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Sunday, 27th January 1980

London, England - Media Reviews

Witch Way is Up? By Chris Collingwood

I was looking forward to seeing Witchfynde. I'd heard that they were one of the 'New Wave' of heavy metal bands. New? Witchfynde haven't left the Sixties yet.

They dress in the sort of clothes that Oxfam would throw out for being dated (suede waistcoats with tassles yet!). And the music, I didn't notice one original riff during their entire set, although I did spot Rush, UFO and Judas Priest licks ripped-off shamelessly. But the crowd lapped them up, especially the single 'Give 'Em Hell' and another which sounded similar to Judas Priest's 'Rock Forever'.

However, the lead singer's incomprehensible Midlands accent made it impossible to understand the song titles.

Def Leppard, though, I am familiar with. So are most of the crowd. Opening with a new song, 'It Could Be You', the Leppards show why many consider them to be the leaders of the NWOBHM bands.

'Hello America' is next up. Although this was the B-side of their last single 'Wasted', it will also be the A-side of their next 45, but redone without the help (cough) of Nick Tauber, who could probably make even Motorhead sound wimpy.

Def Leppard, unlike Witchfynde, know how to look good on stage, with singer Joe Elliott excelling in a white silk shirt and black leather(?) trousers. The Def Leppard 'epic Rush-like number', 'When The Walls Came Tumbling Down', is one of the classics of its kind. Starting with slow, atmospheric guitar work from twin lead guitarists Steve Clark and Pete Willis, it builds up to a riff that sticks in your brain after just one hearing, with Joe singing (not screaming) the chorus with all the emotion he can muster, even changing 'Walls' to 'Marquee' especially for the occasion.

But there is more. 'Answer To The Master', with its riff powerful enough to stun Ted Nugent at 60 paces; 'Sorrow is a Woman', not, as the title suggests, a slow love song; 'Satellite' (no, not the Pistols original) and 'Wasted', with thrice the energy of the studio version, finishing the proper set.

Then came the encores. "About a year ago we released an EP with one track on it which has become very popular," says Joe, obviously meaning 'Getcha Rocks Off'. The crowd goes suitably loony, but he introduces 'Ride Into The Sun'. There is confusion for a split-second until realisation of joke, proving that unlike many HM groups the Leppards possess a sense of humour.

Then it's time for 'Rocks Off', with some fans kneeling on the stage and the Marquee heavies nowhere to be seen, possible proof recent stories of bouncer troubles have been somewhat exaggerated, and end of gig, with Joe thanking the Marquee very much, as if it were Wembley, and they're gone.

My only criticism of Leppard is Ricky Allen's rather disjointed drum solo, but otherwise they're as faultless as a young band could be.

Their LP, called 'On Through The Night', is out in March, and it includes a live version of 'Rocks Off' plus most of the songs included in tonight's killer set. It should be a killer.

As for Witchfynde, I'll turn a blind eye to them, even if plant pots do start flying at me.

By Sounds 1980.


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