard was in great form, although their FOH sound engineer needs to realize that bass wash and bass drum levels need to be kept in check (this has been an issue the last few times I’ve seen them), and it’s always great to see them. “Rocket” is always a treat with the Collen and Vivian Campbell trade-off soloing; “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak/Switch 625” I will never tire of and always reminds me of Steve Clark, as does “Hysteria” which was brilliant despite the decision to eliminate the rhythm guitar section that Joe Elliott used to play from the guitar solo onward (and without it, the song sounds empty). During “Photograph,” they displayed photos from throughout their career on the rear screen and I knew there was a great moment during Joe’s last “I wanna touch YOU” where there is a great shot of Phil and Steve that I wanted to capture on video, but the PA stack was obscuring Phil in the photo, but at least I could see Steve – there was a nice little crowd reaction from those who noticed.

My favorite Leppard track of the night:

Bringin' On the Heartbreak / Switch 625

Huge thanks to Mark Hudson for a great hang, and Mike, Scott, Steve & Helen for making a 25-year dream come true!

Some more footage from the show:


Magic Man

Alone (a vocal master class)


Def Leppard:

Undefeated / Let's Get Rocked

Love Bites – wonderful outro guitar solo from Vivian Campbell


August 2, 2011 Saratoga Springs, NY

Heart setlist:
Rock & Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)
Magic Man
Straight On
What About Love
These Dreams
Crazy on You
The Battle of Evermore(Led Zeppelin cover)
Love, Reign O’er Me (The Who cover)

Def Leppard setlist:
Let's Get Rocked
Love Bites
bass/Rock On
Two Steps Behind
Bringin' On the Heartbreak/Switch 625
Armageddon It
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Rock of Ages