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Tuesday, 6th May 2008

London/Islington, England - Fan Reviews

Fan Review - Def Leppard - Into The Sparkle Lounge By Darren

Yes we have a new studio album and it was released on Monday.

I had the pleasure of witnessing a rather fantastic Leppard gig last night in London town. For the fourth time this decade (/century/millennium). It's starting to become a bit of a habit for them - fifth show to follow in June with the 'Snake. And a nice day for a gig - 70 degree weather and unbroken sunshine. Only one stop on the Underground!. And then you arrive in Islington, try to find the venue, where the f*** is it!... I blame the venue website which neglects to mention it's tucked away inside a shopping centre.

Quick trip to Starbucks (closed-no Phil spotting) / sandwich bar (mmm...) and then 1 hour of queuing...and trying not to look like you know you are being filmed - by three blonde ladies - as we walked into the...

Yes the Sparkle Lounge or sparkly corridors done up with red sparkly carpet and walls lined with various Sparkle Lounge album art posters. Looked great!. Once at the entrance to the main (microscopic) hall we were greeted by the band themselves! - actually five (almost) life-size cardboard stand-ups of the band. Plus more picture frame album art posters. Some of which seem to be rejected album covers (see pic galleries). And then you enter the hall and realise it's...no bigger than a small bar. Actually two bars on either side and a small stage. Lots of disco balls hung from the ceiling and many sparkly lights lighting up the black walls. The coolest touch was the back of the stage draped in the red curtains to match the cover art. I'm sure they meant to get the thrust walkway in but honestly...it would have been sticking out the back wall by about 5 feet. Floor size downstairs was not much bigger than The Spitz. As in you could Spit from the stage to the back wall and vice versa. Much like Tutu's at London's King's College which Alanis played in Nov 2005. Incidentally she has a new single out soon called 'Underneath' and a new album 'Flavors Of Entanglement' out on June 2nd. A London show on June 16th!. And...she's also (you may have heard about this...) on the bill before Lep in Denmark and playing the day before them at Masstival in Turkey.

(Obligatory Alanis mention in Lep review over) It definitely looks like the show was filmed in full by two main cameras, one at the back on a fixed platform. Another on the left side of the venue on a fast-moving crane arm. And at least two of three hand held ones, side-stage and in amongst the crowd. Thankfully there were some very good looking people in the crowd (not just the camera girls!). And all the common scum/riff raff/scalliwags...were kept upstairs. I believe they were referred to as VIPs but you know them better as journalists - (tee hee hee). Judging by some of the other fan pics a professional camera guy was also filming in front of Joe.

Thankfully we only had to wait 2 hours for the band, not like those Man Raze gits who kept us waiting much longer for a 45-min gig!. A good small place with many fellow Leppard fans enjoying the atmosphere and the PA music until showtime. The time passed by quite quickly and after watching Dave Wolff, Sav's tech and Rocko Reedy? milling about doing what roadies do (all clothed and firework-free thankfully!). It was soon time for the mighty Leppard.

'For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)' - AC/DC on the PA. Now turned up to ear-splitting volume (not a complaint!) and when that ended a brief version of the 2007 video intro played (sound only). And the band filed onstage to a rapturous reception from the UK faithful. 'Rocket' then right? Nope. 'Let It Go'. A great rocking way to start a small club show like this one. Into rock mode from the first opening chords by the 25 year old/50 year old home town London geezer (More bling than Snoop Dogg). It sounded mighty fine to me. New songs are all well and good but when you don't get to see them (that) often... the old classics sound fresh. Watching the performance from Jimmy Kimmel last week really put me in the mood to hear classic Leppard again - LIVE. And this was Live In Your Face, not in the round, but in London Town - Loud and Proud!.

Straight into the second song 'Action'. Unplayed here since October 2003. Same as 'Let It Go' - fresh sounding and very rocking. Rick pounding out the beat which pounded through the venue. Joe's vocals all sounded good although the music was so loud his voice was a bit lost at times. Not being a trainspotter type I wasn't going to stand there trying to listen to any signs of Joe's (apparent) sudden inability to sing! What a load of shite! He has been nursing his voice lately but he looked like he was singing just as well as ever and going for every note. Not bad for a guy who's almost 50. If you want vocal perfection listen to the records.

After living with the album for a week or so I was starting to get more into it before the show. One of the ones I initially didn't think was that good was - the next song. The first new one and technically it's live concert debut - live debut in the UK at least, 'Bad Actress'. Verdict? excellent. Fast, rocking and loud. Much better live than on record, a lot more energy. The lyrics might be MLLAM-ish but it works well live. A nice shouty chorus shouted back to the band - by us!. The highlight has to be the trading of solos between Vivian and Phil at the end. Great to see and hear. Not quite up there with 'Die Hard The Hunter' but still class.

