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def leppard / Rick Allen's First Show With One Arm

on this day - 5th August 1986

On this day in Def Leppard history the band played a warm-up show in Cork, Ireland.
The first live concert played by Rick Allen following his 1984 car accident and first with one arm.

Def Leppard 1986.

"I was messing up all the time."

Def Leppard 1986.

This section looks at the 1986 Cork, Ireland show where Rick Allen returned after his 1984 car accident.
His first show played with one arm after he relearned to play again.

"Then we all went out on this tiny stage."

Def Leppard played their first live show since Rick Allen's 1984 car accident in Cork, Ireland on this day in 1986.

The show took place at the small 1,000 capacity Connolly Hall in Cork on the banks of the River Lee. Only 200 fans attended the low key show which was the start of Rick's amazing live comeback just 18 months after he'd left hospital.

This was Rick Allen's first show back after the 31st December 1984 car accident that took his left arm. He played the first three songs - Stagefright, Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop) and Run Riot on his own. Status Quo drummer Jeff Rich joined him on his own acoustic kit for the rest of the show as back up.

The band had begun working with Mutt Lange again on the Hysteria album in early summer 1985 and by August 1986 they were ready to play a small warm up tour and a run of festival dates.

Def Leppard 1986.

Rick Allen 1986. Rick Allen 1986

The warm up tour consisted of five small shows before a larger one in Dublin on 13th August which was attended by members of U2. At this first show new songs 'Run Riot' and 'Love And Affection' were played for the first time. 'Too Late For Love' was also given its live debut having not featured on the 1983/1984 tour.

Rick's "big" comeback would happen after this small warm-up tour with the first of four Monsters Of Rock festival shows at Donington Park race track in Derby, England on 16th August.

Read a small review quote below and the story of the show as told by the band in the 1987 'Animal Instinct' biography book.

Rick Allen 1989. Screenshot

Media Review Quote - By Hot Press

"Rick Allen gave a stunning performance of courage, passion and skill. A most exceptional example of resilience and fortitude."

Show Story - From Animal Instinct 1987

"It was lashing down with rain," recalls Joe. "but we didn't care. It was the first time we'd even been out to play in ages."

"If we made a mistake, it didn't matter," argues Joe. "And in the places where we played, if we made a mistake. they'd probably clap anyway. Because nobody ever plays in Ireland."

The Cork gig was far from sold out, a couple of hundred bodies at best, although the band was impressed anybody had shown up at all. For a half hour before show time, everyone rummaged through their road cases trying to find something snazzy to wear. They ended up going on in just T-shirts and jeans, each Leppard downing a shot of brandy to calm their collective nerves. Even Rick, who was used to performing in just gym shorts, agreed to wear a T-shirt. "I didn't want to look like a freak up there. And I still had a lot of scars on my shoulder. Besides, I couldn't be up there wiggling my stump around with all these little girls at the front of the stage."

Of all the Leppards, Sav had the worst case of stage fright. "I was more nervous for that first gig than any other we've ever done. I don't know what it was. Maybe it was just the strange feeling, after all that time in the studio, of performing for people that had paid to get in. There was no stopping halfway through a song and doing it again."

Def Leppard 1986.

Rick Allen 1989. Screenshot

The backstage atmosphere, according to Sav, "was like a football team before a match." Most of the dressing pep talk was for Rick's benefit. "I felt for him," Sav admits. "It wasn't just doing it that was important for him. It was doing it so other people could see him doing it."

"Then we all went out on this tiny stage," Phil recalls, "hit those first few chords and, suddenly, we all remembered." It was, Joe echoes, ''like we'd never been away."

Rick's timing was a little shakey, during the set opener, Stagefright , although even without Jeff up there to cover for him on the first few songs, nobody seemed to spot the screw ups.

"I was messing up all the time, but I covered my mistakes pretty well. I'd miss the odd beat here and there. Or sometimes I'd hit the wrong pre set and the kit's sounds would be all set up for a different song. I'd hit the drum and get the wrong sounds. When it got damp, the patch board had a tendency to change the pre sets on its own. It was all a bit hairy at times."

Def Leppard 1986.

Rick Allen 1986. Rick Allen 1986

Phil and Steve were having too much fun to notice, revelling in their stock guitar-hero poses and getting up to all the old mischief - kicking each other in the ass, doing silly walks across the stage, flicking switches on each other's guitars as they passed. Incredibly, on that tiny stage, they never once bumped into each other.

Joe refused to milk the occasion with any glad-to-be-back stage raps. He did not want to spoil the band's first show in two and a half years with any "stupid cabaret crap". But when the band retired to the Victoria Hotel for a little apres-gig celebration, it was plain that a very heavy burden had been lifted from Leppard's shoulders. In order to preserve his voice for the next show, Joe kept his mouth shut for most of the party, opening it only to let the liquor in.

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