X Tour 2003
Borgata, Atlantic City, NJ
Reviewed by Johnny Rodgers
Its Saturday night, August 23, 2003. Its a warm rainy night on the Southern Jersey shore. From about seven or eight miles away traveling down the Atlantic City Expressway, even through the less than perfect view, a purple aura lights the sky. Little did I know that this giant illuminated, magnificent building was the destination for a night of brilliant rock and roll. The luxurious multi-million dollar Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa recently opened on July the third, 2003.
After getting settled and situated in the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, sold-out Event Center, I had just enough time to pull out my camera when the reason for my being here absolutely stormed the stage. The Borgata kicked off what seems to be a stellar lineup of entertainment with the first ever Atlantic City appearance of the mighty Def Leppard. The band arrived in grandiose style steaming through an hour and forty-five minute set of hit after hit from their mega platinum career, from High N Dry to the brilliant latest outing X.
This show would be the second of what would turn out to be three shows that I would have the pleasure to see on this tour, and I can tell you for certain that every one of them was consistently killer. Every show would change up set wise slightly by maybe a song or two, but this night was unique for a few reasons. First of all, playing at this venue was awesome due to the theatre itself. The sound in this room is perfect, and acoustically dynamic in every way. There is a great view from wherever you sit and is just a beautiful room overall.
Second, the Leps gave a couple surprises in the set, one being the first casino crooning experience of Ol Blue Eyes Elliott laying down a little "Fly Me To The Moon, and doing it well at that. I guess if the boys ever decide to call it a day Joe could pull off a Joey Casino lounge act. The second surprise being the first ever playing of the Badfinger classic "No Matter What". This was a killer version to make the Badfinger boys proud.
All throughout the night the band showed why they are at the hierarchy of the hard rock genre in the live setting as well as the studio by delivering powerful sight and sound performances of all their material. Joe Elliott just gets better and cooler with age, commanding the audience with his great personality and stellar voice with a touch of British bad-boy humor.
Rick Savage handles the bass and vocals chore so easily making one wonder when he may venture into singing the lead vocal on a song. The guitar driven wall of Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen is a non-stop barrage of brilliant tone, sound and technique, with a flare reminiscent of Thin Lizzy ala Gorham and Moore era. The two work so well together trading off and harmonizing so well, one could just listen to the two of them by themselves all night and be more than satisfied.
Last but most definitely not least, the absolute superhuman Rick Allen on drums. Could someone please tell me when this man will be given a super human achievement award for not only being an amazing drummer, but also a master of a style that defies all odds.
I am a major fan of this band. I have seen them on every tour from opening slot on the Rainbow and Blackfoot tour at the Tower Theatre in Philly, up through all their major highs and lows professionally and personally in the major arenas, stadiums, right up to now at the Borgata. Def Leppard is without a doubt one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. They have given us and continue to give us, as evidence on the new X CD, some of the greatest music of all time. Thanks for a great show guys and hopefully we will be able to get rocked again real soon.
Special thanks goes out to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa staff, especially Cheldin Barlatt for her professional and courteous manner.
Photos courtesy of Johnny Rodgers©2003