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Thursday, 10th December 2015

Glasgow, Scotland - Media Reviews

Gig review: DEF LEPPARD/ WHITESNAKE, Hydro, Glasgow, 10 December 2015 By David Wilson

This run of shows must be one of the most hotly anticipated of 2015. A double header of Def Leppard and Whitesnake with Black Star Riders along as support, it promised an evening of classic rock heaven.

Horrendous traffic (2.5 hours to complete a 45 minute journey!) meant that Black Star Riders were in full flow when I finally entered the Hydro. This was my fifth live encounter with the guys this year and proved to be as stellar as the rest of the shows, in fact if you didn’t know better you would have marked them out as headliners.

Only catching half of a 30 minute set isn’t great but with the guys on top of their game it was enough to satisfy. Ricky Warwick was making good use of the ramp leading from the stage into the centre of the arena, whipping up a Glasgow crowd which needed little encouragement.

He was joined on the ramp by Damon Johnson to introduce the final song of the set ‘Whisky In The Jar’, Ricky on acoustic guitar and Damon on electric for one of the night’s highlights. The Hydro crowd were asked to sing along and responded with gusto as the guys rounded off a short but sweet set. Black Star Riders live featured heavily in my end of year ‘best of’ list and on tonight’s showing my choice was completely justified.

Had the ‘Best of’ list been getting composed this week a top slot would have been held for Whitesnake. I last saw Coverdale and co. a couple of years back on a similar bill supporting Journey and that night ‘Snake stole the show. Perhaps someone should have tipped off Def Leppard to this fact as Whitesnake did exactly the same tonight.

Having released the Purple album this year it was no surprise that the set was littered with Deep Purple Mark 3 classics. Any set that kicks off with ‘Burn’ can only be a good thing in my book and the guys absolutely nailed it. Coverdale was in fine voice, he may not have the silky voice of yesteryear but he is far from a spent force and he is still one of the best showmen in the business.

This latest incarnation of Whitesnake sees a few changes from their last outing with the departure of Doug Aldrich the most noticeable but Coverdale has always had a keen eye for talent and the band were as tight as a duck’s rear end.

The hits and the Purple classics kept coming with ‘Bad Boys’, ‘Give Me All Your Love Tonight’ and ‘Gypsy’ keeping the Hydro at fever pitch. The highlight for me though was the pairing of ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’ which then led into ‘Mistreated’ both of which were stunning. One Purple classic which was a very welcome set addition was ‘You Fool No One’, one of my personal favourites.

David Coverdale was in his element, he very rarely strayed from the centre of the crowd and played up to his star billing to the full. He got the crowd on side at an early stage by lamenting the loss of the old Glasgow Apollo which always strikes a chord with a crowd of a certain age who tend to go misty eyed at the mere mention of that hallowed hall.

The guys closed the set with the three big Whitesnake classics namely ‘Fool For Your Loving’, ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Still Of The Night’ which had the capacity crowd on their feet right to the top of the arena. This was a polished and highly entertaining performance from one of rock’s most enduring bands and one of rock’s most enigmatic frontmen. If that had been the end of the show I think most people would have left satisfied that they had got their money’s worth.

That, however, was not the end and we still had the pride of Sheffield to come, Def Leppard. I last saw Leppard exactly 4 years ago in the SECC next door to the Hydro with Steel Panther and Motley Crue in tow and that night Joe and the guys struggled to impress after such strong supports. Unfortunately they didn’t learn their lessons on that tour and suffered the same fate tonight.

Don’t get me wrong, the hall was filled to capacity and a lot of the crowd were happy to dance along with the hits. Tonight though we were treated to a very safe performance with little spark and what seemed like minimum effort, the Vegas ‘lounge lizard’ Leppard if you like. Following the previous passion filled support slots the band appeared to be going through the well polished motions.

The set was a mix of crowd pleasers and a couple of new numbers from the recently released ‘Def Leppard’ album. It was a new song ‘Let’s Go’ which opened proceedings and it was accompanied with a great light show, they had one of the biggest lighting rigs I have seen for a long time, and video projections both onstage and on screens flanking either side.

This then led into ‘Animal’ much to the crowd’s delight which was then followed by ‘Undefeated’. By this time though the band had lost my interest. Joe Elliot, unlike David Coverdale, is not the most engaging of frontmen and what interaction there was came across as well rehearsed and scripted. Phil Collen was bare chested and oiled up which was a bit much on a freezing night in Glasgow!

