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Monday, May 21, 2018
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Kiss, Def Leppard rock all - well, some of the night

They may have wanted to rock and roll all night and party every day. However, work, kids and age (and an impending curfew) had caught up with the capacity crowd at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, causing many of us to rock until elevenish before worrying about how Thursday night would affect Friday’s responsibilities.

For a few hours, though, tomorrow seemed as far away as it did when the middle age adults were teens as Kiss and Def Leppard brought their biggest hits to Tampa.

Behind the makeup, pyrotechnics and dragon boots, Kiss was fairly pedestrian, which should be expected when a band qualifies for social security.

Surprisingly, the sound quality for Kiss was muffled, which did not take much away from the opening song, “Psycho Circus,” a fairly weak start to a show focused more on mugging for the camera, bragging about the band’s recent entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and asking people to yell louder (it isn’t the crowd’s fault Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are suffering from hearing loss) than it was on the actual songs.

“Shout it Out Loud” was an early favorite before Gene’s trademark fire spit during “Hotter than Hell,” an appropriate song for this night and an impressive feat considering the humidity. In fact, all of the classic Kiss tropes were on display, including tongue wags, Paul flying over the audience (“Love Gun”), Gene flying and spitting blood (“God of Thunder”),loud explosions that would probably affect the audience the next day, yelling the name of the city an infinite number of times and guitar solos by the guitarist Not-Ace Frehley. Of course, they created many of these iconic moments, so they should be given the benefit of the doubt.

The only surprise was Paul reminding us of the importance of prayer, in his high pitched accented voice that sounds like a Brooklyn grandmother from a sit-com.

Running out of time due to the impending curfew at the MidFlorida Amphitheatre, Kiss thankfully dismissed the idea of an encore before sending the crowd back to their responsibilities with classics “Detroit Rock City” and “Rock and Roll All Night” with confetti.

While the crowd enjoyed the show, Def Leppard proved that songs move a crowd more than show. Joe Elliot, looking like Billy Ray Cyrus, may not hit the high notes as well as he did during their glory days, but the well preserved band gave nostalgia a good name.

“Foolin” was a reminder that behind the ‘80s production there was a talented group of songwriters. Another huge hit, “Hysteria,” was accompanied by MTV-era videos and pictures meant to remind concert-goers of their own youth, but it did more to remind us of how much better the guys in Def Leppard have aged than the rest of us.

It was followed by some of their biggest hits—“Rocket,” “Armageddon It” (sadly, the Brits don’t have better grammar than Americans) and “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, a risqué song that sounds positively quaint in the era of “Blurred Lines.”

The encore consisted of two hard rock classics; they played the hymn to the excesses of rock and roll, “Rock of Ages” (prescient that 20-somethings wrote such a song) before ending with “Photograph,” which transported the crowd back to their graduation parties a generation earlier.

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