KISS/DEF LEPPARD, USANA AMPHITHEATRE, Monday, June 23, 7 p.m., $22.50-$159
It's pretty easy for the hipper-than-thou crowd to poke fun at this double-bill. But when it comes to amphitheater-sized hard-rock excursions this summer, it doesn't get much bigger or better than this one. Some will look at KISS's less-than-graceful induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, when they couldn't let bygones be bygones with founding members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, as proof that the band showing up Monday for their summer tour opener isn't the "real" KISS. Those folks conveniently like to forget that the band led by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons has recorded and toured about as much (or more) of its 40-year history without Criss and Frehley as with them in the band. It might be heresy for hardcore fans to see other guitar players and drummers wearing the '70s-era makeup, but for casual fans like myself, the bombastic show full of familiar hits will be just fine, thanks.
Def Leppard doesn't have the same divided fan base as KISS. Indeed, the British quintet has persevered through their own tragedy-driven lineup changes and come back all the more popular, like when drummer Rick Allen lost an arm in a car wreck and the band returned after a lengthy break to sell even more copies of Hysteria than they had of breakthrough hit Pyromania. Some older fans might have felt the band got a bit too glossy as they evolved into the '90s, but at their best, the band remains a straightforward rock band with a knack for writing hook-filled hits. A few bars into "Photograph" on Monday night, and many in the venue will forget it's 2014, not 1984.
Canadian rockers Kobra and the Lotus open the show.