The hits continued with ‘Rocket’ and ‘Hysteria’ coming out as the best of the bunch. The guys moved into overdrive, songwise at least, at the end of the set with ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ rounding things off before the guys returned for ‘Rock Of Ages’ and ‘Photograph’. With songs of that calibre Leppard should have left the stage triumphant but for me they fell way short in delivery. An impressive light show could not make up for a lack of stage presence and audience engagement.

Luckily Black Star Riders and Whitesnake more than made up for the car journey from hell we had to endure. I know on a good night Def Leppard can deliver the goods but it would appear that the Vegas residences have led the band down a very safe and choreographed path. Tonight was Leppard by numbers. ‘Rocket’, I think they have lost the ability to do so…

By Get Ready To Rock 2015.

Def Leppard / Whitesnake / Black Star Riders Live at the SSE Hydro By Nikki Flixx

At CB HQ, it was safe to say we were delighted when the email came through confirming we’d been given a photo pass for Black Star Riders, Whitesnake and Def Leppard’s upcoming gig at The SECC Hydro, a nice bonus, especially as we’d already bought tickets for the last big tour of the year. This was always going to be something a bit special, with two legendary monsters of rock on the bill and the added bonus of Ricky Warrick and Black Star Riders kicking the evening off, what was there not to look forward to.

We do like the Hydro here at CB, and heading through another chilly night in Glasgow, it was great to see the futuristic, illuminated arena waiting to greet us.

First up, and on rather early in the evening, where Black Star Riders. It was amazing to the sheer mass of bodies that had came out in their finest denim and leather packed down at the barrier to catch Ricky and the gang. Judging by the crowd reaction as they blasted straight into All Hell Breaks Loose, one could be easily fooled into thinking they where headliners. The Thin Lizzy connection with BSR is well known and the influences are there for all to see. The thing is, that gives them a great selection of bona-fide classics to call on, in addition to their own damn fine material. Jailbreak went down particularly well and had the merry Glasgow crowd fired up as we were treated to an all-too-short greatest hits set.

We couldn’t help but notice on Ricky’s new hair cut though. It reminded me of a young Robbie Williams, circa 1990. But nope, hair style aside there’s no way you can mistake those vocals as he leads the band through a flawless opening performance for the night, The Killer Instinct has taken on new life live and, well, you can’t go far wrong with the all time classic Whiskey In The Jar closing the set.

Cue massive cheers and whistles, a lot of happy faces. Yip, so far, so good. And tonight was only gonna get better.

After a brief trip to the bar we regrouped in the main arena for the second band of the evening. The lights went down, silence fell over the crowd…. “I can see big hair” I overheard a young lad say. That ould only mean one thing…. We’re in the presence of rock royalty, in the company of a legend, it’s time to get reacquainted with Mr David Coverdale.

Spot of Whitesnake anyone?

Ahhh, this takes me back and I stood there thinking to myself I (like a million others) used to dance about in my bedroom, air grabbing and messing my hair up, using the obligatory hair brush as a microphone, giving it my all to Here I Go Again. Well fast forward a good few years and I am stood at the barrier an arms reach away from the very chappy that is responsible for my love of hair metal, power ballads and classic rock in general.

Anyway, fan gal moment over…. and we’re straight into Burn, and what a way to kick things off. Whitesnake’s new album Purple is Coverdale’s tribute to his time with Deep Purple. We really like the album but hearing Burn live, reworked to suit his now heavily seasoned and aged voice, well wow… just wow. Although Coverdale is still easily recognisable from his glory days, his voice has changed and rather than try to hit the high notes of yore the songs have been reworked to fit his voice as it is now, and the result is brilliant.

Strutting about with his bandmates, working the runway like a model, it was a you had to be there moment. Whitesnake blasted out hit after hit from their extensive back catalogue, with a generous helping of their new album material.

Mind you, the new album stuff is older than their old stuff.

Coverdale shared several reflective moments, but it was touching to hear him thank the “people that got him started in the first place”, Deep Purple. He showed he’s lost none of the bluesy influences from those early days too, with a stunning Soldier Of Fortune bringing the tempo, but not the intensity, down a notch. The band looked as good as they sounded, and it’s nice to see Coverdale’s collection of women’s underwear is still growing from the bras folk throw on stage.

Now usually a drum solo is the time to head to the bar, but Tommy Aldridge kept the whole place captivated. It was fairly standard “drum legend” stuff, and then he threw his sticks into the crowd and played the second half of the solo with his bare hands.

Another one of those “wow, did you see that” things that this gig was so full of.

He’s in his 60s for feck’s sake.

