Buses....ugh....trains...ugh!. But no planes or automobiles involved in this journey to the rock capital of England...and indeed the world! Sheffield, where it all began (but more on that later...).
Continuing a tradition started in July 2002 on the first visit 'Oop North' to the band's home city, a certain album was loaded up on an MP3 player and listened to as the train pulled up at Sheffield Station. Scene of the first first meeting in June 1979 with Geoff Barton and Ross Halfin. Yes, Hysteria, played in full and now about to be witnessed LIVE from 'start to finish' at the FlyDSA Arena...but we still call it...Sheffield Arena.
Once again the countdown begins and anticipation builds for the show to start but this time with a difference following the news of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction the day before. Fittingly the first show after this news would be in the city where the band first formed - 41 years ago! in November 1977. The scene was set for another great evening celebrating 31 years of "Mass Hysteria". No need to ask if it would be good. You just new it would be. Cue Personal Jesus and the last few minutes flew by before the screen flew up above Phil and a very familiar city name appeared.
Countdown over...SHEFFIELD SHEFFIELD SHEFFIELD - so good they named it three times. Let's rock!.
Red lights shine down on the center of the stage and someone appears ("Loud and proud from London Town, Mr. Phil Collen on the electric guitar!") and the opening chords of 'Women' begin and once more we will experience the full album played, as Mr. Elliott would later say, 'from start to finish'. Wisely they did just that and didn't risk a riot by only playing Side One!.
Everyone was already in the mood to celebrate and it seemed the band were as well. All smiles from the start and again playing brilliantly. This song never sounded so good and the visuals and lights enhance it even more.
It already felt like the best 'home town' atmosphere of any of the 1, 2....6 shows witnessed here. Not counting the July 2002 four song promo appearance where they played before headliners...Westlife...yes it really happened. And Busted played before them...yes...honestly it happened. The screaming as we left the area that night and Westlife came on was...thankfully brief but still LOUD. Probably louder than this show which was again LOUD but also awesome. Not In The Round but definitely IN YOUR FACE and chest.
"We're gonna fly!"
And fly they did into the ALBUM VERSION of 'Rocket'. Yes, not the Single Version they got in Honolulu on night #2 (wtf?) or at 61 shows before that. You can't have the full album without the full album version and to witness this and HEAR this live for the second time in a week was something very special.
Another weekend, another Def Leppard show with the full Hysteria album played?. Oh yes!. Why the f**k not!. I could get used to this. Your favoutite band playing your favourite (and their best) album every weekend in a large sold out UK arena.
Unlike Nottingham this one holds over 11,000 and so has a bigger atmosphere which was building up nicely as the band rocked their way to the awesome middle section again.
It just won't feel quite right when they eventually go back to playing the Single Version.
"Grrrr!!!" or whatever noise a Leopard makes. And I want. And I need...and we got - A-ni-mal. And like every song tonight it just feels and sounds so much better when you know you are hearing it in Sheffield. A loud band and a loud crowd and the show definitely felt like it had a home town party atmosphere now.
No mention yet of any Inductions but that would follow later. In fact after the next two songs.
"If you've got love in your sights. Watch out, Love Bites."
Laser time again as the intro kicks in and yet again you discover the lasers are hard to photograph unless you have a really decent camera. But once again it was a pleasure to enjoy hearing this live and performed so well.
If there was a 1000 per cent improvement from March in Nottingham, surely they couldn't sound any better?. But they did and seeing this show and it's amazing visuals was even better the second time around. 'Audience recordings' or YouTube videos really can't replace actually being here and experiencing this show in person.
Watching the laser show for a second time was just as good as the first six days before in Nottingham. A great addition to the show and a long overdue return of lasers to a Def Leppard concert. Not used in fact since June 1993 at the now demolished Don Valley Stadium. The site remains and is now home to an Olympic Legacy Park but there is still a football pitch at least. Not quite the same travelling into the arena without those floodlights and the memories of their home coming show. Two important venues now gone but luckily another remains. Another couple actually, but again, more on that later!.
POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME
"Step Inside, Walk This Way.....HEY HEY!"
Song Number Five. Oh so familiar but still oh so awesome when you hear it live. Bass booming around the arena but not shaking it to its foundations.
The lasers and the cool video graphics enhancing this song and making it sound even more special than it did in Nottingham. By now the entire arena was bouncing and singing along to, for me not the best, but probably the most famous song in their catalogue. It's a pity they could not recreate all the laser beams bouncing off mirrors like 1987/1988 (and again on the Adrenalize tour) but it's still cool to have lasers again during this song. Helping once more to transport you back to the memories of the original Hysteria tour and that whole era.
And then in a shock move a certain lead singer couldn't help blabbing about some news which some of you may have already heard about.
Joe Elliott - "Good evening Sheffield!. How we doing?. Welcome, welcome everybody. Look at this place. Look at this f**king...look at it!. Look at yourselves, beautiful. Give yourselves a round of applause. This is what we like coming home to, this. Well welcome to Hysteria 2018. We are here with you on this cold Friday night in winter to celebrate an album that came out in the summer of 1987. August the 3rd actually which makes it 31 years old this year. Count 'em 31!. We are playing it for ya tonight from start to finish. Every note that we can squeeze out for ya. And in those 31 years since we recorded that album, since we released that album. We actually started recording it in 1984. But in the 31 years since the album came out the lineup on this stage has been together for 26 of those 31 years."
Um...I was gonna save it for the encore but f**k it. We just got inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame yesterday. It only happens once so you might as well celebrate it. And everybody out there who voted. It was the biggest fan vote of all time. So it's the fans that put us in there nobody else but the fans. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for putting us up there with all those people like The Stones and Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry and U2 and a few other great bands."
"But we're not here, we're not here for that. We're here for Hysteria and as I said 26 years together up here. Which basically means. What I'm trying to say is. I'm about to introduce ya to the new boy. From Belfast in Northern Ireland. Can you make some noise please for Mr. Vivian Campbell!."
And with that the celebrations took on a new meaning as the historic nature of the night was revealed...to the 2.5 people who maybe didn't already know about the Induction news from the day before. To me this Hall Of Fame thing was never really a big deal and I've never even seen the ceremony or heard it mentioned in any UK press on TV here before now. Just seeing a few funny speeches from the past on YouTube and hearing negative things about it any time anyone asked Def Leppard about whether they care about being inducted. Seemingly until a few weeks ago they couldn't give a flying f**k about it. So neither did I.
Until that is the Fan Vote kicked in and they took the lead within a few days and then it seemed like a big deal. And after that little pre-news speech it suddenly seemed like an even bigger deal. Cue Mr Vivian Campbell to introduce the song at the end of the Thrust. And to provide another good photo op with the band logo as the backdrop. Thanks Viv!. Another mighty fine version of the song and the end of Side One. For those of us who bought the original vinyl album and experienced our first ever full length Def Leppard album listening that way, it will always still be Side One and Side Two.
GODS OF WAR
"We're fighting for the Gods Of War." - Stephen Maynard Clark April 23rd 1960 - January 8th 1991
And here we are again with the intro to Gods Of War playing and the image of Steve Clark on the screens. A very special moment a week ago but now it takes on a whole new meaning in Sheffield. A few miles from Hillsborough where he was born and grew up and from Loxley where he is now resting on a hillside overlooking a valley.
We did not know it yet but Steve's mother Beryl was here to witness this moment and you can only imagine what this must have been like for her to see her son up on the big screen and hear his music being played as the crowd clapped or were silent in respect to him. Another very special moment and one to remember. The band's official photographer Kevin Nixon captured a great image of Sav saluting Steve on the screen as he came back on stage next to Rick and it was great to see this moment LIVE at both shows. Especially more poignant to see it here though. Rock On Steve!.
So glad I avoided watching any footage of the 'Hysteria' section when covering the shows in Hawaii, Japan and Down Under in Australia and New Zealand. Great to witness so many things 'as new' and not feel like you've seen them a hundred times already.
