The Stadium Tour

Bret Michaels
Bret Michaels
By Jet Tessman
Photos Lewis Leveridge
It was Monday evening August 22nd, 2022. The nonstop torrential downpour that had been flooding parts of the Dallas Ft Worth Texas Metroplex would finally subside around 3 pm. The warnings to not travel by car unless absolutely necessary would soon expire, just in time for the long awaited ‘Stadium Tour’ concert at Globe Life Field in Arlington. The previously twice postponed event featuring Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and special guest Classless Act, had fallen victim to the mandatory cancellations due to the Covid 19 pandemic. The initial performance date had been scheduled for September 27, 2020, but after the rise of variant strains of the virus, and the CDC’s recommendations to prolong the cautious social restriction measures, it would be 2 years later that the show would finally happen. 
DFW is home to a lot of aging/midlife rock and metal fans that grew up with the legendary Texas Jam festivals at the Cotton Bowl, and still raise the finger horns every weekend at local tribute shows to the artists they still celebrate. It is home to probably the largest tribute scene in the country, and there’s a band for almost any rock artist you could name. These fans turned out to fill the Stadium to capacity, nothing was gonna stop the show this time!
Although I arrived in plenty of time, the media window was closed, and I couldn’t get my pass. Back to the truck for a lonely tailgate beer. Back in the day there would have been several groups of people at their trunks and tailgates throwing back a few cold ones, skipping the first few bands, but on this cool and overcast Monday afternoon at 4:30, there was only the occasional straggler headed for the doors. I waited for the staff to finally sort out the confusion which seemed to affect all the media reviewers and photographers and caused me to miss the first 2 acts. I can’t complain however, as I heard some pretty high numbers for ticket prices to this event. The average is somewhere around $300. 
Once inside, the scene was like being at any local tribute show as I seemed to know everyone there. Friends, fans, and musicians all excited to re live the real experience of seeing the same bands we all followed when we were teens. The crowd was looking much different these days than we did in the ’80s of course… all of us with a few more pounds, and the scene more a tapestry of gray and bald heads instead of mullets. The electric energy still remained however, and the excitement was in the air. 
Globe Life Park is the new home of the Texas Rangers baseball team.  Having been built with a massive price tag, practically right next to its predecessor, many argued the new structure was unnecessary, other than that it has a roof that would defend against inclement weather and the oppressive Texas heat. It has since been a frequent host to large traveling tours and shows, and the measures they go through to undergo the temporary transformation are immense. The entire playing field is covered in large interlocking plastic flooring pieces. The center of the field is barricaded off with large tubs of water stabilizing support wires for the spotlight system. There are a few small temporary drink service counters around the perimeter. 
The sound seemed boomy and unclear. The kick drum was thundering and seemed to swallow any mid range acoustics and detail, although the vocals were rather clear. I wondered if this imbalance was the same for all traveling acts, or if different genres and productions sound differently in the makeshift concert venue. Lady Gaga was scheduled to appear the next night, and I wondered how they would manage to remove this massive stage production and install hers in less than 24 hours!  I would have thought the architects of such a massive, expensive, state of the art facility, in this day and age, would have found new methods and ideas to design the music venue function into the build. The acoustic consistency would be a bonus. But I do tend to overthink these things, maybe it was time for a beer. 
Drink prices were what you’d expect, $11-14 for beers, and various prices upwards of that for liquor and mixed drinks. The lower level service areas seemed poorly planned for any kind of event. They insisted that foot traffic travels in one direction thru the lower dugout area, first passing the massive ladies’ room line (prompting a bit of empathy for them) only to find that the men’s line was just as long. The bathrooms are way too small to serve the thousands of patrons! And there appeared to be only one set on each side of the main floor. There were a few small drink service windows, and card tables set up in the hallway with bottles all over them for liquor service (be advised, they served no scotch.. everything but!).  Nothing about any of this seemed like the focus had been on making the new venue any better of an experience for the patron than its predecessor. The most common complaint was that smoking was simply not allowed anywhere, no lounge, and no ins/outs of the stadium. 