Are you gettin' it? 'Armageddon It' - bring on the classics. Must be the small venue but even standards like this one sounded fresher and rawer than usual. Mass sing-a-long of the whole venue and the band seemed to be enjoying the experience as much as the crowd. It might have been about this time Joe mentioned there was "not enough room to swing a cat", he was right! The stage was that small that Joe and Phil were on (our) right with Viv and Sav on the other side. No room for Joe to be front center - more like Sav/Joe front center. Joe having to find room behind Phil to swing his mic stand. Phil having to avoid smashing his head on the side-speakers hung down low on his side.

'Rocket' was next to continue the Hysteria magic. You'll have already spotted just the four songs from the album tonight. Yes, no 'Hysteria' or 'Love Bites'. And to tell you the truth I didn't even think about that until afterwards - no ballads at all. I love those songs but still it was refreshing not to have any slow points in the set.

'Nine Lives' - Def Leppard version, Tim McGraw couldn't make it and didn't send his hat. 'Nine Lives' the single that wasn't a single (did you see it for sale anywhere digitally or physically?) But still a great song with classic Leppard hooks and touches of the Hysteria-era mixed in with the Stones influence. Much, much better live than on record. And swiftly followed by 'Hallucinate' which is currently my favourite new song, and actually was right from the first listen. Classic Leppard song with the best of the Retro-Active/Euphoria eras mixed together. Very pleased to see them put this in the setlist. It's chorus doesn't really lend itself to a mass sing-a-long explaining why some have said it "doesn't go down well live". But it's more like 'Ring Of Fire' - one to listen to and enjoy and I hope they keep it in. Just a great song and for me should be a single/video and if we were still in the era of multiple singles/videos it surely would be.

'Animal' followed for the start of the greatest hits ending. A jewel of a song that still sends shivers down the spine 21 years (21 years!) after it was first released in the UK. Classic. And then more of the same as the band showed why these songs have made them rock giants for 30 plus years. 'Photograph' next and a great intro right after into 'Pour Some Sugar On Me'. The first UK airing of the slightly 'new' version which does mix it up a bit and make it sound fresher than usual. Brilliant strobe lights going 'spaz' as the song kicked in. Needless to say the whole place was pounding and jumping and singing along. Getting our collective, Sugar on, so to speak. My slightly sore throat evidence of that!.

Joe then closed things with the silly question - Did we? of course we do you daft Yorkshireman! 'Let's Get Rocked'. And rock we did. One last time? Joe said before it they were (in his uncensored words) going to "fuck off after this one". No! - more please.

Back they came after a brief wait (1min or less) and Joe informed us (even though we sort-of already knew) that the next song would be the band's next UK single. Adding that it would be Number 1 if we all bought it. Key phrase before that "if it's all planned properly"... 'C'mon C'mon' - The song sounded superb live. Definitely the most anthemic song on the new album. All the best bits of PSSOM mixed with the classic Glam sound on the YEAH! album. Rick Savage's musical youth rolled into one song. Sav had his trademark posing going on - much appreciated by the ladies in the front I imagine. Good to see a new song go down as well as PSSOM does. Hopefully footage might be used for the songs video. If they want a party atmosphere clip then it would certainly work well!

'Rock Of Ages' to end. Joe introduced it as their "Offspring cover". Much like the classics before it sounded fresh and everyone was singing along as one mass of UK Leppard 'rowdies'. And of course tonight the intro words translate into "rocking like muthas in London Town loudly". Earlier in the show someone threw Joe a Union Jack (Union Flag even) which he draped on the mic stand - somehow it seems more appropriate for it to be done in London. Wherever it's done, it just looks cool. So - the song ends. Joe says goodnight, thanks for coming and thanks for supporting them... shows over folks...sparkly lights off - get the hell out!...

What? - Good Lord! they're back again, just as everyone was starting to think that was it...we were still clapping and shouting for an encore but ROA usually signals THE end. Only they came back. So what exactly were they going to play now. They only do that High 'N' Dy song at the start of the set - right? Wrong! Cue an amazing version of 'Mirror Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)' - like 1981 all over again (we'll overlook the fact I was in primary school and had no idea who they were!). It's one thing to play the song (it was half expected earlier in the set) but as an encore!. Sheet!. And this was where Joe shone in my opinion. A great performance and Joe was going for and hitting every note. To be this close and watch them play this song so well - doesn't get any better. To me this is the song that showed what was about to follow in 1983 on Pyromania, definitely one of their very best. If you were there and you didn't enjoy this you want bloody shooting!. Spellbinding. Now my after-gig euphoria has died down - what I meant to say was...after witnessing the only UK playing of High 'N' Dry side one in 2003. It was a real pleasure to see this one for the first time - it's first airing in the UK since December 1983.

