Media Review -
Heading east from a city centre still in need of financial investment and re-development under the familiar landmark known as the Wicker Arches... Here you will find a major transformation has occurred. Gone are those famous old firms such as Firth Browns (where as a lad Mick once worked). Impressive architecture graces this once smog filled land i.e. Freemans, Abbey National, Don Valley Stadium and of course one of the UK's leading tourist attractions, Meadowhall shopping and leisure complex.
As you approach the roundabout from Attercliffe Road to Broughton Lane, home of the Sheffield Arena you will see Sheffield Forge Masters, a prestigious proud company, snarling like an old dinosaur refusing to be extinct. It's a constant reminder of the industry that helped Sheffield forge out the name for itself as the Steel City.
Will tonights main attraction DEF LEPPARD be a shining new girder or a rusty old nut?
A quick pint in the pub opposite just to wet the appetite and meet some old friends who - like many, gather here to discuss the where's and wherefores, like car parking prices - £5 "how much"?! We left former Def Leppard guitarist Pete Willis in there as we set off to check out the current line up of Rick Allen, Rick Savage, Phil Collen, Vivian Campbell and Joe Elliott who would be taking the stage in about half an hour.
The lights go down to a huge cheer from a crowd fuelled with anticipation as the home town boys done good Def Leppard hit the stage and immediately roar into Rock Rock (till you drop), Action (Sweet cover) and Demolition Man from their new album Euphoria. This saw the band briefly silhouetted under a strobe light, which probably looked cool from the back of the arena. Near the front it forced you to turn your head away, it was even brighter than Joe Elliot's multi-coloured Hawaii Five 'O' shirt, obviously swapping those long blonde locks and ripped jeans for the 'plumber come to mend your washer look'.
"Good evening Sheffield, this is our home town gig, lets see some hands in the air" or words to this effect, as Joe greets the fans, Phil Collen decides his shirt's got to go as they get down to business with "Women" The Leps are in top gear and are cruising down the fast lane so when "Love And Hate Collide" its a refreshing change of mood and tempo. In true honoured tradition and bang on cue the audience with their naked flames light up the venue and the back of someones sweaty neck. A breather is welcomed by all.
Hysteria summed up the next ditty cos only the band knew what tempo was planned for this song! It was all over the place, only a brief dual guitar section from Viv and Phil pulled this one out of the fire.
Joe didn't care he's on home turf, he's the man, as he points to the crowd, "Hey I know you and you, I bet I went to school with half you lot - no "Foolin' " this "Animal" as two more monstrous hits ooze out like lava from a volcano, by now the arena has definitely erupted
"Have you got your singing voices on? " Not impressed by the response, Joe says "It's like a typical Saturday afternoon at Bramall Lane" (home of his beloved Sheffield United). A distinct lack of Sheffield United and Wednesday football shirts on the band and audience sum up the local teams' dismal football season so far. Leppard though are back on top form as they treat us to 'Promises'. This after a surprise contender for song of the night 'Slang' which was awesome. Phil and Viv cranked out those funky rhythms and Rick Savage who was the 'dogs bollocks' on bass proved what a versatile player and credible vocalist he's become.
There are no words to describe my admiration for Rick Allen live. I watched with interest and amazement as I tried to analyse the synchronisation, timing and effort the man has to put in just to get through a song. Wearing a long white Euphoria 99 shirt and headphones he was somewhat isolated from the rest of the band. A few visits to his drum riser from the band wouldn't have gone a miss neither would the occasional hand swept across the audiences palm as a connection pointer. Rick does what he does best and just drove the band through 'Love Bites', 'Armageddon It'. Joe now above the crowd on a platform is calling the shots as Phil and Viv constantly exchange stage right for left. With Sav in his familiar karate type stance, this is what it's all about and this is the best live vocal performance we've ever seen from Joe Elliott who, with warmth and pride, makes reference to a larger than life illuminated Union Jack flag.
"You see this? We took it all over America and they cheered, we took it to Japan and they cheered, don't you just love it? (And we cheered). And now to the song that started it all off for us 'Photograph'.
A big fan favourite as Rick Savage, centre stage donning Union Jack stripes on his bass guitar, locks into Rick Allen's bass drum as Phil and Viv interplay between them, a rhythm section as 'tight as a duck's arse' (as we say in Yorkshire). 'Rock it', 'Pour Some Sugar On Me', It's like a human jukebox, a compilation of their greatest hits send the crowd into orbit. This is why Def Leppard are a stadium band. This is how it used to be, This is how it should be, a pleasant reminder of why the Bailey Brothers and many like us are so devoted to Rock, the music and the people. Def Leppard depart after 'Rock of Agesí to thunderous applause.
We are treated to some Yorkshire banter on their return as Viv and Phil (now honourary -Yorkshiremen) hopelessly try to address the amused audience in a Sheffield accent. Joe points the fun at Rick Allen who, according to Joe, is technically from Derbyshire cos he's from Dronfield - so therefore a sheepshagger. Vivian then throws a toy sheep at Rick Allen who punches it up in the air with a smile on his face (good panto stuff) as they kick off again with Joe still asking the questions "do you wanna get rocked?" (Another classic track). Half the audience openly lied as Joe asked "anyone been with us from day one?" as they went into 'Wasted', a song from their debut EP which sounds just as corny now as it did back then. Five girls in front of us who treated us all night to butt 'n' roll swayed out of time and mimed, clueless to the words (just like top of the pops in it's hey day). At least they managed to redeem themselves on the bands final return to the stage and sing along with Joe, now in his black vest screaming "let it rock, let it roll, let it go" and they did just that all night.
Below us throughout the gig was a young girl no more than about nine years old who sang the words to most of the songs. On the way out I asked a young excited boy who was wearing a baseball cap with Def Leppard on it "what did you think to the show?" Brilliant, he replied, bemused by this strange dark man breathing last night's 'chicken shobuz massala' on him. His mum smiled and as she led him away I thought, "hey these are the fans of the future". Leppard are a family band who are going to be around for some time yet
Well done Leppard and to quote Joe Elliott "Til the next time, and there will be a next time".
By The Bailey Brothers 1999.