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Sunday, 2nd December 2018
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Belfast, Northern Ireland - Media Reviews

Def Leppard – The SSE Arena, Belfast By Julie Ann Rouquette

A Def Leppard show is usually something special when it rolls into town. The support acts are usually perfectly chosen, the stage set up as over the top as you would expect, the sound perfect, and the hits churned out one after the other. And there’s absolutely no change tonight. What makes it even more special this time around is that the tour is in support of the Hysteria album, 31 years old (30 when the tour started) and arguably the most important in Def Leppard’s career, never mind its record breaking success generally.

The support acts in previous tours have been excellent, from Whitesnake to Journey, and tonight is no different with US rock legends Cheap Trick opening the show, to an almost full arena.

The band may have aged a bit, but they sound as youthful as ever with guitarist Rick Nielsen pulling out the guitar hero moves and leaping (to a certain extent) into the air at times. As for lead singer Robin Zander, his voice was strong as ever, the power and range as great as it’s ever been.

Having listened to very little Cheap Trick before the show (I know, I know, it will be remedied), they really proved just why they have the legendary status they have, why they made it in the first place and why more than 4 decades later, they’re still around.

The set list for a 45 minute set was never going to be too adventurous and for most of the Cheap Trick fans in attendance it didn’t disappoint. Saving the big hitters for the last three, “I Want You To Want Me”, “Dream Police” and “Surrender” they left the arena more than ready for the night’s headliners.

Displayed on the giant screens front of the stage is clock counting down. At five minutes we get an announcement that the show will be starting soon, and cue Def Leppard’s latest single, ‘Personal Jesus’ – yes that Personal Jesus. But it’s a great cover and blaring over the PA it sets the mood perfectly.As the clock reaches zero the screens change to display the band’s logo and “Belfast” across the screens. If there’s one thing Def Leppard have mastered, it’s pure showmanship and spectacle.

As the screens rise, the intro to Hysteria opener “Women” starts, Phil Collen already placed dead centre behind the screen. Shirtless, obviously. The set list follows the album track list, which definitely marks this Def Leppard gig out as something a little different.

Fans of the band or even just that album will know then what songs are coming. And check this out for a running order, “Rocket”, “Animal”, “Love Bites”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, and “Armageddon It.” We’re not even halfway through the show!

The chat between songs is kept to a minimum, the music does the talking. But there is time for lead singer Joe Elliott to point out that Hysteria was released 31 years, and that the current line-up has been together for 26 of those 31 years.

An impressive feat for any band, even more so when it’s clear that he’s referring to the band continuing after the passing of the much missed Steve Clarke. And there is time for a touching video tribute to the late Clarke. Of course with Clarke gone, the spot had to be filled. As we’re reminded several times throughout the show, that spot was filled by our own Vivian Campbell, known to the Leppard guys from his days with Dio and Sweet Savage.

The Hysteria juggernaut rolls on, with the second half of the album providing some tracks that maybe get the live treatment a little less, the likes of “Gods of War” and “Run Riot”, with their backing videos of war and punks. It should be added that “Run Riot” as well as “Excitable” and “Love and Affection” were being performed in Belfast for the first time.

Of course the second half of Hysteria also feature the song of the same name, always a staple of any Def Leppard show. Finishing with “Love and Affection” the band draw the Hysteria section to a close, “ladies and gentlemen, Hysteria 2018.” And with that the band take their leave for a short break before the encore.

As well as a special celebration of the Hysteria album, it also happens to be bassist Rick Savage’s birthday and once the group has taken to the stage, the audience joins in serenading the legendary bassist. With that, the encore begins. We’re told that as it’s a hometown show for Campbell, he got to choose the song and we’re treated to “Wasted” – “unrehearsed. Un-fucking-rehearsed, Belfast.”

What a way to start an encore, as heavy metal a tune as Def Leppard have gone. What follows is just hit after hit, “When Love and Hate Collide,” “Let’s Get Rocked”, “Rock of Ages” and set closer “Photograph.” Could we really ask for more?

What Def Leppard provide is a spectacle, a show of the highest calibre. They’ve proven over the last number of decades that they can churn out a hit or ten. The band may be older, but the showmanship is there. The guitars sound huge, the bass and drums could knock you off your feet, and Elliott’s vocals have enough power and range left to belt out the songs, and keep the Leppard machine running a little while longer. Old enough to be called rock veterans, they’ve earned their stripes, and when they deliver a show like Hysteria 2018 you can’t help but be impressed.

