Poison frontman Bret Michaels was forced to reschedule a pair of solo gigs citing “injuries suffered at the Tony Awards June 7,” but according to Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott, Michaels is still on for the June 23rd launch of Def Lep’s summer tour with Poison and Cheap Trick. “I bet he’s had worse in bars,” he tells Rolling Stone. “We all have, really, at some point in our career. Some irate boyfriend that thinks you looked a bit too hard at the girl in the third row.”
Def Leppard are heading into the tour fresh from their buzz-generating performance with Taylor Swift at last week’s 2009 CMT Music Awards, and Elliott says the band has assembled some career-spanning sets, to keep things fresh for those who’ve seen the group in concert in recent years.
“We’ve got 90 minutes to try and keep every Leppard fan out there happy, because they’ll all get, ‘Oh, they should’ve played this, and they should’ve played that,’ ” he says. “I think if we played all night, there’d be someone saying, ‘Well, they didn’t play that B side from 1983,’ or whatever. What we’ve done is, we’ve got a tour set that’s going to change. We’ve got certain songs we’re going to flip out every night, but I doubt very much we’ll play the same set two nights in a row.”
Of course, the band has to insert certain songs from their repertoire (“Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Rock of Ages,” “Love Bites”) into every set, “or we wouldn’t get out of the building alive. If I were to see the Stones, and I didn’t hear ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ I’m going to go home disappointed,” Elliott says. Not once, though, did the band consider following in Aerosmith’s footsteps; Steven Tyler and Co. will be playing two of their albums, 1975’s Toys in the Attic and 1976’s Rocks, from front to back on their summer tour with ZZ Top.
“There might be a time in the not-so-distant future where we do something similar to what Sparks did last year,” Elliott explains; the American rockers played a 21-night stint in London, playing each of their albums in chronological order over 21 days. “We’ve thought about making it into a spectacle, at some stage in our careers, where we just do every album we’ve ever done. 12 albums over 12 days, in a theater somewhere,” Elliott reveals. “It would be fantastic to be able to film it, and put it out as a DVD, where you could buy them as individuals or you could get them like a set of encyclopedias, if you like.”
This summer’s tour follows the formula Def Lep’s been using the past five years: Team up with other mega-acts from the 1980s (like Bryan Adams, Journey, Styx, and REO Speedwagon), hit the road, and rock America’s arenas, one after the other.
“I think us, Poison, and Cheap Trick is pretty much an event,” Elliott says. “Up until 2005, we were really struggling to find opening acts that wanted to tour with Def Leppard,” he admits. “It was sort of that post-grunge hangover or whatever, and all of a sudden, the Journeys and the Foreigners and people were banging on our door. We’ve had a real mixture of ’70s and ’80s bands out with us. There are no ’90s bands around, other than Pearl Jam, and they don’t need to tour with us. So, where are you going to go? Everybody was telling us that teaming up with other bands from the ’80s was going to put bums in seats, as they say, and we’ve been embracing this for five straight summers now. It’s been fantastic, and I think this year’s going to be up there with any that we’ve done so far.”