It was the Whitesnake classics that, unsurprisingly, received the biggest reaction. Audience participation doesn’t get much bigger that watching Whitesnake perform Is This Love along with a tens of thousands strong choir… that’s us lot, the crowd.

Tonight was a night for the, erm, more mature rock’n’roll audience, most of whom probably had as much hair as Coverdale does now in their younger days. With a triumphant Still Of The Night Whitesnake’s time came to an end and clearly rather overwhelmed David Coverdale and his “Snake Brothers” took a well earned bow.

Wow….just wow!

It took a bit of time for the cheering and clapping to die down before the lights came back up as the Glasgow crowd optimistically hoped for an encore but it was not to be. So, just to get you up to speed, Black Star Riders got us in the party mood, Whitesnake nearly blew the roof off the Hydro with their mammoth set AND we’ve still got Sheffield’s finest, Def Leppard to go.

Question is, how on earth can they top the evening off?

The imminent arrival of Def Leppard is preceded by a huge banner with their logo on covering the front of the stage. The place is buzzing and then… the banner disappears off up into the rigging and it’s showtime! First thing I noticed, as I’m sure many others did, was the iconic Phil Collen appeared to have forgotten his shirt, and fallen in a vat of baby oil before coming on stage. Joe Elliot is looking as good as ever too, whatever the secret of eternal youth is Def Leppard must be pretty close to finding it. One of the biggest cheers was for the Rick Allen cam on the big screens. There’s a lot of love for Rick in the Hydro, both in the audience and on stage, and the drummer is looking like he was happier than a pig in shit to be here performing.

But then, doesn’t he always.

The band make great use of the runway out into the crowd, with Rick Savage strutting his stuff there, when he wasn’t rolling out iconic bass lines from a platform behind the drum riser. If anyone could ever forget what an array of classic tunes Def Leppard have written, tonight is a brilliant reminder as hit after hit blasts out in an endless playlist of Leppard’s finest tunes. The setlist was put together perfectly, with each track gathering more and more momentum and energy from the crowd. Love And Hate Collide and Hysteria gave lovers a chance for a good ol smooch and a slow-ish dance before things picked up again. Although we’d taken up position a bit back from the barrier (so we could find each other when the tog came out the photo pit) I appear to have picked the jolliest bunch to stand beside. During Pour Some Sugar On Me and Rocket the less inhibited of the group began to do the Scottish dancing around handbag thing.

Cringey or highly entertaining, depending on your point of view, but who cared. Legends of rock on stage and here in the crowd it’s party central. That’s when you know people are truly in the moment.

Joe Elliot went off stage for a bit, as you do when you’re rock elite, and while he was gone we were treated to the second astounding drum solo of the evening. The cheers rang out as Rick Allen battered the crap out of his kit while Rick Savage stood up on the drum riser laying down the accompanying bass groove.


Moments later Joe struts back on stage wearing a cool steampunk top hat and toting an acoustic guitar. He addressed his adoring fans asking “Would you like to be in the band for the next 4 minutes? You can and tomorrow tell everyone you were in Def Leppard”. A few strings were plucked and… yip just as I thought… the timeless classic Two Steps Behind. I swear the whole room was swaying side to side, singing along. This was a proper heartfelt moment, with my jolly gig mates all hugging one another and more than one veteran gig goer getting something in their eye. There is Definitely so much love in this room tonight, band for the fans, fans for the band and everyone for Rick Allen.

Of course it’s not proper Def Leppard gig until they’ve played photograph and they saved that gem for last. We all knew it was the last encore, the last chance for a dance and so the place erupted. After they’d finished Joe looked around the cavernous confines of the Hydro, asking “Do you like this place? We love it. It’s the biggest place we’ve played in ages… and look at all the people” before making us a promise.

“See you next time, and there WILL be a next time…”

“Just do us a favour…”

“Don’t forget us and we won’t forget you!”

And that was that. End of the evening. Totally speechless. Team CB can rarely agree on what you would class as the gig of the year but for the two of us who were there this was it. Whether it was from the photo pit, or down at the barrier, or being in the middle with the jolly dancers….. This was epic!

This was one of those “roll back the years” gigs. Both Whitesnake and Def Leppard brought their A game to Glasgow and both were just about as good as we’ve ever seen them, a brilliant effort from both parties. Of course let’s not forget Black Star Riders, as good as we’ve ever seen them and a brilliant way to get things warmed up. Hopefully we’ll see them back on a headline tour of their own soon.

