Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe - The Stadium Tour in Buffalo, NY

It’s been over 2 years since Mötley Crüe destroyed their contract to cease touring, which was put in place during their farewell tour back in 2015. They were poised to embark on massive summer outing with Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett back in 2020. However, like so many of this summer’s tours, it was delayed, twice. It’s been several years since I’ve seen any of the bands on this lineup, so the time only added to the anticipation. Finally, this is the year that tours are (largely) happening unimpeded by COVID. Wednesday’s show at Highmark Stadium, just outside of Buffalo, NY demonstrated just how eager fans were to crowd stadiums again and sing along with their favorite artists.

One benefactor of this tour delay was the show opener, Classless Act. Despite being the first of five bands, and beginning their set prior to 4:00pm to a stadium that was far from capacity, this band took every moment of their set to announce their arrival. The band took the stage, with vocalist Derek Day the last to enter, as he ran the length of the runway right to the edge. Opening their five-song set with “This is For You,” Classless Act left an immediate impression on those in attendance.

Classless Act's Derek Day enters the stage with a full sprint down the runway

Photo credit is Travis Shinn; L-R is Griffin Tucker (guitars), Chuck McKissock (drums), Derek Day (vocals), Dane Pieper (guitars), Franco Gravante (bass)

I knew this show had an unusually early start, so I was sure to tell a fellow photographer friend of mine to make sure he got there early and didn’t miss this performance. Needless to say, he turned to me as soon as we were done photographing and thanked me. This is one of those tours were everyone that went to see Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard or any of the more established artists will tell you years from now that they saw Classless Act when they opened up this tour…even if they weren’t in the building yet.

Joan Jett followed up with a fun set, laced with all of her classic hits including The Runaways “Cherry Bomb,” her cover of The Arrows “I Love Rock n’ Roll,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and of course “Bad Reputation.”

Joan Jett enticing the crowd to sing along to "Cherry Bomb" in Buffalo
Poison's Bret Michaels brought "Nothing But a Good Time" to Buffalo on The Stadium Tour

Next up, we got a massive dose of Poison. Brett Michaels and co hit the stage and absolutely owned their timeslot. It’s hard to really compare one band to the next, or to say who had the “best” performance of the day. Every band on this lineup met or exceeded expectations, but Poison was entirely next-level when it came to pure showmanship and raw stage energy. Just as Classless Act had started the day with a bang, Poison kept the party going full-speed ahead.

Poison's C.C. DeVille in Buffalo
Poison's C.C. Deville and Bret Michaels running down the ramp in Buffalo

Vocalist Bret Michaels was running up and down the ramp, as he engaged the crowd. Both guitarist C.C. DeVille and bassist Bobby Dall both made several trips down the runway as well, riling up the crowd every time as the band ripped through an exceptional greatest hits set. Their performance included “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Fallen Angel,” “Everything Rose Has It’s Thorn” and “Nothin’ but a Good Time.” No doubt, the bar was set extremely high at this point!

Mötley Crüe's Vince Neil in Buffalo
Mötley Crüe's Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars tearing through "Same Ol Situation (S.O.S.)"

Co-headliners Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard alternate positions at the top of the bill every night. Tonight, it was Def Leppard’s night to close, so we had Mötley Crüe up next! They took the stage with a series of early hits including “Shout at the Devil” and “Too Fast for Love.” While the set was largely a greatest hits performance, it was refreshing to see the Crüe include a handful of their more recent tracks, including “Saints of Los Angeles” and “The Dirt.”

It's no secret that Vince Neil’s vocals have been the subject of criticism for several years. Heading into the show with that in mind, I found his performance to be substantially better than some of the fan-shot videos that have circulated online in the past. No, he doesn’t sound like he did on a studio album from thirty years ago, but who does? The band was tight, they brought the hits and Vince kept the momentum going.

Turning to the band, watching Mick Mars still shred at 71 years old gives me hope that several of my rock and metal heroes may still have several tours ahead of them. As the band cranked out hit after hit, it became evident that this crowd was going to leave this stadium fully satisfied. “Live Wire” and “Looks That Kill” were awesome. Crüe performed a medley including the Beatles “Helter Skelter” and the Sex Pistols “Anarchy in the U.K,” both of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Crüe perform before.

They closed out their set with a massive run of hits including “Dr. Feelgood,” “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Kickstart My Heart” before turning over the stage to Def Leppard.

Def Leppard's Joe Elliott
Def Leppard's Rick Savage

Def Leppard hit the stage at 9:30 and opened up with a brand-new single “Take What You Want,” from their new album ‘Diamond Star Halos.” From there, they brought a huge barrage of hits including “Foolin’,” “Love Bites,” Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” and “Hysteria.”

Just as every band before them, the band was right at home in a packed stadium of fans eager to hear their favorite songs! In the time we had at the edge of the ramp to photograph the show, vocalist Joe Elliott, bassist Rick Savage and guitarist Phil Collen all came to the edge of the runway to engage the crowd first hand.

Def Leppard closed out their set with another string of hits including “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph.”

This tour is selling incredibly well, but if it’s coming through your town and you haven’t decided if you’re going to pull the trigger on this one yet, do it! If you grew up in the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s or probably even now, this show will feature at least a dozen songs that you grew up listening to at the bar on any given night.

Interestingly, all three bands at the top of this lineup feature their original classic lineups, with the exception of Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard.  Campbell replaced Steve Clark after his death in 1991. Regardless of who is headlining from night to night, this tour is absolutely awesome. The show is a ton of fun and I’m so glad I was able to cover it. There’s no question, this was worth the two-year delay!