"And this is my very good friend Mr. Stephen Clark on the electric guitar!"
Denver (Colorado!) footage once more on the big screen before the full band arrive back on stage to start up the first of the "other five" songs. The most epic track from the album sounds every bit as epic live and even better than it did just a few days previously.
The drums were superb, the bass, the guitar work and all of the vocals. 80 shows into a tour and this band are a well oiled machine. A rocking machine made of Sheffield Steel that just keeps going and keeps getting better and better the more shows they play.
Great to have now seen/heard this magnificent song three times. Third times the charm?. Yes, it definitely was. For many years I did not think they would play this again and therefore I'd never get to repeat seeing it In The Round in 1992. But 26 years later...twice in a week. Quite epic indeed.
"Feeling like it's all over. Feeling like there's no love."
Yes we do love it and thankfully it's not over!. The outstanding outro section is upon us and this is a thing of beauty. Sounds of explosions, gunfire and helicopters mixed with guitars, bass and drums and made into something joyous. Friday night Hysteria might even be better than Saturday night Hysteria.
A few more 'rare' songs left to go before we're done with this awesome album.
DON'T SHOOT SHOTGUN
"She's so dangerous."
Yes...once again...they are actually playing this song live and you are here to witness it...and it's awesome. For many years this song could only be enjoyed 'live' through the various fan recordings and a few cool videos including the Montreal 1988 show where a certain Mr. Clark spins and jumps on the legendary In The Round stage.
Sadly Steve could not be with us but Mr. Campbell once again played some brilliant guitar in his place including another faultless solo. Vivian and Phil were again on fire, just like their band mates, and listening to and watching them play was a pleasure.
Technically speaking all of these songs are 'album tracks' ('cause they're on the bloody album!) but once more to have these other five songs and also (the these days rarely played) 'Women' in the show is a wonderful thing. Like I said a week ago...keep 'em in the set!. Play for two and a half hours!...go nuts!.
And then before you can get your breath they go right into Run Riot and the joy of seeing/hearing Side Two of the Hysteria album continues and keeps getting better.
Lots of guitar and once again it's as if the years of Two Steps Behind and Rock On at around this time never happened. No offence to those songs!. The band and the crowd are now in full flow and the giant TV screen is still showing those images of er...riots. But now it is time for some real nostalgia.
Rick Savage - "It's one of those songs I never kinda get tired of listening to. Never ever get tired of playing. For me it's the highlight of the night when we play the song. There's just a special bond between the audience and the band. Particularly on that song. I don't really know why. It's just that we all sort of come together and...it's just one of those songs that just like the band love, the crowd love as a mutual appreciation."
I include the quote again because like all songs tonight the nostalgia factor takes on an even greater significance - because we are in SHEFFIELD....ENGLAND where the band formed. Where (most of them) were born. Sav's comments were spot on and the feeling you get when seeing this live is a special one. Memories of watching videos, collecting and listening to the album and singles through 1987 to 1989. And being used to the band you discovered being at Number One in the charts and almost every single being in the Top 10 or Top 20. It's not really been quite the same since.
But here they are and this song sounds even better on this tour than it ever has before so they must still be doing something right. Sav true to his words looks like he's having a great time during this song and we were all enjoying it too!.
Two more for Side Two. It can't really be all over so soon can it?. We want more!.
"Ballistic lipstick dream machine."
The crowd and band were now all very excitable indeed. Perhaps collectively possessed by the spirit of rock and roll! Or just happy to be part of another great event. For me the intro to this song and seeing it up close with the amazing lighting and lasers effects going off as it started was another epic moment.
A moment where you think "This is f**king cool" and I'm going to enjoy this because perhaps they'll never do it again. This may indeed be the only time they'll ever perform the entire Hysteria album from "start to finish" in Sheffield. It really did look and sound truly epic.
"Sheffield! Stand Up, Say yeah! Come on everybody!."
We stood up (most of us already were) and we said yeah and then we realised there was once again only one more Hysteria song to go.
