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Friday, 31st October 2003

London, England - Fan Reviews

Fan Review - Happy Hammersmith By dltourhistory

After a surprisingly nutcase-free trip across London on the Underground I met up with a friend and got straight to the venue. It was great to finally get to see a show at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon (as it was called before the corporate name changes - at least it isn't called the Dunkin Donuts Center!). This venue is famous in British rock history for some great gigs in the 70s and 80s by the likes of Queen, AC/DC, not to mention Sheffield's finest. Speaking of which I remembered on the way there that this was the very first venue the band ever played in London with Sammy Hagar so tonight they've come back to where it all began. Me too because I saw Lep for the first time not too far from here in Earl's Court. It's also worth mentioning that a certain drummer turned 16 years of age on Nov 1st 1979 when the band supported AC/DC here. Something Joe would surely remind us of later on...sounds like the ingredients for a great gig.

"Coma", "We Will Rock You", "Rock and Roll Part 2" - "Action" and the place was jumping already. The view from the center of the front balcony was amazing. A clear view over the whole stage and first 3 rows. I think though that we in the upstairs area were more into the show than those standing! I only saw 2 people sitting down near us. The sound mix was spot on. No ear ringing after the show and you could hear everything in crystal clarity. Next up the first of the songs left out on Tuesday "Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)" and it's clear the band are on great form and so are the crowd. But things really started to heat up with the next tune "Make Love Like a Man"with the mass sing-a-long. This was by far the loudest crowd I've been a part of.

Again I have to say the view was great and the lighting was superb. This was my first chance to see the full lighting and how it's changed since Feb. The light, stage and sound crew all did a fine job. I spotted the "Anal Pyrotechnician" again: (speaking of which I wondered if it was him letting off those fireworks that exploded over our heads as we queued up...also almost got choked by fumes from the back of a restaurant!) And an interested female spectator stage left - maybe Vivian's wife? (she was there when he played with Ricky).

Well so far it had been a great show but it was about to go to another level entirely. Cue "Women" and the whole place was clapping in time, stomping on the floor and there was a guy near us going absolutely ape with a mullet wig on. Every move any of the band made got a huge reaction - Phil in particular was on top form and looked the most youthful and energetic of the band, not bad for the oldest member. He seemed to be making even more gestures to us in the balcony than Joe, waving his hands in between his parts. Must have been a hometown thing.

"Hysteria" started with Sav atop Rick's drum riser (making it's return after not being able to fit in some venues) and the song got the best reaction I've heard it get. It was a good time to look around and soak up this atmosphere, the superb light show helped to create a great mood. This is also when the singing started to get really LOUD. Like a big wave of noise going back to the stage. From this point on, during the main choruses the crowd almost drowned out the band. Hysteria ended and they went straight into "When Love & Hate Collide" and the sound just got better and better as did the reaction. Everyone on their feet and clapping along.

If tonight was a party then you need a party song - Joe: "OK this is the title from our 1996 album...." "Slang" and the crowd goes wild. It sounded as fresh as it did back in Feb. The first of 3 songs we didn't hear on Tuesday so they sounded like old favourites. I think it was now that Joe talked about how good it was to be back at Hammersmith. "It will always be the Hammersmith Odeon to me" and said it was great with the downstairs seats taken out. He asked for (and got) a big response to his little speech about Phil the hometown boy and Phil introduced the next tune: "Four Letter Word" which moved nicely into a song that on this tour I think sounds amazingly fresh "Promises" - a song I think could easily replace any of the end of set hits and not seem out of place.

What happened next was very cool! Joe started a long speech about the venue and history (which I mentioned earlier). he talked about rock magazines in the late 70s. That a certain Geoff Barton championed rock bands and went up to Sheffield to see them in a small club (a shithole as he eloquently put it), got pissed on cheap beer and whiskey and loved the band. Gave them coverage in Sounds and 2 months later they played here with Sammy Hagar. And then...4 nights with AC/DC - and on the second night....."this guy turned 16". I've never heard such loud cheering before. But then before Joe could lead us into HAPPY BIRTHDAY he introduced a special guest. "...and he's brought his Mother along...". Kath Daly came on from stage left holding a birthday cake and the cheering got even louder. Rick blew out the candles and all 3 of them were stood center stage and the whole place sang to him. It was a really nice moment. Joe again asked for a sing-a-long on the next number. He said that so far Portsmouth had been the loudest crowd by far. He said we had to be louder since this was the last night of the tour as the cheering continued - in fact they had to pause before starting the song. "Two Steps Behind" obviously followed and again the wave of voices hit the stage and afterwards Joe said "well well the last night of the tour is the loudest".