From a hair metal and classic rockers point of view this was bliss, sheer perfection. Nobody air grabs and works his hair like Coverdale and Joe Elliot still hits the notes I didn’t think were humanly possible.

In any other company Black Star Riders could have been the band of the day.

In any other company Def Leppard should have been band of the day.

But oh my lord Whitesnake, how f’kin good were Whitesnake?? How the HELL can David Coverdale still deliver like that.

Gig of the year then ?? Oh I think so.

Happy Days.

By Cack Blabbath 2015.

Def Leppard / Whitesnake The Hydro Glasgow (10/12/15) By Steven Lornie

It has only been two weeks since my last show and I was already back in Glasgow. This time I was travelling to the gigantic spaceship known as The SECC Hydro. This venue is a monstrous Colosseum like venue that has been getting praise from bands and concert goers alike. It seems suitable that such a fantastic, huge venue would hold one of heavy metals biggest bands Def Leppard.

I generally dislike huge venues. There is always the problem of bad sound, just look at Hampden Parks AC/DC show for example. However tonight was not one of those nights and the fantastic combination of Black Star Riders, Whitesnake and Def Leppard made for one of the biggest and best sounding shows I have ever heard. The crowd for the most part were very pleasant and having a blast talking music etc with each other. We bumped into plenty of people before, after the show aswell as the very next day who were very polite and couldn’t help rave about the concert.

It was a pleasant change to see entry being handled well by G4S. Usually the concert stewards mess something up and end up screwing over a portion of the fans who have been waiting for several hours to get into the front row. However, this time the security people did a good sufficient job and were actually quite good. That is not something that we get to say often at Glasgow concerts.

Black Star Riders took to the stage with a bang at 18:40 and played an exciting and loud set of hard rock music that got everyone in the hall on their feet. They played hits from their two albums as well a few Thin Lizzy classics and did a great job of it. This is technically my third time seeing this band perform this year and I still think they are one of the best live bands I have seen in the last few years. The band is full of talent with front man Ricky Warwick strutting his stuff across the stage stealing the show in any way he can. In this day and age a lot of bands take a great front man for granted but I think these guys know what kind of exceptional talent they have in Warwick. He is without doubt a legend in the making. This is not taking anything from the band either. Each member did their parts with exceptional skill and of course Scott Gorham was just mesmerising as he played some of the most criminally underrated guitar parts in rock music history. It is a shame that this band had such a short set and that half of the audience missed it. They are a great band that I hope have plenty of years left in them. They are bloody fantastic.

We got treated to some great work from the stage crew as they ripped apart the Black Star Riders gear in mere minutes for the Whitesnake boys. It was clear that there was no fannying around for the crowd as we waited for David Coverdale and company to arrive on stage. Whitesnake of course did not disappoint and that is not a surprise to anybody. Coverdale strutted his stuff across the stage, showing off his stunning hair and manliness as his backing band launched themselves through a great set list covering a lot of Whitensake’s late ’80s material. The crowd participated in singing every single song and it was quite impressive to hear. Whitesnake are currently promoting their Deep Purple tribute album, The Purple Album. So it is no surprise that we got treated to some impressive renditions of Burn, Mistreated and other Deep Purple classics. Some of the younger crowd clearly did not know these numbers but you could tell the older generation was soaking it all up with glee. My only gripe with this set was the fact that David Coverdale spent most of the set right at the top of the “Runway” stage set which put the first few rows at a severe disadvantage as the majority of the show simply looked like the band without a front man. It is a bit of a shame really.

David Coverdale’s pick of musicians for Whitesnake were no slouches either and they most certainly deserve a lot of credit for their professionalism and fantastic performance. On drums the band have the legendary Tommy Aldridge. One of the most criminally underrated rock drummers in history. It was a pure delight watching this man perform on the big stage again after all these years. His heavy handed style worked perfectly with the heavy bass tone of Michael Devin. Long time guitarist Reb Beach is easily one of the band’s best six stringers. He is a versatile player and even has a decent singing voice. Whitesnake would sorely loose out if he ever left the band.

With that said, I think he was shown up a little by the band’s newest member Joel Hoekstra. I am surprised this guy was let into the band simply for having nicer hair than David Coverdale. Seriously, half of the woman in the audience couldn’t give a toss about his flashy showman style or the intense guitar playing. They simply saw this beautiful golden god walking towards them and shut off completely. Seriously though, this guy is an excellent player. He has a lot of flash in his stage performance but backs it up with some cracking guitar playing in the same style as John Sykes. The duo of Hoekstra and Beach should be more known to fans of rock music. They are two stunning guitar players that just work perfectly together. After a leaving the stage we got to see the band dismantle the Whitesnake gear and uncover the set up for Def Leppard. By this point the crowd were on breaking point. Black Star Riders and Whitesnake put these 14,000 people into a frenzy and it was not going to settle until Def Leppard had finished… and it didn’t.

