Live Review: Co-Headliners Mötley Crüe & Def Leppard Live at Charles Schwab Field

Mötley Crüe's bassist Nikki Sixx and guitarist John 5 performing at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, August 13, 2023, with co-headliner Def Leppard and their special guest Alice Cooper. (Photo credit: Robert Chadwick Photography)


For over ten years, Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, NE has been predominantly used for baseball games, for both the College World Series and Creighton Bluejays home games. Very rarely it has been used for concerts, transforming the outfield into a giant stage, as all the concerts go across the street at the CHI Health Center arena. The last time they had a concert event was the last Red Sky Musical Festival in 2012, featuring one of the bands on this bill. So many people packed Charles Schwab Field on Sunday, August 13, the return of a big stadium concert to the venue, with Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard with Alice Cooper. It was a memorable night at the ballpark.

I had never considered Alice Cooper as an opening act, but it was the right choice to get this concert started. It was very weird to see Alice Cooper in the daylight, but he still put on an incredible show, bringing out the theatrics and all. It was raining a bit during their performance, but that didn’t stop them from crushing it. Alice Cooper has such a talented band backing him up, including guitarist Nita Strauss, who left Alice Cooper last year to join Demi Lovato’s backing band, but joined back up with Alice Cooper this year. It is still amazing to see Alice Cooper at the age of 75 just still killing it on stage. I look forward to his next performance when he comes back to town.

The first co-headliner was the legendary UK rockers, Def Leppard. Long story short, my first ever rock concert was Def Leppard where the Nebraska Cornhuskers play baseball at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, so it was a trip to see them play at the other college baseball stadium in the state. The band has constantly been conquering the world for forty years since Pyromania made them a mega superstar band. The last Red Sky Music Festival in 2012 also had Def Leppard on the bill, so they were familiar with this venue before. Led by lead singer Joe Elliott, the whole band sounded amazing. The two-guitar attack from Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell I was surprised to hear them play a couple songs of from their latest album which was released last year, Diamond Star Halos. But, having seen the album perform well commercially, it made sense. I loved seeing the video boards projecting all the music videos corresponding to the song they were playing. The crowd was singing along to all the hits. I will never forget being in that crowd singing along to “Pour Some Sugar on Me”. Overall, a lovely performance from the lads in Def Leppard.

Finally, Mötley Crüe was ready for their return to Omaha. Back in 2015, we all thought Mötley Crüe was ending for good. Not exactly. They returned to performing live in 2022. I don’t blame them at all. That live energy they bring every night is orgasmic, and that is what happened when I saw them perform. They may not be the best band out there, but they live to tell the tale over forty years later of their pure rock n’ roll debauchery, and you have to admire that. Lead singer Vince Neil doesn’t sound the same, but it’s darn close, and that’s rock n’ roll. Bassist Nikki Sixx always gives it live, even bringing up a fan on stage to say thank you and take a selfie. Drummer Tommy Lee hits the sticks hard and even had a moment onstage to yell “My people!” and “Go Big Red!”, as a reminder that he went to the University of Nebraska for a semester in 2004 for his reality show, Tommy Lee Goes to College. But, the real MVP of the set was guitarist John 5, whom you might know for performing with Rob Zombie. This man was a perfect fit for this band, with all due respect to original longtime member Mick Mars. It breathed some fresh life, performing perfect note-by-note guitar solos from the original recordings, while still doing his own thing. They were also accompanied by two backup singers/dancers, which were well pleasing to the eye. It was electric and energetic, with the only time when the slowed down was during “Home Sweet Home” when so many cell phone lighters went in the air, an incredible sight to see. They ended their set with a roaring version of “Kickstart My Heart”, which everyone rocking out their brains. I couldn’t ask for more of an amazing first concert for me at Charles Schwab Field. I hope they continue to put on concerts there because it is such a unique venue with the downtown Omaha skyline to the south. It was a picturesque environment that I hope other artists get to experience.

Mötley Crüe

Def Leppard

Alice Cooper

All images © Robert A Chadwick

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