OK so Mirror Mirror is one thing, but the band weren't about to leave just yet. Surely not! - Surely...Yes! ahem...'Wasted' motherf....etc. Oh yes indeed. Joe remarked that a certain UK journalist said he'd give them a five-star review if they played anything from (before) 1981. Well he introduced it as being from 1980 (which it is) so they win. Yes, vintage Leppard. No finer way to end any Leppard gig. The band on fire and sounding absolutely awesome. Someone has to make sure footage of this song gets released, or there really is no justice! As my fellow UK webmaster said after it ended "what a f***ing way to end a gig" - or words to that effect. Indeed Sir! The Leppard roared and we got rocked - and how!. Surely any UK/US/Canadian fan on the rest of this tour would want to see this as the final encore song. Thereby silencing any doubters that these guys can't still rock with the best of them. With the best of them? f**k that, they ARE the best of them. June can't come soon enough - live shows and the Abbey Road session. And needless to say any recent lack of UK activity can now be forgiven (not forgotten but forgiven...:)...).

See you in June!.

Fan Review - By Dave

After 6 hours queueing, we finally got in and secured our place in front of Phil. The place was done up to look like the Sparkle Lounge, with red curtains behind Ricks drum riser. After another 2 hours, (making it 8 in total since we got there!!) they finally hit the stage. Let It Go was first and the band were obviously all fired up for the evening. Action quickly followed and it was clear they were all on form and Joe's voice sounded great after the recent illness. Bad Actress was the first new song to get an airing, and Joes vocals didn't let him down. Great song! Armageddon It was next with Viv taking the lead, followed by Rocket. Next up was Nine Lives, queue to mass sing along. This was quickly followed by Hallucinate and the old favourite Animal.

The band were really firing on all cylinders and Photograph and Sugar quickly followed by Lets Get Rocked. And then that was it. They were gone. Or so we thought! They came back on to the stage and rattled off C'mon C'mon, a sure fire crowd pleaser and then rounded things off with Rock Of Ages. Just as people thought that was it, they then suprised everyone by coming back for a second encore. And what an encore. Mirror Mirror followed by Wasted! I was in heaven!! And that was that. 1 hr 20 mins just flew by. We met them all after the show, got one of Savs picks and an autographed setlist. If you didn't see them at this show, make sure you see them in June or July. You won't be disappointed.

Fan Review - By Andylgr

Def Leppard in a small club in London.....I had visions of getting to a seedy little venue in some back alley. How wrong I was. The venue is virtually in the middle of a nice shopping centre / area. I passed the queue of die hards forming at the front who were busy taking lots of pictures and posing - but food was calling me so off I went with my brother in tow, straight in front of the 2 beautiful ladies filming the queue and blocked their view with my fat ass. We arrived back at the venue around 15mins before doors open and the queue hadn't grown a great deal by then.

When we eventually filed in, the venue was decked in sparkly carpets, lots of Lep pictures on the walls, life size cardboard cut outs and wannabes playing guitar hero on the xboxes dotted around the place and the same beautiful girls filming us going in this time. The venue itself looked new to me, very modern and clean and it was nice to see the stage backdrop with the Sparkle Lounge curtains and the glitter balls hanging from the ceilings. But the stage was tiny, just enough room to fit the band on.

We weren't allowed upstairs, that was for the vip's, so the Lep fans were instead assembling downstairs and there must have been no more than 300 fans there, a very intimate show. There were plenty of cameras around to capture the full extent of the show too. It must have been an hour and a half wait for the band to come on, in that time I spotted the fansite webmaster Darren, (4 years since we last met up in Sheffield and another exclusive show). Anyway during that long wait we pondered the set list, discussed the mighty Stoke getting in to the Premier league and generally tried to pass the time as best possible until show time.

By the time AC/DC came blasting from the pa we knew we close and sure enough the intro tape heralded the band on stage to kick in with the ever brilliant Let it Go (surprisingly I expected a new one to open), but Let it Go does the job nicely. Action quickly followed and the band seemed in good spirits, plenty of communication with the crowd (very easy to do I guess when you in a room as big as a phone box). We were then welcomed to the sparkle lounge with the first new song of the night - Bad Actress. One of my least favourite new tracks, but it worked very well live and was performed with a lot of energy that a new song deserves.