Def Leppard took to the stage with some serious force. The volume was some of the loudest I have ever heard as the band treated us to their latest single, Let’s Go. It did not take the crowd long to drown out the band as they sang a long. They followed up this excellent number with the classic Animal and straight into the fantastic under played Undefeated. By this point it was evident that the band were in a great mood. They were running around the gigantic stage with a lot of positive vibes and gigantic smiles, even more so from Vivian Campbell who recently got a clean bill of health after some nasty cancer problems (Congrats Viv!). They continued on with what I think is a modern classic, Dangerous. One of the best songs from their stunning new album. Def Leppard were playing better then the past two shows I have attended and that is saying something. Songs like Armageddon It, a blistering version of Rock On and Rocket just sounded incredible. Even the ballads were treated with a lot of power, whether it was from the band’s actual performance or the fairly impressive over whelming sound from the crowd singing every line.

The band played more of their biggest hits, Hysteria, Let’s Get Rocked and Pour Some Sugar On Me which resulted in a standing ovation and a short wait for an encore. The band came back on for the best rendition of Rock of Ages I have personally heard. The band finished their set with their all time classic Photograph. The crowd and the band went out with a bang as they poured their hearts into this last song and it could be felt a mile away. It was a fantastic way to finish such an upbeat positively charged concert. Everybody who was there had an absolute blast and the band sounded incredible. For a group of fellows who get dumped on by rock fans on a regular basis, they have more energy and talent then people know. The guitar playing, bass playing and drumming was absolutely spot on. The backing vocals are worth it alone. Most bands (like Mötley Crüe) use backing tapes to pull this off with effect and you don’t realise how pathetic it is until you see just five men pull it off without any help. They really are a one of a kind band.

So after that adrenaline rush, the massive crowd left The Hydro into the bloody cold rain in a great mood. Most of them still singing along to their favourite songs and generally being pleasent to one another. As someone who goes to a lot of concerts, it is such a relief to attend such a fun show with such a great crowd. It is something you do not get often and it really makes the whole experience better. Of course it certainly helps when you have some of the best most professional bands on stage. This was easily my favourite (and loudest) concert of the year and was £50 very well spent.

By Demons Zone 2015.

Whitesnake and Def Leppard Live at the SSE Hydro By Decibel Rogue

It was a typically quiet afternoon in my local boozer when the email confirming decibelROGUE’s accreditation to photograph Black Star Riders, Whitesnake and Def Leppard arrived with a ‘ping’ in my inbox. I took one look at the words which said “you’re in”, punched the air with both hands while jumping off my barstool and shouting ‘YESSSSS!!!’ With the silence completely shattered, I apologised for my outburst, sat back down and let the good news sink in.

There was only one slight catch, if you could even call it that. I would ‘only’ be in the arena during the first two or three songs of each band’s set, since there wasn’t a review pass available for me. I didn’t care though, because I was gonna be photographing some absolute rock legends. And in any case, you can probably guess by looking at the size of this feature, I eventually DID see much more of the show than just a handful of songs!

I have to admit that after my first visit to Glasgow’s vast SSE Hydro a while back, I was rather nonplussed by the place. That’s probably because on that particular night it was set up as an all-seater arena. And I had to photograph the band from the sound desk – sixty damned yards away from the stage. Not my favourite night of music photography to say the least. And the all-seated layout seemed to create a rather soulless, restrained environment for a concert. However, the set up for this show couldn’t have been more different. All the seats on ground level had been removed, and a long runway extended from the massive stage right out into the middle of the arena. That’s more like it!

As most of you will know, Black Star Riders is Thin Lizzy’s vehicle for releasing new material. Since forming in 2012, they’ve released two cracking albums and have grown a tremendous reputation for their live shows. Oh, and the best bit is they can dip into a huge back catalogue of Thin Lizzy classics to add that extra touch of class to their concerts. Unfortunately for me however, I would only be in the room for their opening three songs, so I had my fingers crossed that they’d play at least one Thin Lizzy classic before I had to leave. Thankfully, I only had to wait until the second song, because after opening with ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, they launched into a brilliant rendition of ‘Are You Ready’.

