Def Leppard and Motley Crüe at Petco Park in San Diego, CA

80s rock icons Def Leppard, Motley Crüe, Poison, and Joan Jett brought their North American Stadium Tour for a stop in San Diego.

Sunday, August 28th, 2022 might as well have been Sunday, August 28th 1980 something (pick a year in the decade). Nearly every year in that decade, one or more of these bands had massive multi-platinum releases. This was the heyday of rock n roll, and the fans in attendance were wishfully celebrating those days.

It was a Halloween party in August. Men squeezed into way too tight spandex pants, ripped sleeveless t-shirts, eye makeup, long hair wigs, and headbands, (I guess Capezio shoes didn’t get the memo the comeback was on). Pairing nicely with the evening’s old dudes in costume were the scantily dressed women in all types of leather, fishnets, and all manner of eyebrow-raising attire.   

Dressed up or not, everyone seemed to be having a great time overall. There wasn’t the craziness of a packed GA audience, sweatily pressed against the stage barriers, or tumultuous mosh pits. Instead, there were high-dollar floor tickets with nice white chairs. Although once the music started, the entire floor stood for the rest of the evening, some danced, some shouted at the devil at the appropriate moment, and all cheered. There were also plenty of Gen Z and Millennials in attendance who were genuine fans of the music, a true testament to the staying power of these artists.  

Opening the night was a young, enthusiastic, hard-rocking quintet from Los Angeles, Classless Act. The band was perfect table-setters for the night. They were polished and held their own during their set. They drew plenty of attention and cheers from the early arrivals to the show. 

The table was set and the appetizer served, and now it was time for the first course, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. They had a tough spot on the bill as many fans, were still arriving, with the sun being out still and with very warm temperatures, many fans were looking for shade, buying drinks, and still getting settled. It also didn’t help the published starting time was incorrect. But, by the time Joan Jett and the Blackhearts hit their stride with their cover of the Sly and The Family Stone hit “Everyday People” the audience was ready to go and Joan had them singing along to the rest of the six songs in her set as she ran through her biggest hits closing out with “Bad Reputation.” Joan Jett and the Blackhearts sounded fantastic live and Joan’s vocals were spot on. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were a harbinger of what was yet to come that evening.  

Brett Michaels and Poison really started turning up the heat and got things cooking. The band has matured and Michaels brings a genuinely positive and thankful attitude to the performance that the band feeds on. Despite the tumult of the past and various health issues, all of the men in Poison seem to be having a great time on stage and seem to genuinely enjoy each others’ company and it shows. Michaels’ vocals sounded great. C.C. Deville at one point channeled EVH in a spotlight solo and ripped through a partial rendition of Van Halen’s “Eruption.” Bobby Dahl and Rikki Rocket held the rhythm section down and overall the band sounded great. Michaels spent an extraordinary amount of time thanking San Diego for all the hospitality he experienced over the years as the son of a veteran stationed in San Diego. Rikki Rocket was also celebrated for overcoming his battle with cancer. The set notably finished with the hit “Nothin’ But a Good Time” concluding with the band members bringing their families and all their children (a lot of them) on stage.

As the evening grew dark, appropriately the Crüe made their appearance. Motley Crüe began their set just as day turned to night. Much ink has been spilled and much has been said about this band on this tour. Some negative, some of it deserved. But the past was the past and on this night Motley Crüe, sounded great. The crowd was entertained, the faithful were ecstatic, and the band performed well. Mick Mars played well, Nikki Sixx was very active on stage, Vince Neil’s vocals were enough on this night, and Tommy Lee, well, was Tommy Lee. During an interlude where Lee comes up front to play piano, he spent some time trying to convince male members of the audience to expose themselves, then moving on to the female members of the audience to do the same convincing at least one girl to do so. After which, in a direct reference to the recent controversy of his exposing himself on social media, he pondered why it’s ok for females to expose themselves and for males it isn’t. The Crüe played a good set and sounded good, despite the fragility, aging, and health issues.

Def Leppard hit cleanup and delivered in fine fashion. They sounded fantastic musically, and Joe Elliott’s vocals were excellent. Def Leppard was touring in support of their new album Diamond Star Halos. All of the members of the band were active on stage, even though they are the oldest group in aggregate age. The oldest member, Phil Collen, probably being in the best physical condition the all. Phil, known for his physique can and does still rock the shirtless look on stage that he is known for. Def Leppard continues to put out good new music, while they may not currently have the commercial success they enjoyed in the 80s (Hysteria was certified 12x platinum), they still play the songs that brought them that success with joy and enthusiasm on stage.

Def Leppard has an arsenal of rock anthems, and they play them to full effect. This band, mostly in their 60s, shows no signs of slowing down, nor should they with the amount of success they enjoy on stage and off. This was what many fans came to see, Def Leppard has kept the fires burning bright, and for the 90 minutes of their set, they transported their audience to that place of endless summers of their youth, where rock n roll rules. 

Make no mistake, this is your grandfather’s rock n roll. These bands came on the road to show that their brand of rock n roll they play still kicks ass. The Stadium Tour sold over one million tickets over 36 dates running from June to September. The Stadium Tour wraps up in Las Vegas on September 9th. 

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About George Ortiz 67 Articles
George is Southern California and Big Sky, Montana-based photographer. He grew up in Los Angeles and began shooting professionally in the mid 80s. His words and photos have appeared in local & national publications.