Poison was on first of the big three. Def Leppard would headline this night but were scheduled to alternate that spot with Motley Crue for each show.  Kicking it off with ‘Look What the Cat Dragged In’, and closing the one hour set with ‘Nothing But a Good Time’, the rest was a showcase of all their greatest hits. ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ had the place twinkling with cell phone flashlights. Brett Michaels told the narrative of a few of the songs including that ‘Every Rose’ was written in a laundromat in Dallas, and that ‘Talk Dirty to Me’ was the first song they ever played in Texas. CC DeVille was looking healthy and sober. He had apparently had some recent struggles but was on top of his game with a guitar solo that morphed into a tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen. Rikki Rockett, banged out an impressive drum solo while making clever use of a sports whistle. Michaels, a lifelong diabetic announced that Rikki had recently beat cancer. The band, with all of its original members, was solid and healthy, and every bit as energetic as they were back in the day. A heartwarming story of longevity and perseverance.
Motley Crue came out swinging with ‘Wildside’, followed by ‘Shout at the Devil’ and ‘Too Fast For Love’.  Each band member got their chance to chat on the mic. Tommy Lee took his turn to talk about a recent bender he went on and how he posted his own nudes to social media. He then announced ’C’mon, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours! Whip em out guys!’ But from what I could tell nobody obliged except one that pushed his forearm thru his shorts and was blasted on the jumbo screens. In traditional Motley fashion, the dancing back up singers carried the show for Vinces’ sub par vocals and missed lyrics. Giant inflatable statues of nude women on the stage, and the breasts of beautiful female fans in the crowd on the screens made for a traditional Motley show.  Machine Gun Kelley joined the band on stage for ‘The Dirt’ but the audience seemed unimpressed. Tommy’s piano on ‘Home Sweet Home’ seemed pitched low, likely for Vinces’ sake, but the twinkle lights were out again as the whole place sang along. Motley had signed a contract just a few years back stating that they would never play as a band again. After bilking fans for massive ticket prices on a ‘final tour ever’, and insulting other bands that came back out of retirement, they themselves tore up the contract after only a few short years, and here they are back on the road. The fans don’t seem to mind.  I’m mildly irritated. I think their next album should have a ‘did it for the money’ theme, you know just come clean about it.  
Sigh. What can I say about Def Leppard?  I mean ya, I’m a fan but they’re not my favorite. Here in Dfw however they’re a big deal. Most of the chatter I heard after the show was that they were the best act. It’s impressive what they’ve overcome as a band and that they’re still charging hard after all these years.  Their new album ‘Diamond Star Halos’ came out this year.  It’s tough being a big act from back in the day because most people just want to hear the hits from that era. All the other bands on this tour realize that, and only Motley played a new song, ‘The Dirt’ in their set. A few years ago I saw DL and they played a lot of covers in their set including ‘Sweet Child of Mine’. That seemed completely unnecessary in my opinion. This show started off with a few classic hits like ‘Let if Go’, ‘Animal’, and ‘Foolin’. It wasn’t long before they slipped in a few new songs that barely anyone knows, and in the middle of the show broke down to a pair of acoustic songs ‘This Guitar’ and ‘Two Steps Behind’. A massive lull in my opinion. I knew there were several hits left, but also plenty of time to get out before they played ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’. I always thought they must have bought that song from whomever was writing for Paula Abdul in the 80’s. Maybe they overheard it thru the studio walls and were just messing around and accidentally recorded it as a joke.  Whatever the case it doesn’t fit with any of the rest of their catalog. As a middle aged rocker myself, I realized this was my chance to beat the traffic and possible rain and take my leave. I skipped out before the end of the set. Why not, the tour staff screwed me out of the first 2 acts so this review was going to be incomplete anyway.           
Overall, the show was over the top. The stage set was enormous, and that road crew has to be exhausted!  For me though, I won’t be too excited to see another concert at Globe Life. It’s a sports stadium, not a concert venue. I don’t know why live music is always an afterthought, like when a bar decides to put a stage in the corner… 
DEf Leppard
Joan Jett
Motley Crue