In what seemed like a blink of an eye however, Ricky Warwick and the boys had rocked their way through third song ‘The Killer Instinct’ and a nice security lady was making sure I found my way out of the photopit, out of the arena and into the foyer. As gutted as I was to be leaving, the fact that I was being escorted out while the band were tearing through ‘Jailbreak’ made me smile. The thought of making a run for it and losing the security lady in the audience crossed my mind at that point. Although I reminded myself that there were two more bands still to come. And I REALLY wanted to photograph them. So out I went…

After heading back into the photopit for Whitesnake, I had a look around the vast arena and noticed it was pretty much full. Pretty much full, but not completely. There was still a little bit of space in the standing area. Perhaps there were a couple of tickets still available? I decided there and then that there was no way I was gonna be kicking my heels outside while Whitesnake were onstage, and there was NO WAY I was gonna head home before Def Leppard had finished their encore. So when I was escorted out the arena after Whitesnake’s first two songs, I made a dash for the Box Office where I was able to get a ticket for the show. Result!

That decision turned out to be rather good one, because Whitesnake were absolutely, positively, immense. David Coverdale may be old enough to qualify for a bus pass, but from the moment he swaggered onstage he had the whole arena in the palm of his hand and led the audience on a 13 song blitz through Deep Purple and Whitesnake classics.

The first thing that struck me about the Whitesnake of 2015 is just how good they sound. This was the first time I had seen them live so can’t compare this performance to one from their ’80’s heyday. However, there was a far more aggressive edge to their sound than I expected. More heavy metal than hair metal I guess you could say. Guitarists Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach were absolutely formidable operators. Down in the engine room of the band though, Tommy Aldridge was quite extraordinary on drums. He, like UFO’s Andy Parker, is in his mid 60’s, yet can put drummers a third of his age to shame with his power and accuracy. And then you have Mr Coverdale himself. The consummate rockstar frontman. Still got it. End of.

The band’s latest record ‘The Purple Album’ was released earlier this year as a celebration of Coverdale’s time with Deep Purple, and many of it’s tracks featured here. However, I was most looking forward to the tail end of the set when Whitesnake would play their signature hits. And if the atmosphere was electric at the beginning of the show, it went to a whole different place as Coverdale and the band ripped through ‘Is This Love’, ‘Fool for Your Loving’, Here I Go Again’ before rounding out an incredible performance with ‘Still of the Night’.

Had the night ended there and then, I don’t think anyone would have gone home feeling short-changed. But it wasn’t over quite yet. Not by a long way…

It’s not often I get nervous before I photograph a band, but as I was standing in the photopit waiting for Def Leppard to take to the stage, I was still trying to get my head around the fact I was actually going to photograph the band that made me fall in love with rock music in the first place, half a lifetime ago. My goosebumps had goosebumps!

There are some bands you just can’t imagine playing in small venues, and Def Leppard are certainly one of them. Arenas are their natural habitat. While most bands out there would kill to have even just one song which can rock an arena, Joe and the guys have made a career out of writing them. And given this awesome back catalogue is now joined by their excellent new self-titled album, how does the band decide what goes on their setlist? Problems, problems…

The good news for everyone in the audience was that this was very much a greatest hits kind of gig, with a couple of new songs thrown in for good measure. When I reviewed new album ‘Def Leppard’ a few weeks ago I felt that there were two tracks in particular which would sound brilliant live – and I was right. Opening song ‘Let’s Go’ kicked their set off in typically thunderous style, while ‘Dangerous’ had the place bouncing and is surely destined to become a classic Def Leppard arena-rocker. The big hitters, ‘Animal’, ‘Love Bites’, ‘Armageddon It’, ‘Rocket’, ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ from the band’s iconic Hysteria album sounded as good today as they did all those years ago. In fact, I’d argue that since (as is widely conceded) Hysteria was produced to within an inch of it’s life by Mutt Lange, hearing the band playing these songs live beats the studio versions hands down. And even after all those years Joe Elliot is still hitting notes other singers can only dream of.

There were a few nice reminders of Steve Clarke during the show, in particular during ‘Hysteria’ when a montage of photographs from the bands heyday played on the big screen at the back of the stage. And there were a number of photographs containing an extremely youthful looking Viv Campbell, which made me think “Bloody hell, Viv’s been with the band a long time now!” 23 years or so in fact. How time flies, eh?

A nice rarity which made it into Thursday’s show was ‘Switch 625’ from 1981’s High ‘n’ Dry. Since it is an instrumental song, Joe Elliott had an opportunity to nip backstage for a well earned cuppa while the rest of the band, and Rick Allen in particular, took centre stage. He performed an astonishing drum solo which was so powerful, it was probably detected on a seismometer in Australia somewhere, and deservedly got the biggest cheer of the night from the adoring audience.

