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Saturday, 12th March 1988

Cologne, West Germany - Media Reviews

Def Leppard / M.S.G. By Gotz Kuhnemund

Although Def Leppard were playing mainly smaller halls during their last European tour - the 'Pyromania' tour of October 1983 - they got a welcome reception during their most recent visit to the old continent. The first concerts in England were sold out within a few days and extra dates had to be added, and this was much the same in Germany - especially in Cologne, where the venue was almost bursting at the seams with around 6,000 fans. Yes, Def Leppard have made it in Europe at last - and they proved with their extravagant stage show that they can keep up with the high expectations.

It was different altogether from the not quite so hard-rocking gentleman from M.S.G. who, despite being Special Guests, couldn't offer a special show.

Everything was fine during the classic opening number 'Armed And Ready', but weaknesses became apparent soon into second track, 'Get Out' - the first extract from the band's latest album, 'Perfect Timing'. Robin McAuley's showmanship was too deliberate and put on, although his voice was more consistent (if not better) than Gary Barden's.

Schenker's team gained extra points with their hit single 'Gimme Your Love', during which Robin attempted (attempted being the operative word!) to play the guitar.

Unfortunately though, there were sound problems on 'Follow The Night', and these sadly continued throughout 'Into The Arena', the legendary instrumental which, technically speaking, was the highlight of tonight's set - especially with an impressive performance by guitarist/keyboard played Mitch Perry. And just so he wasn't left out, Schenker himself followed that with a fine guitar solo which lasted about five minutes and slid neatly into the MS.G. oldie, 'Lost Horizons'.

Certainly 'Lost Horizons' was good to hear, but it simply served to remind us of the musical changes that have taken place within a band that has lost some of its former glory. Of course MS.G. write good rock songs, of course they are exceptional musicians, but you won't find a classic song like 'Doctor Doctor' (the end of the set proper) on 'Perfect Timing', and I would like to have heard more from the blond Flying V magician's illustrious past.

The ensuing 100 minutes in Def Leppard's company were excellent; their choice of songs couldn't have been more balanced, from the exciting opening track 'Stagefright', through the ballad 'Bringin' On The Heartbreak' up to the final number 'Let It Go'. Really, Leppard fans couldn't have asked for more.

The band played 16 great songs, all of them enhanced by an unusually complex laser show, cleverly adapted to compliment the atmosphere of each track. This band sure know how to create and project a mood - mellow passages were interrupted by heavy rock attacks, but enough room was left for instrumental asides, which on the whole were well-played. The only exception here was guitarist Phil Collen's solo, which was too long and distorted to the point of agony. But that was one of the few weak spots and otherwise the five Englishmen gave value for (a lot of) money.

In conclusion, however, I have to mention the least pleasing aspect of the whole gig; the prices for merchandising must have reached an all-time high here, with fans having to pay DM35 (approximately £12) for a T-shirt and DM70 (approximately £24) for a sweatshirt! They must have been joking with those prices, but the fans didn't find it very funny at all.

By Metal Hammer 1988.

Note - 'Let It Go' was actually song 13 with 'Don't Shoot Shotgun' played as the final encore song.


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