By Gigging NI 2018.


DEF LEPPARD HYSTERIA LIVE 2018 CHEAP TRICK SSE AREA BELFAST By Rock 'n' Load Mag

One of the most anticipated gigs of the year has finally arrived at the SSE Arena in Belfast, the boys are back in town and are ready to Rock!! This time they have brought Classic Rock icons Cheap Trick for company. A packed SSE and busy merch stalls tell you all you need to know about the popularity of both Def Leppard and their historic album Hysteria, now 31 years old and still in demand as ever by those raised on Rock. The energy in the crowd is electric, it may be a few years since Def Leppard have graced this town, but they could have a residency in Belfast as the love affair continues regardless of time apart.

The lights dim at 7:45, Cheap Trick hits the stage and a roar erupts as Rick Nielsen graces our presence with a swagger and attitude as bold as he was at 21, Robin Zander as formidable a figure as ever. The audience are giddy at the sight of the Illinois bad boys gracing the Belfast stage. A pocketful of classic tracks and fan favourites entice the crowd into the set song by song as the big guns are produced like the 1979 hit ‘I Want You To Want Me’ and more. The guys lay down the foundation for a formidable nights music packed with memories and like a veritable time machine, Belfast is transported back in time once again without a Marty McFly in sight!

There is a large screen adorning the stage with a clock counting down the imminent arrival of one Def Leppard, the arena is now heaving with excitable fans clambering up towards the stage as the numbers drop to zero. The time was nigh and the sounds of ‘Women’ ring out across the arena to a gargantuan roar. The lights kick and in a beautiful majestic haze of light like the Aurora Borealis, 5 Rock Gods stood before us. The sound was impeccable and for an arena that’s saying something, but these guys are old hands at it and with a trusted crew that just returned from the states after playing to over a Million souls on their last run, this is just another day in the park for the highly experienced crew.

Like a surreal out of body experience as they run through Hysteria in order on the album it’s almost like watching a live dvd in Dolby 5.1 as you are feeling every nuance coming from the stage in full glorious Technicolor! With a split-level stage Drummer Rick Allen is up above the lads although occasionally joined by both Viv and Phil alike especially during the duelling ‘Rocket’ guitar solos. As Joe walks out to the end of the ramp after ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ he talks to the corwd about the history of the Hysteria album and the journey the band have been on enduring sme tough times along the way, it’s a nice segway to introduce the hometown hero in none other than Mr Vivian Campbell, as the “New Boy” to the band he steps up front and centre to open ‘Armageddon It’ and as the gargantuan video screen picks up Viv’s Les Paul the place erupts once again.

A fitting tribute to the late great Stephen Maynard Clarke is paid and as I look down on the stage Drummer Rick Allen sits with his back to the crowd looking up at his old friend on the video screen and it’s a poignant moment. Over the course of the night Phil Collen ruins through a plethora of guitars that would make Rick Nielsen jealous, Viv sticks to his trusty Les Pauls and Rick Savage has his infamous Union Jack bass in hand. As the night draws to a close and the lads break into their encore and impromptu Happy Birthday rings out for Mr Savage before the guys tackle an unrehearsed version of ‘Wasted’ as suggested by Mr Campbell.

A sold out arena once again spends an evening with old friends in the company of more than a few beers and fine wine for the ladies, reminiscing about days gone by when Rock ruled the world and one British Rock band band stood head and shoulders above the rest. Tonight was such a night once again. The boys were back in town. If you are lucky enough you can maybe still grab a ticket or two for the remaining dates of their UK Tour.

By Rock 'n' Load Mag 2018.


When DEF LEPPARD Hit The SSE Belfast with CHEAP TRICK By Mickie O'Neil

In recent years we have seen some of the more seasoned acts do anniversary tours of career defining albums, and in the case of Def Leppard, it doesn’t define a band more than 1987’s Hysteria album. Taking over three years to record, having to buy original producer Jim Steinman out of his contract, and a tragic accident that left drummer Rick Alan losing an arm may have delayed its release, but it did not deter them.

And rightly so, as the album eventually went on to sell over 25 million copies worldwide. Tonight, a sold out SSE arena will be treated to Hysteria played in full.