As with all good things though, the evening had to end. And the band did it in style with two of the stand-out songs from Pyromania: ‘Rock Of Ages’ and ‘Photograph’. When the music finally, sadly, stopped and the band said it’s goodbyes, Joe promised that Def Leppard will return to Glasgow for another show at some point – as long as we don’t forget them. I don’t think there’s the slightest chance that any one of the ten thousand or so fans in the audience will forget! None whatsoever!

If there was a prize for being the happiest band in the world right now, Def Leppard would win it easily. They were in their absolute element here, and clearly revelled performing in the fantastic atmosphere of such a huge venue. In fact, all three bands seemed to enjoy the occasion as much as the audience loved watching them. This was an extraordinarily special night of rock music, featuring three legendary bands, hosted in what has just become my new favourite concert venue.

Just don’t put the seats back please…

By Decibel Rogue 2015.

Def Leppard + Whitesnake + Black Star Riders at The Hydro, Glasgow 10/12/2015 By Justin Hulford

We went across early, fearful that the closed Forth Road Bridge would cause traffic problems, only to race through. Unfortunately it meant we hit the Glasgow rush hour and got to the venue just as Black Star Riders had started. They kicked off at just twenty to seven, very un-gig-like, but it didn’t seem to phase them.

For those that don’t know, BSR are in effect Thin Lizzy. This band was formed when the touring Lizzy wanted to hit the studio but didn’t feel right putting out an album in that name, and have now produced two albums that more or less sound like classic Lizzy! That they mix in plenty of classic tracks into the set makes the whole name thing seem a little pointless so I imagine contracts and deals are at play.

That all aside, BSR really rocked the place, front-man Ricky Warwick making good use of the walkway that went a long way into the crowd. The rest of the band all played their part and in particular their music was tight. I was a little surprised that it wasn’t that loud, forgetting that such an established act was in a support slot, and there was a slightly odd detachment between the vocal and the music, but it didn’t matter. They were fun and lively, and especially cheered when the oldies were played. “Whiskey In The Jar” really got the crowd going although I do think many didn’t know who they were, despite the ageless Scott Gorham being on stage.

Next came Whitesnake, who were rotated on this double headline tour into the support slot. Coverdale didn’t seem to care and played every song like it was the closer of a marathon three hour set.

This tour was to play songs from their recent, and excellent, Purple album which saw the band doing covers of Deep Purple songs that Coverdale sang on, so off the albums Burn, Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band. They opened with the very excellent “Burn”, the Hydro volume cranked up, Whitesnake playing way heavier than they have ever sounded on an album, and Coverdale was on his very best rock god form, the sixty four years not apparent.

What was great was that they provided a great mix of songs, drawing from the old Whitesnake stuff, the massive 1987 album, and those Purple tracks. Tommy Aldridge threw in a ridiculous drum solo, half done without sticks, and hammered away crash endings every time. The strings were on fire, Joel Hoekstra cutting all sorts of shapes, and Coverdale had the crowd hooked. He took some thrown bras and knickers in his stride, donned a pink scarf that also came from the audience, and rocked away.

There’s been a lot of talk about his voice in the last few years, it having broken down on tour with Judas Priest a few years back. He showed, on a beautifully mellow “Soldier Of Fortune”, that it was truly fixed but I have to say it did seem to fade a little for the last few, a montage of “Is This Love”, “Here We I Go Again” and “Still Of The Night”. It only really noticed in the quiet parts and there weren’t many of them and it didn’t take any shine off the show.

The music, the stage presence, the cool back drop films (especially during “Bad Boys”) and the sound, all made for a superb heady set that leaves me looking forward to them again at next year’s Ramblin’ Man festival.

Onto the headliners. I somehow got hypnotised by Hysteria many years ago and saw Def Leppard thirty odd years back, when they put on the worst show I’ve ever seen from a big band. At the end of that gig the crowd chanted for support act Tesla to come back for an encore, Joe Elliott and friends having failed to replicate their heavily produced sound in a live environment.

Fast forward to today, and what could they do?

They opened with “Let’s Go” with its line “Welcome To The Carnival” and sadly it was more like “Send In The Clowns”. It was light weight poppy pap, with an incredibly synthetic sound (forced I know by the way Rick Allen has to play his drums) and felt more like One Direction with guitars. Phil Collen on guitar looked out of place with his bare chest (and fortunately ripped middle), and it was even harder to believe that his partner in crime, Vivian Campbell, used to be in Dio.

