Poison & Joan Jett and the Blackhearts round out the day of 80’s hard rock
What do you call a tour with four artists who are all headliners in their own right? You call it something that needs no explanation: The Stadium Tour.
The amazingly energetic and face-melting super-concert with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Poison, Def Leppard, and Mötley Crüe kicked off shortly before 4 pm at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. Classless Act opened the show with a high-energy 15-minute set. The first name on the bill, Joan Jett, began her portion around 4:40 pm.
While the show is killer, it was clear in Philly that the logistics of such a monster bill mean that some fans are confused on when the show begins, and what time their favorite act hits the massive stage. So let us here at TMU try to help with that.
Beware that all adverts for the tour say it begins at 4:30 pm local time — that is when Joan Jett is supposed takes the stage.
You should look to your particular venue’s social media and website in the hopes of a finding a breakdown of parking, gates, and show times, as each is different. Before the tour launched, some venue websites had 4:30 listed as the gate time instead of the show start time. Upon examination, this seems to have been corrected.
Indeed, this is a behemoth marathon of nonstop 80’s hard rock that has never happened before and will likely never happen again, at least in this capacity. Fans should give themselves ample time to make sure they catch the band they are most dying to see. Below, each set is discussed with start time so that you may plan accordingly.
Classless Act is the most underserved act on the bill. The group began performing at 4 pm to a near empty stage. Though, their lead singer Derek Day had plenty of energy. It’s clear he envisioned himself performing to a full stadium. And perhaps one day, this group will be. Classless Act would have been better served performing on a B stage during the intermissions between the earliest bands. They were off the stage by 4:16, and were invited by Tommy Lee and Vince Neil to open the 36 date tour.
Joan Jett and her Blackhearts took the stage at exactly 4:40, and were off shortly before 5:30 pm. Jett herself was quiet and reserved when speaking to the crowd. And the guitars she played were somewhat uncooperative in the 90-degree Philadelphia swelter. Rest assured, her vocals are as timeless as ever. Equal parts defiant growl and bright innocence, her iconic place in rock and roll is proven in her brief set. Her 45-minute churn of hit songs is worth braving the the heat and sun. If her guitars have to do it, so should you.
Poison wins the award for most affable band of the evening. It should come as no surprise though. Bret Michaels and company have made their reputation as being the nicest guys in rock. But that personability goes hand-in-hand with a catalogue that fans are eager to hear.
Never before have I witnessed a stadium at near-capacity at 6 in the evening for a concert. But Poison seemed to have legions of fans in attendance, on par with the headliners. The four original members — Michaels, Rikki Rockett, CeCe DeVille, and Bobby Dall — were as tight as ever. Each shone on there own, with Michaels handing over the spotlight to DeVille and Rocket for brief solos, and Dall having great byplay with the lead singer.
A hometown show for Poison, Michaels name-checked Pottsville, PA and other more rural area for the Mechanicsburg native.
Their set began at 6 pm and lasted an hour. Fan Favorites “Unskinny Bop,” “Every Rose has Its Thorn,” and “Nothin’ But a Good Time” closed out their energetic hour.
As the sun began to set over the City of Brotherly Love, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott stormed the stage at 7:30 pm with “Take What You Want.” From there, the music never stopped coming. The group was excited to be back onstage after a two-year delay due to, what else, that pesky COVID. The joy they experienced on stage that evening was best encapsulated by drummer Rick Allen’s constant smile. Elliott, for his part, had the best vocals of any band this evening. There must be something about Brits and the longevity to their voices.
The best moments of the evening were when the five-some stripped down to a smaller drum set and a few acoustic guitars. The power of their song choices really blasts through when production is stripped away.
Also, Allen had the most badass moment on drums for the night (Sorry Tommy). The one-armed wonder killed a solo with just his singular stick and two feet. Beat that, Mr. Lee.
At the end of their set, Leppard closed out with “Photograph.” Fittingly, they displayed pictures of fans in their Leppard concert tees…from that very venue! It seems a photographer patrols the stadium concourse, looking for fans to snap pics of. They then end up on the big screen!
Leppard recently released a new album, Diamond Star Halos, and Elliott promised fans that Def Leppard will be leaping back to the area very soon. The trek is also rumored to be extended into 2023 to cover Europe, although no official confirmation has been declared.
Mötley Crüe managed to shred out 14 numbers in their 90-minute set that began at 9:30 pm. The stage, set with spiked lighting trees that moved up and down, as well as upside down microphone stands hanging from the lighting rig, was full-on metal.
The Crüe returns to the road with two elephants in the room: the first being that Vince Neil’s voice has received less-than-stellar appraisals of late. There’s no denying that Neil’s voiced has thinned with age and use. But fans will be pleasantly surprised to find that most of his tone has returned. He can hit all those high notes. Still, the sound mix seems to want to drown him out to compensate. From what could be heard, this is unnecessary.
The second elephant is Tommy Lee’s rib injury. A disruptive factor that Lee has made fun of throughout these first few stadium dates, Lee actually seems on the mend. He drummed about half of the show, switching with Tommy Clufetos, who’s been filling in for Lee as he recovers. Lee also started “Home Sweet Home” off by demonstrating his skills on the keyboard.
The band, aware of the time constraints, wasted no time powering through their hits. “Shout at the Devil,” “Dr. Feelgood,” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” were all present. On the vertical stage screens, the band showed themselves through the years, with clips from previous tours, studio footage, and more. The closed the seven hours of music with an amped-up “Kickstart My Heart.” They also teased new music is coming in 2023 with text on the screens.
This tour — this stacked bill, in particular — is not to be missed. Every act displayed what has kept fans coming back for 40-plus years. Eighties hard rock is the music of an entire generation. A generation that defined themselves by their favorite bands. And whether they were singing longingly with “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” thrashing their head as Joan Jett freed herself from cares about a “Bad Reputation,” or blasted off with Def Leppard in a “Rocket,” it was clear that for the tens of thousands of fans in Philly, they will always be connected to the music.