Joe thanked people who read Classic Rock magazine here in the UK and for those who voted "X" number one in two categories. This was used to introduce the next song "Now" which as usual sounds way heavier than the album version and something I hope they continue to play on the next tour (along with FLW).

Then it was time for the Greatest Hits portion of the set to begin (as if it hadn't already) and "Rocket" kicked in with the usual explosion and awesome red lights, pumping bass drum (and bass guitar) and mass clapping and cheering and surely the structural engineers of the venue were starting to sweat a little as the place rocked. The pace never let up from this point until the end. This was by far the best extended version that I've seen myself. The guitar dual was simply stunning, Vivian again getting the crowd to applaud Phil and then Phil doing some kind of Indian dance when Viv played his last part which was quite amusing. Joe came back out "ohh oohhh oh oh oh ohhhhhhhhh...." but then started to sing something a little different but very familiar - wasn't this played before they came out? Joe sang... Crowd joins in "We will we will Rock You, We will we will Rock You" before the song ended in all it's glory.

"Armageddon It", "Photograph" follow and the mass Hysteria continues. I decide at this point that this is the best I've seen them play, the lighting rig in 1992 might have beaten this but nothing else: sheer class. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" next and once again the best version I've heard - so clear sounding, especially the guitars. The clapping and cheering was reaching fever pitch before the last song. Joe got into another small speech about those 1979 shows and you knew he was building up to introducing the great man once more. Then as the rest of the band came out Joe asked us again and Viv and Sav were doing the Wayne's World "we're not worthy" gestures to Rick's drum riser. He got another LOUD cheer and it seemed he was having such a good time he wanted more and gestured for the crowd to keep it going and we did.

"Four Little Words that mean so much" were heard on the PA and Richard Allen played the drums, Hammersmith cheered, clapped and sang and the rest of the band played. It was a triumphant end to a special night. Now i'm thinking since it's 20 minutes to curfew we must be getting a little something extra after the two songs you knew would follow. "Love Bites" was simply majestic and I was just soaking this up as I knew it would soon be over for who knows how many years... The lighting again was superb and Vivian outdid himself. The "last song" was coming (or was it?) and that familiar question was uttered - "Do Ya Wanna Get Rocked?" - there seemed little point in asking tonight and the song kicked in and and the band ended the night on a high.

The best Lep show I've seen but now would it really be over? I looked at Sav and Viv and they went right off to the left for a guitar change - interesting. Phil changed his guitar too, Joe stays at the mike. OK 'Wasted' it is. No, Joe says "OK so it's the last night of the tour, Hmmm what shall we play? two words". Joe then says "OK I've got two words for you Hammersmith....Brian May!!" Jaws hit the floor including my own. And then Brian emerges from stage right (as we look at it) clad in black sweat pants and white striped t-shirt and it could have been 1973. It goes without saying that there were gasps, smiles and cheering all around. Special Guests onstage with Lep are extremely rare in fact only about 10 people maybe have ever got onstage with them. 20 years ago this man did just that playing "Travellin' Band" in LA, the band also played "Now I'm Here" with him at this venue in 1987. Anyway! getting back to the show.

Brian May goes to the front center of the stage and before you can say "Now I'm Here" he's starting the riff to the Queen classic "Tie Your Mother Down" WOW! Now way back when, I was into Queen before Lep and considered them my favourite band, they played their last show in 1986 so I never did see them. Picture the scene: My now favourite band Def Leppard onstage before me, and Queen's guitar maestro is also there and they are playing one of Queen's best live songs - very cool indeed. Needless to say the place went "mental". I don't think they could have picked a better way to end 22 UK dates in 1 year and the English speaking portion of the tour. The band and Brian stay to get a huge cheer and the night ends in glory. I would sum it all up with one phrase or line but there's nothing appropriate enough.

Just when you think this band can't get any better they go and surprise you. I think I can safely say this week has been my best as a Def Leppard Fan. Or at least right up there with the week I first heard Animal and then bought the vinyl of Hysteria. Walking home for 3 miles through town in driving rain couldn't dampen my spirits. Side one of "High 'n' Dry" and Brian May onstage in the space of 4 days!.