Next they offered “Animal” feeling like a cover band that had somehow found a great sound system. The rest were no more satisfying.

A few more songs dribbled by and after six or seven, just as they served up a David Essex cover, we voted with our feet. And we weren’t alone. Aside from a few fanatics, the whole crowd wasn’t really doing much with this flat, dull show of mildly ramped up pop rock sucking the life out of the Hydro after Whitesnake had pumped it up.

Thirty years on all that had changed was the quality of the sound and they were at least able to play the precise productions together. But on the plus side we got out of the normally challenging Hydro car park in loads of time before the rush.

We went for Whitesnake and got our money’s worth with them and Black Star Riders. But I’d rather Joe Elliott pour his sugar on someone else.

By Through The Wire Music 2015.

Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Black Star Riders; Glasgow Hydro, 10th December 2016 By Steven Reid

The double bill has become the norm these days, two established bands hitting the road to maximise the entertainment and, of course, bums on seats. However with Def Leppard and Whitesnake inviting Black Star Riders, who morphed out of the latter day version of Thin Lizzy, to join them as they hit stages around the UK and Ireland, this line-up can genuinely be see as a triple whammy. Sea of Tranquility's Steven Reid headed to a sold out Glasgow's Hydro (or as Whitesnake's David Coverdale christened it, "the Colosseum", Lep's Joe Elliott settling for "f*#cking huge!") to be rocked not once, not twice but thrice. Do you wanna get rocked? Oh, go on then…!

The last time I saw Def Leppard was seven years ago when they wiped the floor with the band before them on the bill… Whitesnake. However due to a sterling showing from Cov & Co. tonight was a far closer run thing. From the off (as with that previous double bill), it was instantly apparent that the Lep's had a larger stage, larger show and larger budget. Bravely three new(ish) tracks from the recent, excellent, self titled album and the mainly live Mirrorball, were aired early. "Let's Go" transferred well to the live arena, although "Undefeated" didn't really live up to its name, falling flat and sucking a little momentum from the classic Hysteria album cut, "Animal" - the only oldie in the opening four. "Dangerous" and its repetitive chorus however worked a treat, the classic Lep feel perfect in the live environment, as it paved the way for glorious renditions of "Love Bites" and "Armageddon It". Throughout, the light show and screen effects were eye catching and well thought through, this band's large arena experience wonderfully bridging the gap between the stage and the members of the audience stuck way up high at the back of the hall, with a likeable ease that never felt forced. Name checking some of the bands that he and bassist Rick Savage bonded over 38 years ago, Elliott gave a shout out to David Bowie, Mott The Hoople and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (whose bassist, Chris Glen, who was sitting three seats along from me, greeted with a hearty chuckle and approving smile, as his friends got rather more excited, jumping up and down and pointing at their companion). The song it heralded was "Rock On", one of David Essex's harder hitting numbers from yesteryear, Elliott appearing behind Rick Allen's drums, high on a podium sporting a preposterous top hat and feathers. Great though this version of that excellent song was, with so many classic Leppard numbers not in evidence, it could be argued that it was at least a little self indulgent. Elliott, still sporting his questionable head gear, then stepped out front on his own for an acoustic take on "Two Steps Behind", before the rest of the band reappeared for the serious stomp of "Rocket".

"When Love And Hate Collide" took things back down, proving the cavernous Hydro can be amazingly intimate, before the superb guitar pair of Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen strode down the runway which stretched out into the crowd, for the vintage instrumental "Switch 625". Which still hits as hard now, as it did way back in 1981. From there it was classics all the way, "Hysteria", "Let's Get Rocked" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me" receiving a rabid reception from the crowd, as did a short solo from Rick Allen, the camera work allowing everyone to witness his amazing dexterity, as it focused on his multi-peddle set up as much as his stick work. Considering the adulation paid Tommy Aldridge in his solo slot with Whitesnake, it would appear Glasgow likes a drum solo!

It really is testimony to Def Leppard that having brought the house down with possibly their best known song, worldwide, that they could still come out for an explosive encore in the shape of "Rock Of Ages" and "Photograph" which somehow raised the energy levels on stage and off, even higher. Only the three brand new songs in tonight's set were under 19 years old, but it's impossible to deny that Def Leppard still somehow manage to sound like a young, hungry and vital act. Long may it continue and long may performances as assured, captivating and impressive as this.

By Sea Of Tranquility 2015.


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