Sydney brought the peaches, and rock gods, Def Leppard, definitely brought the cream. What an evening of sensational music as the band finished the Australian leg of their Hysteria tour with a cracking show at the ICC on Saturday, celebrating 31 years of this incredible, multi-platinum, chart-topping album. Famously produced by Robert Mutt Lange, who helped the band define their unique sound, it is a staple in any distinguished rock collection.
Over 40 years now since formation, and more than 100 million albums sold, Def Leppard are a part of our hard rock, musical landscape and you would be hard pressed to find anyone on the planet who didn’t know this band. Like most fans, this was not my first sojourn into the lusciousness of a live Def Leppard performance. And like many, I was introduced at a young age via LP’s and 45’s from older siblings, the onslaught of MTV and those sexy 80’s music clips. We have all grown up together and that’s what makes these nights so exclusive.
With hardcore fans being brought together for one of the highlights of their musical calendar, the sold-out venue was already heaving. Darling Harbour was awash with Def Leppard shirts, mucho long hair (for those who still have it), and the rock antics of loyal followers was in full swing.
We all know these special gigs will not disappoint, so even now, after a day or so of head thumping from their music, (which is fine as it means great fun was had by all), I am more than ecstatic to report on another magical Def Leppard gig.
After a great support act from Dallas Crane, somewhat soothing the wounds of the Scorpions cancellation due to illness, this excited Sydney crowd could barely wait for Def Leppard to appear. Despite the crushing Scorpions cancellation, we’re hoping for a full recovery and perhaps a rescheduling of this tour for their Australian fans in Melbourne and Sydney.
Knowing we would get the ‘Hysteria’ album, in its entirety, was enough for our salivation to begin the minute this tour was announced! Not just a rock classic, this album is a timeless masterpiece, and from the moment Def Leppard appears, to their last note, it’s rock lunacy.
The cranking of ‘Women’ begins and ICC is going berserk. Grown men are letting their post-youth craziness come out and the women are showing their appreciation, albeit in a more mature manner, dancing seductively and hoping to catch the attention of their idols. A woman I met outside warned me she would go ballistic before the band made it on stage, and indeed she did!
It’s cool to be yourself here and we can barely wait to hear our favourite Def Leppard songs. It was difficult to focus and take notes amongst all the controlled chaos. ‘Rocket’, of course, was up next. Sounding crystal clear, every band member is in top form, and with such adversity and continued personal difficulties, it’s a treat to be spoiled by so many tours and to see the guys look so happy, healthy and sounding sublime.
We are more than feeling it in our blood with ‘Animal’! The venue is already copping an absolute pounding as we revel in a night of wicked music and crowd escapades; which is just the way Def Leppard would like it. It’s so difficult to not get butterflies as you hear the first few bars of ‘Love Bites’ and watch the laser beams, from the stunning light show, moving across the crowd. This has to be one of the most seductive rock ballads in history and I can only imagine the millions of saucy stories that have become attached to this song over the last few decades… well, maybe we shouldn’t imagine!
It’s such a joy to hear the songs that don’t usually make the set list. Delivering gem, after gem, it’s like we’ve all been thrown into another world, we’re so engrossed that I actually forget I’m in Sydney. Then we hear… those riffs… those drums… and sounds of ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’. If this tune doesn’t bring even the most hardest of fans ‘freak on’, I don’t know what will. Absolute perfection from song to song, I cannot pick anything to pieces as we move through ‘Armageddon It’.
Def Leppard are still flawless and it’s a real testament to them as musicians, and as people, that their enthusiasm, energy and vigour hasn’t dissipated. The solidarity of fans witnessing the longevity, and genuine camaraderie of all band members, is a sight to be behold. With the nonstop shouting, whistling and singing from the crowd, it’s obvious that everyone is acknowledging these facts too. Touring is such a hard slog and each band member is looking and playing faultlessly, which leaves us all in awe.
After an always touching ‘Stephen Clark tribute’, the set list moves through ‘Gods Of War’, ‘Don’t Shoot Shotgun’ and ‘Run Riot’ at a frenetic pace, I’m almost relieved when we get some ‘Hysteria’. This is so heavenly and Def Leppard are one of those bands that bring such a rich live performance, you are rocking one minute and then hypnotically floating when the love songs are played. I’m telling you, I could get a dose of this on a weekly basis!
By the time we get to the end of the ‘Hysteria’ album with ‘Excitable’ and ‘Love And Affection’, our greedy music brains are already trying to think of which other songs may make the cut tonight. An ovation sweeps over the crowd and we are teased with some casual AC/DC riffs of ‘Back In Black’ and ‘Highway To Hell’ before launching into an oldie, but a goodie, with ‘Let It Go’ for the first encore song. They let rip until rock ballad ‘When Love And Hate Collide’ calms us before we head off again in the Def Leppard spaceship for ‘Let’s Get Rocked’. The venue erupts once more and no one is moving after this second ovation. Then the rattling and rolling begins to bring the band back for some more. This is one very devoted and hungry Sydney crowd and I have seen many generations across the venue here. Some more please, Def Leppard! We get our wish with the anthemic ‘Rock Of Ages’ and the delectable ‘Photograph’. What a way to finish our night, as another very long and vocal standing ovations kicks in. The sincerity was there from both sides, musician and fan. Australia, in general, has always waited eagerly for every announcement of a Def Leppard tour, which just proves we have great taste.
Tonight has been absolutely superb. Everything you want in a rock concert: brilliant musicianship, with some of the best rock songs and rock ballads ever written, and a beautifully crazy, sold out crowd of loyal devotees. The satisfied throng got what they wanted from Def Leppard and more. Outside, the contentment continued as fans chatted away about this sensational show. We even heard a nearby restaurant echoing Def Leppard music as we walked past, with fans singing away while enjoying some late night food. Many moved on to Sydney rock venue, Frankie’s Pizza, and it was a night of ‘I was just at Def Leppard too’ as we caught up with friends and acquaintances, not wanting our night of rock to end just yet. The final consensus was the same with everyone we spoke to as they beamed about this latest Def Leppard show. The crowd went wild once again when Frankie’s played ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’.
Def Leppard, you still rock, the same as you always have, and we can’t wait for our next tour announcement!
© MARINA KNEZEVIC 2018. All Rights Reserved.