Fan Review - By Jayne

Portsmouth to London - can't take much longer than an hour? Wrong if travelling by coach - it took us nearly 4 hours to get from Portsmouth to the Q at the Apollo and we were tired and fed up when we got there! Poor Nat wasn't feeling that well either - she'd shouted and sang so loudly at the other gigs that she had virtually lost her voice!

We weren't too far back in the Q though - although I didn't expect to get to the front this time - maybe 2nd row if we were lucky! We were all dressed up for this one in black velvet, lace, leather and PVC!!! Well it was Halloween after all! Met some awesome people in the Q and we all kept each other's places for various comfort and keeping warm breaks. Never mind the cold, the doors would open at 6.30 - earlier than the other gigs! We were wrong! They kept us waiting until just gone 7 - and they opened 3 sets of doors. Our set got jammed and I saw loads of people enter the door next to us that were way behind us in the Q - I moved quicker than I'd ever done before - left poor Nat behind - but I was like a woman possessed he he!! Got stopped by two guards for running but made like the Charge of the Light Brigade for the front row. When I got there, there was one very small space in between a friend of Rick Allen's that I recognised from the Meet n Greet and another girl. I asked politely "can I just squeeze in here?" and he said that I could and he'd been saving it for me and wanted to watch the gig from the back. That meant I was next to Maria - another friend of the Lepps - great girl - who told me there was going to be a special guest on later. I then turned round to look for Nat and waved frantically as she came bounding over and also got the front next to me - we were RIGHT in front of Joe - couldn't believe it - last gig - you could feel the atmosphere in the air even before it all started - this was definitely going to be a good one! Nat spotted Brian May by the sound desk and so we knew there was going to be a track with him at some point - so not so much of a surprise as some got - but still bloody awesome!

Finally, Ricky Warwick came onto the stage after the usual introduction to all of the bands from the wonderful Malvin "Stumpus Maximus" Mortimer. Ricky was excellent again - great vocals, great musician - although I still say bring back The Almighty.

MusT - I was SO excited at seeing this band - they are just awesome. LOVE them. They started with my fave One Night Stand and then went on to a newer song As We Stand On You - love this track too - during which the lead singer, Dave Ireland, saw some hands outstretched on the right hand side of the crowd and promptly reached out to touch them - and then jumped into the 'pit', danced and jumped his way along it, narrowly avoiding the security guards' toes, and jumped back up onto the stage at our end. Amazing! They went on to sing Freechild next and I think this was followed by Very Wicked. The next track was introduced by Dave as "I wrote this when I was feeling underrated" and is called Underrated, followed by another fave of mine called Pleasure Crush - GREAT track. Only 2 more tracks left to go - these were Inter-Revolution which always sees Dave taking off his waistcoat, loosening his tie and pulling his shirt out - get it on! They ended with a great track from their CD Heartbreaker. I would have been heartbroken myself if it wasn't for Nat - who has got us tickets to see them in Portsmouth in 2 weeks - yeah! Amazing band vocally, musically, visually - they send shivers all over me every time I see them. Hope they keep Myke Gray on as bass player - he is full of energy and SO into the music!!! Charlie, the other guitarist and Rueben, the drummer, are also brilliant!

Couldn't believe it was now time to see the Lepps for the last time on this tour - where did the time go between waiting in the Q and this point? I was sorely hoping for the High n Dry set but knew we weren't going to get it and I have to admit to feeling very disappointed - but not for long - because, although the set list was exactly the same as Bournemouth the night before - with one MAJOR addition Brian May joining them for the final encore singing Queen's Tie Your Mother Down (listed as Yo Momma on the set list!) - the whole set sounded bigger and better than it had done on any other gig - and THAT's saying something!

I knew this crowd were going to be the absolute loudest - and if ever anyone has to choose just ONE Def Leppard gig to go to, it just has to be London. London - you truly ROCK! What a crowd - what a band - what a night! The sound has been good for every gig - but this one just topped the lot - and I didn't have ringing ears afterwards either! And as if it couldn't get better, Nat asks Viv - whilst he's on stage playing - to take his shirt off. "You take yours off" he says! But he soon obliged (do it more often Viv - you look great!) and looked for Nat's seal of approval - cool!

