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Spot The Difference By Justine ColeRemember Def Leppard? After all, they say out of sight is out of mind and as it's a good 18 months since the band last trod the boards in good ol' Blighty, you'd be forgiven if you'd forgotten their existence.
However, a packed Marquee paid testimony to the fact that Def Leppard still possess considerable pulling power and, after such a prolonged absence, the question on everyone's lips was undoubtedly: Can Leppard still cut it live?
Judging by their almost unnerving slick performance in the hothouse atmosphere, the answer is unquestionably in the affirmative and, in the somewhat predatory world of HM where only the fittest of rock animals can hope to survive, Def Leppard proved beyond doubt that they are the sleekest of big cats.
Whilst always possessed of cocksure arrogance and a fine brand of delivery, Leppard's Stateside jaunts have given them a polish and depth which hitherto they lacked: plus, the introduction of Phil Collen to the fold has given them a sharp new dimension, both musically and visually.
Def Leppard's newly acquired maturity manifests itself in the pacing of their set. Whereas once they would have been content to 'bludgeon' you into submission, they now ally muscle with melody, a case in point being 'Bringin' On The Heartbreak'. A triumph of light and shade, this demonstrates an impeccable sense of timing, a quality which I find lacking in all too many of today's bullying buffoons.
New material from 'Pyromania' came over well, the highlights being 'Rock Of Ages' - an absolute stormer of a number featuring agreeably absurd lyrics and a suitably abrasive delivery from Joe Elliott - and the somewhat more ponderous 'Billy's Got A Gun' which boasts UFO-esque lyrical imagery and a gritty lead-break from the much maligned Phil Collen, whose gutsy style proves that he's more than just a pretty boy as many had feared.
Leppard 1983-style are flash, brash and have all the pride of their leonine namesakes. Quite simply, Def Leppard have come of age and look set to confound their critics with no small degree of style.
By Sounds 1983.
Def Leppard At The Marquee By Robin Smith
Well Dears, everybody but everybody was there. Birds of paradise in war paint and tight jeans brushed shoulders with Pete Way (UFO) and friends. This show was definitely the event in the Marquee's winter calendar and Leppard surpassed all expectations. I must confess that before I've found their onstage antics a little embarrassing, because Joe Elliott always seemed to be aping the bigger boys.
But for this gig Leppard truly pulled out the plug and played as if their lives depended on it. Nitty and gritty, they sailed through a performance polished bright as a mirror. Leppard cracked the whip with 'Photograph' which makes a surprisingly good transformation to the stage and bled all over the place with 'Lady Strange' and 'Bringin' On The Heartbreak'. After a warm up gig like this, the tour should be a real heartstopper as we say.
By Record Mirror 1983.
Def Leppard At The Marquee By Dave Ling
Def Leppard have improved dramatically since they last trod the UK boards 18 months ago. Which isn't meant to imply that the Leps that headlined half-full Odeons and Apollos back in 1981 were no-hopers, simply that the time spent so controversially in the arenas of the States and away from their British fans has done them the world of good. If the tell-tale signs were present last time out, the Sheffield quintet have matured into something very special indeed.
Joe Elliott has always been very self-assured to the point of cockiness, but even Def Leppard's frontman suspects that the average heavy metal fan see's his band as "rich, arrogant bastards who ought to go back to America." This secret show - billed simply as 'Special Mystery Guests', and arranged to promote the soon-to-come third album, 'Pyromania' - confirmed why Americans have adopted Leppard as their own. Rightly or wrongly, Leppard have had to deal with plenty of negativity concerning their Stateside success so far, but 'Pyromania' is easily their best shot at repeating that kind of stardom here in their homeland.
'Pyromania' fare like the delightfully powerful opener 'Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)' prove that Leppard's choruses have become slicker and more commercial than ever, without sacrificing the dumbly appealing heaviness of, say, 'Rock Brigade' or 'High 'N' Dry (Saturday Night)'. And although the Thin Lizzy influence remains with 'Lady Strange', 'Overture' and 'Getcha Rocks Off', newies like 'Photograph' and 'Billy's Got a Gun' ("About a mixed up little boy" according to Elliott) suggest that with the help of production svengali 'Mutt Lange' they've also grasped the knack of tempering the occasional cumbersome arrangement with light and shade. Meanwhile, the absurdity of 'Rock Of Ages' - featuring bassist Rick Savage, "Sheffield's answer to Rick Wakeman" on keyboards - is proof that their collective sense of humour hasn't been neutered whilst in the company of Uncle Sam.
Those who feared that new recruit Phil Collen, formerly of mascara-glad glamsters Girl, would be a pretty boy fill-in for the shandied-up ex-guitarist Pete Willis were in for a pleasant surprise. Got up in natty looking string vest, Collen let rip with gritty lead runs and stinging solos, quickly winning the crowd over and forming an effective partnership with the grinning Steve 'Steamin' Clark. For all his bravado, Elliott struggled with some of the higher notes, but the heaving Marquee seemed to empathise with his status as a regular, albeit slightly more fiscally endowed, geezer.
As an impossibly inebriated Brian Robertson of Motorhead was somehow dragged out from the bar to join them for a rampant encore cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Travellin' Band', even the last doubter must have been left eating their words.
By Classic Rock 1983.
Def Leppard are to play a one off gig at London's Marquee prior to their forthcoming UK tour. It'll be on February 9 and a number of 'name' artists are rumoured to be making an appearance, also a 'special surprise' for Leppard themselves is promised.
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