Armageddon It gets the Hysteria songs up and running, very well received (as usual). After which Joe mentions that he's only just realised there were people upstairs, ha ha - vip's indeed - they'd just been ignored for 4 songs. Off comes Joes coat, clearly that was just for the photographers allowed to take official pics during the first 4 songs and Rocket introduces itself, I much prefer the edited version they are doing now and again plenty of singing and the obligatory hands in the air during the chorus.

Two more new songs back to back, Nine Lives (very good live) and Hallucinate (not so good live), but I'd rather hear a new any day over the usual MLLAM, Love Bites etc that we've had for the last few tours. Animal gets back to more familiar territory and never fails live, a big UK track. Photograph gets no introduction (does it need one anyway), which then goes straight in to the new (for those outside the US) intro for PSSOM, the crowd are doing their best to try out the new roof on the venue with the noise. Joe then tells us that's it. What? After only 10 songs ? No way. Before LGR closes the main set.

At that point I was gutted that they hadn't played c'mon c'mon. So sure enough the Johnny Wishbone mind readers amongst the band come out and play C'mon C'mon as the first encore track. Right now I'll say this should be a live standard, the crowd reaction to this was easily the best of the new songs. This should translate well to arenas, if they give the song the chance live. ROA is introduced as a cover of an Offspring track and that's it. Its finished. I (and a few others) start to edge backwards expecting the house lights to go up. But no, they surprise us all by playing the awesome Mirror Mirror. I'll echo the sentiments expressed previously that Joe sounded good on this song, he did and again I hope this song is still around in the set come the UK tour. Then to top of the early-Lepfest they take us back to 1980 for Wasted. Again, a great performance and again gets a great reaction. Keep it in the set boys in the future.

That's definitely it now and my words at the end were 'how fucking cool was that ending'. It was an unbelievable end to a great gig. Its not often do you get the chance to see your favourite band in such a small venue - mere feet away. It was a very enjoyable gig, easily one my favourites amongst all the Lep shows I've been to. Joe's voice was a bit off at times, but then again the audience helped out and in fairness it makes no difference to the bands performance or the enjoyment of what was a great show.

Fan Review - By Phil Kemp

I got to the show about 3 in the afternoon and there was only about 10 people or so in front of me, so I got an absolutely great view of the show. I was what would be classed as second row, and I was pretty much central of the stage. A great view to witness an INCREDIBLE show! I had been queueing for a fair few hours, but as soon as "For Those About To Rock" starting playing through the PA, I really began to feel the intensity and excitement set in. Then the 2007 Tour intro played, and I just knew that us few fans in the venue were in for a real treat.

The guys came out, the place exploded, and "Let It Go" was phenomenal! The energy of the band was matched by the audience and the place went nuts! They guys looked and sounded great! "Action" followed, and kept the place rockin' really hard, and again this sounded amazing! I could not believe the opening so far. Then it was time for a new song, I really like "Bad Actress" of the new record, it's full of energy and that translated live, very effectively. The guitar duel was just superb. This number works so well live! It was nice to have "Armageddon It" and "Rocket" this early in the set, and they as usual sounded great and got the audience singing along. Then came "Nine Lives" which was so good, and everyone around me was really into it, which was nice to see. Another new song that works well live.

"Hallucinate" is a great song, but not one of my favourites off the new album, however it is really cool live. The next four hits went down a storm as would be expected. "Animal" and "Let's Get Rocked" especially. The guys were all having so much fun, and sounded amazing! To see them this close up was almost surreal, a totally different experience to any other concert I've ever been to. But by far the BEST!

When they came out and played "C'Mon C'Mon" I was so happy, as this is one of my favourites off the new album. I really think it has the potential to become a future Lep live staple. I hope so, because it works sooo well live and the audience were really singing along, and everyone seems enthusiastic to make it a big hit this summer. "Rock Of Ages" closed the show (or so we thought) and got the whole place rocking and screaming along. At this point the show was only 13 songs long, but I was well and truly rocked. It was the greatest Lep live experience of my life. However the best was yet to come...

When we got a second encore, I was in shock and the excitement was building so fast! "Mirror Mirror" was played and sounded absolutely incredible! Joe was phenomenal on this track, and it was such a treat to hear it. Easily the second best moment of the night for me, and the first, well that would be the show closer, yes they only played... "WASTED"!!!!!!!!!!! This in my opinion was the perfect end to one hell of a show! This got the whole place rocking and chanting the chorus. Everyone around me just completely went crazy. And again Joe in particular was marvellous! No ballads, just full on rock! New songs, old songs, and everything in between. What a show! Lets just hope the June/July shows are this amazing. Seeing them like this is a truly special event and one that I will never ever forget! Here's to June and July!


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