I was in for a treat as well when Joe was singing Let's Get Rocked and the whole audience joined in (as they did for EVERY song). Then it was at THAT point in the song and there was Joe, bending down right in front of me - 3 feet away - eye to eye contact - and he said "I suppose a rock's outta the question"? I nearly DIED - you made my evening Joe - cheers! It totally made up for not getting to meet you.

Track of the whole evening - in fact for the whole tour that I saw (5 gigs) - was Rocket. But in London it was extended with We Will Rock You - great touch guys! Then it was all over and I didn't want it to be over! I've had the time of my live this week - met band members for the first time in 21 years of being a HUGE fan, including meeting Rick and his lovely wife Lauren by winning a Meet n Greet ebay auction, got piccies and autographs, added another great band - MusT - to my list, sang myself horse (well Nat did - literally!), had a laugh with a great friend (thanks so much Nat) on bloody awful coach journeys, stayed in one hotel that was definitely WAY too posh for us, and met some really wonderful people - from the Def Lepp Forum, other Lepp fans from the UK, Sweden and the US - and I hope some of them will keep in touch and remain friends. I didn't want to go home - I've been SO depressed since! But I just hope the next time they gig won't be in 4 years time! Come back soon guys - you deserve a break - but we miss you already!.

Fan Review - By Roel

Went to London to see last Friday's gig and it was totally amazing. We come from Holland and spent quite some time travelling and money to be there, but it was worth every minute of travelling and every penny (euro). The show was superb, definitely the best gig I've ever been to. The lighting was great, the band was in optima forma and the Apollo is a great concert hall.

Great opening with Action and straight into Rock! Rock!. I was kinda hoping for the High 'n' dry set, but I am not disappointed at all about this set. I loved to see the band perform Promises, Four Letter Word and Slang (what a great live song).

The band played all over the stage and the crowd was really into it. What a sight! About ten thousand hands way up in the air! Sometimes I couldn't even hear the band sing. It was the 150th concert of the tour, and the last British date of the tour. Also it was Rick's 40th birthday and we sang for him. His mother came out with a chocolate birthday cake and Rick had no problem blowing out the candles, after that we sang Two Steps Behind and apparently according to Joe we were the loudest crowd.

Now works really good live. The band finished the set off with the greatest hits and came back for an totally incredible encore: Love Bites. Let's Get Rocked and then Brian May came out for the last song of the evening; Tie Your Mother Down. Could it be my imagination or was the building really shaking?

Well, tomorrow, Tuesday there's another gig I'll be going to (a little bit closer to home this time) in Koln/Keulen (or Cologne). Can't wait! Although after Friday night it can only disappoint me!!! Rock rock till you drop!.

Fan Review - By XgemX

Well it has to be said, that this was the best experience I have had in my life. I was totally gobsmacked at how good Def Leppard were. I knew they would be good but this good was beyond my expectations, it was my first Leppard concert, and what a wake up call. Where the HELL have I been, the night was great, the atmosphere was euphoric and I can't talk cos i've lost my voice due to all my shouting the words to every song, singing Happy Birthday to Rick was amazing. I've never heard so many people make so much noise in my life! I checked on my phone to check how loud we were. Our peak was a huge 125dc thats only 5dc less than the noise Concorde makes on take off so well done y'all.

To make the night even better we got Mr Brian May, the night couldn't have been better. I am truly a Def Leppard fan till I die. The songs were amazing. I fell down the stairs when I was singing PSSOM as I got a bit carried away lol. The whole show rocked and Joe looked so good in the leather pants. All in all I enjoyed it all and for £26 I think we got the deal of the century.! and I heard ppl say that they shouldn't have closed with Let's Get Rocked (and ok last night they kinda didn't but they did).

I must say that I think that's a great choice of song as the crowd went nuts. Well done Def Leppard you truly rock x.

Fan Review - By BorowskiR (2005)

The X Tour was the best for me, because It was More exciting than the Slang Tour In 1996/97 At Wembley Arena. I quite liked Rick Allen's surprise that was really nice to see his mum coming on stage to surprise him for his birthday and a great surprise from Brian May. What really stunned me was the lighting on stage and Phil and Vivian at their best on guitars. Such a thunder power they give on stage, I was there and I did a silly little dance to (make love like a man) or was it Rocket and Phil had seen me and pointed at me saying "what was that" but a great smile. Can't wait for the 11th album to come out.


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