The night starts with veteran power pop rockers Cheap Trick with a hit laden, but short set. Highlights include Dream Police, I Want You to Want Me, and the anthemic Surrender, with singer Robin Zander sounding every bit as good as he did forty years ago.

Cheap Trick’s highly enjoyable set however, makes way for large screen, and with clock ticking, the countdown to Hysteria is on. It’s the perfect way to get an already hungry crowd hyped up, and as the countdown hits zero and the lights dim, we get a montage of sound bites as the word ‘Belfast’ lights up in the iconic Def Leppard font.

As the screen lifts a shirtless Phil Collin bathed in red light plays the opening notes to Women, and we are underway.

The visuals meanwhile, are incredible, complementing the music perfectly. You forget – well I did anyway – just how many singles were on this monster album; Rocket, Animal, Love Bites, Armageddon It, Pour Some Sugar On Me; they’re all here, deftly demonstrating exactly how the band managed to arrive at that mind-boggling sales tally.

As the second half of the album gets underway there is a very moving tribute to the late great Steve Clarke, who passed away in 1991. Segueing from video montage into Clarke’s intro to Gods of War, it’s a high point in an already amazing show.

Run Riot and Don’t Shoot Shotgun are the first of songs that have had not too many live outings, before the title track is played note perfectly in all its glory. Love & Affection meanwhile, a song that has not been aired often, ends the hysteria section of the set.

After a brief break the band return with a track from their debut album 1980’s On Through the Night, in rare gem Wasted. When Love & Hate Collide, Let’s Get Rocked, Rock of Ages and Photograph finish the set out.

31 years on from its release Hysteria has become a classic album it can be hard to live up to such a high standard but tonight Def Leppard did so, and then some. The sound was great the musicianship was perfect, and Joe Elliott voice has not lost any of its grit and power. Do you want to get rocked? Then miss Def Leppard at your peril.

By Happy Metal Geek 2018.


When DEF LEPPARD Hit The SSE Belfast By Jace Media

In recent years we have seen some of the more seasoned acts do anniversary tours of career defining albums, and in the case of Def Leppard, it doesn’t define a band more than 1987’s Hysteria album. Taking over three years to record, having to buy original producer Jim Steinman out of his contract, and a tragic accident that left drummer Rick Alan losing an arm may have delayed its release, but it did not deter them.

And rightly so, as the album eventually went on to sell over 25 million copies worldwide. Tonight, a sold out SSE arena will be treated to Hysteria played in full.

The night starts with veteran power pop rockers Cheap Trick with a hit laden, but short set. Highlights include Dream Police, I Want You to Want Me, and the anthemic Surrender, with singer Robin Zander sounding every bit as good as he did forty years ago.

Cheap Trick’s highly enjoyable set however, makes way for large screen, and with clock ticking, the countdown to Hysteria is on. It’s the perfect way to get an already hungry crowd hyped up, and as the countdown hits zero and the lights dim, we get a montage of sound bites as the word ‘Belfast’ lights up in the iconic Def Leppard font.

As the screen lifts a shirtless Phil Collin bathed in red light plays the opening notes to Women, and we are underway.

The visuals meanwhile, are incredible, complementing the music perfectly. You forget – well I did anyway – just how many singles were on this monster album; Rocket, Animal, Love Bites, Armageddon It, Pour Some Sugar On Me; they’re all here, deftly demonstrating exactly how the band managed to arrive at that mind-boggling sales tally.

As the second half of the album gets underway there is a very moving tribute to the late great Steve Clarke, who passed away in 1991. Segueing from video montage into Clarke’s intro to Gods of War, it’s a high point in an already amazing show.

Run Riot and Don’t Shoot Shotgun are the first of songs that have had not too many live outings, before the title track is played note perfectly in all its glory. Love & Affection meanwhile, a song that has not been aired often, ends the hysteria section of the set.

After a brief break the band return with a track from their debut album 1980’s On Through the Night, in rare gem Wasted. When Love & Hate Collide, Let’s Get Rocked, Rock of Ages and Photograph finish the set out.

31 years on from its release Hysteria has become a classic album it can be hard to live up to such a high standard but tonight Def Leppard did so, and then some. The sound was great the musicianship was perfect, and Joe Elliott voice has not lost any of its grit and power. Do you want to get rocked? Then miss Def Leppard at your peril.

By Jace Media 2018.

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Phil Collen - Guitar
Phil Collen - Guitar
Phil Collen - Guitar
Phil Collen - Guitar