New York, NY - Media Reviews
Def Leppard Lights up the Beacon By Maxwell Bryer
In the constantly evolving world of popular music it is not uncommon for a great many bands, prominent at one time, to be forgotten. Def Leppard has luckily been nearly impervious to this phenomenon.
Formed in Sheffield England in 1977, Def Leppard is made up of singer Joe Elliot, Rick Savage, the bassist, drummer Rick Allen, and Phil Collen, Steve Clarke, and guitarist Vivian Campbell.
Several strong albums and a slew of hit singles helped Def Leppard rise to great heights in the mid-eighties, and they managed to maintain their popularity through the spontaneous combustion of the 1980’s metal scene that led to the demise of many similar bands.
Def Leppard’s big breakthrough came in 1983 with the release of their third album, “Pyromania.” Spawning numerous hit singles such as “Photograph,” and “Rock of Ages,” the record vaulted Def Leppard into the spotlight, transforming them into one of the biggest rock bands of the day. Despite a car accident in 1983 that crippled drummer Rick Allen, the band released “Hysteria.” This follow-up album to “Pyromania” sold a staggering 15 million copies in America alone and featured no less than six hit singles—including “Armageddon It” and the anthem “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” The band embarked on a 14-month world tour to promote the album that ended with the death of guitarist Steve Clark, the band’s primary songwriter. Current member Vivian Campbell replaced him, and with this line-up, the band recorded 1992’s “Adrenalize,” 1996’s “Slang” (a clear departure from the band’s trademark sound), 1999’s “Euphoria” and “X” in 2002.
Currently on the U.S. leg of their tour promoting their 2002 release, “X,” Def Leppard played three consecutive nights (April 10-12) to sold-out audiences at New York’s Beacon Theater, located at 74th Street and Broadway.
The third and closing show in New York was, by any measure, a fine performance. Opening with “Demolition Man” and “Action,” the band launched into a two-hour show that captured all their humor, energy, and sheer musical prowess. The concert offered an engaging cross-section of Def Leppard’s 23-year career with the band playing long-time favorites such as “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” “Armageddon It,” “Animal,” “Photograph,” and “Rock of Ages.”
Collen, Campbell and Savage created a wall of sound that hit hard from the opening chords and did not let go all night. The mix between instruments was also well done. The guitars provided a chunky mid-range while the bass and drums supplied satisfying thump. Meanwhile Joe Elliot’s voice rang loud and true through the mix.
A highlight of the show was the guitar duel between Phil Collen and Vivian Cambell during the midsection of “Rocket.” They stretched the song beyond its original length and displayed their individual virtuosity and improvisational skill and offered some added excitement.
Though the Beacon’s stage does not rival the size of those the band played on in its 80’s heyday, they still managed to transmit to the audience the energy of their music. The never-ending applause and constant cheering showed that the audience was receptive. Phil Collen, Vivian Campbell, Rick Savage and Joe Elliot made excellent use of the space available to them, moving around freely and often engaging the fans sitting in the front rows. Joe Elliot made a few jokes, creating a feeling of intimacy that was possible due to the relatively small size of the venue.
This show was a definite success. Pounding, exciting, energetic and raucous, Def Leppard showed that even after 23 years in the business they can still rock hard.
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