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Sunday, 20th January 1980

Glasgow, Scotland - Media Reviews

Def leppard Glasgow Tiffany's By Allan Jones

Follow the moon to the end of Sauchiehall Street. Turn into Tiffany's before you reach the corner, sprint up the stone steps into the glare of the foyer.

Past the ticket office, quickly. There a few bouncers in their tight-fitting tuxedos; look at them, with their necks bulging out of their starched collars. The manager leads the way into the pumping heart of the ballroom.

The air is ravaged by the hysterical excess of Rainbow, screaming through the house PA. When the tape finishes, Zeppelin replaces Rainbow on the cassette deck. It\s going to be that kind of night.

The manager declares himself pleased with the attendance: at least 700 headbangers so far, he estimates.

Not at all bad for a Sunday night, especially for a band headlining its first concert in Glasgow, Mind you, he says The Specials played here on a Sunday and they had 2,500 rabid kids packed into the ballroom. And the police were squabbling outside on Sauchiehall Street with at least another 1,000..

Tonight's audience is already pressed tight around the stage, fists clenched, punching the atmosphere in the familiar heavy metal sieg heil.

Their feet are stamping, their heads shaking violently. The imaginary guitarists are out, too. Just a few for the moment, though - the Deep Purple FormationDancers would not take to the floor in force until Def Leppard are on the boards and tearing holes in the fragile fabric of the local ozone.

The crowd around the stage began chanting. Their message was unclear at first. Then their ranting became ominously clear. "We hate mods, we hate the mods, we hate the mods...We hate, we hate, we hate the mods!".

Def Leppard were racing down the narrow staircase from their dressing room to the stage, Joe Elliott must have heard the chant.

As the band plugged in and the roadies made last-minute checks on equipment, popping up like greasy glove-puppets behind the amplifiers, Elliott grabbed his microphone.

"D'yer want us to do soom Secritt Afferr songs fur yer?".

The reply was lost in a landslide of noise as Def Leppard smacked out their first power chord of their set.

That first chord was like a grenade going off in your hand; surviving the rest of the performance was like living through Pearl Harbour.

The drummer sounded like he was shitting amplified house bricks. His bass-drum kicks walloped holes in the chest; each cymbal crash was a sustained opera of alarm.

The guitars were a thick carpet of shrieking chords. And Elliott's voice came howling through the debris, like the devil calling in the damned for supper.

And this was just the first number. It left me more confused than a conversation with Robert Fripp.

The boys sure could whack it out with the best of them, as earlier observers have been quick to remark.

I saw UFO a year ago at the Hammersmith Odeon. Compared to this lot, they sounded like schoolchildren rattling the railings with their rulers.

As a visual spectacle, Def Leppard are a whilrwind of frantic gestures, arm-swinging, head0shaking and microphone twirling.

So completely do they epitomise the satin-and-leather flash of heavy metal, they almost become caricatures..

There were more bare chests on that stage than you'd find in a topless bar on Sunset Strip.

Willis and Clark have perfected every manoeuvre in the HM handbook of macho poses. throwing more shapes in one song than the entire frontline of Thin Lizzy in an entire set.

One significant distinction should, however, be made between Def Leppard and their HM predecessors.

Solos are infrequent, usually quickly despatched, more often tightly contained within the blistering structures of the songs.

Willis and Clark prefer to maintain the pace of th attack, which relents only for the obligatory moody ballads.

Of course, this did nothing to deter the denim-swathed ranks of phantasy guitarists.

They lined up at the back of the crowd in neat battalions, heads down, right hands scrubbing their chests while the left rode up and down imagined fret-boards.

They were even more energetic and frantically nimble than the band. Whooosh! There went one, a vertical take-off from a standing start! Craaammmmm!. There he went, smacking down on his knees, back bent over in an impossible arch, the back of his head dusting the ballroom floor.