Joe Elliott - "Whoo! Thank you very much Sheffield!, Oh alright, let's take this thing home!."
Love And Affection
And take it home they did - in their home city of Sheffield. (Don't Give Me) 'Love And Affection'. And song #12 of the show and the album is now under way. Yellow lights everywhere and light bulbs on the giant screen to help enhance the atmosphere of this song.
Brilliantly played by all on stage and a great solo by Phil in place of his fellow 'Terror Twin' Mr. Clark. And then much too quickly the HYSTERIA album portion of show #2 was about to be over. What would follow this tonight?. We wouldn't have long to find out.
Joe Elliott - "Sheffield!. We give you, and you!..........Hysteria 2018!."
Hysteria 2018 - 31 years after Hysteria 1987 to 1989 from Animal in July 1987 all the way up to September 1989. 'In The Round-In Your Face' and the MTV Awards where Steve Clark made his last ever appearance with the band on a stage. And (if a certain photographer is to be believed) we can experience this again in a cinema in 2019. And at various festival shows in the UK and Europe. So the Hysteria celebrations are not over quite yet. But for tonight at least they were.
Joe Elliott - "(after mic issue) Still working, it's fine. How we doing alright?. What? Oh f**k it I'll find out later it's not important. What is important is that we are here in our birth town right. This is where it all started off. As I mentioned earlier this evening 'cause I couldn't keep my big f**king mouth closed 'cause I'm so excited. We are inducted on the 29th March 2019 into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. You have no idea how f**king cool that is. Really cool. You know we started out, me and Sav we met in August, oh god, 1977. Who wasn't born then?. See this is beautiful, new generation coming through. This is what we all want right. Some of us were alive. I gotta say one thing right. I know it's not cool to say this but we owe it all to our parents we really do. Our Mum's and Dad's they gave us a few bob to put this thing together. Some of us have still got some and some of our parents are gone and some of them are still here. Who is here tonight is Beryl Clark Steve's Mum. She's in the crowd tonight."
"Steve's in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as well and so is Pete Willis. Everybody connected with this band going back to August '77 is gonna be involved in that ceremony one way or another. But the most important thing is that you guys voted us in from Tasmania to Sheffield. Everybody voted to get us in. The most votes a band has ever received was us and we can't thank you enough. We just can't. So we dedicate this one to anybody that remembers The Wapentake. Anybody that remembers The Broadfield. And anybody that remembers this young fledgling band that thought we'd give it a go and see what happens. Written by Steve Clark we'd like to do you this thing from 1980. Sheffield Let's get Wasted!."
What?. No Make Love Like A Man?!. :)...No, WASTED it was. Just when you thought after playing 'Action' in Manchester they would bring back MLLAM. Wasted - written some time in 1979 by Steve Clark in his head when riding a bus to a factory complex just near Sheffield United's football ground. And now just a day after getting the Rock Hall news here they were playing it right in front of their home crowd (and those of us from elsewhere) just two or three miles from that very building. If last Saturday in Nottingham was good then this was thrilling and the song has never sounded as good to me as it did at "Sheffield Arena".
I may have witnessed the playing of this song three times previously but they were all in London (1999, 2003, 2008) and never in Sheffield where as Joe had just said "it all began" in 1977. November 1977 at the Spoon Factory.
Saturday Morning At The Spoon Factory
And what a pleasure it was the morning after the show to finally visit said building, and go inside, after many years of walking by it and not knowing this was the 'actual' place. But I'll get into why that was another time. To be able to see the very staircase they all walked up and down in 1977 to 1979 during their first rehearsals with my own eyes was amazing. And to see the actual room where the very first private performance was played to a few friends in December 1977 almost 41 years to the day (though we don't know the exact date) was pretty awesome. Hallowed ground. "Ground Zero Of Rock Holiness" if you will.
I will return there one day. Maybe very soon.
When Love & Hate Collide
Joe Elliott - "Thank you very much. OK here's one if you know it we'd like you to sing along. Get your lighters out or these day cell phones. Something like this."
