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Sunday, 9th December 2018
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Newcastle, England - Media Reviews

Def Leppard at the Metro Radio Arena: 'A rock show for the ages' By Ian Johnson

An unashamed nostalgia trip - and it is an absolute blast

They don't make records like Hysteria anymore. Really, they don't.

A four year labour or love, it was designed to be so bombastic, so...mega...every song could be a single.

The concept of singles (and albums for that matter) are a bit old hat now.

Judging by their birth certificates, Def Leppard should be too.

But over 40 years into the band's life, there's still fewer greater feelings than swaying, half cut with a pint in each hand, to 'Pour Some Sugar on Me'.

Singer Joe Elliot has the ability to whip the crowd into a state of (sorry about this) hysteria with just the slightest fist pump.

His voice still soars, but his swagger is what makes him a superstar.

What a frontman he is, commanding the crowd with the conviction of a lapdancer - with the crowd his transfixed punter.

Early banger Rocket stirs the crowd, followed up by the immense Animal.

It is at this point you realise that by playing Hysteria in full, they are not straying from the original running order.

Some people love this. It is a chance to hear their favourite album in full as it was meant to be.

It can, however, dull the excitement a tad. Part of the fun at a gig is not knowing what's coming next.

But they liven this up by stamping a visual identity on each number, be it lasers or the ever changing backdrop.

And it is hardly a punishment to hear these tracks in the flesh.

Gods of War. Don't Shoot Shotgun. Women.

These are awesome, awesome rock anthems, and to see them played so well live is a total treat.

Of course it is an unashamed nostalgia trip.

Half the crowd have squeezed into leather pants that haven't had an airing since Margret Thatcher was PM.

It is a two hour trip back to 1987, and it is a total blast.

At times, it is even a bit sentimental.

One moment during the album's title track, has the band as they are now juxtaposed against slow-mo footage of them back then, all jumping splits and leotards, in their hairspray heyday.

It is lovely, capturing that carefree and wild Sunset Strip-era. You can't look at it and not think of how much fun everyone must have had.

But even if guitarist Phil Collen's abs of steel haven't softened, you are reminded that everything else has moved on.

That scene - and all those crazy, crazy nights - is long dead, never to return.

All you are left with is the memories and the music, the custodians of which absolutely sparkle in keeping it alive.

As do the support, Cheap Trick, who deserve so much more than a fleeting mention.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's - a headline act in themselves - play no small part in the show's five star review, as they absolutely knock it out of the park.

Guitarist Rick Nielson showers the crowd in plecs, as singer Robin Zander - with a hat last spotted on a Tellytubby - roars his way through a simply sublime setlist littered with the likes of Dream Police and If You Want My Love, probably the most underrated classic rock track ever.

Climaxing with Surrender, complete with Nielson's barmy five neck signature axe, if that was all I'd witnessed on Sunday night, I'd have left a happy man.

Thankfully it wasn't, and somehow, Def Leppard arguably staged an even better show. After Hysteria, they wheeled out an encore of anthems.

Rock of Ages was particularly lush, as was When Love and Hate Collide.

Joe Elliot promised the crowd they will be back. For a band ever approaching bus pass territory, you hope they still have more than one last hurrah left in them because, as a live act, they are magnificent.

By Chronicle Live 2018.


Def Leppard at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle By Adam Kennedy

Def Leppard turns back the clocks at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.

It’s been three years to the day since Def Leppard last performed in the North East of England. However, tonight the group will deliver a show with a difference. This year marks the 31st anniversary of the band’s seminal album Hysteria. The aforementioned being a record which garnered worldwide album sales in the region of 25 million copies as well as racking up an impressive seven hit singles. This being an incredible achievement to say the least.

Back in 2013, Def Leppard performed their landmark album in Las Vegas, and since that date, the group has been wanting to repeat this on home turf in the UK. Subsequently, it’s taken five years to make this happen, but the ‘Hysteria and More’ tour finally arrives on Tyneside this evening.

We presently live in an age where music fans consume songs rather than albums. This is largely due to the advent of streaming services such as Spotify. The beauty of this evening’s show is that the crowd are treated to a live performance of Hysteria in full and as the artist intended. Tonight’s show features all of the hits along with rare live performances of the deep cuts.

As Phil Collen leads the band into “Women”, the Tyneside faithful are immediately transported to classic rock heaven. The first half of the set is jam-packed with back to back classics from “Rocket” and “Animal” through to the beautiful ballad “Love Bites” along with the anthemic “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. Hearing each of these tracks performed in sequence such as this just brings home how strong this album really is. Each number is a crowd pleaser in its own right, packed full of catchy hooks and infectious melodies.

With a gargantuan video wall at the rear of the stage, a spectacular laser light show and a catwalk which stretches out into the middle of the arena bringing the fans closer to the action, tonight’s formidable stage production most certainly enhances the overall concert experience.

As Joe Elliot addresses the crowd for the first time of the evening, the house lights illuminate the packed out Metro Radio Arena crowd. With the loud roar of the fans and the sea of smiling faces, you can immediately feel how much Hysteria means to those present.

The current line-up of Def Leppard has been together now for 26 of their 31 year history. Despite this Vivian Campbell has still yet to brush off the ‘new boy’ title from frontman Joe Elliot. Leading on from this one of the most touching moments of the evening comes during “Gods of War”, which features a heartfelt tribute to the late great Steve Clark by way of images and video footage of Dep Leppard’s sadly missed axe man in action.

One of the many highlights of the set is “Run Riot”, which is so catchy the chorus simply stays with you for days. The title track itself is a magical slice of pop/rock, which comes complete with some blistering twin part guitar harmonies from Campbell and Collen. During the latter of which Joe Elliot segues a few bars of David Bowie’s “Heroes” to great effect. The band take Hysteria home with closing track “Love and Affection”, which in turn leaves the crowd wanting more.

A five-song encore featuring the very best of Def Leppard’s discography that sits before and after Hysteria brings the show to a close. This includes the likes of “Let’s Get Rocked”, “Rock Of Ages” along with “Photograph”.

Tonight, it’s fair to say that Hysteria has aged just like a fine wine, it stills sounds just as fresh and as relevant as it did back in 1987.

Opening the show this evening is Cheap Trick, who make their first appearance in the North East in almost 30 years. The band delivers a career spanning set including timeless classics such as “Dream Police”, “Surrender”, “The Flame” and “I Want You To Want Me”. The band’s thoroughly entertaining ten-song set is over too soon but certainly hits the spot. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take so long for the Rockford, Illinois based outfit to make their return to Tyneside on their next UK visit.

By National Rock Review 2018.

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