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Wednesday, 18th November 2015

Melbourne, VIC, Australia - Media Reviews

Def Leppard - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 18/11/12 By Kirsten Maree

There is a moment when a truly great rock band turns a corner. It is a telling and poignant moment that proves almost above any other, that this band has transcended the era into which they were born and stood the test of time. This moment is scarcely talked about, but once reached there is no going back. There are no hall of fame awards or milestone trophies handed out for reaching it, yet only a select few are able to do so. To turn this corner is to cement yourself in history, alongside the greats like The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac.

It’s the moment when your entire, jam packed arena, would prefer to SIT DOWN.

Selling out an arena the size of Rod Laver is no mean feat. Doing it after decades in the game is even more impressive. The head bopping, foot tapping, chair loving crowd may not be the mosh pit, crowd surfing, tit flashing mob they used to be, but they are a representation of a lifelong career. This crowd has been with you from the beginning, and grown old with you. Your music has been the soundtrack to their lives, your impact so strong that they are STILL HERE. When you think about it, it’s really kind of great. The only downside? It doesn’t make for easy work on stage, and last night in Melbourne Def Leppard struggled with this more than most.

It was a night of stark contrasts. Being caught somewhere between appreciating the long term loyalty of their crowd, and just wanting us to STAND THE FUCK UP was a struggle representative of the bands mentality overall. Torn between not wanting to become a tribute band to their former selves and the nostalgia conjured by still getting to smash out their hits for an adoring crowd, the contradictions were rife.

Frontman Joe Elliot one minute thanking us for putting up with having to hear their “new stuff” and the next belting out Hysteria underneath a screen full of footage from their biggest and best shows (and haircuts) from times gone by. Featured support act Live fell victim to a similar battle. While it’s never going to be a bad thing to hear 90s rock tracks like I Alone and Lightning Crashes live in the flesh, without Ed they’ve become more of a tribute band to themselves than the act we really want to see. Sure a band is so much more than their frontman, but with such an enigmatic character to connect us to those memories we really are just watching a different bald guy give us his best Ed impression.

It’s true no one was there for their new stuff, and while tracks like Dangerous were tight and cool and well delivered, their new album is just more of the same old Def Leppard. It’s not bad, but when it does end up sounding like a lesser version of their hits of old, whats the point? Whether it’s what the band want or not, we were there for for the bangers we know. It takes more than screaming demands to rev up a Melbourne crowd, and while the seated ticket holders filling the stadium may have disappointed the 5 men on the stage a little, the band certainly did not disappoint us.

Crashing on to the stage with an opener of Let’s Go and Animal, Def Leppard left nothing behind. Joe joined by an shirtless, oiled up Phil Collen, the ever smiling Vivian Campbell, afro rocking Rick Savage and The Thunder God himself, one-armed drummer Rick Allen, lighting up Rod Laver and delivering exactly what we were there for.

Other highlights were, as expected, the heartbreakingly beautiful Love Bites allowing Joe to reach soaring heights under a scripture of lyrics on the big screen, Phil wailing on the guitar in all his oily glory and Joe’s acoustic solo performance of Two Steps Behind was a sweet break from the in your face glam rock. No surprises that Pour Some Sugar On Me was the track that raised the roof, followed by an awesome encore of Rock Of Ages, Photograph and Kings Of The World.

The boys may have found it hard work, now that they have turned this corner, but if so when the whole package is considered they really were the only ones disappointed. From where I was sitting, these legendary rockstars absolutely nailed it, and it was privilege to tap my foot in one of their seats.

By Music Feeds 2015.

Def Leppard, Live, Electric Mary - Rod Laver Arena By Siegenthaler

Electric Mary kick the night off with a velocity of sound that feels like it's trying to shake the innards out of your body. Live follow by pulling out all of the tricks from every rock performer's arsenal: amp-climbing, animalistic screeching, headbanging and violently waving instruments in the air as if about to smash them to pieces (an anti-climax, because they never did). The band gets the audience singing along with a few of their choruses and leave the crowd energised before Def Leppard walk on stage.

A few minutes into the opening song, Let's Go shows you that Def Leppard's live performance encapsulates every aspect of their recordings: the thunderclap of the snare and kick, the signature '80s distorted lead and all of the high level screams (although Joe Elliott sits out a few notes in Rocket). The accompanying stage lights and scattered sparkling Union Jacks sprinkle the show with the nostalgic essence of glam-rock.

The British performers keep a good balance between songs from their new self-titled album and a few of their hits from the '80s. When a shirtless Phil Collen steps to the front of the stage, you realise that the lead guitarist is probably the most ripped 57-year-old on the planet and could probably get a job as a body double in a teen vampire movie. His solos swerve in and out of the snappy beats Rick Allen deals from his drum kit at the back of the stage - the acclaimed one-armed percussionist exhibiting a few exceptional drum solos.

It's not until the second half of the show that the band start ripping through all of their classics: Hysteria, Rock Of Ages, Photograph, Pour Some Sugar On Me and Let's Get Rocked. The electrifying atmosphere lifts the crowd up off their seats as everyone starts fist-pumping. Each band member lives up to the energy of the heavy music and they all work together to feed it back into the audience. At set's close each musician traverses the full width of the stage and catwalk to wave at the crowd and show their appreciation for a good five minutes before they walk off stage.

By The Music 2015.