There was a marvellous moment towards the end of the set. The guitars dropped out, leaving Rick Allen alone for a brief drum flourish.

Suddenly everyone was an imaginary drummer.

It's difficult making notes with both hands clamped over your ears, and dodging flying riffs that are threatening to tear off your kneecaps rather prevents one's assimilation of individual subtleties.

However, I do remember that "When The Walls Came Tumbling Down" was an epic about apocalypse, complete with characteristic HM imagery of doom and destruction.

The final encores, 'Ride Into The Sun' and 'Rocks Off', seemed standard hard rock outbursts, fiercely played and lavishly received.

After the gig it took at least four double vodkas and a sharp slap on the back of the head to recover the power of speech.

"Loud?" exclaimed Pete Willis at the hotel. "We only used half stacks t'night".

He looked at me as if I was the biggest wimp on the planet. I didn't reply. My ears were still bleeding.

By Melody Maker 1980.

Joe Elliott/Steve Clark - Interview Excerpts

Willis, Allen and Savage have gone off with the road crew to the local fleapit. Rather appropriately, they have gone to see Apocalypse Now.

Elliott and Clark are in the hotel room fielding questions. Elliott is affable, forthright, confident, not at all the offensively cocky individual I had been led to expect. Clark is drunk and getting worse.

"I don't think Japan are heavy metal," he said authoritatively. "I don't think Japan are anything near to heavy metal. Japan to me are a brilliant band. I've got Adolescent Sex and I think it's a great album. But it's not heavy metal. That fastest song on it's a Barbara Streisand song, 'Don't Rain On My Parade'.

"I've never heard Girl, I can't really comment on them. But to be honest, I don't think they've got a future. Their image is all wrong".

"Yeah," said Clark. "How could a heavy metal audience freak out in front of a group that looks like a gang of transvestites?".

"I like Japan," Elliott insisted. "I saw 'em supporting Blue Oyster Cult. But if ever there were a double bill that shouldn't have been, it were that. Wi' Blue Oyster Cult, you've got songs like 'Born ToBe Wild' 'an they attract a lorrer bikers an' that. An' Japan come on, an' they've got long hair and they wear makeup an' they look a bit, you know, poofish. An' they were gettin' all this stick from the audience. 'Get off, you fookin; poofs...Get off, you fookin' wimmin'!'".

"An' kids I've spoke to last couple of days say they saw Girl with UFO and they though they were a bunch of poofs.I'm not daying' they are poofs. They're probably not. But I don't think they've got a future with that image".

"I've been in trouble before for sayin' that birds don't buy records. But I don't believe women buy as many records as blokes. An' I reckon they'll appeal more to birds. An' I don't think birds go to as many concerts or buy as many records.".

"Of course, you've got your exceptions with the Rollers where it were totally all birds. An' a lot of birds probably buy disco records. There are bound t be exceptions. But I think there's a bigger percentage of lads that go to concerts."

"They realised," added Clark. "That people don't want to see Jimmy Page playing' a 20-minute guitar solo with a violin bow. It's out now. At the same time, you don't want to go and see the Damned, who don't play a guitar solo all night. They want something in between. Something between the Dooleys and Black Sabbath."

"The fookin' Dolleys?" Elliott asked, utterly confused. "What are ya talking about now?".

"We're the Dooleys with Goolies," Clark attempted to explain.

"Why do you keep bringing up the fookin' Dooleys?" Elliott demanded, still confused. "What have we got to do with Dooleys?".

"We're in the middle, " Clark struggled to clarify his statement.. "People are fed up with bands shouting about anarchy. There has to be a balance between bands like Rainbow, bands with ripped knees in jeans, and Genesis. And I think th balance is us. We can play but we can still roar."

Elliott looked at Clark, looked at me, looked confused. I was going to ask Clark to elaborate upon this point, but I didn't.

He'd fallen back up on the bed, unconscious.

By Melody Maker 1980.


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