Rock Gods or Rock Relics? That question was quickly answered when Def Leppard took to the stage after a 16 year absence from our shores.
Visiting the country to promote their new album, ‘Songs from the Sparkle Lounge’, the multi-award winning band strutted onto stage in true Rock God style and proceeded to belt out tune after tune from an impressive back catalogue of hits as well as some new material.
As the lights dimmed, smoke billowed from the smoke machine and a giant panoramic screen that spanned the length of the stage was illuminated with computer graphics and retro images of the band. The audience anticipation was building and, with the first bars from opening hit “Rocket”, singer Joe Elliot had adoring worshippers at his command.
Looking trim, toned and terrific, Phil, “Sav”, Viv and Joe covered every inch of the stage with energy, zeal and passion, as their one-armed drummer, Rick Allen, pounded the skins with more force than kids half his age. Followed by “Nine Lives” and “C’mon C’mon” from “The Sparkle Lounge”, fans were well and truly under the Def Leppard spell.
It wasn’t long before guitarist, Phil Collen, shed his shirt to reveal his glistening, muscular torso. Shortly to be followed by Rick Savage, who then donned a white sleeveless top also baring his midriff and muscly arms as he stood next to the equally taut Vivian Campbell, all three flexing their muscles in what appeared to be duelling guitar solos.
To be honest, at this point, I don’t think it would’ve mattered if there was any music playing. My eyes were being treated to a visual feast and women squealed with delight as the four members stood side by side at the front of the catwalk to perform, I think, ballads such as Two Steps Behind, Love bites, Pour Some Sugar on Me, When Love and Hate Collide and Bringing on the Heartbreak. Please forgive me if this info isn’t correct but my concentration was elsewhere at that stage! I do remember that the ballads were sung with such sincerity, it felt like Joe was singing them to me alone … if only!
At this time, a particular woman, in a green mini dress got a little too excited after Joe pointed out he liked her outfit. She decided to lift her skirt to reveal perhaps a little more than Joe would’ve expected. In fact Elliot acknowledged a few members in the crowd, luckily none got as excited as the woman in green!
When they broke into ‘Hysteria’, I got a little nostalgic and teary eyed. It was July 1992 when I last saw the band during their “in the round” tour. It was a very difficult time for me as I had lost my mother to cancer that same week. Grief stricken and feeling like my world had ended, a friend dragged me to the show and it was simply the best, most uplifting therapy anyone could have prescribed for me. Sitting in the fourth row, the band was amazing and inspiring and their music helped me at a very low point in my life. Sixteen years on and they were still amazing and looking even better than I remembered them back then!
With most members pushing close to 50, I wondered whether it was a healthy workout routine or the rock’n’roll lifestyle that preserved their youthfulnesss. Perhaps it was a bit of both but it doesn’t really matter. Churning through Animal, Armageddon It, Photograph, Make Love Like a Man and Rock of Ages these guys still had “IT” and we were getting “IT”. They know how to work a crowd and it’s not surprising they’re still selling out arenas around the world. Great music will always stand on its own two feet, no gimmicks, pyrotechnics or over the top productions required.
Vowing not to leave it another 16 years until they grace our stages again, one can only hope they stay true to their word.
Thanks to ‘rockchique’ for this review.