After a rocking performance from Poison, it seemed that the “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” band might upstage the headliner, Def Leppard.
Then Leppard took the stage and delivered a slew of arena rock gems, soaring guitar riffs and enough lights that you may have been able to see TD Ameritrade Park from deep space.
OK, maybe it wasn't quite that bright, but the stage glowed like the thousands of Christmas lights on Clark Griswold's house in “Christmas Vacation.”
Thousands filled the ballpark for the third and final night of this year's Red Sky Music Festival, which featured country headliners Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley earlier in the week.
The fans who turned out Saturday for Lita Ford, Poison and Def Leppard were a bit different from the country crowd that attended the first two days of the festival. Long, winding lines for beer crowded the concourse and many fans were covered in tattoos, rock T-shirts, leopard print and bandannas.
The crowd brought the enthusiasm, cheers and energy, and Def Leppard brought the heavy metal. The band pumped through hits such as “Photograph,” “Hysteria,” “Animal,” “Bringin' on the Heartbreak,” “Foolin'” and others over about two hours and then finished with “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Rock of Ages.”
They also played an acoustic medley of lesser-known songs such as “Where Does Love Go When It Dies,” “When Love and Hate Collide” and “Two Steps Behind.”
Leppard was hard to beat, but Poison had a fine set. Led by Bret Michaels, Poison played hits including “Unskinny Bop,” “Fallen Angel,” “Ain't Nothin' but a Good Time” and “Talk Dirty to Me.”
For both bands, the audience sang along constantly. Many fans probably knew the songs since high school. Though others might not have been born when the tunes were written, these songs are arena rock classics played constantly on radio, TV and movies, and at fireworks shows, BBQs and parties.
Leppard singer Joe Elliott appreciated the warm reaction and recalled Omaha's love from the early '80s.
“Omaha, thank you. Until next time, and there will be a next time,” Elliott said. “Do us a big favor, yeah? Don't forget us and we won't forget you.”
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