From the all out rock and roll riff-a-rama of Wasted to the soaring backing vocals of their biggest UK hit ballad. It didn't seem strange and every song sounded amazing.
This one was no different. As mentioned the band are on fire (although no longer at the time of writing as the tour ended a few days ago!...) and each song is being played superbly. The arena lit up with "mobile phones" (as we call them here Joe...) giving a Christmas feel to proceedings.
Let's Get Rocked
"Do ya wanna get rocked?."
Joe asked the question again and yet again he already knows the answer.
If the arena was not jumping or rocking during When Love & Hate Collide it certainly was now as Sheffield's finest band were in full flow (not cold enough to be Arctic in here...and no Monkees in sight). In Sheffield and inside SHEFFIELD Arena. It's really the only place to see them. After missing the 2015 show here it was great to be back. Even walking through the streets here is a special feeling when you know this is where they grew up and formed the band.
Joe Elliott - Pre-Rock Of Ages Speech
"Unbelievable thank you so much!. Oh yeah. This is an amazing thing to be be able to do this in the city that this all started off in all those years ago. And the noise. Oh my god the noise out there. Speechless! I'm speechless!."
"Hey but do you think maybe you can make a little bit more?. A little bit more?. He's in the Hall Of Fame. The Dronfield Dynamo!. Stand up Rick Allen!. And as always he will introduce this one for ya."
ROCK OF AGES
Gunter Glieben GlouTen Globen
The Dronfield Dynamo said Joe and Rick's reaction can be seen in the photo above. He is in the Hall Of Fame but along with his band mates tonight he's in Sheffield and they are rocking the arena with a couple of songs from the Pyromania album. And it is good!.
"We got something to say. It's better to burn out, than fade away yeah."
The only way to describe the atmosphere now would be one giant celebration. The playing on stage almost effortless and everyone enjoying two more great songs to finish off a special evening in the City of Steel.
Phil and Vivian take to the middle of the Thrust Stage and before you know it lots of PHOTOGRAPHS appear behind them, Rick starts them off and that familiar riff begins. The last song of my second show of this tour. Or three if you count March.
Nostalgia time again as all of the photos from the 1983 to 1987 era scroll across the screen. And I'm still impressed Phil can move with his legs tied together. And oddly want to shout to him that his Auntie's green tea towel is caught on his guitar strap... They give each other a look before turning to go back down the Thrust and are grinning from ear to ear. It sums up the mood of the show and the moment as the whole place is cheering the band on to the end.
Joe's vocals on this song and all others tonight is very strong. A contrast to the 2015 show in Nottingham where the first signs of the impending problems were staring to show. Luckily he recovered in 2016 and has been back to full strength since. And with an upcoming Down 'n' Outz album and probable tour that's a good thing. And more Def Leppard shows in 2019 of course!.
Joe Elliott - End Of Show Speech
"Sheffield!. Thank you. Thanks for having us. Thanks for coming. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next time. Goodnight!."
"Unbelievable. Thank you so much. It's been a real pleasure Sheffield. Always will be. Always has been. Amazing thank you. Till next time. And there will be a next time!. Till then do us a big favour yeah. Don't forget us and we won't forget you. Never. Merry Christmas."
Hysteria 2018 - The End
The end for me at least and two weekends in a row celebrating the Hysteria album and witnessing it being played in full.
In Nottingham on a Saturday night with a bit of High 'n' Dry thrown in for good measure. And now in Sheffield. The spiritual home and the actual home of Def Leppard with some On Through The Night included.
And having now finished Hysteria 2018 at Wembley Arena they will be playing some Hysteria 2019 shows. But first there is a little event in March at the Barclays Center in the state of New York. Sure to be a special event and hopefully including a certain guitarist called Pete. And perhaps even two drummers called Tony and Frank in attendance as well.
Until next time Sheffield. And there WILL be a next time!. And it can't some soon enough...Goodnight!. And as Joe said, Merry Christmas!.
Buy 'Hysteria The Singles' Online
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