Def Leppard + Live + Electric Mary at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne - November 18, 2015 By Peter Coates

I will declare an interest from the outset – I love Def Leppard – and have been a fan since I bought their debut EP “Getcha Rocks Off” in 1978, saw them as a support band to Sammy Hagar and Ozzy among others, and then devoured everything they released through the 1980s.

An early start at Rod Laver Arena saw local stalwarts ELECTRIC MARY hit the stage for a short sharp set of bluesy classic rock songs, led by Russell “Rusty” Brown and the melodic twin guitars of Pete Robinson and Brett Wood, with the massive rhythm section of Alex Raunjak in the white suit on Bass, and Dave Porter on Drums. Great songs, delivered really tight, and with a huge sound, they generated a bit of heat in the early audience, and were gone too soon.

LIVE appeared in understated black, for their first visit to Australia with new singer Chris Shinn out front, and delivered a set of classic LIVE songs, along with a few tracks from new album “The Turn”.

Critics can pigeonhole LIVE as just another corporate rock machine living on the legacy of a couple of hugely popular albums, but they do have a discordant edginess which distinguishes them from some other bands.

The intro to “Dolphin’s Cry” pulled a great reaction from the crowd, and the song features great lyrics, lots of contrast, and a lovely solo from Chad Taylor. “Lakini’s Juice” is another classic track, followed immediately by “Lightning Crashes” with a really strong vocal performance, building each verse until the bands kicks in for the solo. Perhaps a little restrained, and with some suspicious keyboards and backing vocals that may have been on tape, but with such a strong back-catalogue to draw from. It would be good to see them do a headline set sometime!

Big dramatic stage show – lots of screens and lights – intro tapes – silhouetted figures on the stage – and we’re off with DEF LEPPARD‘s new single “Let’s Go”, and my first impression is that Joe Elliott’s voice appears stronger and clearer than ever before. “Rock Rock Till You Drop” and “Animal” follow in a rush, and I get to my seat after taking photos, to catch “Undefeated” and “Dangerous” from the new album – the latter with just classic Leppard riffing and a tasty solo from the now happy and healthy Vivien Campbell.

New tracks out of the way, it was on to the greatest hits package, with the soaring harmonies of “Love Bites”, leading into “Armageddon It” – and I’m struck by the band’s ability to take the wildly over-produced songs from “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize”, and play them live without any apparent backing tracks – just using the bass and guitars to replicate the production in a raw form.

A brilliant Queen-style version of the David Essex classic “Rock On” is followed by Joe Elliott out front on acoustic guitar doing a solo intro of “Behind Blue Eyes” and leading a crowd singalong of “Two Steps Behind”. Then it’s “Guitar……..Drums” and off into “Rocket” which again includes the insane middle-eight section portrayed by Phil Collen absolutely ripping the sounds from his guitar, and more terrific harmony vocals. One of my favourites, the instrumental “Switch 625” from “High ‘n’ Dry” is just classic 80’s rock, with extended duelling guitars and harmonised riffs and solos, building to a feedback-driven climax, and bass/drum solo to close.

“Hysteria” follows with some old movies playing tribute to the late Steve Clarke, and a slightly rushed “Let’s Get Rocked”, into “Pour Some Sugar On Me” to finish the set. Joe appeared really warmed by the response from the sell-out 10,000 crowd, thanking us for still turning up after 37 years! Brutal riffs kick off “Rock of Ages” with yet more savage soloing from Phil Collen, and then the best single they ever released – “Photograph” – brings the set to an end.

It was brilliant to see the band on such good form, so energetic onstage, and clearly loving the whole process, as well as delivering a less-polished, and therefore more honest version of their many great songs.

More Please – I wanna get rocked again!!!

By Life Music Media 2015.

Def Leppard @ Rod Laver Arena By Peter Hodgson

Def Leppard are a band that struggles with the FM radio effect. They were founded during the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, yet they found their greatest success with radio-friendly pop metal hits in the ‘80s. As such their audience is 90% people who know their stuff from the radio and 10 per cent people who have everything they’ve ever done, and maybe an On Through The Night tattoo.

It stands to reason that the band is obliged to focus on the big hits so as to not alienate about 13,000 fans just to please the other 1,000. But instead, Def Leppard ignored all such concerns and played the set they wanted to play. The first half of the show was heavily stocked with more playful material (the new tracks Let’s Go and Dangerous, the 2011 bonus track Undefeated, a cover of David Essex’s Rock On), with a few megahits thrown in for good measure. But from Joe Elliott’s solo rendition of Two Steps Behind onwards it was pretty much an onslaught of smashes.

In terms of performance, Def Leppard are crazy slick, and I’m not referring to Phil Collen’s oiled-up shirtless torso. It’s refreshing to hear a band that performs complex backing vocal harmonies live instead of leaving that stuff to pre-recorded tracks. And Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell have distilled the Def Leppard overdubbed guitar army approach down into two parts in a rather clever way. It’s also interesting to note that the higher range of Elliott’s voice is still all there, even if his voice has taken on a little more of a Brian Johnson hue over the years.

In terms of being really fucking good at what they do, and playing every show as if it’s the most important gig of their lives, Def Leppard are still world-class. Whether you’re a fan or not, and especially if you’re a musician, you really should see these guys next time they come down because it’s rare to see a big arena show that’s all about the music.

By Beat 2015.


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