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Love Bites: Def Leppard and Heart @ Gibson Amphitheater, 9/7/11

September 8, 2011

“I don’t wanna touch you too much baby
‘Cos making love to you might drive me crazy
I know you think that love is the way you make it
So I don’t wanna be there when you decide to break it

(Love bites, love bleeds)
It’s bringin’ me to my knees
(Love lives, love dies)
It’s no surprise
(Love begs, love pleads)
It’s what I need”

About a year ago I was sitting in Miss Pamela’s writing class when she gave us the assignment to write about our greatest fear.

My greatest fear is that I’ll never fall in love.

It’s the world’s most championed emotion, and my most elusive one.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never been ‘in love’ with someone. I’ve had one-sided love, unrequited on either side of the equation…but I’ve never had that moment where both of us have given ourselves over emotionally to each other. Yes, the girl that shares her life to the public on this site…the girl that has spent the majority of her adult life in two long term relationships…that girl has a little piece of her heart that has remained guarded and untouched, even from herself.

Non-romantic related love….now I’ve got that down! And on this particular night, when one of my top musical loves had to cancel his show, I found myself amidst two bands that have created some of the ‘best’ love songs of all time.

The other two shows I’ve attended at the Gibson have been exceptional, and once again, the place was packed to the brim. It was date night for the middle-aged crowd; I fully enjoyed feeling like I was one of the youngest people there. As we walked down to our amazing last-minute seats, we were barely settled in as the lights dimmed and the show began.

I don’t think I own a Heart or Def Leppard record, but I know almost every song because they are those kind of bands. Over the next three hours, some of the most popular love ballads and anthems of the last few decades pleased the crowd…even myself, even though in a way it was like watching a foreign film.

The last time I saw Heart was at the San Francisco rodeo…seriously! There are two things I really like about Heart: they love Led Zeppelin, as do I, and always play a couple of covers, and Nancy Wilson is amazing (and was one half of one of my favorite famous couples, her ex-husband being Cameron Crowe). They started off with a cover of Zepp’s “Rock and Roll” before going into their own material. As the hits started to roll, “Magic Man”, “What About Love”, “These Dreams”, “Alone”, “Crazy On You”…I felt like an alien infiltrating a sorority of girls with perfect on paper lives that hit all those landmark life goals at the traditionally appropriate times. The drama filled songs with their warm and fuzzy lyrics are not completely lost on me; I can envision these emotions as played by characters in my mind…but as the husbands and sugardaddies in the room held their dates tight as their happy drunkenness got them steps closer to getting laid really good that night, it made me feel pretty alone. So I focused on Nancy’s guitar moves, and let the soaring songs lead me into some ’80s fantasy sequence. I spend a lot of time watching really angry music; it took me about half the set to realize this was kind of a nice break. Covers of “The Battle of Evermore” and The Who’s “Love, Reign O’er Me” closed out the set.

Def Leppard, for me, is pretty much the ultimate sleaze rock band. I can’t think of pretty much any of their songs without the supporting visual imagery of big blond hair, voluptuous bodies, sporadic clothing, and gyrating movements. Ah, to be a child of the ’80s and to receive such mixed messages about sexuality. They kicked off the show with a new song, “Undefeated”, which fell on…ahem…deaf ears, but the crowd forgave them by the time they got to “Let’s Get Rocked”. The band looked and sounded really good…well, Phil Collen looked like a robot. Speaking of, I remember being highly confused by some elements of this band when I was a pre-teen. Ok, let me get this straight….Phil Collen and Phil Collins are two different people….and the drummer doesn’t have an arm? GET OUT!

The set truly began when they got to “Foolin'” into “Love Burns”….it was like the male voice to match Heart’s female voice regarding matters of the heart, if you live in the kind of world where love is a Hollywood film. It reminded me of middle school dances, or my high school/college boyfriend who ironically played the album Monster Ballads incessantly, singing love songs while in reality he was cheating on me non stop. I truly recognize these as great songs…but while the men in the room started inching their warmed up dates towards the door, for me, listening to them, especially live, was kind of like a comedy/satire. I can’t really take them seriously. I mean, people don’t really say things like this to each other, right?!

The members came to the front of the stage to perform what I like to call ‘The Stalker Song’- “Two Steps Behind”. Funny how if that were written today, it would probably be about Facebook stalking. And probably wouldn’t have been a hit. That gave way into “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”…which to a jaded individual such as myself, was the most honest pairing of songs. Pursuit = heartbreak; I always want what I can’t have.

“Gypsy, sittin’ lookin’ pretty
The broken rose with laughin’ eyes
You’re a mystery, always runnin’ wild
Like a child without a home
You’re always searching, searching for a feeling
That it’s easy come and easy go”

As “Switch 625” began, my friend and I rejoiced as the bombastic rock moves that defined the ’80s were busted out…but we were alone as the audience was there for the ballads! Thinking about ’80s bands so much tonight, I think if I died tomorrow I’d like to come back as an ’80s rock star just for a bit…they really had it made.

The set ended with the one-two-three punch of “Photograph”->”Pour Some Sugar On Me”->”Rock of Ages”…did I shake my hips during that middle one? OF COURSE! I couldn’t have stopped myself if I tried. That sealed the deal for the men in the room, as they probably popped a pill with their last sip of beer as they escorted their tipsy women home.

My love issues aside, it was one of the more pure fun shows I’ve been to in a while. Perhaps I care too much about the music I go to see sometimes to have fun with it, and perhaps that is my most fundamental problem I have in general.


  1. Being someone who has the same fears, I can relate, girl! Sounds like this show was just what you needed. Great write up 🙂

  2. Like all your stuff BUT especially the ones close to my heart!!! Would’ve loved to have gone with you to this one chick!!!

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