Wednesday, 11th August 2021
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35 Years Ago DEF LEPPARD Play 1st Full Show As Five Piece Since 1984

Rick Allen 1986. Screenshot

Def Leppard played a Hysteria tour warm up show in Waterford, Ireland 35 years ago on this day in 1986.

The fifth show of the six date Irish warm up tour before four big outdoor Monsters Of Rock festivals in UK/Europe.

The show took place at Katie Reilly's Kitchen (not The Bridge Hotel) not far from the River Suir that separates the city from neighbouring Kilkenny.

The venue had been listed in an old Fan Club newsletter as "The Bridge". In 2016 the venue was confirmed after a member of the support band Tasc sent in a show poster and confirmed the venue which was located a few hundred metres south of the hotel on Tramore Road.

This show was very significant in the history of the band as it was the first time Rick Allen played a full show on his own since his accident.

Back up drummer Jeff Rich had not made the previous show in Ballybunion on time and Rick played the first five songs on his own. This prompted the band to play this entire show without any back up drummer.

He went on to play the last date in Dublin and the four festival shows by himself as well. This fact and all of the Irish dates were not widely announced in the music press before the Donington show. The press, along with fans attending, had expected Jeff Rich to appear with the band.

Read the full story of the previous show in Ballybunion and this show below as told by the band in Animal Instinct and their own fan club newsletter from 1986.

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Ballybunion Show Story - From Animal Instinct

"The next stop was a small holiday resort on the west coast of Ireland with the rather comic name of Ballybunion. With two days off before the show - Jeff Rich was booked to play three Status Quo gigs in between - the band hit the beach fully equipped with flip-flop sandals and silly hats, spending the evenings in local pubs where they were occasionally approached by visiting American teens who could not believe (a) that a superstar band like Def Leppard would even be in a place like Ballybunion or (b) they would actually play here. "They'd see these posters for the gig in a fish 'n' chip shop window," Joe laughs, "and go, 'What? Def Leppard playing here?'"

"Here" turned out to be a shoebox sized venue called the Atlantic Hotel. The stage was barely large enough to fit Rick and Jeff's drum riser, much less the band itself. Nevertheless, in an attempt at setting some kind of Guinness World Record for most-gear-on-smallest-stage, the Leppard crew piled ever piece of Leppard equipment they could on the stage, including enough PA speakers to blow Ballybunion off the Irish map."

Rick Allen 1986. Screenshot

"Trouble loomed again at 6pm when Jeff didn't show up for the soundcheck. He'd missed a connecting flight from Stockholm, where he had played a midnight show with Status Quo the night before. There was a taxi waiting for Jeff at nine when he arrived at Shannon Airport near Dublin, an hour and a half's drive from Limerick. By 11:25 though, there was still no sign of Jeff at the hall. His taxi had broken down two miles outside of town."

"Backstage, Joe says, Peter Mensch was whipping up the troops. "Mensch was screaming at us, 'This is your one chance to try Rick out on his own.' Sav is saying 'No' and I'm saying 'Oh, f**k, why not? It's only Ballybunion.' Besides we had to go on. We couldn't wait any longer. So we went for it."

"Halfway through the sixth song, Jeff arrived at the Hall and snuck up behind his drum kit. But the first five songs had already sealed his fate. "We were going mad" raves Joe, "the kids were going mad (Joe had his T-shirt ripped by the crazed Yanks in the crowd). And it wasn't until a couple of songs into the show that I turned around and realised Jeff wasn't there. I'd forgotten all about him. It convinced me and everybody else, especially Mensch, that we could play as a five piece again. We thought that we could, but we figured it would take about a year to get it together."

Rick Allen 1986. Screenshot

Ballybunion Show Story - Fan Club Newsletter 1986

"We were faced with a tough decision in Ballybunion. Should we play the show without him or blow out the gig? We sound checked and it sounded pretty good and decided that we should try and get him to the show as quickly as possible (it turned out to be a taxicab from Dublin which took four hours and 150 Irish pounds ($200)) and that if he didn't make it by showtime which was 11:30pm, we would play with ONE DRUMMER."

"Showtime came and so we went on as a five piece for the first time since Bangkok in Feb'84 three songs into the show Jeff shows up and climbs into his kit, before anyone could tell him that we were going to play it as a five piece - the original DEF LEPPARD."

"After the show, we have a group meeting and decide that the near brush with reality of Def Leppard as a five piece band was enough and that we try Waterford with Jeff on the sidelines."

Waterford Show Story - From Animal Instinct

"At a meeting the next morning, Peter and the five Leppards decided that Rick would play the next show in Waterford completely by himself. The stage at the club wasn't big enough for two drum kits anyway. Jeff took the news very well. He was suffering from exhaustion, the result of doing shifts with Leppard and Quo; unbeknown to Leppard, he'd collapsed on stage in Stockholm after playing four shows in three days. He agreed to hang around for the Waterford show in case Rick had any serious problems."

"Rick didn't have any. At the end of the show, Jeff - who watched the entire set from the sound desk - told the band backstage "He's great. You don't need me." When Def Leppard pulled in to Dublin for the last show of the Irish tour, Jeff Rich was already back in London."

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