On this date in history I traveled to my home away from home, the glorious Market Square Arena, with 4 of my high school classmates in 1983 to witness the biggest upset of my concert-going career. Billy Squier was the headliner, but the opening act was Def Leppard, and the result was a unanimous decision knockout by the young Leppards! They had just released their 3rd album, Pyromania, and the video for “Photograph” was blowing up MTV on an hourly basis. Their popularity was cresting like a titanic ocean wave and this fact, coupled with their ferocious energy and passionate performance just obliterated Billy Squier’s performance.
To put in perspective how long ago this was, Rick Allen still had both arms and Steve Clark was still alive. Phil Collen had joined the band prior to recording the new album and his lead playing during their performance was absolutely volcanic, meshing with Clark’s low slung Les Paul classic attack.
Joe Elliot sang great and worked the crowd like a master. The contrast between his style and Squier’s was a key to how the whole show played out. Elliot was supremely confident, and Squier just seemed like he was whining every time he talked to the audience, pleading for us to stand up or make more noise, or sing along with that annoying “Stroke me, stroke me” chorus.
I had seen him open for Queen and Alice Cooper at separate shows and he was a solid opener, but he just didn’t seem to have enough mojo to pull off being a major headliner. It was clear that Def Leppard’s days as an opening act were at an end, and one rarely gets to witness the shift in power between two bands as clearly as it occurred on this night.
Rock of Ages live 1983 Pyromania Tour
Written By Braddon S. Williams