By ELIZABETH GARONE
Full disclosure. Growing up in the '80s, I was not a big Def Leppard fan and never even considered going to one of their concerts.
But two-and-a-half decades later came the irresistible bait: the ticket plus a pre-party at a gorgeous Alameda home with alcohol and catered food and 88 other moms like me, chartered buses for the ride to the show and back, and a T-shirt emblazoned with "Def Cougar" across the chest, all for a mere fifty-five bucks.
I was in, big fan or not.
Last September's word-of-mouth event attracted 47 East Bay moms; this year's event, 89 -- plus a waiting list. "Clearly the band still has it," co-organizer Karin Fox, an Alameda real estate agent, told me. This was Fox's fifth Def Leppard concert.
When I told my husband -- our family's band guru -- my plan, he immediately started grilling me on Def Leppard and Poison songs I could name (I hadn't even heard of Lita Ford, so he didn't bother asking me about her). When I responded with my oft-used line, "I'm sure I'll know them when I hear them," he YouTubed some of their greatest hits and played them for me on our big-screen Mac, the volume maxed out. I immediately recognized "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Photograph" (the first most likely from seeing Tom Cruise's interesting interpretation of it in Rock of Ages this summer).
While my husband was trying to give me a Leppard tutorial (filling me in on the world's most famous one-armed drummer, for example), I was targeting my triceps. (At 45, it had been a number of years since I purposefully had donned a fitted, black, short-sleeve T-shirt.).
At 5 p.m. on Friday, the pre-party began. It was a sight to behold: 89 middle-aged women in matching "Def Cougar" tees downing Jell-O shots, sipping on pomegranate vodka martinis, and munching on catered Mexican food.
The longest line of the night -- even longer than the one at Sleep Train Pavilion's women's bathroom -- proved to be the one for the couple of moms who were wielding scissors. By the end of the party, the floor was covered in black shreds, and only a handful of shirts looked the way they had when their wearers had arrived. The rest were shredded -- or at least missing their tight neckbands.
Concord, here we come.
After a group photo on the front stairs (it was a massive house), we boarded the two full-sized buses. Through the Caldecott tunnel and 45 minutes later, we emerged into another world: the Sleep Train Pavilion packed with Poison and Def Leppard fans.
If anyone tries to tell you the '80s are dead, just tell them to take the next BART train to Concord -- and they will realize they are mistaken. Spandex pants, bandanas, and big hair were everywhere -- and that was on the men. Fishnet stockings, copious amounts of makeup, Joan Jett-style hair and feathers rocked the females.
Poison had already taken the stage by the time we arrived (Lita Ford was long gone), and our large pod quickly dispersed into smaller subsets around the packed lawn area. No surprise that Poison's signature ballad "Every Rose Has its Thorns" and "Nothin' But a Good Time" received the biggest responses from the crowd, made up of a mix of 40-somethings (and a few older throwbacks) reliving their high school years as well as some teens and pre-teens who were likely seeing the bands for the first time.